It’s good to see friends.
I remember what’s underneath the visit.
I remember pain and stuff.
I remember emergency speech.
I remember what’s underneath though.
And that’s what matters.
Underneath there’s me and Anne and everyone.
I love Anne.
I love Cal.
I love Joelle.
I love Ruti.
I love Laura.
I love lots of people I haven’t named.
I rarely get to talk to my friends. Even online. We rarely keep in touch. We all have huge trouble doing that. It’s the worst part of inertia.
I hate the myth that we don’t or shouldn’t need friends. It’s fine not to. But it’s totally okay to want and need people in your life and most people do, even most loners.
I hate the community norms in some places where it becomes almost a macho one-upmanship thing to show how unsocial you are. Like… I once described it as “A whole bunch of people socializing by competing about how much they claim to not need to socialize.”
It’s okay to want to socialize.
It’s okay to socialize.
Never let a label determine what you think you should want.
Not even a label you like or that is useful to you. If it starts ruling you instead of you using it something’s wrong.
Someone once told me “You’re allowed to want people in your life, you’re just not allowed to need them.”
I knew where she got that. And it was not from someone who said “allowed”. It was from someone describing their own experience only. But somehow other people turned it into “allowed”. And that’s bad.
It’s okay to want people in your life.
It’s okay to need people in your life.
Both of these things are equally okay.
It’s okay to like people.
It’s okay to love people.
It’s okay to socialize however you want to as long as everyone involved is really okay with it.
There’s a terrible kind of isolation very few people admit exists.
In systems like the developmental disability system sometimes all the people you ever see are staff.
For those unaware staff doesn’t mean what it seems to mean to most people. For DD people having staff means having people with lots of power over you, it’s the people who are supposed to be taking care of you. But they may or may not be. And whether they’re amazing or terrible and helping or hurting or whatever — they have power over you that you don’t have over them. Nobody can wish that away or make it go away just by wanting it to or trying. The power is built in to the job.
And sometimes every single person I interact with for months is staff.
I actually usually like staff.
They’re not the same as friends.
Not the same as strangers either. It’s a personal relationship and pretending it’s not doesn’t work any more than pretending it’s a friendship works.
But it encloses you in the agency.
It wraps around you.
If all you see is staff.
All you see reflected back at you has an agency distortion.
Even if every single person individually sees you as a person.
This still happens.
It’s just not the same as having friends.
I started having friends again.
Ruti. Joelle. Cal. Anne.Paragraph
I was a person again.
I realized I wasn’t anywhere near a horrible a person as I thought I was.
Lots of other things too.
I realized my love meant something to other people and that other people loved me.
Both of those things are important.
So many things about myself and my friends and friendship and being human.
And I started to feel human.
A little bit.
I felt like I’d woken up from a weird sleep.
It’s how I feel around people who just want to be around me and I want to be around them.
That’s why Anne and Igor and everyone are so important. Even when we don’t see each other online or off for years. We want to but we can’t always and sometimes it hurts. But knowing each other at all counts for something. And I wish we could all communicate with as many others as we want to as much as we want to in the ways we want to. Because I’ve missed years of contact and I’m sure the others can say the same or more.
This picture isn’t just about pain, it’s why I wanted to post it again.
It’s about love.
It’s about being human.
I have a different kind of relationship with each of my friends.
With Anne it’s partly built on so much of our lives and brains working the same way.
If you ever read the book Loud Hands I have an untitled chapter. It’s about Anne. I can’t do us justice here but that’s the closest I’ve come to doing our friendship justice anywhere.
Anyway we read each other underneath everything. The words almost don’t matter. We exist and resonate.
And for that friendship that’s how it works.
So the picture is about resonating and friendship and love and humanity and all kinds of wonderful things.
Those are all in there too just as much as pain is.
I want to post that picture to celebrate knowing Anne and friendship and love in general and the amazing luck of finding those things at all, for a lot of us who never expected it or even really knew what a friend was. And the importance of all this when you have it.
And so many more things I can’t name.
There’s a lot in this picture that’s really beautiful about friendship if you know what you’re looking at.
The pain isn’t separate from it either. It’s not some extra thing. If it’s part of my body right then it’s part of the picture too. But so is the love and the resonance and the catness and all the other things. They’re all wrapped in together because that’s how life works. It’s all there underneath if you know how to look for it.
I love all my friends whether I named you or not and you’re all important to me and I care about you and wish we could interact more in whatever way worked best for us.