“Let me thank the parts of me that I don’t understand or are out of my rational control, like my creativity, and my courage.
“And let me remember that my courage is a wild dog — it won’t just come when I call it. I have to chase it down and hold on as tight as I can.” – Ze Frank, An Invocation for Beginnings.
I have been writing and rewriting, posting and re-posting, this post for literally more than half a year. I keep trying and trying and trying and trying, and nothing feels good enough.
Nothing feels “complete.”
I feel the need to introduce myself, to lay out some kind of a groundwork, a framework, an expectation for what this place is and what it’s going to be and what’s going to happen here and why anyone should care, but I get stuck every single time.
I get stuck on me.
I wish I could say something pithy and nice and just get to point, but the fact is, I have a deep-seated personality disorder that renders me categorically, chronically, and pathologically unable to render any kind of functioning internal self-image.
I don’t know how I am in a dark room with no one looking at me, and I need you to understand that don’t mean that in the vague, poetic, wistful way most people do when they say it.
I mean, day in, day out, and year after year, on a level that impairs my ability to function every single day I’m alive, it feels like there is literally nothing inside me but
- a swirling sea of scar tissue,
- a howling, irrational, paranoid fear of abandonment, and
- a mishmash of mismatched personally fragments I’ve stolen over the years from a very finite handful of people and characters who’ve made me feel safe or acceptable in some indirect way.
Those three things, and then just a quiet, terrible emptiness.
Or sometimes, every so often, just a loud, embarrassing surge of too much of a single emotion that drowns out everything else and renders me speechless because trying to find a way express all that feeling is like too many people all trying to cram their way through a door that’s way too small.
Black and white.
All or nothing.
I have borderline personality disorder.
I’m also autistic.
Between the two,
- my memory is a fractured mess,
- my sense of identity is basically non-existent,
- my brain is constantly on the verge of either overloading or hollowing out and collapsing in on itself completely, and
- the number of ways I can use to express myself that actually feel good or right or comfortable or useful or healthy is very, very, very small.
Borderline emotions trying to push their way through an autistic mouth or autistic fingers is a hell of a thing, I can tell you that much. Given enough time and practice, you can script enough to get yourself through a day in most situations, but anything more than, “Good, thanks, how are you?” gets fucking tricky.
Trying to say anything real, anything that actually means something, is hard to the point of being almost impossible, and the process makes me doubt myself in ways that drill down to the bone.
Actually putting myself out there and trying to be seen or read or known by other people is terrifying, and it contradicts every instinct I have — and twenty-eight years worth of habit.
It’s hard to commit to this, hard to commit to any one particular representation of myself, any one particular set of imperfect words — hard to say, “This is who I am. Look at me. Read my stuff. It might be good.”
But I want to.
It’s just hard.
And part of that’s because I’m just not a very good or experienced writer, but, also, part of it’s because when you strip away the affectations, the imitations, and the expectations I’ve absorbed from other people, there is simply nothing left.
Not even just as a writer, but literally as a human being.
Take all those things away, and I’m just a scrambling, formless piece of nothing inside.
All this to say, I know that no one really knows who they “are” in the abstract, and even the core concept of some internally consistent “self” that persists from moment to moment is really just a convenient shorthand tool we use for lack of anything better.
It’s not a “real” thing.
But for borderlines, the question, “Who are you?” is maybe uniquely paralyzing, so I honestly can’t think of a way to introduce myself other than sitting here and blandly acknowledging what a hard time I’m having doing it.
I am not one post into this blog, and I have already devolved into meandering meta commentary.
To a certain extent, though, that’s a calculated move. It’s all I can think to do, but I also think it’s a good idea. I want to be upfront. I want to be naked about this from day one:
My struggle to express myself here is not just subtext or a background element you’re supposed to politely pretend not to notice. It’s core content.
It is, in itself, at least a part of the point.
All I can be is myself, and “myself” is a deeply neurodivergent person who writes deeply neurodivergent things.
Which isn’t necessarily to say that I write deeply, or that I only write about neurodivergent things, but I am deeply neurodivergent, so anything that comes out of my brain is going to be, itself, a deeply neurodivergent thing.
I’m an agoraphobic, asexual, autistic, non-binary borderline.
Those are a few things about myself I’ve joyously been able to claw back from inside the big, writhing Nothing inside of me, and I wear them. Loudly.
I do worry about turning my own personal mental illness into a gimmick or a brand, but the fact is, you can’t really avoid wearing your neuroses on your sleeves when your sleeves are made of neuroses, and everything I am is made of neuroses.
I can’t stop it, short of dying.
I can’t hide it for more than a little while.
And, ultimately, I don’t think I feel like I should have to.
I’m an enby whose brain is mostly not very good to itself.
And really isn’t very stable.
And doesn’t always make a lot of sense.
I write about movies and books and video games, and why they matter, and how they make us feel the way they make us feel, and what it means for them to be able to do that.
And this time, I want to commit.
I’m uncomfortable asking you to follow me, or to give to my Patreon, but at the same time, I understand that it would be unfair for me to sit here, wishing you would, if I don’t communicate the fact that it would help me, and that I want you to.
It would help me. I do want you to.