Former friends, loyalty and Being Autistic

I seem to utilize my blog at times where I feel really emotional, or post meltdown. Sometimes I feel calm and serene while updating but most of the time I am dealing with inner turmoil.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Periodically throughout the years, someone who made negative comments about my mother and essentially ghosted me over a decade ago, has constantly reached out to my family members to engage in friendly banter — all while choosing to ignore me with every attempt to find out what I did wrong, apologize and clear the air. This person would press ‘block’ nearly immediately.

I wasn’t trying to recreate a friendship we just had (which is what they thought I was trying to do), I was merely trying to reduce or eliminate the negative feelings they had towards me.

I thought this was the right thing to do.

Seeing the comment they made yesterday (on my family members post) was no different. I sent an apology, said their kindness ‘didn’t go unnoticed’ and attempted to reach out. I had done this periodically throughout the years in the hopes that they would grow as a person, forgive and ‘be okay’ with who I am as a person. I’m not sure why I would be lead to believe any differently when the example of their behaviour that I was presented with was kind, conversational and engaging.

Well, I was wrong. I was very wrong. Once again, I misread the social cues. I reached out and got blocked.

I went to my other (art) account and then asked them to “please do not interact with my family anymore.” I had told my family member how this person had been treating me throughout the years (with visual proof, this time) in the hopes that they would stand by me, support me and no longer associate with someone who had been treating me so disrespectfully.

The response I got was probably one of the cruelest, most judgemental messages I have ever received in my life. There were comments about me being negative, toxic, throwing a temper tantrum, how this person is in their 30’s now and they’ve grown and that’s due in part to the fact that I am no longer in their life, that my attempts to reach out (and in my words, reconcile) were harassment. This was two exceptionally long messages. I then explained that my family member had read the words they told me, and finally they told me to ‘go F myself’ and that I was ‘toxic AF’. This person also chose to misgender me. If they would have taken the time to even learn about my Autism diagnosis, they would have seen how these comments were rooted in ablism. I did not have my diagnosis until 5 years ago. I didn’t even self diagnose at the time we were friends.

Now, let’s not forget that people change a whole lot in 12-14 years. I certainly am not the same person I was in my late teens/early twenties. My main focus is doing what I can for the Autistic community and supporting cat welfare organizations when I am able to. My mindset is “What can I do for others?” —especially in times of distress.

The part that hurt the most is that this lead to a huge argument with my family member who was incredibly defensive and refused to cut this person out. Fortunately, this former friend of mine blocked my family — but in the end, it wasn’t really about the former friend. It was about remaining loyal to family. It was about being supportive of your family member when someone else has chosen to spew words that don’t; harbour any truth; words that were made to hurt.

I cried a significant amount last night. I had a meltdown. I felt like I couldn’t see, like I couldn’t breathe. None of the words I was saying (and the way I was explaining the situation) seemed to have resonated with those around me. I felt wholly exasperated.

I was essentially crying out for much needed emotional support and I was not getting it from those around me. I was not getting the “I care about you. This person treated you poorly. I love you, I have your back. I wouldn’t ever associate with someone who treats you like this. This is showing who they are as a person and it’s not reflective of who you are.” None of that. I got this kind of support from my friends, albeit – online. That doesn’t negate how thankful and gracious I was to each person who was willing to listen.

The moral of the story is: remain loyal to your friends and family. Stand up for them. Don’t allow them to be bullied by others. Don’t sit idly by and be complacent. Not involving yourself is essentially saying “hey, this behaviour is okay.” it’s not saying “i don’t want to be involved in drama.”

Engaging in friendly banter with someone who bullies your relative is a way to continue to re victimize and trigger them — yes, it is even worse if they are Neurodiverse. We need more allies. We need less people to be complacent with ableist behaviour and more people to stand up and say “this isn’t okay how you are treating them (my family). I don’t feel comfortable engaging with you unless you make amends and express kindness towards them.” either that, or swiftly blocking them without allowing pride to get in the way.

That’s all I wanted.

I’ve got those self-isolation blues!

A new piece of art – “Bright Skies”

As usual – I have been slacking when it comes to writing and updating this blog. That’s a little unbecoming and not up to the high standards I reluctantly uphold for myself.

It’s been hard and my energy has been fluctuating. There are days where I am apt to clean and tidy up my surroundings and then there are days that are spend entirely in bed, sometimes accompanied by cookies.

I’m on a constant rotation of just a few things. Netflix, napping, eating, art and a minute amount of self care. I’m trying to focus more on that because I know how important it is for my mental health.

Some tasks are more difficult than others, including running Made by Autistics Community on facebook – a task that is emotionally draining at the best of times – it puts me right in the forefront of having to maintain some order and good reading comprehension. I’m not great at the comprehension aspect and I find that keeping objects orderly versus people is already something I obsess over. Throw emotions in to the mix and I sink, real fast. I make mistakes, we all do – but there’s one thing we can choose to NOT do – and that’s call people names. I had enough of this in my past (hurled towards me with a cold blast of anger, no less) and I don’t need to be triggered.

I’m thankful I have people I can speak to who have been supportive of me because I can only take so much criticism in one day. I burn out faster than i’d like. It’s been hard not having any physical affection or the inability to see my friends and hang out in close quarters. I realize that we’re trying to do our best as a whole to stop the spread of a really horrible virus and some of the things we can do are:

  1. Wash Your Hands
  2. Maintain Your Distance
  3. Be Nice

Three rules that could make a big difference. Hope you are staying healthy and happy!

PS. I also started a petition to make it mandatory to have ALL cosmetics be tamper-proof sealed. Could you sign it?

The costs of being an Activist

When I first found out that I was Autistic, my life finally made sense. It was a sigh of relief. I didn’t know of the great change that the Neurodiversity movement has been striving for until I was able to join the conversation.

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels.com

Whether it’s the blue divide, eugenics, harmful imagery, hate towards LGBTQ2+ individuals or a vast variety of other pertinent social issues, I am continually learning.

Some of these issues are very divisive. Throw religion in to the mix and it’s a whole other can of worms.

Sometimes i get so fired up and I feel compelled to create content about it. I hope that it’s something people want to read and share. Although, that’s not always my main motivation, I believe it helps me get out all the things that are bubbling up under the surface so I can rest a little bit easier, knowing i did something constructive with it.

From being targeted by friends-of-a-father-of-an-Autistic-child to an Autistic Christian content creator, to someone who alleges that I am creating content with hate directed at someone else (amongst many other examples), It hasn’t come with out its fair share of drama which I am not immune to. Yes, people do make critical and hateful comments towards me.

I don’t think anyone is immune, i think what varies is the way you handle it. Bullying is not something that’s new to me. I always stood for what I believed in. Seemingly having a non-conformist opinion (the contrary to what everyone else was thinking), I never went along with the general construct of society. I usually didn’t agree with my peers. I knew I stood out and that I was weird or different. My schoolmates didn’t hesitate to be cruel and unusual with telling me these things.

I cried a lot as a child, but as an adult – I have chosen to find different ways to handle things. My life experiences have paved the way for me and have created positive changes in my way of thinking. I am not saying that I always have the most optimal coping strategy; it’s flawed.

I do get angry sometimes. I choose to talk about my feelings with others so I can get an alternative point of view. I think it’s essential for me to form some well-rounded responses, even if they just live in my head and are never uttered aloud.

Negativity bias is also something I struggle with, thanks to years of emotional abuse during my most crucial brain development years. This is very evident when I get a flurry of positive responses and seemingly am only able to focus on the one or two negative ones I receive.

I need time to myself, self care and self reflections are things we shouldn’t ever deny ourselves. My blog was initially started as a passion project to portray how I felt about receiving my Autism diagnosis. I never thought that I would end up on various news outlets. I guess that is because I am so passionate. I put my whole heart in to everything I do and I believe I am here to create real change.

Being so lucky to find a generally accepting community of Neurodiverse friends around the world has been one of the greatest gifts that came along with my diagnosis. (I want to say that I don’t believe having a formal diagnosis should negate anyone from finding this community. It’s just how I personally needed the validation of a dx for my own reasons)

I have learned so much from them. Eve of International Badass Activists was one of the first people I ever had the pleasure of talking to. Her website was one of the first Autism activism sites I ever visited. I am so thankful to Eve’s strong voice. She inspires me and leads with strength.

I have no plans to stop. No one is going to force me in to silence. None of my Autistic friends and change-makers should be bullied in to silence.

I stand with them, beside them and for them. We will not shut up. We deserve to exist.

Don’t tone police Autistics

As always, I want to put out a disclaimer:

These are MY PERSONAL VIEWS. These belong to me. Other Autistic folks may agree and some may disagree.

I wanted to talk about something that’s been really unnerving lately which is: Non Autistic Parents of Autistic Children sharing imagery and inspiration porn that is very harmful.

As an Autistic person myself, I feel as though attempting to bridge the gap with Autistic parents is a very important stepping stone to creating unity and setting their Autistic child up for success in the future. Assisting them with the tools needed to make sure that hateful imagery, improper terminology and ableism is eliminated. However, when Parents of Autistic children and their friends chime in and belittle, berate and negate the work of an Autistic person, this is moving backwards.

A few days ago I saw this image come up on my facebook feed. I was dumbstruck.

It got widely shared by this father who I believed I was friends with and he tagged his wife and said his child would love it. I pointed out 2 very prevalent things that are troublesome:

  1. The puzzle piece is a symbol of hate 
  2. Autism, or being Autistic IS a disability however–there’s nothing wrong with that.

I even linked an article and mentioned how I create content on the subject. Two friends of this father chimed in and essentially told me that just because I create content and cite sources, doesn’t mean that it’s true and that I should allow this father to be happy. I explained how I want their child to be set up for success in the future and that I am only trying to be an ally. I wanted to provide information as to how these things were harmful and that speaking over an Autistic person when they are trying to HELP truly doesn’t help anyone at all. I also mentioned that, at it’s core, it is incredibly ableist and problematic. 

No one defended me. None of my Autistic friends were able to even come and assist. Although the facebook post was public, the comments were not open to everyone. Eventually I gave up and I deleted this father from my friends list. He had ample opportunities to take this as a learning opportunity and chose not to. He also did not hold me in any kind of regard because if he did, he would not have allowed me to get attacked the way I did. I can only hope that his child gets the kind of support that he needs because if how I was treated was any kind of indication, I have a reason to be worried. 

If you are a parent of an Autistic child and you are looking for help, here’s what I can suggest:

Do not take content creator Daniel Jones of The Aspie World as fact. He creates sensationalized content that is, at the source, his income. He very rarely (if ever) cites sources for the material he creates and is not an ally to the rest of the Autistic community. I have even been sworn at by his content manager before and I have created 2 react videos. Please DO NOT utilize his advice to assist your child.

Reach out to Autistic adults – the ones that have your child’s best interest at heart. We can be the best resources available as we have lived this. Also, I do not create content for money. I do this from my heart because this truly gives me purpose in my life. 

Do not negate Autistic voices. Allow yourself the opportunity to learn from us. We are the best allies for your children and, for the most part, we want to impart our wisdom and create change. If anything, we want to help. Obviously i’m not speaking for everyone.

I hope this shed a little bit of insight on some of the struggles we face on a daily basis. It’s truly not easy but by listening to Autistic people and truly taking in the things we say is a great step to unity, change and acceptance for all.

The Blue Divide

I firmly believe you can not attempt to “reclaim” images that are triggering to others.

Furthermore, I am a brash and outspoken individual that doesn’t have a reputation to tarnish and therefore I do not back down or mince words when it comes to calling out something that I think is grossly offensive.

I’ve seen this a few times now, people claiming to use an image first and then continuing to use said image with the negative impact and triggering effect already in place from it being used for years by another corporation, company, organization or entity.

I’ve written about related things in “An Autistics Guide To Corporate Social Responsibility” which provides a great resource for those who might want more information on how to create a favourable campaign while being considerate of Autistics.

With all of that being said, there is a DEFINITE divide in the “community”, I created this image, youtube video and podcast about it. I hope you have a chance to check it all out below.

There’s lots of links in the youtube description as well. Just click the video.

Thanks for reading, watching and listening!

Update

My speech on September 28th went particularly well and I wanted to share it with all of you:

My kickstarter ended and right now it’s in the stage of collecting payment. Once I get the cards and fulfill the orders, I will be donating some to various animal welfare organizations to help raise money for them. I will also be listing some on etsy as well! I’m so pleased that the kickstarter was such a success.

I didn’t have the opportunity to protest Autism Speaks Canada, but I am hoping I can be there next year. I always talk about how they continue to silence Autistic voices, so it wasn’t a surprise when I went on twitter today to see that I was blocked.

I was talking about the Inclusion Art Show and that’s happening this Thursday. If you’re local to Vancouver, i’d love to see you there.

I have plenty more I want to write about but it’s late (or early?) and I can’t formulate anything else at this time.

Thanks for reading!

You know what’s more important than selling art?

Being myself and having the freedom to do so without people attacking me for it.

The last couple of days have been rough. The images above continued to spark a firestorm of negativity against me. I have been getting criticized from all angles. I have been told that I shouldn’t be mixing business and politics by a couple of people.

It’s funny, I suppose they’ve never read this blog. I’ve been very honest about how I feel about things. I’ve spoken out against issues plaguing the LGBTQ communities when it came to the former director of AutismBC. Why did I do it? I firmly believe that LGBTQ rights are human rights and that someone who is supposed to be representing Autistic people shouldn’t be speaking out against young children learning about sexual orientation and gender identity. That’s not okay. We’re supposed to be creating safe spaces for youth. I knew for a very long time about myself that I didn’t identify as feeling female (or feeling male) and i’ve recently come out as non binary which has been very freeing but also has opened me up to a whole lot of hate from people.

I guess i’ve been bullied for the majority of my life and i’ve touched on that in previous blog posts.

So i’m DEFINITELY for LGBTQ rights. That’s one thing people gave me hell about.

The second thing is my support for Greta Thunberg who speaks about the fact that she is Autistic (but has been formally diagnosed under the umbrella of Aspergers) and how powerful, inspiring and amazing she is! That alone had climate-change deniers and trump supporters coming after me. I can’t believe how many people are bullying a young person with such a fierce nature to create change in this world. They make comments like “She’s a sick girl” or “She needs to go back to school” which I think is just backwards. They talk about her [neurodiversity] like she’s sick, unwell, needs healing or is severely disabled. It breaks my heart–especially as someone who is passionate about creating change, albeit not at the same level that she’s been able to achieve and i’m focused on different topics.

The third and final thing that people were getting upset with me about is the fact that I am pro-choice. I firmly believe in “my body, my choice”. I am not going to decide what other people do with their bodies! That’s none of my business. I have written two articles about being childfree and how I believe in overpopulation, that we’re destroying our planet (so you can see why I support Greta so much!) and that I never, ever want to have kids. I am sure I have some kind of gender dysphoria and if something were to ever grow inside of me and take over my body, I would be in a much deeper depression than I already am dealing with. I’m still thinking about getting my tubes tied but not everyone has (or wants) that option. I don’t need political figures deciding what is happening in my uterus. That’s just not okay.

I count my lucky stars that I am a Canadian and I have the rights that I do because I am truly privileged to live here.

So, back to the title of this article:

I’d rather be able to express myself freely than make another CENT off of my artwork. I am not compromising who I am and I shouldn’t have to be subjected to people freaking out at me if they don’t agree with me. I believe in LGBTQ rights, I believe in climate change, I am pro-choice and I am non binary.

“Don’t mix politics with business” someone said.

You know what I say?

Say that to Trump.

Say that to Chic-fil-a.

Don’t say that to me.

(I would like to properly attribute these images to their sources but I am unable to find them through google image search. If you know the creators, please let me know so I can properly credit them. Thanks!)

It’s a mood, for sure.

Trying to see through the thick cloud of anxiety and depression is no easy task. It’s a huge, huge burden to bare. The flashbacks have become more repetitive, they feel deeper. Each time I fail, I feel those traumatic events seeping back in and filling those gaps where hope once was. It is a situation full of despair.

I’m so lucky to have these cute, silly beings in my life though. They make it all worth it.

I should be happy or at the very least feeling fine. I think part of the disappointment is due to the fact that I really thought the article on The Mighty would perform better. I thought it would drive people to my website and to my shop, but the views and interactions have been fairly dismal.

The hits on my Etsy shop have totally decreased too. I heard there’s something going on with an algorithm to do with the people that don’t have free shipping or don’t offer it on all their listings. It’s making them less visible. I know for me that when i sell original pieces, shipping is included. It’s everything that’s made by a 3rd party that has shipping separately.

I also should be pleased with myself about having my speech coming up later this week and being approved to be a consultant about issues surrounding mental health and Autism–and yes, I am looking forward to creating change, but i’m also the poster child for those issues. So, I guess in a roundabout kind of way, i’m going to really be able to reflect on my experiences and create change. That’s the silver lining.

I wanted to share some images that my customers have shared with me, which is pictures of their purchases from my etsy shop. This helps keep me going, but sales in the last while have been so dismal. I’m also upset because the way advertising works on etsy is that I paid 4.80 American to get one person to click on one item that they didn’t even buy. So frustrating. I’ve heard better things about facebook ads but i’m just not even sure how to go about it. Seems when I talk about business, there’s people that genuinely want to help and then there’s people who poach on my lack of experience and try to manipulate me to pay them. I guess that’s another business strategy–but it’s one that I don’t want anything to do with.

If I can bring joy to others, even though i’m suffering, well.. I think that’s a way to turn something negative in to something positive.

I tried creating a new plaque that says “cats make life purrfect” but the cats I drew look terrible. The two wood signs I was happy about completing, haven’t really seen much traffic either. I thought they’d be a bigger hit.

My holiday cards are also still up for pre-ordering at a reduced rate. Hoping to have my hands on those the 3rd week of October, ready for shipping.

Greta Thunberg, a climate change activist and fellow Autistic has been taking quite a beating online. It really upsets me that people say such horrible things about her. I think politics are a main driving factor for people to be so hateful in this world. I tweeted about the honesty of Autistic people and how we’re fact based and it definitely goes for her too. Actually, this quote of mine says it all:

USA ONLY SALE!


I decided to have a SURPRISE SALE this weekend for my AMERICAN CUSTOMERS!

Today & Tomorrow ONLY, I’m offering a discount on SELECT PIECES OF ORIGINAL ARTWORK.

I will be shipping out FROM the USA on MONDAY and it all should arrive by Thursday. This is a GREAT opportunity to get some cool work by me at a reduced price!

I’m heading off to Las Vegas on the 1st (I won a trip) for four days so i’m trying to see what kind of sales I can drum up.


www.etsy.com/shop/retrophiliac

So many opportunities

You might have found my blog through the amazing article written by Renee over at The Mighty and if not, you can read that here!

I have been creating art for as long as I can remember.

I also had a fasciation with running a business. When I was younger my uncle actually gave me a very memorable birthday present. He gave me some business cards he made for me, file folders, an open/close sign and one of those receipt books with carbon paper.

Fast forward to 2019 and i have been lucky enough to find success through my etsy store. I recently added this design:

This wasn’t my first taste of business, though At around 15 years of age, I was reselling vintage on ebay. This has always been something i’ve been super passionate about.

Since i already struggle socially, I am constantly leanring new ways to cope and interact with people.

I recently got accepted to a local artist collaboration group and I feel so lucky that I can help others, get their help and meet new people. It’s been so perfect for me and I look forward to the next session.

I also will be speaking at Kickstart Disability: Arts & Culture’s 10×5 at the CBC Vancouver on September 28th. I have my speech ready to go and images selected.

The final thing is that I will have 4 pieces displayed at the Inclusion Art Show in Vancouver on October 10th so if you’re local, it’s a chance to own some of my works.

I can’t believe how busy i’ve been and I wanted to thank everyone for continuing to support me.