A couple of days ago I had my yearly check up with my usual endocrinologist. Back in my mid-twenties, after my body started doing stuff that a man shouldn’t be able to, I got an MRI done. It discovered a pituitary tumor. I was likely born with it. In retrospect, it should have been discovered back when I was still a child; after all, gynecomastia isn’t something that just happens. If my parents hadn’t been generally neglectful, I would have been spared the permanent effects of becoming an adult in a boddy riddled with hormonal imbalances.
If you want to know how that’s like, I guess you can check out the videos of the adults that were put in feminizing/masculinizing hormone therapy back when they could barely understand what would be done to them or why, only to regret it later (and be censored for it). In my case, whatever defect in my DNA, or poison in my environment, created the tumor, was the one responsible for this alteration, which may be worse because I never consented to anything. In all cases mentioned, the person ends up fucked for life.
Obviously there are sex differences in brain anatomy (quick google: “On average, males and females showed greater volume in different areas of the cortex, the outer brain layer that controls thinking and voluntary movements. Females had greater volume in the prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, superior temporal cortex, lateral parietal cortex, and insula. Males, on average, had greater volume in the ventral temporal and occipital regions. Each of these regions is responsible for processing different types of information”), and due to my hormonal imbalances, my brain must be more female than the average guy’s. I guess that may explain in part why I feel comfortable writing female characters.
Anyway, my hormones have been under control for the last eleven years or so thanks to the medication I have to take two times a week. And ever since I’m producing healthy levels of testosterone, I want to fuck everything that moves and that may remotely be considered female (slight exaggeration).
Going back to the initial topic: I have no problem using public transport, but my elderly father offered to drive me to the hospital for my scheduled visit. I never got a driver’s license, and likely never will. Partly because I was born with so-called high-functioning autism; my mind makes me lose myself in daydreams in which I don’t recall entering, and when I “wake up” from them, I’m surprised that I didn’t fall through an open manhole or get hit by a car along the way. In addition, and worse, either I was born with or developed OCD (often comorbid with autism). This OCD of mine generates a myriad of intrusive thoughts, plenty of which involve violence either towards others or myself. If I were to drive a car, I would find myself having to drive out of my mind the urge to veer into oncoming traffic or drive straight into a wall.
I suppose that I’m something of a barely restrained public menace. Sometimes when I’m about to grab my coffee, my brain presents me with vivid sequences of me tipping the cup so that it spills the hot coffee all over my or someone else’s skin. Unfortunately that actually happened, although just once: as I was about to take my coffee from the counter, one of those intrusive “animations” came up, and next thing I knew, my thumb had slid in such a way that I ended up spilling the coffee all over a customer’s lap. He was surprisingly cool about it.
I’ve dropped valuable stuff that I was holding because my mind got filled with images of me dropping it. I’ve never held a baby because I don’t want to live with the consequences of possibly dropping them; back when I was a teenager, a cousin nearly booted me out from her apartment because I didn’t want to hold her spawn, and she stormed out offended while saying, “you better change your mind about that!”
I nearly bit off the nipple of a girlfriend of mine because at that very moment the enticing prospect flashed, vividly rendered, through my brain. I still remember the gasp she let out. I miss sucking on tits.
Of course, because I live in an increasingly chaotic Europe (it will last at the most one or two generations), whenever I go out I have to endure vivid sequences of me defending myself from attacks due to the proximity of some group of shady, malicious-looking, military-aged men from some remote shithole, and it doesn’t help that I’ve seen in person shit done by such men, have been harassed by some, and my apartment was nearly broken into in the middle of the day by, again, such people.
Anyway, I wouldn’t have been able to drive myself to the hospital. As my elderly father attempted to find a parking space, I told him, “you don’t need to park, I’ll just get out. And don’t wait for me, because afterwards I’ll walk somewhere to get a cup of coffee.” My father stopped the car almost immediately and let me out. He didn’t say anything. A couple of hours later, I was reading in a coffee shop when my father called. He asked where I was, because he didn’t see me leave the hospital. I reminded him that I had told him not to wait for me. He said that he had told me that when I left the doctor’s office, I should call him to pick me up. He hadn’t.
The situation with my father, as in general with the rest of my family, is more peculiar than that of most people’s families (and so is my own personal situation). My father was regularly beaten as a child to an extent that it gave him notorious brain damage. I’ve never had anything resembling a normal conversation with him. In his early seventies, he’s now a frail-looking, stooped old man whose head wobbles constantly like a bobblehead doll due to whatever damage was done back in the day. For most effects and purposes, I didn’t have a father figure growing up, resulting in all the damage that does to someone.
I thought about growing old. I’ll be thirty-eight in a couple of months. I’ve never felt older than eighteen or twenty. I’m appalled by how fast my body has broken down, including my heart ever since a certain jab.
I have never felt fully human, but the older I get, the less I want to interact with human beings in any capacity. Far more often than not, whenever I listen to other people’s opinions I’m disturbed by what comes out of their mouths, as well as their notions of what is good or preferable. A few times I thought I was fine with someone as a person, only for them to open up and for me to realize that I had only fabricated in my mind a version of this person, one that never existed. And due to autism plus OCD and the way they wired my brain, I simply don’t feel the need to be in the presence of other humans. In fact, doing so repels me: I feel like I’m surrounded by wild, barely predictable animals. Truly, if it wasn’t because I can’t afford it, and because I wouldn’t know how to organize myself to do so, I would live far, far away from civilization, or at least far enough where I would still have access to the internet.
Apparently a significant portion of the world’s population cannot generate images in their brains. I read that somewhere. My mind deals more in images than in words, and I’m constantly aware that language is a very imperfect tool to translate what pops in my mind as images. But due to the conditions I was born with, my mind is a regular whirlpool of images, mostly negative ones, many of them bad memories, that pop up without my control and that force me to deal with them. Two nights ago I barely slept three hours or so, and the rest of the time I kept swatting back the visual sequences that my brain kept presenting to me. For example, how many times do I have to picture the face of agony that my beloved first cat made when she was mortally wounded by a dog? How many times do I have to recall the moments in which I realized that a girlfriend of mine was cheating and was trying to get rid of me? How many times do I have to see the faces of children mocking me for one reason or another? Most of the memories aren’t traumatic per se, but they still leave a foul taste in my mouth.
I have to be careful with the experiences I expose myself to, because any new memory (and they are almost always bad; my brain seems very reluctant to retain positive memories) will visit me for years, possibly for the rest of my life, and I suppose there’s a point in any human in which he’ll have no choice but to go “fuck this” and jump off a bridge.
It’s not all bad regarding mental images, though; for years I’ve found solace in very elaborate daydreams that I can run whenever I want, and that rescue me from the harsh surroundings. One of them starts when three people from the future discover that they all came from an isolated group of Icelanders from the Middle Ages, who were about to starve from a little ice age. The future people, who researched time travel, rescue their ancestors and bring them to the Americas. They provide some future technology, artificial intelligence and such to give them a major edge, but they also give them the task of becoming the sentinels of the New World for when Europeans come and unwittingly kill most of the population through disease, and ruin the treasures of the past through Christianity. An elaborate fantasy that despite how much I’ve worked mentally on many of the characters, will never become a written story, because daydreams are terrible story material; stories are about tension and struggle (and usually end with a definite win or loss), daydreams are about winning as often as possible.
I can’t come up with a proper segue into the following topic, but the fact is that I feel like I’ve been dead for years and years, maybe since my early twenties. Ever since, I’ve slowly been erasing myself from the world. The way Patricia Highsmith put it (someone else who was autistic), the artistic life is a “long and lovely suicide.” You are mining from yourself raw material to construct valuable artifacts out of it, and you do so, if you are lucky, for as long as your body lasts, but someone who is interested in the world and in living doesn’t sit in front of a screen (or stand in front of a canvas) for hours upon hours to escape from reality. And there’s a good chance that giving in to the impulse to escape from reality through writing, painting, etc. actually prevents you from learning to cope or even appreciate the whole of reality. But fuck reality; it’s just an inferior version of whatever goes on in the mind anyway.
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