Friday, September 11, 2009

The female Aspergergian guest blogger introduces herself

The person who wrote this week's two guest posts is Deborah McCarthy, a 49-year-old Aspergian female from Medford, Oregon. Feel free to check her out on Facebook (address at the bottom) and continue a dialogue directly with her. This is her letter; her coming out, as it were . . .


Hi Everybody!

First I want to say that I am blown away by the outpouring of love and support!! Flat out blown away!!! Thank you SO much. The thought that I can really just be myself, warts and all, and still be accepted, is just so mind-blowing that I’m actually at a loss for words. I haven’t been able to find ONE person that gets me, to find 50+?!! Shocking. :D

I have to clear up a few misunderstandings though. I am NOT a clinical psychologist. This was never meant to be a dissertation on the statistics of Asperger’s. This started out because a friend asked me about it and I wanted to be able to tell him what I feel I exhibit, based on my research. I had jotted down one word notes from the various books I’ve read so far and the web sites I’ve gone to. Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word WE. But I assumed that this friend was intelligent enough to figure out that, of course, I was speaking in general, as he’d know I hadn’t met every single person in the world, yet. This was meant as an email to a friend about what I’ve gathered about Asperger’s so far, that I feel explains my particular constellation of characteristics. That’s all.

When John suggested putting it up on his blog, I was genuinely surprised. I thought hey if it can help anyone I’m all for it. It only took me 30 minutes or so to write it and I didn’t go back and change anything. It’s just stream of consciousness first thought early morning writing. My favorite kind. It’s personal, not clinical. My intent was to clarify things for me so that I could explain them to my friend. I used the word WE more as here’s what me and my Asperger’s tribe struggle with on a daily basis. This is what makes us seem so “different”. Although personally I think everyone is unique, when they’re being themselves and not role-playing. We’re all a mass of contradictions. Still, for the purposes of communication, I generalize. We all do it all the time. Imagine if everyone brought out their calculators and started running numbers every time they made a statement. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and hope that the listener gets where you’re coming from, your intent.

The IQ thing. Holy Moly do people get mad when you claim your intelligence. Men do it all the time. Why can’t women? Besides, I only mentioned that to explain how it was as a child. Hey, I lived through the 70s in the rock world. I’m lucky I have any brain cells left at all. My IQ is probably much much lower nowadays. But does it really matter? Those tests are meaningless to me. If you read the context in which I disclosed that number, it was in reference to how I was perceived as a child in grade school. One of the reasons I was considered a “freak”. I never said oh glory be bow down to my infinite wisdom because clearly I am way more intelligent than you could ever be. I don’t think that and I never said that. But I’m also tired of feeling I have to play dumb in order to be accepted. I’m done with that game. My intelligence may be different from yours, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable. And vice versa. Of course. That’s a given in my view.

The fat thing. Well I knew this would raise the wrath. If you read it again you’ll see I was referring to sensitivities, specifically smell. It was never meant to put down people that struggle with their weight. I never said fat people have no reason to live. Hey I’m short. There used to be a song called “Short People Have No Reason To Live”. It was very popular for awhile. I didn’t get all ruffled by that. I thought it was funny.

Yes white carbs can make you fat. Not everyone that calls themselves a vegan, eats a lot of vegetables. But most who have been vegan for a long time, figure out that eating nothing but white flour doesn’t make you feel very good. I’m vegan out of my love for animals and my hatred of injustice. Watch “Peaceable Kingdom” and you’ll get where I’m coming from. It’s by Tribe of Heart. Look in their eyes and you’ll understand. But please know that regardless of my aversion to fat, I would never, repeat NEVER, ever reject you based on your body type. That’s crazy talk. I never said that. In reality, my 3 closest friends are all struggling with their weight. Two of them eat meat. They know exactly how I feel. Which is probably why they have no trouble telling me when I have horrendous garlic breath. :D :D

OK, now that that’s out of the way. I have to tell you how hard it has been not to write everyone who is suffering. My arms reach out to hold you. I am here for you anytime. I so understand the isolation and pain that you’re going through. You are NOT ALONE. If I can be of service in any way, please feel free to friend me on FaceBook. Be warned however, I am brutally honest there. It is MY page and I refuse to edit MY communications. I can’t write and edit at the same time. The creative flow is a flow and the stop start of trying to edit while in the flow just stops the flow. Also, my photo albums are the beginnings of the storyboard of my life. I don’t have pictures of every period of my life so it’s sketchy at best but I have found it extremely useful in confirming my diagnosis. I can SEE it. Then there’s the language. I like “colorful” language. To me it’s lyrical, yes lyrical, and funny. If this will offend you, you may want to stay away. My life story, and the way I tell it, is not for the faint of heart. But I’m sure many of you will be able to relate to the journey I’ve been on so far.

My life is an open book. No apologies. (Well scratch that I apologize all the time). :D And my arms are wide open to receive anyone who wants a friend. I am not open however, to a bunch of petty criticism over technicalities. I’m not here to prove anything to anyone. I’m a work in progress, just like everyone else. Finding this missing piece of the puzzle that is my story has been very rewarding so far. The thought that I may not be as alone as I thought I was, fills me with genuine hope. Please don’t shit on that. Thanks.

Much much love,
Deborah McCarthy
www.facebook.com/lunatec2

49 comments:

Kim Rossi Stagliano said...

Good morning, Deborah - thanks for sharing your life with John's blog readers. I'm Mom to three daughters with autism (not Asperger's.) I shared with John, your suicide attempts upset me very much. I blamed that on my NT'ishness. I felt very worried for you after reading your posts. Are you past that stage of your life? I hope so. Thanks for having the courage to open your heart and Aspergian mind to us, especially those of us who are not on the spectrum. I try to use the info to help my own daughter's further.

Kim

Helen said...

Dear Deborah, again I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your honest and candid words. I care ~ and I know many, many others do as well!

cath c said...

nice to meet you.

LunaTec said...

Hi guys. Thank you so much for all your love and support, your understanding. It really touches my heart to know that I'm not alone here. That I can be myself and be honest without getting beat up for it. I can't tell you how healing that is. My door is always open so if you want to friend me, please do. I'd love to get to know others on the spectrum, or those in relationship with one. :)
Again, thank you.
Deborah McCarthy

LunaTec said...

Hi Cath c! :) I agree with you about Gary Oldman. Maybe that's what intrigued me so much. Maybe I saw myself in him. And when I felt his deep isolation, I wanted to connect. But that's always misunderstood if one person is a good looking wealthy celebrity, and the other is not. :D :D I wish I could be seen beyond my gender. I know I don't see myself as a particular gender. It's all so very interesting isn't it?

Sarah said...

Vegan/vegetarian evangelizing is annoying. If it works for you that's great, but what other people choose to eat isn't any of your business. As an Asperger's autistic, I personally would have a hard time further limiting my diet. It's already hard enough to find food that I can prepare quickly and easily, without bothering my many food-related sensory sensitivities.

Look back on your original post, please. You said all sorts of insulting things about fat people, including that we symbolize "greed and selfishness at the expense of another." Uh, no. Shame on you, Mr. Robison, for publishing this nonsense. And shame on you, Deborah, for using Asperger's to justify and rationalize your own prejudices. Frankly I've never heard another autistic person describe discomfort because of the size of a particular group of people. Even if this is true, that's no reason to say the other crap which you have said.

At the very least, you should have apologized when others mentioned that they found your comments hurtful. Just because you're short doesn't give you the right to brush others' reactions to your words off.

As for the content of your posts, it did seem to me as though you were universalizing your experiences, and frankly relying too much on what so-called "experts" say about Asperger's. You said, for instance, that AS autistics are incapable of lying, without providing any qualifications. When you make these sort of claims, you have to expect that people will challenge them. Mr. Robinson's book contains many similar ridiculous generalizations, unfortunately.

You are not all aspie females. Don't presume to speak for us.

From an Aspie Female who is *GASP* obese, at least by the standards of BMI.

LunaTec said...

Sarah,as I said before, this started out as a letter to a friend. Me getting clear on what I have recently learned about Asperger's and myself. It was never meant to be a clinical dissertation on ALL women with Asperger's.

And fat was referenced in the sensitivities category. Smells that I'm sensitive to. That's great that you're not. I am.

Veganism is more than a diet choice for me. I'm an animal rights activist. Of course I'm going to talk about that and see the world through that filter. I'm all too aware of their suffering. I never told anyone that they have to be vegan too. I simply shared openly and honestly what affects me as an Aspie, a sensitive, and an animal rights activist.

Many people love animals and eat them without putting someone else down who chooses not to. Many do without defending it. It always surprises me when someone gets so angry at a person who chooses NOT to cause suffering to another. You'd think it would be the other way around.

By the way, 2 out of 3 of my closest friends, eat animals and struggle with their weight. We still manage to love each other. We're all works in progress dear.

I see I pushed a button with you. But is YOUR button really MY responsibility? I choose a cruelty-free lifestyle. I hope that's OK with you, someday. :)

Sarah said...

I respect the decision to be vegan for ethical reasons. But if you're going to be principled about it, then you ought to have a problem with ALL meat-eaters, fat and thin. There are fat vegans, and there are certainly many thin omnivores. By turning it into a weight issue, you are simply demonstrating prejudices, and I don't particularly care how many fat friends you have. It's insulting crap.

Yes, I think that when you insult entire groups of people, it is your responsibility. I don't see why this is a particularly controversial view. If you truly want to live a "cruelty-free lifestyle," I suggest refraining from making the sort of insulting comments you've made on previous entries. And at least having the decency to apologize when it's clear that people are insulted by your words.

And while I understand that your original intent was simply to write about your personal experiences, I find it rather unfortunate that the blog has marketed your posts as The Female Asperger's Experience. This isn't necessarily your fault, but it bothers me nonetheless.

Kim Rossi Stagliano said...

I got a nice email from Deborah assuring me she is A-OK. I feel better. Thanks, Deborah!

KIM

LunaTec said...

You are so welcome Kim. Thanks for caring sweetheart. How could I not be OK with this massive outpouring of love? :) ((( BIG HUGE HUG )))

LunaTec said...

Got it Sarah. Please know I never meant to hurt you. Or anyone else for that matter. If I ever write professionally, I'll take into consideration your advice. Thank you.

Ali said...

Perhaps you should also take into consideration that not all fatties "struggle" with our weight. Some of us don't self-hate. Kate Harding has much to teach you.

A chubby, aspie female (who is perfectly capable of lying, thanks).

John Elder Robison said...

Just so you know . . . I too am a bit chubby but I didn't take any of this personally because the whole thing is a fascinating insight into various people's points of view. I didn't see it as an attack on anyone here.

Others have certainly interpreted comments in a different light. However, the result has been a good and mostly productive discussion.

Kim Rossi Stagliano said...

John Elder Robison you are NOT chubby. No way. No How.

BrightlyWoven said...

Hi Deborah, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I am 34 and recently diagnosed with Asperger's, and so much of what you posted rang true to me - inability to tell lies, too much personal disclosure, talking at people, sensitivity to teasing, obsessions, high IQ, clumsiness, lack of eye contact, sensitivities (though mine are more about light, noise and taste than smell), insomnia...and that was just from the first part. It's comforting to hear that other people have experienced so much of what I have, and to have a name for it. I had about gotten to the point where I felt like I was just a bad person. I've learned as an adult to make solid friendships (and found some very understanding and patient friends), and I've managed to hold onto the same job for almost three years now, but I had a horrible time with friends and jobs when I was younger. And sometimes I do feel very locked in and isolated in my little world, to the point where it becomes very, very difficult to reach out and communicate. It's hard even to write this post, in fact. I feel like there is always so much that I want to say locked inside my head, and trying to organize it into coherent thoughts and write it all down is just so overwhelming. Anyway, I tried to find you on Facebook but wasn't able to do so. I would love to be your friend on there and learn more about your experiences. Thanks again for coming out to us!

LunaTec said...

Thanks John for sticking up for me. And btw, I think you're VERY attractive. Very handsome indeed. (And that's not a come on, it's just a fact. In my opinion.) ;)

Ali, "struggling with weight" was my feeble attempt at being politically correct. See? I suck at it. Best to be myself. If you enjoy fat, hooray for you. I do not. That does NOT mean I hate fat people. Some of my best friends... :D

Seriously. You missed the point. It was about MY sensitivities to SMELLS. And my association of it with animal cruelty. It's MY deal. I admitted that I have "issues" around FAT. Jeez, child molesters don't get as much grief. God forbid you criticize fat in this country.

If it makes you feel any better, I weigh about 100 lbs and I have cellulite on my forearms. How's that for an ick factor? Relax.

BrightlyWoven, LOVE the name, I'm on John's page as myself Deborah McCarthy. Feel free to friend me. I'd love your input.

Now. Can we put the fat issue to rest? I had to deal with this my whole childhood. I think a lot of fat people are prejudiced against thin people and are projecting. The best defense is a strong offense. Right? But I am done with that issue. It's ridiculous. Read my words again, slowly and carefully, and you'll see I'm taking about ME.

Now enough about me, let's talk about you. What did you think of me. :D :D (line from Bette Midler movie) :D :D

sewswedish said...

What do I think about you? I think you are a beautiful, talented woman who doesn't give herself the credit she deserves. My son with Asperger's is the same way. Is this a trait of Aspergians? He didn't have your childhood experiences, in fact, I constantly worked with him to help him as best I knew how. He wasn't diagnosed until he was 16 years old, but when he was 8 I pulled him out of school and taught him myself because the school only wanted to see him on Ritalin (their answer for everything!).

I, too, was very upset to read about your suicide attempts. I hope and pray that with your new found friends, we can be there for you and keep the despair at bay. We have already connected on Facebook and I look forward to more interesting conversations with you!
Heidi Bowis

Imogen said...

Deborah,

I found your essay to be very interesting, and I am so glad that you have found a place that can give you so much love and support! My boyfriend has Asperger's, and I always find it interesting to read different accounts of other people who have it. Sometimes I go 'oh, yeah, he talks about that', and sometimes I don't, but it certainly is fascinating.

That being said, I, too, found your comments about fat people to be very hurtful, even though I know you did not mean them that way. I understand what you're saying about smell sensitivity, but I would question whether this is really a fat people thing, or more of a what people are eating type of thing (and the two are not necessarily linked). If you have the time and/or interest, I'd suggest you read Kate Harding's blog Shapely Prose (especially this). It points out some things I think you might find interesting.

I know you wanted to put this issue to rest, but I felt compelled to comment about a prejudice that I experience daily. I understand that you are speaking to your experience, and I respect that. It sounds like you, too, may have suffered from discrimination based on your size, though in your case it was because you were small. That is no more okay than calling someone selfish and greedy based on their appearance.

Everyone deserves respect, whether they be fat or thin, Aspergian or NT, something else, or anywhere in between. As to your cellulite being icky - well, we've all got it somewhere or another. I bet you are beautiful. I like to think we all are. :)

LunaTec said...

Imogen, thank you for your kind and thoughtful response. I too believe everyone deserves respect. I have said here that it isn't the fat that's beautiful, it's the person inside it, underneath it. I'll stand by my comments as I feel I have a right to my opinions and a right to express them. I don't believe I said it in a hurtful way, I said it in an honest way.

I didn't condemn anyone. I said I am sensitive to smells and I associate animal cruelty with obesity. You cannot become obese on fruits and vegetables. You gain weight by taking too much in and not giving enough out. And from eating animals and their milk.

There's a reason "meat" leads to heart disease. It shuts your heart down for Chris' sake. I feel it's a heartless decision to abuse animals, or pay others to do it for you. It's no surprise to me that it leads to heart disease. That is just the truth. It's really non-debatable.

I feel I'm being made a scapegoat here. I expressed MY feelings openly. I shouldn't have to defend them. I'm not here running for office. I'm here to express how I feel as a woman with this particular "affliction", Asperger's.

I feel the opposite than you do about society and fat. I can't find clothes that fit except in the little boy's dept! I can't have my entire seat, that I paid for, on a plane, because someone who's big takes part of it. I have to watch everyone eat tortured animals in restaurants. I feel the entire country accommodates the obese and the "meat" eater but where's my accommodation?

I'm made to feel wrong, and worse,bad, because I don't go along with the program. A person is not what they have. You HAVE a body, in whatever shape it's in. YOU are not the body. I never said YOU or anyone else is bad, repulsive or any such thing. I said I have issues with fat. Fat repulses me.

No one can say that in this country because the programming is 'fat is beautiful'. 'Greed is good'. 'Animals are things.' 'Animals are stupid so it's OK to abuse them.' There are many people on the spectrum who don't seem all that intelligent. Is it OK to kill them too? Of course not. (Besides there are different kinds of intelligence. You can't compare apples to oranges.)

I appreciate the way you expressed yourself to me. I see your intent is honorable. Please see that mine is too.

LunaTec said...

Thank you Heidi. :) I am blown away by all the love and support, unconditional love. It's been really wonderful. Thank you. (((BIG HUG)))

Ray said...

Deborah,

I just want to say that I found your essay to be very insightful. Many of the descriptions you listed really rang true with me (I haven't gone for a diagnosis personally) - even how you put them into a list format! It's something I do frequently.

Despite many of the topics you listed being from the "female" point of view, I saw a lot of myself in them, and maybe it's due to the fact that I'm gay. Who knows.

You've provided much self-reflection for me, and I thank you. :-)

P.S. - To all those who are still throwing the weight issue around (sorry to bring it up YET again Deborah), it should be noted that she is entitled to her own opinion, her own views, and her own world outlook. I'm overweight, but I took no offense because she's free to say and feel and think whatever she wishes. No one offends you without your consent.so, rather than throw accusations and attempt to hurt her feelings in whatever way you feel that she hurt yours, step back and look at it from a rational viewpoint instead of an emotional one.

LunaTec said...

Ray, thank you. You just showed what I've been saying all along. Beauty is from the INside. It has nothing to do with body type. Thanks for your support.

And I am a HUGE list maker too. I have lists of lists!! :D :D

LandonLand said...

I hate animal cruelty as much as you do, too. More, actually, because I don't even think it's okay to be mean to fat animals.

I laughed out loud when you claimed that you have chosen a cruelty-free lifestyle. I am fat person who you described as selfish and disgusting.

You are cruel and bigoted. Period.

LandonLand said...

Less agitated version:

You wrote in your initial post about how deeply you are hurt by teasing. Did anyone ever say anything more cruel to you than that you are both physically repulsive and responsible for animal cruelty? Imagine how deeply it would hurt you, with your connection to animals, if someone stood by the belief that it was acceptable to associate your physical appearance with the abuse of animals. Would that feel any better than the teasing that so tortured you?

It was perfectly fine for you to discuss how the smells you associate with obesity bother you. It is even okay for you to acknowledge that you associate obesity with cruelty toward animals. It is not okay, though, for you to write as though that association as reasonable or okay. It is bigotry. It is no more fair to say that fat people are inherently cruel to animals than it is to say that Latinos are inherently lazy: both are shocking displays of prejudice and stereotyping. Of course, that is a condition your disability (and when it prevents you from decent behavior, it IS a disability.)

To me, it is really not different for you to say "Fat people smell bad and they are responsible for cruelty toward animals" than it is to point at me and say, "You stink. I hate you for eating so many animals." I cannot not take comments like yours personally. That is a condition of my disability (and when a blog renders me speechless with rage it IS a disability.) Like many people on the spectrum, I am overweight and my most significant emotional connections are with other animals. I find it incomprehensible that you would be interested in writing for this audience but so intent on alienating a good portion of it, who would not like you any better if they saw the twinkle in your eye that you find so charming.

My problem is less with you than with Mr. Robison, who should have edited out the place where you stepped into bigotry and should not be defending you when you continue to behave as though the belief that fat people are mean to animals were not as irrational as the belief that all Jews are greedy. I understand the need to allow Ms. McCarthy her full and authentic voice, but everyone needs to be called out in no uncertain terms when they are guilty of prejudice or bigotry. I think it would be very nice if you cared about people with Aspergers being able to read your site without being thrust very aggressively into meltdown. You publicized hate here, and compounded the problem by titling the pieces as though they were THE WAY Aspie women view the world.

John Elder Robison said...

LandonLand, her statements just did not hit me the way they seem to hit you. Maybe it's an Asperger thing or maybe I'm just oblivious but they just went right by me.

I have heard the suggestion that fat people smell different before, and for all I know it's true. My sense of smell is not acute. I don't know if you are old enough to remember coverage of the Vietnam war but I clearly remember how Americans and Vietnamese were identifiable in the dark by our smell; an artifact of diet and culture.

At that time, soldiers said Vietnamese smelled bad to our us and Vietnamese accounts said we smelled bad to them. So "bad" is something of a cultural construct but an identifiably different smell to overweight Americans may indeed have a basis in fact.

People have said many things on this blog over the past few years. If I saw people expressing racist sentiments or something really over the line I would be forced to censor the comments but this does not meet that criteria in my opinion.

LandonLand said...

I think you are so empathetic and the smell issue that you are unable to see past it and you miss my point: I think some fat people smell really bad. I said I had no problem with her writing that, and I meant it. Sure, it was mean but honest and I think an essential part of her narrative. I'll suck it up for that.

What I find bigoted is the fact that she says that being fat means you are cruel to animals. She implies it repeatedly. She never acknowledges that this association is irrational.

I would appreciate very much you explaining why you think blaming one group of people for a societal problem is not bigotry. I think it's an essential part of why bigotry is so dangerous.

How is saying fat people are responsible for animal cruelty different from a racist remark?

MaryBeth said...

Deborah,
Your life (the snapshot you shared) reads so much like mine. Thank you for giving this glimpse. Congrats on your successful struggle to be well adjusted despite the challenges. I'm just finding out, at age 52, that this may have been part of my life since my early days.

MaryBeth said...

Deborah,
Thank you for this glimpse into your life experience. I recognize myself in your lifestory. At age 52, I am revisiting a search I began early in life and explored deeply during my college and post college years. Why am I different, and what can I do to "fit in," yet be myself, accept myself and live a happier life? Fortunately many answers, such as living a healthy lifestyle, have worked for me, although only to a certain degree. As far as any negative feedback you receive, well, anybody who puts herself out there becomes a target. Thank you for braving that and giving so many of us a feeling of belonging - an aspect of life that constributes so much to happiness. Horray for the internet!

John Elder Robison said...

Pardon me, LandonLand, but I don't see Deborah's alleging fat people are responsible for animal cruelty in her words here.

I did not take that particular idea away from what she wrote. I did read "eating animals is cruel," a sentiment I've heard expressed by other vegans, but I did not see that as any kind of attack.

In my earlier response to you I did not mean to suggest I am not empathetic; I simply said the comments didn't offend me as they did you. I'm certainly sorry you were troubled by this but I hope you'll stay engaged here and we'll have a productive outcome for all.

LandonLand said...

I know we all see things differently, but this passage clearly blames fat people for animal cruelty:
"I have no sympathy whatsoever for the obese. Maybe that's from being bullied by my huge family members I don't know. Probably contributed. But for me it symbolizes greed and selfishness at the expense of another. After all, you don't get fat from veggies, you get fat from the flesh and mother's milk of another. Taking what doesn't belong to you. Taking more than your share. Taking more than giving."


How do you read that as not blaming fat people for cruelty against animals? Following it up with "I have issues" is not an adequate acknowledgment that the attitude described here is both nasty and crazy.

She does is again here:
"When I mentioned fat, it was in the context of smells and my sensitivity to them. And yes it does symbolize animal cruelty to me. Remember I'm an animal rights activist. I see where the "meat" and milk come from. That's why I'm vegan. So I have issues yes. :) But as high and mighty as this sounds. I serve Truth, not ego."

Again, where is the part where she is not saying that people are fat because they eat too many animals? Saying "It's my deal" is not adequate.

I don't fault her for yelling at the lady at the store that her ass was falling out of her pants (although I wonder how awful the horrible, selfish fat people Ms. McCarthy insults in public do indeed notice how nasty she is but ignore it because she is disabled and they are too kind to make an issue of it.)

I fault her by standing by a bigoted, irrational belief.

John Elder Robison said...

OK, I can see where you're coming from with that. Those statements do sound pretty anti-fat-people.

I don't think I go so far as seeing fat people as responsible for animal cruelty per her writing; in fact, I sort of dismiss those words because obviously you can get fat from eating lots of stuff other than meat.

Sugar and pasta and soda are three of the biggest contributors to fatness, and none of them are meaty.

Given that, I sort of dismissed that whole line of thought. I can see you took it differently.

LandonLand said...

Thanks, John. I really appreciate your willingess to remain engaged with me on this. I'm still a little flummoxed, because when people wrote something very similar to what you wrote here, she brushed it off:

"Yes white carbs can make you fat. Not everyone that calls themselves a vegan, eats a lot of vegetables. But most who have been vegan for a long time, figure out that eating nothing but white flour doesn’t make you feel very good. I’m vegan out of my love for animals and my hatred of injustice."

I'm being overly literal and lawyerly, but I'm having trouble understanding why you continued to ignore that line of thought after it continued through several posts and was pointed to by several commenters. I honestly get not seeing it at first, but I have trouble seeing how very similar comments made by several people did not awaken you to the possibility that you had actually published something bigoted and cruel.

John Elder Robison said...

LandonLand, if you have watched my behavior on this blog for a while you should notice that I seldom step in during streams of comment. I sort of let things flow.

That's why I stood back until now.

As owner of the blog, I apologize for content in this string that you found hurtful. I maintain this blog to benefit people, and having them feel hurt is not in line with that mission.

However, we all make misjudgements and I really did not think Deborah's words would have the effect they have, on certain of you readers.

There is much good about this general thread of discussion, so I hope we can put this part behind us and move on. I also hope you can see that I am open to presenting various points of view and holding them out for discussion in the most constructive way I know.

LandonLand said...

John, I accept your apology and I apologize for my own unkindness, both to you and to Deborah.

I read a couple of days ago about how debilitating the guilt an Aspie feels after handling an interaction unkindly can be. This is the first time I am actually aware of myself experiencing these feelings from that perspective. It's oddly comforting, one of those times when a little bit of knowledge makes part of how my emotional apparatus work less painful.

I feel bad and am trying to figure out how to authentically represent myself without being too abrasive. I am recognizing that it was realizing how much her words hurt me and how much I am unable to communicate honestly with others without subjecting them to equal pain that excited the intensity of my reaction.

This has been my most prolonged interaction to date with someone on the spectrum where I have been open about my own autism. You have exemplified the values you express in your last paragraph and been very helpful.

Thank you.

And thank you, Deborah, too. So much of you write reminds me of Shirley Jackson, especially _We Have Always Lived in the Castle_. She is one of the writers I love best and identify with most, so that is some of the highest praise I can give.

LunaTec said...

LandonLand, I expressed MY opinion. I have a right to that as do you. I didn't say, Hey everybody be like this. It's not anything I would want for everyone to think, feel or be. I was expressing MY individual viewpoint. MY associations. MY stuff. Don't you have associations with things too? Preferences, dislikes?

It started off as me talking about smells, and also what I see every day as an animal rights activist. Please try not to take offense. It was never meant to hurt anybody.

Listen, I wish I could be politically correct sometimes because my life would be so much easier if I could just 'get with the program'. But it's false. That would be living a lie. I can't do that. I really just can't do that. I have no choice but to be myself and express that as honestly as I can. I feel my good intent is pretty obvious. So please can we leave the issue of fat behind us? There are so many other things I've said on here that you can criticize if you want. But the fat issue is just worn out.

I feel bullied. Which doesn't exactly help me get over my associations. If you feel it's unfair, change my mind. It's changeable. But you won't do it by bullying me.

Let's all be friends here. I'm sure you have opinions too that could hurt someone if they chose to take it the wrong way. I'm sure you also make judgments. None of us are perfect. I know I'm not. But then, I never said I was. Peace! OK?

LandonLand said...

Deborah,

Please do read my last post, which was written simultaneously with yours and does address some of the thigns you say to me.

But-- I don't see any difference between the validity you are willing to give your completely unreasonable association between cruelty toward the obese and flat out racism. I feel terrible for how unkind I have been to you, but I have pressed just as hard when people have made racist comments in my presence. I don't know that I can help that any more than you can help looking at people like me and make bigoted judgments based on nothing but our appearance.

LunaTec said...

LL, It is the FAT, not the PERSON. I would never ever reject a PERSON based on something they have. You HAVE a body, regardless of its weight. You ARE a person. One that is no doubt beautiful, regardless of your body's weight. (((BIG HUG)))

LandonLand said...

Deborah,

I have had people tell me all my life that it was not ME they hated but the fact that I was GAY. I see what you are writing here as the same kind of "hate the sin, love the sinner" attitude that others have also used to bully me with a hug.

John Elder Robison said...

LandonLand, your responses here have me questioning one of my own ideas about Asperger's. I wonder if you'd ponder this and answer me . . .

For a long time, I have known that I am less predjudiced than many people. But it's not because I am a better or more noble person. It's simply because I am oblivious to certain things.

The statement that you are gay does not mean much to me. The suggestion that you may be fat doesn't mean much either. All I really respond to is your ideas.

If we were about to get into a small space, and you weighed 300 pounds, I would have legitimate cause for concern. But here, where we are exchanging ideas through space, your weight or sex or race is just not relevant.

Even in the workplace, it seldom matters to me. If you come in as a guy with a broken car, the fact that you may be gay or Jewish or whatever is essentially irrelevant to me there too.

So my oblivion seems noble when in fact it's more innocent and unobservant, and non-judgemental when the judgement is irrelvant to the purpose of our interaction.

Now, I always thought of that oblivion as an Aspergian kind of thing; sort of tied to our well-known tendency toward social oblivion in general. Yet you are not responding that way at all.

What do you think about that?

Do you respond like me in your own life, but you are different in this thread because of a perceived attack? Or are you different all the time? Or there is there something else going on here?

I will be interested in your thoughts

LandonLand said...

John,

I think we are probably alike in that I respond to someone based primarily on their ideas. I expect people not to care if I am fat or gay.

I am not making the jump from you describing the way you tend to ignore most external differences to a belief that I respond differently based on my perception of bigotry directed toward people like me.

Do you have the experience of feeling that others have directed bigotry toward you? How is your response different from mine when that happens?

John Elder Robison said...

LandonLand, I am not sure . . . that's why I asked you.

As to how I respond when attacked . . . if the attack was online, I think I would just go away. You did not do that; at least I don't think you did. The thing is, I don't think you ever felt I was attacking you yet the affront occurred on my blog. I have never really experienced an analogous situation online.

If it happened in real life, like when people called me a retard as a kid, I was both hurt and angry.

LandonLand said...

I don't feel like you insulted me. I think you were enthralled with some aspects of the initial posts and missed others that were offensive. Really, there were two sentences that should have been edited from the original entry because they crossed a line from individual expression to
bigotry. Not a big deal.

Before I wrote a word, other people had expressed the same feelings I felt, in ways I thought deserved more respect and consideration from both Deborah and you. For me, I have trouble processing things quickly, but I can see where I'm being irrational or simply wrong-headed with time and when somebody helps me see it. For example, I tried to come back and explain my feelings after two stupid initial posts that were just tantrums. Should I be more sympathetic when someone has time to reconsider and clear explanations but does not use those, even after others tell them they have caused pain?

I like the way Sarah wrote a lot more than I like the way I wrote, but it did not get an apology or visible serious consideration, until after I had written.

Is this explaining or just being defensive? It feels like explaining, but I can also feel myself digging in my heels.

John Elder Robison said...

You are right that some others expressed the same thing you did, but you stayed at it, thereby causing me to take notice and respond, and I think it led to an okay outcome.

As to digging in your heels . . . why? I'm not trying to drag you anywhere . . .

LandonLand said...

No, I know you have no intent of dragging me anywhere-- what I was trying to communicate was that I thought I had stopped communicating helpfully. I had stopped responding legitimately to what you were saying. I'm glad you feel good about the outcome. Thanks for saying so-- I do as well.

I don't feel like I have answered your question about whether we see things differently. I will add that I am a high functioning autistic but that my doctor and I are not sure if the Aspergers label is close enough to me to be helpful. My approach to empathy is probably not the same as yours is, but I'm not sure if that's because I actually feel anything different. I am very verbally talented, so I may simply be able to verbalize empathy in a way that NT people find less offputting than they do people whose gifts are more spatial or mathmatical. My current theory is that I think like you but talk like them.

I'm trying to learn my native language.

LandonLand said...

I would like to apologize for hijacking this thread and offer the following comment:

I think it is probably very revealing about what it is like to be an Aspergian woman that this conversation turned into an Aspergian man talking about himself.

I will try to learn from this.

Chasmatazz said...

As far as I'm concerned, LangdonLand, no apology is necessary. Personally, I was so disgusted by the first part of the first posting, that I stopped reading. It's only now that I've managed to come back and read a little more. I didn't see your first comments as "tantrums." They were honest, clear and direct. Only when you started to apologize for yourself, your feelings, and your point-of-view, (something, I might add, that LunaTec has failed to do) did you lose me.

Funny. The people who should be apologizing haven't, and the people who have apologized, shouldn't.

Tidoubleguher said...

Deborah - Thank you again for writing about yourself, your thoughts and opinions. It has proven to be an interesting read. As I've stated previously, much of your story resonates with me. It's a brave person who's willing to put themselves out there and risk the potential fallout afterwords. Hope to see more of you on the 'net.

Wendy

Kat said...

About this:

"I have no sympathy whatsoever for the obese. Maybe that's from being bullied by my huge family members I don't know. Probably contributed. But for me it symbolizes greed and selfishness at the expense of another. After all, you don't get fat from veggies, you get fat from the flesh and mother's milk of another. Taking what doesn't belong to you. Taking more than your share. Taking more than giving."

I am fat. I have been fat and I have been skinny...very skinny. You are right about the real person being on the inside, and I believe you when you say it is the fat and not the person you detest. However, I did find this paragraph very hurtful.

I am no more greedy or selfish than the next person. I don't take what doesn't belong to me, more than my share or more than I give. I am a very giving person. I give a lot of money to animal and people charities.....sometimes sacrificially. I just wish I had more to give.

When I die, I plan to leave money to my favorite animal charities. I connect with animals way better than people. I was a vegan for three years for health reasons and didn't lose a pound. Well, I lost 7 pounds doing a religeous 7 day fast(yes, fat people fast). I drank only water and a very small amount homemade vegetable juice.

I didn't gorge myself on vegan foods either. I ate twice a day. Breakfast was usually organic whole grain toast, no butter and organic oatmeal plain. One average serving of each.

Dinner was a salad with kelp and lemon juice...maybe some nuts...and half a butternut squash...all organic. Besides the fast, in 3 years I didn't lose an ounce. I was still fat by today's standards.

Maybe, just maybe some folks are genetically fater than others and all the grief fat people get causes depression. Depression causes most people to be lethargic. Not moving causes weight gain.

I'm sorry you were hurt by fat/big people. My super tall and skinny parents hurt me. My exceptionally beautiful and skinny mom wanted to stab me sometimes. She was mentally ill. My dad checked out when I was 20 years old-suicide. Doesn't make me hate tall people or skinny people or mentally ill people.

I think the grief you are getting is because fat people have feelings and those feelings can be hurt. Just because they are fat doesn't make them oblivious to pain. They hurt and they cry...just as all HUMANS do. This paragraph hurt me very much because I know I'm not selfish...especially where animals are concerned.

I drove 10 hours to rescue a nearly dead cat. The vet said she wouldn't live 4 days. She is thriving. She doesn't care if I'm fat or how I smell. She cares that I love her and that she's safe with me. Fat doesn't = selfish.

Political correctness has nothing to do with this whole thing. I'm not a big fan of political correctness myself. It's just kinda mean to say the things you said. I totally support your right to say them and I understand that they are YOUR opinions.

You have to understand though that your opinions can be personally hurtful to people. When we burn our hands on the hot oven...we draw back..we react. You hurt people and they are going to react.

I don't mean anything I've said to hurt you. You've had enough hurt in your life. I had so many thoguhts going around in my head, I just needed to express myself one more time on this topic. I'm done on the fat thing now.

Sincerely hope everyone has a good weekend.

Shells said...

Landonland:
Here it is years later, and I'm just now reading all of this. Who knows if you'll see it. I am so impressed that you realized you did kind of hijack the comments. I'm a little over weight too-but mostly Vegan, partly animal product eater. I never even thought about being offended by her comments. Like John, I was surprised that you and others were. She was just talking about herself and I don't know why she would ever need to apologize for opening up and talking about how she feels. And I have to admit, I'm taken aback that THIS is what was taken from her post. I cried reading her descriptions. Not all of them fit me, but the feeling-being childlike and full of contradictions people can't understand-is totally relatable. The pain of not being understood ... man, you drove that point into the ground. I am thankful for those who saw this as what it was. If you do still happen to get the comment updates, how do you feel now reading this, I wonder.