Growing up-and still today- all I ever wanted was to be "normal." Of course, people always try to quip back, WELL YOU KNOW...THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS NORMAL. Okay, so...how'd you come to that conclusion? This brings to mind a line from an Everclear song: "I hate those people who love to tell you money is the root of all that kills/they have never been poor/they have never had the joy of a welfare Christmas." If you've never felt like you're so far removed from humanity you wonder if you can even continue to call yourself such, you can't tell me "there's no normal."
|Perfectly normal, perfectly healthy behavior.|
But I think we can all be mature enough to realize that some people fall outside the boundary of "normal" or at least "acceptable." I think I'm on the outside of that. I rarely feel like I meet people who understand my thought process. In nearly 30 years I've only met one, and I was lucky enough to enjoy her company for 3 years before she decided life was too much. I often wonder how that bodes for me... I just want to make a list of a few things I think are abnormal about me and see if anyone out there can identify with me, and maybe learn some things about life along the way.
|Apart from the hug, this looks pretty nice.|
Well let me start at the beginning then, where the idea for this post came from. I was having a nice chat with my therapist last week and this theme came up for the nth time. He then proceeds to tell me that it's impossible because I'm not normal. Okay, I thought, where's he going with this. He tells me that basically I can't be normal because my IQ is probably [high-v.high] (I'm literally so uncomfortable talking about this I can't cop to the real numbers he was talking about because I'm sure it would make me seem like I'm a conceited dick and make me want to vomit from nerves) and that's a pretty darn small part of the population, so by definition I'm not "normal." At this point I start feeling physically ill because someone is saying good things about me. And yet, at the same time I can dispassionately recognize that there are interesting, even admirable things about me but they aren't "really me" according to my derp de derp mind.
All right, trying to make this coherent and stay on track is driving me nuts. Another thing about me is that I'm a perfectionist and I'm constantly worried about will people understand what I'm trying to say? It's one of my biggest fears, not communicating well. Unfortunately I outthink myself on this a lot and end up saying confusing shit because no one else is thinking as hard and metaphorically as I am. More times than not, I'll say something that-I feel-has a lot of hidden meaning in it that I'm waiting for the other person to pick up on. I don't think it ever works how I want. I like to speak in flowery metaphors and in a poetic way than to explicitly state facts or feelings. When I do feel the need to be straightforward and plain, instead of people being confused they get mad. I do this with family a lot, and they get mad and say I'm trying to "psychoanalyze" or "dominate."
I'm too nice and too sincere. Recently I was listening to a podcast where there was a bit where a bunch of guys were trying to win a date with the female comedian working on the show. This one guy was criticized for being "too sincere." They kept ripping into this guy for basically being nice and genuine. OH NO! HE MUST HAVE SOMETHING TO HIDE! SOMETHING'S WRONG WITH HIM, HE'S NICE! I know what /r9k/ would have to say about that.... People tell me I'm a chump or stupid, or even "a fag," for being nice to strangers, being polite to people in the service industry, saying 'thank you' to the building custodian for cleaning up and taking out the garbage. I'm just really nice because I treat people how I would like to be treated. Unfortunately I never feel like it's reciprocated. I wonder on a daily basis if my expectations are so wildly out of proportion with "normal" and that's why I give myself away entirely at every opportunity and feel like my good graces are continually abused.
|Imagine it as the crab speaking.|
I have really bad hypervigilance. Basically any sudden stimuli freaks me out. It's especially bad with sounds and lights. I just don't bother going to clubs or bars any more. Big restaurants are also tough. When I walk in, I take note of all the exits and start creating scenarios in my head. I do the latter all the time though. I have to intellectually plan out what to do "in case of an emergency" or even plan out a conversation. I notice what people are wearing, asses them as a threat, and keep track of where they've been and what they've been touching and where. I have to make sure if I touch something that it's clean or I need to wash my hands. I really do notice everything it feels like. When talking to someone it's so hard not to continually observe everything they are doing and analyze it for hidden meaning/threats. I get distracted easily though by people moving, breathing, drinking, eating anywhere nearby so I have to work hard to tune it out and often lose my hold on the conversation. The sound of people breathing/eating/swallowing often overloads me and I feel sick and panicky because I can't tune it out. Every guy I ever lived with in college was hell to be around at dinner time with all the lip smacking and feral devouring of every morsel. After my mother died, I could finally watch tv during dinner so I wouldn't have to hear other people eating. It also helped that I was usually the only one at home for the next 2 years It's nearly impossible for me to fall asleep without a fan on nearby to block out all the random noise of the electricity in the walls, people snoring in other apartmen, or-as I like to joke with only mild hyperbole- the sound of ants fucking in the yard.
I don't like hugs because they often hurt. Even just a casual touch can be extremely uncomfortable to endure, emotionally because I feel like I don't deserve it and physically because it just plain hurts. One of the things I would like most in life is just have someone come up from behind and hug me gently around the waist. I don't know why but that would be more lovely than just about anything else that's ever happened to me. Usually I have to initiate anything.
It's a little depressing when I think about the hypervigilance because it makes it so hard to enjoy the company of other people, and despite some social anxiety I really do enjoy people. I just prefer a few, close relationships with small, quiet, calm get-togethers instead of omg r u g2 da club 2nite!?
What do you see when you close your eyes? Blackness? Nothingness? Well for me it is pretty bright, sometimes it makes me wince in pain like stepping suddenly outside into the sunlight. I'll see crazy shapes and colors that may sometimes resolve into images or motion, sometimes thoughts will just float out of them. This is the kind of stuff I read about when looking at sensory deprivation, Ganzfeld experiments or other stuff like that. But this happens no matter what, no matter where. Thankfully it's not disturbing at all, just distracting.
|Something like this wouldn't be uncommon.|
It's not just images, I have thoughts about song lyrics, poems, beats, philosophical points that should be debated, inventions, you name it. But it's always flowing so fast through my head I'm lucky if I grab one a day and feel satisfied with what I have. Going off the Blade Runner line, I once described this whole thing to my father like this:
Imagine you're standing under a massive waterfall. The water is cold, so cold it feels like it numbs you, but it cuts like knives, it's pounding so hard you struggle to stand your ground. Your face is upturned, so your eyes are closed, you're lost in the sensations of swirling, biting water all around you. In your mouth you have a thin straw to drink through. You have to keep it in your mouth carefully, holding it tight enough to keep it in the flow, keep it balanced, but not too tight that you would crush it with your teeth so that you can still drink. And now, out of all of that you have to drink only certain droplets of water in the whole stream.
That's really what it feels like to me most of the time, just even sitting around. There's so much to analyze, interpret, conceive, decide, etc that I'm just drowning, struggling in that basin below the waterfall. If I could summarize my point/feelings by stealing someone's webcomic, it'd look like this:
|Happle Tea is one of the best webcomics I've seen.|
But what eats up a lot of my time? Thinking, just straight up bit-crunching thinking about nothing in particular. And when I have a thought, I have to immediately go to Why did I think that? And how did I get to that idea? what would someone say about it from the another perspective? and another and another....Just all kinds of maddening circular thinking that seeks to bisect every thought I have. This of course creates a geometrically increasing train of thought that gets bogged down and cluttered. My brain needs some better coding because it's losing so much to this extra processing.
The thoughts I can grasp onto from the "stream" and examine often get lost in this clutter. So it's a damn struggle to cling to a good idea without losing it in the surrounding ripples of thought.
I want to know how to know if I'm smart. People tell me I'm smart, so should I just believe them? I'm sure there are people that tell Charlie Sheen he's perfectly okay the way he is. I don't know. I can't let anything go, so I think back to my school days when my peers would tell me I was crap and the teachers thought I was a hassle but they wanted to always skip me ahead a few grades. I remember a few specific times that kids would say "yeah well if you're smart then what's the square root of ____ or what's (insert another math problem)." Then when I didn't know they'd laugh and tell me I was a retard. Once, in 8th grade I had a teacher say to me, "What are you, retarded or something?" because I couldn't/didn't want to get up and diagram a sentence on the board.
Then I contrast that with university, where I have professors telling me I should go into a PhD program or giving me A's for what I consider poorly written papers and my classmates aren't doing so well. I always feel like everyone around me is smarter or better than me, so I just don't know how to make sense of it all. I literally, LITERALLY think that the high school drop-out sweeping out the subway station is smarter than I am. At least he has a job, he pays taxes that contribute to society and he has a family. I sit in my room reading books about things 99% of the population doesn't care about and thinking about the metaphysical nature of existence.
I want to know how to know if I am intelligent or if I am just insane. People say that there is a fine line between genius and insanity, but if you're insane then how can you know? Do insane people always know they are insane? Do they think they know what is really going on? Plato said that the true wise man realizes he knows nothing. In that case, does a genius recognize that he knows nothing-or rather- that Knowing the Truth is impossible and therefore he knows that he knows nothing. But then, is that in and of itself something? I'll spare you the next paragraph of me trying to turn this into a logical proof, but it makes me wonder....why does the wise man know he knows nothing but the insane person often feel like they have 1) control and 2) certainty. I guess I'm just talking about certain types of schizophrenics here, but you hear people with crazy ideas (they would call them theories) saying IT'S THE ONLY POSSIBLE ANSWER!!!
Why has it come to be like this? Why is it so seemingly backwards? What is the nature of our being that makes this true? Is it a part of just living in the Universe? Do other creatures on this planet think like that? Do creatures not on this planet think like that? I thought about ending this post with a silly image and a joke but I think I'll end it with a clever story I heard on a podcast.
When I get bogged down in all of this, I try to remember the point of this tale told by Seth Shostak who was the scientific adviser on the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. He was talking with John Cleese and Keanu and some of the other actors about the meaning of life in the Universe. Cleese asked him "surely we must be here for some grander purpose." To which Shostak thoughtfully replied, "maybe, but if you'd asked the same question 100 million years ago the answer then was 'you're just a dinosaur.'"
Please leave some thoughtful replies, I'd like to know what you think about this stuff.