anxiety, aspergers, autism, changes, culture, depression, health, ideas, living abroad, philosophy, politics, psychology, travel

Big Boys Don’t Cry

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Lebron James Crying

No More Gutterballs, Grandpa

When I was 9 or 10, my maternal grandma and his second wife came to visit us in Houston from Missouri. They took us bowling two days in a row. That was one of their favorite activities. We’d go to their local bowling alley whenever we’d to see them. There wasn’t much else in the Ozarks to keep us occupied. Often I’d get frustrated and cry because I wasn’t performing well. I was only a child who didn’t know better. All I wanted was to make strikes and spares. The frequent gutterballs took their toll on my pride. Grandpa would always scold me for my outbursts. Crying was forbidden under his watch. I remember the last time like yesterday. I was about to have a meltdown when I noticed Grandpa staring at me and shaking his finger.

Avenge Me, Boys

The point I’m making is we live in a society where it’s not acceptable for boys or men to express their emotions in any way, shape, or form. A prime example comes from the 1984 classic Red Dawn. That movie is about a backdoor Soviet invasion of the United States. A group of teenage rebels led by Patrick Swayze called The Wolverines after their school mascot fight back. Swayze and his younger brother played by Charlie Sheen encounter their POW father portrayed by Harry Dean Stanton opposite a chain-linked fence. They know he’s about to die. Stanton tells his sons he was tough on them for a reason and orders them not to cry. The character implies they’ve gone soft for exhibiting emotions. One of the last things he says before they leave is, “Boys, avenge me!” In other words, the only things they were allowed to feel were anger and rage. Remorse and sorrow were verboten. I’m not reviled by the disposition of Stanton or my granddad. I chalk it up as them being relics of their time from a different generation where men were expected to be Alpha males and toxic masculinity was unheard of.

Nice Guys Pay; Bad Boys Lay

Much of this sentiment surrounded me every day I was in military school and the Coast Guard. I’m not a big fan of third and fourth wave feminists. Some of their ideas I find a bit extreme, but I agree with them upon the fact that toxic masculinity must be addressed head on. It’s detrimental in the long run. This I surmise is why there’s more male sociopaths and hardened criminals than female ones. There’s too much of it in professional sports as well in my humble opinion. America has become a society where the dating culture has told us nice guys who show compassion are weak while bad boys who display aggression are strong, dominant, and what women want. Sensitivity and social awkwardness equal creepiness whereas cockiness and brash behavior equate to confidence the latter of which makes the ladies drool and cream. Too often I see this has seeped its way into the dating culture. Everywhere I look without fail, dating gurus male and female say nice guys finish last while bad boys win the girls. By the time the girls catch on and realize bad boys are harmful, it’s too late. We’re told they’ve hit the wall and are no longer marketable. I’ve grown so cynical; I don’t know what to believe anymore.

Suck it Up, Buttercup

The media makes it seem like we can control our emotions 24/7 like Vulcans. The human race hasn’t evolved to that point. It was no secret I was suffering from anxiety and depression in the military. I didn’t get sentimental, but it made me bitter and harbor loads of resentment. I stated in my last note why I hate everything about the East Coast of the United States and the military. Doing everything the exact opposite of how I was trained in the services like wearing the complimentary colors, starting off with the other foot, hanging and folding my clothes the other direction, growing facial hair, and living in other countries the GOP demonizes were my coping mechanism from the trauma. I’m not allowed to discuss my feelings because nobody wants to hear it. Everyone thinks you can snap out of depression which is anything but true. To forgive and forget is easier said than done. The first part I might be attainable, but I can’t envision myself ever doing the latter. Once trust is lost, it’s almost impossible to gain back.

Explore Your Sentiments

One stereotype about Asperger’s especially males is that we don’t feel empathy or exhibit emotions. This is one of the primary reasons we’re mistaken for sociopaths. We’re not allowed to show it because that’s what the media has told us. All I’m allowed to exude is anger or joy not fear, guilt, or sadness. Last year, I remember watching Interstellar on Netflix. It’s about a farmer turned astronaut played by Matthew McConaughey who travels into space to find a planet to terraform as Earth becomes uninhabitable. Anne Hathaway plays his co-pilot and one of three scientists. Before the mission, McConaughey achieves the insurmountable task of saying goodbye to his children. He mentions to his daughter they may be the same age when he returns. The viewer disregards this in the beginning, but then it starts to catch on. There’s a scene where McConaughey retrieves his daughter’s messages on the intercom. Later you see she’s grown up. His adult daughter, played by Jessica Chastain, gives him the rundown over what happened over the years. That scene broke me in two. I couldn’t help myself because it hit too close to home. It made me reflect on my own life.

Family is All in the End

One of my biggest regrets is not spending more time with my niece and nephew between the time I left Thailand and went home before my next assignment in Vietnam in spring 2016. I’d been gone and hadn’t seen my family in person for two years while watching Interstellar. The background music compounded the situation. Luckily, it was in the privacy of my own home. I would’ve been embarrassed had I let it out in public. I went into the bathroom and took a shower to cleanse myself afterwards. I could count on one hand the time number of times I conversed with my family via Skype and Facebook not including when we spent Christmas together online. My niece, who was in elementary school last time I’d seen her, was now the same age as my middle school students. It still bothered me the next day at work, and my coworkers asked if I was okay. I was going to travel to Australia with a friend during the summer of 2018, but I cancelled those plans. Not only was I low on funds, I feared I would never to get to see my family again. I can always venture to Australia or wherever later on, but only get to see the kids grow up once.

Beard Away the Sorrow, Hair’s a Tissue

I don’t know if anyone else notices, but you almost never see a man with a beard or facial hair get upset and break down on screen. It’s as if Hollywood and society have told us it’s even less forgivable if a bearded man exhibits emotion. They’ve placed a higher standard on him than his hairless counterpart. He’s supposed to be strong and dominant and show zero weakness. The only time he may get a free pass is if someone in his immediate family dies. I mentioned before I never grew a beard until after I moved abroad, but luckily I was clean-shaven when I watched Interstellar. If you think long and hard enough, when was the last time you ever saw a man cry with a beard? I’ll bet the readers can only count that on one hand if not one finger. This is why I feel it’s imperative that Hollywood activists address this issue and stop dispensing the message that it’s not okay for grown men or boys to express their emotions the same way women and girls do. Ridding society of the stigma towards mental health, therapy, and the need for antidepressants and anxiety pills would be nice, moreover. If Donald Trump isn’t an expert on politics or economics, I’d say it’s a safe bet neither is Tom Cruise on behalf of psychotherapy.

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anxiety, aspergers, autism, changes, culture, depression, education, health, ideas, philosophy, psychology

Autism vs. Narcissism

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Certain Misconceptions

There’s a common stereotype about folks on the spectrum in that we lack empathy. This I suspect is why the general public mistakes us for narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths. The difference between us and them I’ve explained is auties and Aspies are egocentric whereas the latter three are egotistical. I’ve elaborated not all narcissists are sociopaths or psychopaths but all psychopaths and sociopaths are narcissists. Folks with autistic spectrum disorder want to relate to others but don’t always know how. Those with narcissistic personality disorder are cognizant of their actions, but they don’t care. How do I know? My father and two oldest siblings have NPD. I’m the polar opposite from them. Both of my sister’s grand prizes of husbands as well as my oldest brother’s long-term girlfriend and now wife also have NPD. Narcissists tend to attract one another. My stepmother is self-important like Dad but not as bad. To protect their privacy and because I’m too embarrassed to mention certain names, I’ll only refer to them by their connections towards your truly.

A State of Denial

I have another brother who’s somewhat deficient in empathy but he means well. He and I were raised by our mother. People think those with ASD are hoggish because we sometimes require accommodations. Dad, Sister, and Brother One believed I was a spoiled brat who needed extra discipline. All three were in denial that I had anything wrong. To this day, I’m convinced neither three will ever accept it. That’s one of many reasons we’re not on speaking terms and why I have limited contact with them. They’re absolute flakes and wholly unreliable. They think the whole world revolves around them. They never plan ahead and always expect everyone to drop what they’re doing to cater to them. That’s not the same as requesting certain consideration. They’re also great bullshitters. They’re never around when you need them. The only time either of them come around is whenever they want something. They manipulate people and put on their superficial charm pretending to be everybody’s best friend.

A Sister From Another Mother

All of these are why Mom, Brother Two, and his wife are the only ones in my family with whom I I have any relationship. People often ask me what they do for a living. My father is semi-retired, but he works part-time for Brother One who owns a landscaping company. Sister is what I call a snake oil salesperson. She preaches about positive energy and sprinkles her pixie dust on other people’s personal problems. She’s of those pseudo-life skill coaches who promises if you do this and do that, then the whole universe will open up. If you just drop $200 down, she’ll give you all the answers you need and the same platitudes you’ve heard all along. If only her clientele knew how Sister treated her family, they’d see her true colors. I confronted her about it and told her Sister-in-Law (Brother Two’s wife) was more of a sister to me than she’ll ever be. Sister-in-Law at least trustworthy and dependable.

Tales of the In-Laws

Sister has a long track record or picking out losers thinking she can fix them. Her late husband was a real piece of work. Brother-in-Law must have sniffed a lot of paint fumes when he was a kid. He was a blowhard. None of my family or friends liked him. He’d always talk smack about us. The guy had the nerve to call me a closet pedophile. Brother-in-Law was one of those right-wing nutjobs who listened too much to Infowars and thought everything was a conspiracy. He’d put on his chest puff routine and act like could walk on water, eat bullets, and shit ice cream, but he was a coward deep down. Brother-in-Law had never been outside the state of Texas that I recall except to Vegas to attend Brother Two and Sister-in-Law’s wedding. He was too afraid to board an airplane because he worried about germs. The guy tried to convince me he was an Alpha male and that I was a cupcake. One way I saw through him was when my mother needed a bag of concrete lifted. Brother-in-Law whined that his back was sore. I worked at Lowe’s then, and knew the proper procedures. Thus. I obliged and lifted instead no problem. Then I called him out and asked him, “Where’s your brass balls now, tough guy?” Sadly, he passed away four years ago. What’s more, my nephew, their son, has his late father’s smart mouth. I tolerated Brother-in-Law, but I never cared for him. Her current boyfriend sounds like a real tool, but that’s another story. I’ve never met the guy, yet I know the kind of men to whom she’s drawn.

Gaslighting and Denial

Sister is the same-centered person she was when Brother-in-Law as alive. Granted, she got worse since they got involved, but she’s eight years my senior. She knows better, but she refuses to change. She wasn’t much better when she was involved with her first hubby, a two-bit musician. Sister hasn’t improved since Brother-in-Law met his demise. Dad, Brother One, and Sister never take responsibility for any of their actions. Everything wrong is always someone else’s fault. I know gaslighting is every narcissist’s favorite tool because that’s part of their compendium. Too often, they never gave me credit for anything original. Anytime I said something with merit, they would accuse me of reverberating someone else’s words. They had a penchant towards making me second guess myself and question my own judgment. Neither three have never been diagnosed with NPD, but they share certain traits. They won’t get therapy because they think there’s nothing amiss about them, and they’re without shame. I’m certain Brother One is a full-blown narcissist. He’s the worst of the three.

Cheap Gifts and Bogus Apologies

Skeptics often doubt I have Asperger’s because I have some people skills and bullshit detectors. Little do they know, I acquired these traits growing up with three narcissists. I’ve been battle-tested many times, and I caught onto their ploys. Recently, I celebrated my 40th birthday. Dad came to my party and gave me four brownies as my gift. That’s how cheap he is. Dad lives in an $800K house, but he couldn’t afford to get me a present. I wasn’t upset because I knew that was typical. I adopted the same mindset with him after living in Vietnam. If I ever expected anything to happen, I had to assume the outcome would be absolute garbage. I anticipated he’d put on his Father-of-the-Year act and smile at me through his teeth though I could count the number of times I’d seen him the past few years on one hand. Brother One thought it was my 39th birthday, or at least that’s what he claims. He and Sister were too busy to be bothered and came up with lame excuses not to come. Then they said we could meet up another time, but I told them don’t bother. If it’s too much for them to remember their youngest sibling’s 40th birthday, they’re not worth the time of day.

There You Have It

One of the key contrasts between someone with ASD and those with NPD is that we’re brutally honest while they’re pathological liars. Every time I tried to discuss an issue with them, they’d dance around it and claim plausible deniability. Dad had a penchant towards answering questions with other queries. Narcissists polish themselves as something bigger than they are. Brother One enamors himself with accolades that he has the best landscaping business in Austin. I’ve seen his work, and it’s mediocre at best. There’s nothing earth-shattering about it. Dad and Stepmom think they’re more sophisticated than everyone else because they lived in New York for 17 years. Stepmom was an assistant editor for the gardening section of Newsday, but she acts like she’s some Pulitzer Prize winning journalists. She thinks she’s intellectually superior towards everyone else because she has a Master’s Degree and the ability to recite every other ten-dollar word in the Oxford Dictionary. My uncle who’s known her since he was in middle school mentioned this. I gave up on all of them and have minimal contact because I knew that was the only way I could maintain my sanity. Blood may be thicker than water, but it can still be toxic. To put it bluntly, that’s how I know the difference between someone with ASD and a narcissist.

 

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Living in the Wild, Wild West

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The Need for Gun Control

One of the primary reasons I no longer live in America is gun violence. I’m tired of turning on the news and hearing stories about school shootings and deranged gunmen mowing down several people. The NRA is a terrorist organization in my humble opinion. They have more blood on their hands than the IRA. Of that I’m certain. At least the latter has a righteous cause. The National Rifle Organization cares nothing about the lives they’ve destroyed. The Irish Republic Army wants to repatriate Northern Ireland back to the Republic of Ireland. The latter had the audacity to disband after 9/11. The NRA fills people’s heads with hogwash in that they’re convinced we’re safer when everyone carries firearms. Funny how they ban guns at their headquarters. Nutjobs like Alex Jones exacerbate the dilemma when they pontificate nonsense about the government coming to take our guns and enslave its citizens. The Sandy Hook parents had every right to sue that jerk. Wackos who listen to that tripe are convinced they stand a chance against a platoon of Marines donning kevlar, a regimen of armored tanks, or a squadron of drones.

Shoot ‘Em Up There, Partner

In spring 2016 after my return from Thailand, I heard on the 6 o’clock news about a gunman in West Houston who wounded and killed several people at a Conoco gas station. The perpetrator was a military vet who served in Afghanistan. I’m surprised the media didn’t blame it on Asperger’s, but that’s another story. I suspect battle stress had something to do with it. How does this relate to gun control? The last guy he killed was carrying a concealed handgun. I wasn’t there, but I know what happened. I know Texans and how they think. Rather than run for cover, the dumbass was trying to be a hero and engaged the gunman in a showdown. Then the shooter offed him like a fly. The moron learned the hard way he was outmatched. That doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out. Though he may have fired his handgun at a range, I’m positive the guy never saw any action like the gunman. It never occurred to him the police and SWAT team are trained for these situations. These idiots watch too many movies. That’s another part of the problem.

I Dub Thee Unforgiven

Speaking of which, one of my all-time favorite films is Unforgiven. There’s a reason why that flick is only one of three westerns to win the Oscar for Best Picture. The other two were Cimarron and Dances with Wolves. I liked Unforgiven because it de-romanticizes all the spaghetti westerns Clint Eastwood and others made during the earlier part of the 20th Century. It debunks all the myths we grew up believing about the Wild West. It’s one of the few movies I liked the antagonist more than the protagonist. Clint Eastwood plays the antihero Will Munny, a retired bounty hunter traveling to Montana to kill two outlaws who mutilated a woman. The main antagonist, Little Bill, portrayed by Gene Hackman is the sheriff of the town where Munny is headed. Somewhere in the movie, English Bob, played by Richard Harris arrives for the same reason. He travels with a writer from back east named Beauchamp who’d never ventured out west before. All the while, Beauchamp is drafting tall tales and urban legends he’d heard about English Bob and such.

Debunking the Myths and Legends

The part that caught my eye was that firearms were banned in the town. Little Bill roughed up English Bob and arrested him for carrying concealed firearms. Most people by default would cheer for the protagonist but not me. I liked Bill because he demystified all the legends about outlaws being the fastest draws in the west. I admired Little Bill because he not only was good at his job, but he had excellent bullshit detectors. The viewer could tell the man was way before his time. After awhile, Beauchamp put two-and-two together and ascertained English Bob and the rest of those guys were full of beans. Unforgiven gave a real life depiction of how life was in that era. People didn’t walk around carrying six-shooters and have duals periodically. Most of the cowboys were either black or Mexican not white guys settling on the frontier. The majority of firearms they used were shotguns and rifles to defend their livestock from predators or hunting. The only people carrying pistols were the sheriff or the outlaws, and we all know how much the latter respected the law. Even when the sheriffs had to engage them, they wouldn’t go alone. They’d organize a posse full of trained gunmen.

Draw Partner!

That’s the problem with Hollywood and gun culture. All the charlatans out there like Alex Jones only know what they see on screen. The reason Wyatt Earp was so famous was because he was calm, steady, and collected. The guy had nerves of steel. The same was true about Wild Bill Hickok. Most of those ‘cowboys’ would get drunk saloons and get themselves hurt or killed doing something stupid. We all know how brave and bold men are when they’ve had too much to drunk. I’m sure they never puffed themselves up as the meanest baddest sons-of-bitches who ever lived. Even if you read about Wyatt Earp, you’ll learn they had gun control back in Tombstone. During the shooting at O.K. Corral, Earp, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and Doc Holliday killed the brothers Tom and Frank McLaury, Billy and Ike Clanton, and their compadre, Billy Claiborne. The latter refused to bequeath their firearms upon arrival in Tombstone and tried to challenge the former. It cost them their lives. Most of those famous outlaws we hear about like Billy the Kid and Jesse James killed their victims when they were most vulnerable. Sometimes they’d shoot them in the back. They wouldn’t dare challenge the town sheriffs in a draw. Wyatt Earp or Doc Holliday would’ve wasted Billy the Kid or Jesse James in no time.

In Cold Blood

There’s more to a gunfight than the ability to aim and pull the trigger. The military and police are trained to dodge bullets, take cover, and handle stovepipes and misfires. There’s even breath control which was snipers must master. That’s not so easy when you have a target shooting back at you and your heart rate is jacked. Will Munny in Unforgiven knew these things which is why he an effective killer. Sadly, most viewers only see action in these films and never see the substance within the storyline. Towards the end, you finally see the guy’s true colors realize how evil the man is. In a nutshell, this validates my argument about gun control. I can promise the readers if they learned about the outlaws in the Wild West, they’d realize they were cowards who killed their victims in cold blood like the Orlando nightclub and Las Vegas strip shooters. When was the last time you heard of anyone trying to rob or shoot up a police station? Never, right? The Fort Hood shootings were committed in gun-free zones, and the second one blew his brains out like the spineless fiend he was. Gun control isn’t about taking away the firearms of ordinary citizens who wish to defend their homes and businesses or go hunting. It’s about background checks, thorough vetting, and keeping guns away from criminals and the mentally ill. It also entails banning automatic weapons. Nobody needs an AK-47 or an AR-15 to defend oneself. If we have no gun control, we might as well have no law enforcement.

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Narcissism is Not Feasible

 

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Photo by Chait Goli on Pexels.com

No, No, Not Me

During the 2016 presidential campaign, my mother made a shocking observation. She said Donald Trump acts like somebody with Asperger’s. Had it been any other person, I would’ve been offended. She meant that he makes off-the-wall comments that inappropriate for social settings. I knew it wasn’t a dig towards me. Many of thosee uninformed not only compare Aspies with sociopaths but folks with narcissistic personality disorder. It’s true there’s no cure for either three. Sociopathy and narcissism go hand-in-hand. Meanwhile, too many variables disconnect Asperger’s with the other two. The main difference is folks with autism and Asperger’s are egocentric whereas narcissists and sociopaths are egoistic. Just because the root word is “ego” applies to both doesn’t mean they’re in the same realm.

Too Much or Too Little

Someone who’s egocentric wishes to relate to others on the one hand. Aspies and auties want to fit in. We yearn to empathize and exude compassion. One the other hand, egoism is the belief that one is superior to others as in the case of narcissists. The latter knows better unlike the former but doesn’t care. The media gives mixed signals regarding how we should represent ourselves. We’re told women dig a man who’s sure of himself. Confidence they say is the sexiest thing he can have. We fail to realize is there is such a thing as too much. An overabundance leads to arrogance. The sad thing is too many mistake vanity with reassurance. A narcissist knows how to manipulate people and prey on their fears and insecurities. Narcissists like sociopaths flatter everyone with superficial charm. Thus the reason, I say many sociopaths are narcissists.

We Know Better Than That

The narcissist thinks the whole world revolves around him/her. They expect everybody to drop what they’re doing and roll out a red carpet for said individual. Donald Trump is cognizant of his actions. He behaves that way because he was born rich. Nobody ever had the gall to call him out on his misconduct or hold him accountable for his manners or lack thereof. The man is over 70. Trump knows how crass he is. He was aware how unprofessional it was when Trump mocked a handicapped reporter on TV and dismissed his remarks about grabbing women by their privates as locker room banter. A person with Asperger’s would feel ashamed and make sure to never do that again. The last thing we want is to embarrass ourselves and make people have more contempt for us. This is why I now understand why keeping face is crucial in Asian culture. While I don’t agree with the entire concept, there are many facets of it we can adopt into Western society.

Meet the Narcissists

The main way those on the spectrum learn social interaction is through personal experience. Our posterior knowledge makes us wiser and more adept. I’m no expert, but I’m certain many narcissists get stupider as their egos grow bigger. The more validation they receive, the more invincible they feel. I know Donald Trump gets his jollies off provoking others. The same is true about Kanye West. They’ve always been full of themselves, but Trump has gotten worse since Trump became President. The same I feel about Kanye since his involvement with Kim Kardashian. Both suffer from delusions of grandeur as if they’re the greatest of their kind. Everybody I’ve known with autism and Asperger’s on their worst day has more humility than your average narcissist on one’s best. Many narcissists like sociopaths are pathological liars which cancels out any possibility of someone with Asperger’s being one. Alas, narcissists and sociopaths never take accountability for their actions. They always place the onus on someone else.

No More Fears and No More Praise

Whether they try to feign sophistication or hate being outdone is what fuels the narcissists’ egos I can’t say. What I can tell you is Aspies and auties learn from our mistakes and tend to exercise more caution as a result. In fact, sometimes we tend to be too careful. This explains why I’ve developed the habit of saving face myself. I’ve had more than one person tell me I’m brave for all that I’ve done, but I never let it go to my head. I’ve made mistakes along the way and done things I regret. I don’t hide my blunders, brag about my successes, or toot my trumpet over my accomplishments. Truth be told, I have a tendency to look back and wish I’d done things differently or sooner. I’m more self-conscious in a culture where keeping face is important. Not only do I stick out like a sore thumb; I feel I’m being judged non-stop and that the locals place higher standards on me being a foreigner and an English teacher. One last thing before I leave you. Does anyone remember when I divulged the top ten list of professions that attract the most sociopaths? Teachers ranked in the top ten of lowest sociopathy factor. I just thought you should know that. If I was a narcissist, I wouldn’t be very good at my job.