As a young man with autism, I’ve often felt excluded, left out, isolated, and alone. Sometimes those feelings were justified. Other times they were only symptoms of underlying anxiety and insecurity. It’s tempting to think a relationship might fix that. For years, I thought that it might. Of course, I know it won’t. It can’t. It’s not fair to expect a mortal relationship to affect my neurological condition. Even God hasn’t fixed that.
In the meantime, I pray for healing and hope that one day I’ll feel comfortable enough in my own skin to be able to keep my anxiety to a manageable level. It’s not going away. Jesus isn’t going to cure my anxiety or my autism. It’d require a complete reformatting and rewiring of my brain, and I think He’s honestly busy with other stuff.
I’ve never been in a relationship. Barely even been kissed. That doesn’t bother me. Life isn’t a competition or a race, no matter how many cultural elements try to convince me otherwise. I think having a relationship might be a good experience. It seems like a fundamental part of the human condition. But if it doesn’t happen, I’ll still be ok. I guess the point I’m making is that I agree with this article, and I also understand how easy it is to fall into the “you complete me” trap. If only someone else could solve all our problems. The best God does is give us the strength to solve things ourselves, or at least work on them.
Still, being single since the days I knew what “single” even meant can be difficult. Especially during those three weeks in winter. You know the ones. We’re in them now. The weeks between Jan. 2 and Feb. 21. Those are the gloomiest, saddest, most gut-wrenching weeks of the year. I’d like to blame Valentine’s Day, but I honestly can’t. I think if I lived in Florida or the Caribbean, I wouldn’t mind those weeks as much. But I live in Georgia, where the rains and the wind keep streaming down from the heavens, and the sun is covered in a veil of gray for days and days. Being single can be tough. Ah, well. I’m a Jedi, like my father before me. Jedi are born tough.
Someday I’ll meet somebody and we’ll get married and have lots of adventures. Or maybe I won’t. I just hope I can get to a place where I can be happy with either outcome. At least for those three weeks in winter when my singleness irks me the most.
So. I don’t have a comic for you this week. Probably won’t have one next week. Will try to get one up by the holidays, but I think we may be looking at a June release, at the earliest. Very sorry. Grad school has proven a bigger bear than I anticipated. Scratch that. It’s proven EXACTLY as difficult as anticipated, and for that reason alone, my time for comicking has drastically been reduced.
Be that as it may, I will try to keep weekly updates going as long as I am able. Maybe throw a few In His Spare Time’s at you. See what happens.
Now, to address the title of this post. I turned 30 in April. So far, being 30 is kind of amazing. Having my mind blown constantly by all the ignorance and ridiculousness of modern society and how this ignorance has infected and infested our public school system. But I’m also learning about the great, unsung heroes of my nation, and for that, I am grateful and inspired.
Also new this year: The amount of farts I give has been growing steadily closer to zero. And it is amazing. Tyler Durden was right. There is an amazing amount of freedom you gain from being able to let that which does not matter truly slide.
LGBTQ (RSTUVWXYZ, seriously guys, get a better acronym) causes have been in the news a lot recently. And by news, I of course mean the two or three online mags I check out from time to time.
But aside from the gay marriage issue, which I’ve spoken about before, I’d like to talk today about the transgender community, a community which — as a straight, white, Christian man — I am in no way qualified to talk about.
As a practicing Catholic, I subscribe to a binary sex system, which dictates that there are two sexes built for each other. I can’t help but believe that a person so uncomfortable in their own flesh as to necessitate identifying entirely with the opposite sex is by definition mentally-imbalanced.
Of course, that’s only my opinion. I’ve only taken one college-level psychology class, and it was an audited course, which means I’ve taken zero college-level psychology classes.
There’s a bit of a stigma attached to mental disease/disorder. As an autistic person, I can assure you there is nothing “wrong” or “broken” about anyone with mental illness. Bipolar disorder, ADD, OCD, and all the other anxiety-causing, hallucination-inducing what-have-you’s are no less shameful than the common cold or any physical handicap.
Likewise, there’s nothing to “cure” when it comes to certain forms of mental illness. Autism, Down Syndrome, and even bipolar disorder are not diseases in the sense that the only “cure” would be a complete rewiring and rebuilding of the patient’s brain.
If you “cured” me of my autism, I’d no longer be recognizable as “me.” That’s what happens when you mess too much with the brain. A scary thought, especially for folks like myself who believe in the existence of Spirit and the immaterial, immortal nature of the human soul.
That said, treatment is available and highly-desirable for most forms of mental illness. Some of us can’t function in any real sense without our medicine, and that’s ok. No one would be surprised that a paraplegic requires a wheelchair. No one should be shocked to discover that a man with paranoid schizophrenia requires a daily dose to keep the hallucinations down to a bare minimum.
But none of that really applies to transgender folks.
Of course, that’s assuming therapy is even an option. That’s assuming the person in question hasn’t already faced bullying on par with the Spanish Inquisition.
So what are we “normals” to do? How should we treat those who are different?
The answer should be obvious.
The idea of loving one’s neighbor is not a new one, although it may be too difficult for some of us to conceive of loving someone far different from ourselves. Perhaps it would be easier for us to start with politeness.
First: What NOT To Do
1. Don’t ask someone about the condition of their genitals. Not a stranger, not someone you just met, not even your friends. Seriously, it’s rude.
3. Don’t stare at odd-looking folks. Every so often, I see certain folks on the train or at a grocery store. At first glance, I can’t tell if these folks are women dressed as men, transgender folks, men dressed as women, or some other category I can’t be bothered to look up at the moment because I got other stuff to do today, and I’m running behind as it is. What do I do when faced with these people?
I smile and continue about my day. I don’t stare. I don’t ask them personal questions. I treat them like everyone else I happen to run into, with love and respect. This is not that difficult. It’s what your mother taught you. It’s what the Church teaches. This should not be new. It is not a new concept.
What To Do
Here’s a list of ways to interact with transgender folks, other members of the LGBTQ community, members of minority ethnic groups, people with different hair color or skin tone or eye color than you, people with different religious affiliations, and people who hate everything.
3. Interact as you would with anyone else.
Seriously, that’s all. Show a basic level of human empathy and politeness to others. If a Different Person asks you for the time, pull out your watch or phone or alarm clock and tell them what time it is. If a Different Person asks you for a haircut, give them one and charge them the right rate. Unless you’re not a hair-stylist or barber, in which case, you are free to refuse service.
Seriously, why would you ask me for a haircut? I don’t even own one of those squeaky barbershop chairs.
Update: My stance on the gay marriage issue has since changed, slightly. While as a Christian, I cannot vote for it, as an American, I will not vote against it. The government has no right to forbid the marriage of two consenting adults. I call shenanigans on that. Shenanigans, all around.
Today’s “In His Spare Time” is a bit different, starring national patron saints as opposed to angels. Originally, I brought in the patrons to enable me to take a jab at politics. Today’s patron saints are St. Joan of Arc (France) and St. Patrick (Ireland). Sam is an original character I created to be patron saint of America. I did this out of respect for the Virgin Mary, the actual patron for the New World/Americas. She doesn’t appear in my comic.
Is it weird I find it more difficult to put sarcasm and wit into the mouth of Mary than the divine voice of God?