I spent Friday, like most other days, pondering what to be, and what to do with my life. I have been given an offer to study Education to teach in schools, but especially since my diagnosis (again – I will go into that in my next blog post) I have been thinking that’s not a great environment for me, with so much going on. So much social stimulation, noise and so many uncentred people.
I had to go to Uni to ask them for a form to send off to the government for benefits as a student now, in addition to being a single parent. Whilst there I mentioned my plan to study one teaching subject and two writing subjects. The lady looked concerned and referred me to someone else. This someone else was so lovely, I think her name was Trisha or Trina, I should write these things down! Anyway, she was so present for me and listened to my story. It was like a breath of fresh air as she came in with no agenda but to listen. She honestly asked me to consider why I’d spend my time doing a course that might help with writing, or getting published, but the actual thought of the job stresses me out. She also mentioned that there are two full-time 6-week placements for the teaching degree. When I considered that torture, and the fact that she’d said: “have you considered that we have creative writing courses so you could study what you actually want to do”. I mulled on that “yes, I don’t know why I often take the roundabout route rather than do exactly what I want to. She validated me; “don’t worry we all do that!” Trisha/Trina then fetched another lady to show me how to book in with a careers counsellor, for next week.
I think all that ‘being really actually seen’ by a PRESENT individual got my brain cogs turning in a healthy way. I’m listening to Eckhart Tolle in the car; “The Art of Presence”. He had responded to an audience question regarding therapists, that they could do much good by just being present for a client. He specifically mentioned Rogerian therapy (which centres on listening only) as an effective therapy as it is so present with what is. He says some clients cannot handle it as they don’t think they are getting anything back from the therapist. They leave, complain about the therapist and don’t come back. But that appeals to me. To be different, something outside of this “insane” world as he calls it.
I could finally see an opening to the right path perhaps towards writing instead of teaching. I had tried to break out when talking to a university careers counsellor, but she had said it’s up to me but she would consider that having the teaching degree done and behind me would mean I could get a job in two years. so that set me back a bit from breaking out of teaching. like the lobsters caught in a pot, if any of them try to break out another lobster tries to pull them back in.
It wasn’t just her comments that made me freeze in teaching but also the fact that its such a short course, and its the last time they are offering it ever. if it wasn’t for that fact I possibly wouldn’t have applied to uni at all this year since my daughter has one more year left before school starts. I feel lucky to have been offered a place in it, it was hard to get all the documents together for a place in it. So I felt it was so hard-earned. I’d also shared with a few teachers who are friends and family members that I was going o study it and join them, so I had put undue pressure on myself to stick to that decision. In effect, I had shared too much rather than just asking myself what I wanted.
Anyway, I now had to head up to the library to print off the document for the government. I was directed to a friendly, gentle-looking older man at the desk. At first, he tried to brush me off saying that print credits won’t be available until next week. But I persisted until he joined me in what I was after, it didn’t take long. I asked him to explain what exactly I’d be waiting until next week for ($20 of free credit it turns out). It occurred to him that I may want credit now. I affirmed. he said ok you can get it over at that machine, I looked doubtful (i liked to be shown new things) and then he said “or I can do it here’. “Oh yes please!” I brightened up. I then embarrassed dilemmad over how much credit to put on, I asked how much per sheet. “9c” was the reply, “OK, I guess I’ll put a dollar on then”. “90c you said per sheet right?”, “no 9c” was the reply. “Oh, I see” I pondered again for a minute whether I’d really need $1 of credit for a 9c printout if I was getting $20 free next week. “The last person put 50c on” he offered. “Oh great I said. Can I just put 50c on then please?”. So we went through the process but he got a bit stuck so had to ask for help. I could tell he was new. a lady came out saying shamefully “what did you do, why didn’t you tell her to do it on the machine over there?” He gently, non-reactionarily explained to her that he had wanted to learn how to do it here. I agree and offered “I can just pay another 50c on my card to make the credit up to $1”. She continued with trying to shame him “It looks like you’ve put a dollar on here, and not 50c. how did u manage that? ” he stayed calm and present. Then another lady came out and tried to discuss him with me. I maintained my presence with him and that he had done nothing wrong, only an honest mistake ‘Oh you’re going to have to call IT now”, the first lady warned, all doom and gloom. He called IT, meanwhile, the second lady tried to get me to explain to her like it was breaking news, the first they’d had all day! I said; “It’s just as he’s saying to IT”. It got sorted in the end, or at least they told me my card was fine and I should be able to use it now. I walked away feeling sorry for the man who had remained present throughout their attempt to destroy him. I wondered what their problem was
I went on to a computer and it was clearly going very slowly. I thought “Ah great! What is this about? Why can’t it be easy? I guess it’s for a reason, I reluctantly decided to stay present and watch it unfold. The older man walked past me and I looked at him smiling, wanting to validate him. I said thanks for all your help, he said “sorry for the mistake, but I’m learning”. I agreed “Exactly, it’s all about learning”.
Anyway, I went through the process of loading my document but when I tried to make it print, it froze and turned the document into a pdf. After looking at the instructions on the printer, it said ‘select correct printer’, I realised that I had been selecting to’ convert to pdf’, but the printer suggested to send it to was not available on the list. At this point, I approached the desk again. Now there were four women milling around at the desk, and the man. They all looked evasive, and fearful of me, especially the first one that had come out. she avoided my eye contact and continued with a paper she was attending to on the desk. Since the man seemed the most approachable still out of all of them, I told him my findings with the printer. But he had shut down. Another lady asked what was wrong, he relayed “This girl is still having problems”. He, slightly meanly, said “It’s quite basic, you just select the printer, the black and white one, and click print”, trying to ignore the fact I’d become enemy number one to the team “Yes I’ve tried that”. Knowing that I had done nothing wrong I stayed present. I expected the man to come along with me and show me. but he showed no sign on moving or helping. I said, “The printer isn’t there on the list”. Then one of the four, appearing as the most senior, pointed out “Yes do you not remember? I sent a document around about this, did you see it?” She went on: “The IT staff have put in some new computers and those units haven’t been recognising the printer” she continued “Try to reboot it or try another computer”. I guess I was slightly exhausted by staying present for this whole interaction and so a swear word came out, which they all seemed slightly taken aback by. “Yes that computer’s crap, it’s been going really slowly. I’ll try another” I thanked them and walked away, surprised by what I had just witnessed.
On the new computer all worked completely fine. I followed the printer’s instructions and it worked well to use my credit (I still had a dollar instead of 50c but I’m sure that’ll get worked out in time). It all got me thinking, though. No one there was aware of what was going on, yet, I was. Does this not mean I could help people to wake up? Help to advocate for bullied, lovely, gentle people like the older man who later himself turned into the same track of bullying as them? Could I not help to turn some situations around to have less negative energy and more of the pure present energy, without blame and shame? Can I not turn things around by being respected enough to stop this kind of behaviour, rather than just the difficult girl with all the ‘problems’. I think the only way ill be respected for my voice and input is if I study psychology and become a psychologist. I know a lot of mental health workers have their own problems and doubters, or the jealous types, love to point that out. But how much more knowledge would I have of the subject if I actually studied it? And if I can stay present too, like the Rogerian therapists, how useful could I be to the world? Is that not my purpose? Is that not why I swapped from a Diploma in Travel and Tourism to a Diploma of Community Services? Is that not why whilst being bullied in the Diploma of Community Services that I decided to study Psychology after? Is that not why, on leaving school, I got disappointed that they were going to start teaching psychology the year after The whole instance had brought me full circle back to where I have been so many times before. I attempted a Graduate Diploma of Psychology three times last year, each time it felt too much to concentrate on, alongside my pre-school daughter, so I kept pulling out of the course before census date. The withdrawals were accompanied by a lot of relief and the belief that maybe psychology isn’t for me. Do I want to listen to people whine and moan all day? But today’s library incident made me realise I want to advocate for Aspies. If that’s what I am then I want to advocate for people like me. The people who see things differently. Maybe I don’t see the truth, but I think I see through to some psychological and emotional abuse of other people. If I can see this and learn ways to turn it around or help people affected by it, then I am going to feel passionate and alive carrying out that task. The money would be a bonus to that. At the end of the day, it would be living and expressing my truth through various means – writing would be one of those means.
I hit my high – a high in presence. I had gotten to the truth of myself by staying present. I didn’t have to lie in bed and think it through. It just came at me through life. I do want to help people. I do want to express what I see. One of the books I have read since my diagnosis talks about aspies being present. Listening to Eckhart Tolle confirms to me that I am often already in the present, I get lost in it and forget to do some things that I am ‘meant’ to do to fit into the ‘real/dream’ world. Since my yoga teacher training, I have realised that yes I have thoughts but I can choose to have them and not have them. I direct my thoughts to things that I want to consider. For instance, I now had to consider how to change over to the psychology course, I had to fit my presence into this ‘reality’ as Eckhart calls it to plan my presence into this dream-like reality that we call working to live and studying to work.
This dream that we call reality can often get in the way of reality. For instance the women around the man, they were in a dream of habitual bullying and shame, he was in presence, in reality, and the situation did not need to be made from a molehill into a mountain. It was an easy fix and he certainly didn’t need to be destroyed by shame in the process – removed from his still presence into their disturbed dream.
So here my awakening journey is taking steps towards where it feels it wants it to go, and I’m going to try to get out of its way. When I tried to study psychology last year, I don’t think the online component worked for me. I like to be so present in listening to a lecturer or tutor and then I take it all in. It stays there in my brain if I really listen the first time. That’s how biology at school and vet went anyway, even though I hated studying Vet after the second year. So although it’s going to take me two years more than the online graduate diploma, I would like to study it face to face. So I’ll have to start from the beginning with a Bachelors, but I think this will suit my style of liking to learn slowly anyway.
I can also make use of some electives to study journalism or creative writing. I thought about having my second major as journalism so I can perhaps get paid for any freelance journalism I come across too.
I’d love to make movies on Aspies and situations of bullying at school or in the workplace. I haven’t been physically bullied, I was shamed and humiliated once in front of a group of girls at school because I was copying one, and that was it, I sunk into the shadows after that and stayed away from anyone who had the potential to be mean, including some classmates in the Diploma of Community Services. Some mean ones hid well though too, though, and I still fell into their traps, (most men I’ve been in relationships with – perhaps more about that in another blog post).