A few years ago, everyone on the internet was all about #positivevibesonly, and I was fully on board. ⠀⠀It was the first year of being full-time debilitatingly ill, and I doused myself in positivity, making myself… More
How I Lost All My F-cks is more than a book. It’s a 3-part experience, lasting one month, and it’s designed to have you losing all yours:
“Basically giving too many fucks is when we give our power up to others. When we place our value in others’ opinions. When our actions are dictated by fear of others’ reactions. When we decide that their opinions mean more than our desires.”
In Part I, I tell my fuckfull to fuckless tale, using stories to illustrate just what I mean by fucklessness, and why we need it, badly. It’ll take you through learning to care about all the wrong stuff (as so many of us do), teen shenanigans, serendipitous magic in a philosophy class, near-death meets chronic illness, adventures in jail and mental institutions, homelessness, and more.
While you’re reading this tale, you’ll also be engaged in Parts II and III. Part II is a 30-day meditation challenge, teaching you various methods of mindfulness meditation, which I’ve been practicing for close to two decades. (And I’ll even teach it without any patchouli!) While you’re finding your meditation groove, you’ll also be rising to the challenge of 20 Fuckless Adventures; all aimed to incorporate more authenticity and vulnerability in your life, connect (safely) with others, and immerse you in a whole lot of fun. Together, it’s an average of 20 minutes a day or so, longer if you get creative with it.
The world is currently a confusing place, and this book will help you to find your place within it by teaching you to center in yourself. By the end of your fuckless experience, you’ll feel like your life has gone through a refreshing cleanse, and so has your mind – which is really your home, if you think about it. (And the lease is for the rest of your life.)
I’m currently seeking a publisher for her, so please keep checking back.
Looks can be deceiving…there’s so much people don’t know.
TW: Suicidal ideation.
What comes to mind when you think of an autistic person? The movie Rain Man? Someone who loves to talk about bugs? A child hitting his head against the wall during a raging meltdown?
You probably don’t picture someone like me; a 37-year-old female who’s been described using words like “perky,” who’s organized an extensive amount of fundraising efforts and events, who’s had some career success, someone who largely “seems normal.” So, when someone like that, someone like me, winds up being diagnosed with Level 2 autism; there are some who are dubious, especially those unaware of autism updates in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which redefined the already-misunderstood syndrome.
These doubtful folks also cannot see the things undiagnosed autistic adults go through, the times I quite resemble that raging child (but worse, tbh), and the circumstances that build up to it. And they don’t know the chaos it causes, how it can lead to loss of income, shelter, and relationships:
They don’t know that in addition to being a way to control my social environment, planning fundraising events were my special interest; something I engaged in therapeutically, but compulsively. They don’t know that even a decade post-planning, the idea of running a charity event’s silent auction still makes my hands sweat because names and numbers are like Teflon to my brain. They don’t know having problems with executive function isn’t the same thing as “being ditzy,” and they don’t know it isn’t the same thing as not paying attention, either. (I care, far far too much.) They don’t know that I felt like an outsider at my own events, or that I’d get extremely drunk afterwards because my body was vibrating wrong and my mind wouldn’t stop obsessing over each interaction.
They don’t know that while the motivations for my efforts were pure of heart, my enjoyment was largely a façade — one indicative of how I’ve approached life in general, trying to hide the weird complicated iceberg of who I am by showing just the teensy lil’ sparkling bit. They also don’t know that this method, pretending to “be normal” all the time, started exploding, to my (often extreme) harm, as soon as I put on that mask.
And they don’t know the price of “seeming normal.” They don’t know about the eating disorders, or about the night I was sent to the mental ward for my safety at 19, the night the list of suicide “warning signs” started looking like a list of announcements. They don’t know that I had my first mental break later that year, 2002; at one point going out dressed weirdly and finally behaving however I wanted, feeling free as a bird, as if my mind had been repressed its entire life and finally demanded a break from the pressure. And they don’t know about the other mental hospital stays, where I kept posting to make sure people knew I was going to be okay, even as I planned and wished for life to cease with every fiber of my being — feeling that since I’d tried everything and was still failing, death was simply the most logical solution.
They don’t know I’ve lived in seven different cities since high school, desperate for somewhere that felt safe to be the whole me. They don’t know how many times I’ve tried to live abroad, hoping I’d be perceived as less “off” if I were a foreigner. They don’t know about all of the work problems I’ve had; all the whispering, the cocked heads, the strange comments, the constant confusion and misunderstandings. They don’t know that fluorescent lights make it hard for me to think, as does hearing others’ conversations; or that air conditioning can truly send me over the edge, just like uncomfortable shoes. And they don’t know that my brain can have a much harder time cooperating if I have an aversion to the task at hand, that building pressure while doing it makes me feel like I’m going to explode. They don’t know that getting energetically overwhelmed to the point of neural malfunction doesn’t mean someone is lazy.
They don’t know my thoughts often happen all at once, examining an idea from all over, reviewing what I know and have experienced, then finally puzzling it together; which makes it difficult to verbalize a prompt reply, especially since it doesn’t really happen in language but in…impressions? I am constantly struggling to make my actual point understood, failing, and giving up. I’m not just misunderstood in a “they don’t get me” way — I, like other autistics, am consistently, miserably, misinterpreted.
They also don’t know that this is made worse by a coping method I’ve employed when no thoughts feel safe to say: asking questions. They don’t know that I’ve probably made many past friends simply because I often subconsciously, but continually, encourage people to talk; which they like at first, but that it doesn’t tend to work out well for me in the end. (It’s hard to be seen when you hide.) And they don’t know that when I listen for too long it makes my core quake and my strength deplete like I might fall out of my body, even when I’m authentically enjoying the connection. Which I very often am, my curiosity is wonderfully palpable — but after a certain point, my brain gets overwhelmed and kuputs, this is not a choice.
They don’t know that seeming “normal” requires filtering my natural expression to the point of feeling like a robot, that my smile and positivity may be for their comfort; so I don’t overwhelm them with the intensity of what’s actually happening inside me, so they don’t take it personally. Other times, I’m afraid I’ll be rejected if I don’t “shine.” (Or, reasons I’m not even consciously privy to; the defensive mind is one complicated beast.)
They don’t know that sometimes I “seem so chill” because, like many auties, it can take days to figure out how I actually feel about an event; that offenses I brush off in the moment can later lead to a perilous state. And since the frustrated energy behind it has been building up for decades, it’s too combustible to be received by the source — so that pent-up energy has nowhere to go, even therapists haven’t seemed to want to deal with it. So, the pressure keeps building. And building.
They don’t know how hard it is to function when I feel like that, especially since the motions my body asks to release the pressure with (called stims), are considered “too weird,” a sight likely to leave one perceived as unemployable. They don’t know that’s why I used to growl loudly all the time, a behavior I’m not sure how I got away with for so long. They don’t know that suppressing it is when the self-harm started, using my long nails to tear into my skin during a meltdown; causing a quick, but bizarrely soothing, rush of calm.
They don’t know the shame that pours over me when I’ve accidentally touched the broken skin, reminding me of my weakness, and of how self-destructive I can be. They don’t know about the much darker times; the plans I’ve made to leave this world, how close it’s come, nor how many times. And they don’t know that even though it keeps trying to kill me, I authentically love life, so these experiences are like being taken over by a dark and terrifying stranger.
Beyond that, they don’t know my mother chose her death, so it’s also a minefield of childhood trauma.
Coming out #ActuallyAutistic
They don’t know that since my late-May autism revelation, I’ve spent most nights awake with traumatic memories crashing into me; all the experiences that resulted in chipping away at my identity in shameful chunks, eventually leaving just tits and a smile. They don’t know how I clamored with coming out at all, how I debated if advocating for myself was worth the seeming likelihood of being societally dubbed “undateable.”
They don’t know how it felt to finally figure out why I am the way I am, to feel like I finally have clarity, some hope — after all the moves, the mental wards, the homelessness, the loneliness — just to have acquaintances decide that they know more than the professional who spent hours diagnosing me. (It must be noted that due to lack of access to professionals with up-to-date knowledge/experience diagnosing adults, resorting to self-diagnosis is a regularity in the community.)
They don’t know how horrifying it was to realize that there are people who won’t believe my diagnosis simply because of “how I seem” to them; without knowing me, without even bothering to ask one single question. They don’t know their not understanding actually makes autistic situations much worse — with some even asserting their ignorance somehow means we shouldn’t be in need of societal support. And, worse than apathy, they don’t know how terrifying it is to discover that there are people who are actively against people like me finding answers (please read).
They don’t know that after years of struggling to find an income I can actually perform, it was lost to the pandemic — or that Unemployment Insurance is months late paying, and just isn’t responding. They don’t know I haven’t been able to make rent since June and literally cannot, will not, survive being homeless again. They don’t know that this is probably a pretty “normal” state of affairs for autistic adults right now; that we’re already 2.5 times more likely to die early, and when things are dicey for society at large…they’re always more dangerous for those already vulnerable.
And they don’t know how it felt when, while dealing with all of that; a stranger shared my coming-out post, lied about a lack of professional diagnosis, then publicly proclaimed me a fake during perhaps the most vulnerable time of my life. They don’t know that a few days after that public bullying, bolstered by private interactions, I went into my second mental break — this time much more intense, and for much longer. I was on my own and cannot remember much of it, but it started after an especially heartbreaking denial of emotional support, when it felt like there were literal explosions going off in my brain; then my body started violently convulsing, which happened sporadically throughout the break. (Yes, I’m trying to see a neurologist.)
They don’t know I thought I was wandering through an afterlife, rather than through LA-county cities full of very alive, potentially dangerous, strangers (whom I was not at all shy about interacting with). The coming days brought a run-in with police, a night in the hospital, and hundreds of borrowed dollars in impound fees — but I know the grim truth is that I’m lucky not to be imprisoned, or worse.
They don’t know that the little girl who was called cruel names due to oddities (like preferring to wear only purple dresses, how horrifying) — did not stop her wide array of natural expressions so easily, not even if she made it easy on the adults in her world. That if a child acts “nice” in front of you, but then “destroys her bedroom every night, except for the time we hid a video camera in her room,” it’s more than a fucking anecdote.
Somehow, they don’t seem to know that kids grow up, and that adulthood lasts a very very long time.
People who share their autism stories online aren’t trying to prove their autism to the oddly skeptical; we are communicating with people who are like us, trying to provide and receive tools while creating community for those of us who feel like we aren’t made for this world, human beings who desperately need ways to survive within it.
So, to those weirdly suspicious of the neurodiversity community — inadvertently or not, your attitudes are helping to kill people like me. Please, for the love of all that is good, quit making it about you. Please, please, just let us be.
And for those who’d like to help:
So, 3 years after diagnosis, I’ve figured out how to nearly squash the fibromyalgia pain that’s plagued me for close to a decade – Wim Hof and the endocannabinoid system are fabulous, as is eating/drinking intensely healthy, and exercising through the pain takes years and can truly drive a person over the edge but does indeed help wonderfully, hooray!!
But the fatigue is still there. (Esp annoying because w/pain you can just pretend like it’s not happening until you burst, but fatigue…you just can’t. effing. GO.)
Long story short, the fatigue seems to be getting a lot of help from another diagnosis; one that I’ve just received. It also explains jillions of things throughout my issues-filled life, which is a common description for independent adults with this dx. It explains why I’m capable of doing things like interviewing scientists; but will get flustered if you list stuff and expect me to remember it, struggle with regulating my emotion, and have trouble with executive function tasks. (People like me often get asked mean questions like, “how are you smart, but also so stupid?”)
It sheds light on random things like why people often misread my intentions and emotions, why I have no verbal filter, prefer to talk frankly/bluntly about things, am very interested in “boring” details, why I zone out at sparkling things/rock when I sit/spin around my apartment/otherwise ‘stim,’ why my JTT crush was so next level, why learning to drive was like explosions in my brain, why I totally lose my shit when plans change at the last minute, and even why I strongly prefer to wear the same style of shoe, daily, for years.
Today, after hours of assessments, I was officially diagnosed by a mental health professional as being on the autism spectrum.
I am autistic. Weird.
An online test given to me by an autism organization confirmed it 6 weeks ago, and talking to people with brains like mine has been eerie, like having my completely weird, largely hidden, experiences described by people I’ve never met. It kind of makes me feel less original, I thought I was so unique, haha, nope, many of my seeming eccentricities are completely normal for an autistic person – but it’s very very comforting.
Though it’s definitely been a lot to process and an intensely emotional time; knowing the whys and having tools and community is helping already, I am definitely grateful for this news.
Autism in females is estimated to be much much higher; until recently, psychologists were trained in traits that traditionally present in males, but not for typical female experiences (patriarchy, psssch), which involve a lot more masking of autist traits (vids below, any gender can have these ‘secondary’ traits/verbiage is in flux). I’ve been referring to this masking behavior as “people-pleasing” or, here “giving fucks,” as I worked on stopping it over the last decade…thereby accidentally unmasking my autism.
Happy accidents, eh?
What does ‘normal’ mean in the United States?
We use this nonsense word to describe the expected, whatever we’re used to seeing in life. This completely denies the fact that we’re a wildly diverse bunch – a melting pot of different cultures and ways of living. We are not the same.
How this pandemic affects someone who’s already dealing with serious chronic illness, and its cacophony of physical/financial woes, is different than an able-bodied person. Being high-risk means fearing for your safety every time you leave the house, it means a sneeze could destroy or steal your life.
And 4 in 10 adults (37.6%) are high-risk…
IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE LOW-RISK IN THIS PANDEMIC.
The attitudes of our police forces do not affect BIPoC communities the same way they affect a white person. I was raised to believe that it’s normal for cops to keep you safe, while others have to learn how to stay safe *from* the police.
And ~40% of our nation is of color…
IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE WHITE.
Normal is a silo. It isolates us from those that are different from us, making it seem like they aren’t truly there. It keeps us thinking the rest of the nation lives and thinks like our Facebook stream – it blinds people from understanding, keeps us from seeing the comprehensive picture.
Valuing “normal” leads to concepts like groupthink, where people just follow the crowd, letting society take them wherever it wishes. It denies that our entire history is riddled with abuse and oppression, disregarding the affected humans as “other.” It shifts the responsibility from the individual, it makes people feel like they aren’t culpable for the things that happen around them; because as long as it’s normal, it’s fine. (Let’s reflect on this point in relation to our history for a moment…)
Normal is how so little has changed since our civil rights movements, 50 freakin’ years ago; and we’re not treating our elderly and disabled folks any better either. Looking to normal for guidance will lead to assumptions around battles we don’t know anything about. We hurt people by propping up normal.
Fuck normal. Normal is a jerk.
Is current American culture *really* reflecting our hearts and souls?
In good moments, I see people coming together to rise up for what matters, folks advocating both for those who are different than them, and for themselves. I see able bodies who are happy to endure a little discomfort for the safety of those more vulnerable to COVID. And I see the beauty of the human spirit, so willing to fight, support, and serve — and so often with such powerfully beautiful creativity.
But then there’s the rest. Those who think people like me (#spoonie) should just stay home, forever, because they can’t be bothered to wear a piece of fucking fabric on their faces like the rest of the now-recovering world, and the rest of the fucking history of pandemics.
I see people who just don’t care that others (including seniors!) have been working for minimum wage in the front lines, now ready to throw in our teachers; people who whine about being bored and inconvenienced — begging for things to “go back to normal” when the norm is fucking hell for so many.
I do my best to stay positive, but I’m one of them. It’s not okay to be a poor person in our country — is that what resides in our hearts and souls? Do I not count because I haven’t been able to get my body and brain to work in an employable fashion? Because there’s no test for what’s wrong, should I just be grateful that decades of paying disability taxes covered a teensy bit of the time I’ve been desperately trying to survive? If I can’t keep figuring it out, do I deserve to perish? Is that what resides in our hearts and souls?
And are we the kind of people who don’t trust communities reporting mistreatment, even though the stats clearly reflect it (always have), and more shocking video footage of it comes out allllll the time? The kind that still fucking manage to say “is it REALLY all that prevalent though? Things seem fine from my suburb. I just don’t see it.”
Is that what resides in our hearts and souls?
I love this quote. After going through a difficult time, any semi-reflective person is likely to do some thinking on their weaknesses and faults; because how else does one avoid making the same mistakes?
But it’s easy to overdo ‘er. It’s common to not only own one’s errs, but to define ourselves by them, if only unconsciously. When you decide that you’ll never be good enough, things improving seems impossible. And the mental place of “why bother?” is no breeding ground for resilience.
Compassion for ourselves helps us get to a place of seeing ourselves as stronger and wiser for our mistakes, which makes trying again seem worth the effort and potential risks.
And compassion for others is how we become able to look at the world, and the people in it, as potentially trustworthy. This enables us to put ourselves “out there” again, one of many daunting-but-essential parts of getting to a place of resilience.
Becoming resilient is generally a prize that must be hard won, but the goods are mighty good indeed.
An editor had me switch formats so the following poem will not be published anywheres. But, I couldn’t just delete it! It’s a love letter to cannabis, inspired by my transition to needing it medicinally. I think my fellow herb lovers will get it… So, here:
My dearest Cannabis,
I know my love’s grown temperamental since our relationship has taken on this medicinal tone, and I’m so sorry. Now I lean on you like Snoop taught me, and that’s everyday. I’ve started to look to your faults, pointing out where you make me lose track of thoughts—and overlooking how you make my imagination ace, helping to form a thought worth capturing in the first place.
I take you for granted, it’s not enough that you melt the pain in my aching body; I just want you to rid me of more, and I want you to keep it away forever. You distract my mind from pain via whimsical and varied trains of thought, but I get frustrated when the same locomotives hamper my ability to express them.
I love how you give even boring food pizzaz, but bellyache that you’re to blame when I munch too much. You ease my worried mind, you coax anxiety out the door—and yet still, I ask for more.
I judge you by your appearance, and even take a sniff to see if you’re up to par. I reserve photos for when you look your best, sharing only your gorgeous purple tones and crystals; and resort to name-calling when your game is off—I call you schwag that smells of hay, and you don’t deserve that, not even on your worst day.
But, my dear marijuana; my pakalolo, my herb, my sensi—the truth is that I love you, that you truly are a kind bud indeed. Since our last vote you’re always there when I need you. (Though, I’ll admit, the price increase totally blew.) Whether we meet via vape pen or pipe, or by rip or a toke, if you grew up indoors or out; you’re always someone on whom I can count.
So I vow to appreciate you, my beloved ganja, to see you for all of your goodness; and there is so much to see—for you even make smelling skunky a good thing! I love you so much, I’d even declare it with a ring.
Have you ever heard of Lemuria? It was an ancient civilization that I feel very connected to, and they were said to have a beautiful greeting, ‘espavo,’ which was used for both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye.’
This word was to help people remember their true place in the Universe, that there was more than the limited reality they saw in front of them. Literally translated it means: “Thank you for taking your power”
Isn’t that fierce? I love how it calls one to service as well as being wildly empowering, like – thank you for standing up, being brave, and doing your fucking thing. Thank you for knowing you belong here and you’ve got shit to do.
GET IT, GET IT, FRIENDS. 🔥
I just came across a Twitter post by Alex Grey that included a pic of one of his gorgeous paintings. It shows a man being enslaved by self-hatred—something only possible when ruled by ego. Its caption says, “Hey Ego, your fears and limits are really getting in the way of my higher calling…” Some guy commented, “that’s certainly rich for someone so active on social media.”
It reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write about ego. It’s a highly misunderstood concept; people are always talking about smashing it, killing it, generally making it go away—which not only inadvisable, but totally impossible.
What would someone with absolutely no ego look like? They would only have awareness of connection with others, and with the world around them. They would be fully embraced in the truth of our Oneness. They would see no separation between themselves and others, they would truly always see themselves in Other.
Sounds beautiful, eh? Now ask them their name. Where they live. How they pay rent. What they like to do with their time. Etc.
We need ego! Ego serves us in this life, it defines our separateness, and separateness is what we came here to experience.
An unbalanced ego is the troublemaker.
An overgrown ego tells you that you are better than others. It constantly fuels the mind with reasons why others are inferior, why they aren’t as good as you. An overgrown ego is highly defensive, and ignites easily (though not always verbally). It is constantly threatened that someone will remove this sense of superiority, as it is “who I am.”
A diminished ego tells you that you are shit. You aren’t as good as anyone else. You don’t deserve the things that you want. You don’t matter. It is an Eeyore, but it’s not so cute in human form. It is a victim mindset. It will not stand up for itself when hurt, because being hurt has become “who I am.”
A healthy ego is a strong sense of who you are. You like you! (You might even promote your work on social media like Alex!) You see the beauty in others, and appreciate them for just being them. You see when you fuck up, you try to see the humor in it, and do your darnedest to correct it.
You understand that “bad” behavior doesn’t make you less than others, and that “good” behavior doesn’t make you superior to others. There aren’t even really ways to behave “good” or “bad”—there are only actions that are serving to yourself and others, and those that aren’t. You get to choose, and sometimes it’s hard to know which is which.
A healthy ego never feels imperiled because it is aware of “I AM”—it is centered and connected whilst maintaining an awareness of the current perspective and its separations.
There’s all kinds of middleground, of course, we rarely hang out in extremes. There will even be days where your ego shrinks and expands in reaction to who and what you encounter! It’s a versatile lil’ bugger, and not one to attempt to squash.
Certainly to keep yer eye on it though! Watch your reactions, that’s where ego really shines. Notice feelings of superiority and of unworthiness, that’s unbalanced ego showing off. Notice these things without judging yourself, and just jump off that there thought train! Eventually, the tracks themselves will change—your mental constructs will adjust.
Get it get it, friends!
There are many paths to spirituality, but I think books might be my very favorite. Here are the books that have touched my heart and helped me find my center:
The Celestine Prophecy, by James Redfield: An epic spiritual adventure! Lots about energy, very fun read.
Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman: Follows one man’s spiritual awakening, and a bromance to last the ages.
Energy Speaks, by Lee Harris: Shares the energetic components of life, and brilliant ways to use them to our advantage.
The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle: Great advice about staying present, such a crucial aspect of this process. All his books are brilliant!
The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz: Focuses on common sense wisdom that is immediately applicable.
Ishmeal, by Daniel Quinn: Centered on our relationship and evolution with the rest of our planet.
Don’t Let Anything Dull Your Sparkle, by Doreen Virtue: Helps sensitives shine by showing us why we stopped.
The Law of Attraction, by Esther and Jerry Hicks: The OG law of attraction, this is where The Secret came from and puts those ideas more in context.
Flatland-A Romance of Many Dimensions, by Edwin A. Abbott: Explores life in 2-D, making 3-D seem realer whilst also making you wonder about what’s next.
Monkey, by Wu Ch’eng En: A 16th century text that follows monkey’s shenanigans on the way to enlightenment.
Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu: The basis of Taoism, feel the flow!
The Tao of Peace, by Diane Dreher: A brilliant analysis of the Tao that provides grounded ways of applying the concepts to life.
Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins: Tom Robbins mixes the sacred and the profane so very delightfully. His writing feels like Pan meets Jesus. (Which happens in Another Roadside Attraction…)
Conversations with God Series, by Neale Donald Walsh: Translates spiritual concepts through a western Christian’s perspective.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull: A story about a bird who knows that there’s more to living than meets the eye, he follows his heart even though the other sheep-birds think he’s bonkers.
The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, by Debbie Ford: This book is the reason I find myself engaging in shadow work daily, she makes befriending and balancing our difficult aspects somehow kinda fun. Genius.
The Valkyries, by Paulo Cohelo: A darker look at personal transformation, occult focused. (Loved The Alchemist as well, so many more of his to read!)
Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert: A woman’s quest for inner peace via traveling the globe; to indulge, intensely meditate, and to learn ancient wisdom from a medicine man.
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury: A dystopian society, a seeker, and an enlightening young woman.
Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander: A neurosurgeon and skeptic falls into a coma and an experience of life after death.