I’m Not Crazy (But You’re Insane) – Intro
I have been called crazy all my life. Still do as I near middle-age. Still do even though I live a normal life with a loving wife and two brilliant children. Even though I have a mortgage, pay my taxes, stay away from drugs and drinking, never gamble, never cheat on my wife, and read a few books a week, I am considered crazy.
Since I was a child, I talked low which was often confused with mumbling. I wasn’t sure if they heard me correctly or they didn’t hear me at all. I shouted out what I just said and the person responded with aggravation. This confused me. Did they not hear me the second time? Or did they find my tone offensive? I was only trying to help them hear me.
I never held onto friends long. I never had a group to hang out with in school. I often wandered on my own. I never joined the kickball game in the playground. I sucked at sports. I had terrible coordination but quick reflexes. I was a clumsy Spider-Man that often bumped into things.
After school, I hung out with other weird juvenile delinquents but never for long. They always found other kids to hang out with that were a little bit more interesting. I recall spending a lot of alone time by myself playing in my room or if the weather was good in the backyard. I collected and played with action figures (G.I Joe, Transformers, Star Wars) which I used to create entertainment.
I watched a lot of television. Sit-coms, sci-fi, adventure shows, and movies. Back before it was famous, I binged-watched. I scoured the TV Guide to find out time slots or what was on in the future that I might be interested in.
As I grew older, around middle school, I found out that I was crazy. I said strange things. Nothing evil. I was respectful to a point. I made weird funny jokes, sometimes about peoples’ quirks, or pointed out things that other people couldn’t see or understand in a situation.
I also found a love of horror films. I was obsessed. I read Fangoria and wanted to go to their conventions. I studied and practiced special F/X, often mail-ordering the materials I needed.
When I rolled into my teen years and started writing horror, that just cemented my craziness. I made no sense to most people. I had one or two friends that were casually interested in horror. They watched movies with me sometimes. But I don’t think the experience was the same for them. I had to be on time for the theatre on a Saturday afternoon. I couldn’t miss the previews. Or if we were watching a VHS tape at their house, I had to watch the whole film uninterpreted. It sucked to go home for dinner in the middle of a movie.
No, it probably was not the same for others. I immersed myself in the story. I studied it, analyzed it. At that time special effects were big in low and high-budget films. Everything was practical and CGI was a long way off. I tried to figure out how they did that effect on the screen. How they pulled off creating a reaction in the audience. It was magic.
I also analyzed other things. Electronics and devices. I often liked to alter them. Make them better in my perspective.
Another thing that made me crazy was my love for punk music. Even though heavy metal road parallels to horror movies, I felt punk was the better partner. Growing up in the eighties it was rare for a child to be into punk. It was violent, loud, and fast. Not something a parent could understand. Alternative music was years away from breaking the mainstream in 1991. All the other kids were into hip-hop, heavy metal, and pop. Those weren’t my thing. I needed to relate to the music. After all, I was crazy in a sane world. I never fit in. I was the weird kid. Punk spoke about that and many more.
All my childhood, I have been abused one way or another. I was picked on. I was bullied. Humiliated. Terrorized. Punched in the head repeatedly. Escaping fight in the school bathroom. Ridiculed. Gaslighted. And ignored.
This all carried into high school, then college, and then the real world. The physical violence toned down. I learned how to talk my way out of a tense situation or avoid them. But the emotional abuse was still there. Bullies grew up, too, and learned to continue their life’s work with words.
At jobs, people continued to call me crazy when I talk about my obsessions or systems or patterns. It sucked. It sucked even when I liked the jobs. I liked systematizing at them. Creating order. Sometimes I worked a little harder at it than the others. Often managers wanted to make me assistant or second assistant. Back then I accepted the offers. Not any more.
As someone the manager counted on to still with procedures, I used to train others how to do jobs. I always showed them how to do the job. Not tell them. Sure, some things could only be told but showing was how I liked to learn. It was visual. It cemented the information in my brain. Back in school, I did poorly when teachers stood at the front of the classroom and spoke what I was supposed to learn. I zoned out. I tapped my fingers and shook my legs (something I still do today). Since I sat at the back most of the time the teachers didn’t bother with me. College was different. It was an art school. Everything was visual and hands-on. I received the best grades of my life in college.
Another thing that made me crazy was my empathy. I often felt for others. People who were pushed around and considered freaks. This kind of cycles back to my horror and punk obsessions. After all, it’s the genre of the outsider, the monster. I related to them.
I never agreed with authority. I hated authority. It never made sense. We are equal. People are equal to me. Why would anyone want to tell me what to do and push me around? How could they not understand that? So teachers, law enforcement, and stuck-up preppy white kids were in my stay-away zone. Which was easy since I was to be ignored.
“Just ignore him,” they always say. “He’s crazy.”
In my early forties, I found I am not crazy.
I am autistic.
Autism is a neurological condition caused by lower levels of neurons and increased levels of white matter in the brain. It is not a disease. It is not caused by vaccines. It is a different operating system. It is a communication system that affects speech, hearing, seeing, balance, eating, etc. It has many paths with bridges going over rivers. Autism removes the bridges or reconstructs them in a certain way. You might have to walk across them instead of driving your car.
I discovered that being obsessed, physically and emotionally sensitive, empathetic, systematic, unfiltered with speech and reactions, analytical, socially avoidant, anti-authoritative, and perceived as difficult was my normal. I embrace it. Why shouldn’t I? It was how God or mother nature made me. He/She/It doesn’t make mistakes, right?
I am autistic. I see the world and you in a way you do not. It is my normal. So when I see a neurotypical speaking in vague riddles, confused about order, not seeing what is in front of their face, not understanding the patterns of a situation or design or a person, not perceiving me as equal, or not having empathy or sensitivity, I consider them INSANE!
It’s only natural I should think that since they think the same of me. But unlike the ones that see me as crazy, I am patient with them. I give them a chance. I don’t necessarily accept them but I deal with them until I return to my salvation someplace else.
I tolerate them until a job or situation is completed.
That is something they never gave me.
So, I am not crazy. Never was. But in my POV you are insane.
© 2021 M.E. Purfield
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