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Offline Lumi Kløvstad

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Listening while Speaking
« on: February 04, 2018, 09:00:02 AM »
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Reposted from my Tumblr

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.

My dad is particularly fond of this expression, and it’s a good one. It calls for us to calm down, slow down, and spend a moment thinking before we open our big fat traps. To shut our pie holes before we open them, and maybe say or do something we’ll regret.

My dad is a very difficult man. He’s never been all that great at expressing emotion. Hell, my sister and I spent the majority of our lives thus far genuinely believing he either hated us or was at best utterly indifferent to our mental and emotional states. The truth is, he feels plenty — it’s just not much of that is visible from the surface. An emotional iceberg if you will.

We just had never really stopped complaining long enough to understand him, and what various things he said or did actually meant.

By constantly complaining that daddy never loved us, we were prizing our own viewpoints and experiences more than his. For my sister, it took her finally moving out to appreciate our dad. For me… well, finances leave me stuck living with the parents as I push closer and closer to 30, so maybe that’s why it took me so much longer to shut up occasionally and take a few moments to what was actually being said.

Dad doesn’t mince words. Nor is he particularly prone to flowery purple prose on any given subject. He tends to be a straight talker from the Ernest Hemingway school of communication (I find this amusingly ironic; he hates Hemingway’s writing with a passion). He says exactly what he means exactly the way he means to say it… or at least after all these years this is what he believes he does. But he’s got a personal lingo, and it can take decades to understand it.

I was nearly 25 before it became clear that saying “That’s not a bad job” is his way of saying “Excellent work”. That “sounds like your day wasn’t horrible” is “I’m happy your day went well”. “Drive safe” is one of several ways he says “I love you.”

He can never seem to say these things directly, and I attribute those to how my grandfather, a classical 1940’s and 1950’s American Manly Man type, raised him. He was, by all accounts, very similar. I don’t think that kind of child raising method scales well to the challenges of two children with varying kinds of Attention Deficiency Disorders, and one of those is also High Functioning Autistic (that’d be me).

At no point has he told me he loves me. According to my mom, it took almost 30 years for him to finally eek those specific words out to HER. At no point has he ever openly admired something that I have worked hard on. He’s often critical, demanding, and holds everything to exacting standards. He has no problems saying those compliments to other people behind my back, but never to my face.

It drives me nuts, more than he can probably ever imagine.

But once I took the time to piece things together, to understand him, it made it easier. I was able to word my complaints in a way he could finally understand, and it has made things so much easier.

Politics though… that still divides us (me, a dyed in the wool Social Libertarian; him, a life-long Fiscal Conservative from an era where those words actually meant something), and I’m like him in many ways, particularly in the way of stamping a foot down on an issue and taking my competition circuit into overdrive. Most political discussions end as shouting matches. Both of us become fixated on winning, not communicating and debate. This is essentially my country’s problem playing out in microcosm— we’re not seeking first to understand the other, then to be understood by the other. We’re seeking first to win, at all costs, no matter the means. It isn’t until we quiet down, slow down, and try to see the other side’s points (and there are always some valid points) and acknowledge those that it becomes discussion — the free exchange of useful and meaningful ideas and viewpoints.

This is something everyone should be practicing every hour of every day.

Because I love my dad fiercely, like he loves me.

But like him… I suck at communicating this.
How not to be a dark lord: the answer to that is a terribly interesting answer that involves an almost Jedi-like adherence to keeping oneself under control and finding ways to be true to yourself in a way that doesn't encourage the worst parts of you to become dangerously exaggerated and instead feeds your better nature. Also, protip: don't fuck with Alchemy or strike up any deals with ancient Japanese Shinigami gods no matter how tempting the deal or how suavely dressed the Shinigami is.

Offline Jorge D. Fuentes

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Re: Listening while Speaking
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2018, 11:27:49 AM »
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Is everyone autistic, these days?
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Offline Lumi Kløvstad

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Re: Listening while Speaking
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2018, 12:20:28 PM »
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Is everyone autistic, these days?

It's becoming a more common diagnosis, so in a way yes. A big part of that is now that it's so much better documented, doctors have a better idea of what to look for so now they can make much more reliable and accurate diagnoses. 30 years ago it was much harder to identify anything less than an extreme case, and as a result a whole bunch of people who were either high functioning or simply didn't have as pronounced a set of symptoms went undiagnosed, or were misdiagnosed as something else. I was the second kid in my school district to be diagnosed with Asperger's and... it was not fun. 18 years of behavioral therapy later and I could reasonably interact with people and the world (by the time I graduated, so, you know, that was a real help), and yet I'd still sell my soul to be normal. There are perks that come with Asperger's (particularly as regards recall of things we're passionate about), but in my honest opinion, they are in no way worth the cost.

Which is why I get mad when TV tries to either demonize Autistic people as being moany drooly crybabies who don't contribute because they can't, or the flip side, where they just make a super genius who's good at everything by age 20 and has total recall because, hey, he's "high functioning". The former is actually a fairly rare case that is very pronounced and extreme, and the latter flat out doesn't exist, and is entirely an invention of TV Land.

Muddying the waters further is that the mostly voiceless, faceless, and remote text based communication enabled by the internet has caused symptoms resembling those of Asperger's specifically to crop up in people who are neurotypical and come from families with no history of Autism as people essentially forget how to read faces and generally talk to each other. Communication is a skill, not a program, it seems, and needs constant practice.

So... *gestures wildly at the original post because it's super important stuff for people to remember*
« Last Edit: February 04, 2018, 12:49:58 PM by Lumi Kløvstad »
How not to be a dark lord: the answer to that is a terribly interesting answer that involves an almost Jedi-like adherence to keeping oneself under control and finding ways to be true to yourself in a way that doesn't encourage the worst parts of you to become dangerously exaggerated and instead feeds your better nature. Also, protip: don't fuck with Alchemy or strike up any deals with ancient Japanese Shinigami gods no matter how tempting the deal or how suavely dressed the Shinigami is.

Offline Dracula9

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Re: Listening while Speaking
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2018, 02:11:06 PM »
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There are perks that come with Asperger's (particularly as regards recall of things we're passionate about), but in my honest opinion, they are in no way worth the cost.

Which is why I get mad when TV tries to either demonize Autistic people as being moany drooly crybabies who don't contribute because they can't, or the flip side, where they just make a super genius who's good at everything by age 20 and has total recall because, hey, he's "high functioning". The former is actually a fairly rare case that is very pronounced and extreme, and the latter flat out doesn't exist, and is entirely an invention of TV Land.

can back this up, as there are several people i've entirely cut out of my life (despite being former friends) due to their conditions being such that while not either of the above extremes, they were completely insufferable due to every conversation on every topic needing to be wheeled back to something they wanted to argue onesided for hours about

far more often it's a case of little things that stack up over time, than any single perpetual state of being


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Re: Listening while Speaking
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2018, 11:58:40 AM »
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Sounds a lot like my dad. My father can be warm sometimes, and over the years I learned to understand him better.
About my dad, it's his consumerism that I can't despise. He works like a dog, yes. And makes good money, and often mock me for not caring about money. "You never really think about money, do you?" he often asks me. But well, he's right that I don't care about it as much; but here's the thing: unlike him, I don't like SPENDING money either. I'm perfectly happy with living quite modestly; he isn't.

As for politics: heh. I disagree with my father about many matters; but he's bearable. I have an uncle who is an open racist, believes in conspiracy theories and expresses sympathies towards fascism. Try dealing with that.
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Offline zangetsu468

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Re: Listening while Speaking
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2018, 03:56:41 AM »
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My father is also a difficult man to understand. I don't believe it's autism, it's more to do with the fact that he doesn't deal with confrontation at all. He tells what I would deem "lies" but I believe he truly believes them. I've confronted him about this before but the past truth seems to be obscured by information that wasn't previously there, even if say it was an event in which I was present, by his side and the only one with him when certain events occurred. I find this to be almost sad in a way, because it affects relationships in his life yet he continues on with it as if nothing happens.

I love him dearly but do not understand how he gets through life, yet he seems to get by. I don't get it, I've just learned to accept it and move on.

EDIT: I do think I know the underlying cause which was witnessing something traumatic as a youngster.
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