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  • Writer's pictureCrys Raffa

Yeah, Still Hurts.....Dad

There are things in life that seem harmless between allistics/neurotypicals. The kinds of things commonly seen as inside jokes or memories between family members that get laughed at only when certain special triggers go off. In the vagaries of life, I can see why inside jokes are worth having. They indicate a personal relationship and history. In theory they indicate a bond and a closeness of positive terms.

That is not the case in my experience. While inside jokes can certainly happen in relationships I am a part of, it is not likely I will always consider them fondly when they come up. As I mentioned last post, RSD is an ever constant beast that rides the back of a neurodivergent like myself. It is one that finds a way to remind me of its sizeable imprints on my history and daily life at every turn. Truthfully it should also be said that I can easily be reminded of the beast RSD is whenever a relative suddenly finds something funny about me or involving me and a memory relating to me.

Last night was a night I have been looking forward to for a couple weeks now. I had an idea for a podcast interview that my dad and I could do together. (Like so many people now, both he and I have podcasts, but his actually has a platform and fan base.) It occurred to me because he invited me to participate in an interview remotely over a decade ago when he had the lead singer of Guster on. That became a core memory for me. It was fun for me and it was bonding for us. I felt included even tho I was in another state from him. It was nice to know that dad respected me for having introduced him to Guster in the first place. (He has since become a devoted fan and supporter.) With a childhood as traumatic and abusive as mine was, having a chance to do something fun and positive together is a rare thing and I was glad of the experience.

So the interview last was my idea. I use different social platforms than my dad (obviously) and using TikTok is how we got here. There is a whole gaggle of BS going on in my personal life, so the daily RSD is enough, but then I go out into the world and more of it finds me. In the year and a half I've been using TikTok, I've found several great creators and one of them was able to use the platform to build a fan base that lead to a kickstarter. That resulted in him working on a full album of music which should release July of 2022. I am part of that fan base and as part of the early base, have the ability to speak with him more directly. I suggested it in the private fan Discord he has and he agreed! The calendars lined up finally and it will be published Mid May.

Sitting in the recording booth with my dad last night at studio, we had a few minutes before hand to get our sound levels ready and everything situated. I made a passing comment to him about wanting to make sure I sound alright since I vividly recall being in the studio with him as a kid and him making me use a clicker to count how many times I would clear my throat or make other sounds. (**In hindsight, these were stims and vocal ticks. It was an anxiety response and the amount I did it was DIRECTLY related to my stress levels. In grade 7 I was diagnosed as ADHD, but it was still a thing I got horrifyingly tortured about by every person I ever spoke to or with; especially my own relatives.)

It still hurts remembering that and I honestly said to him it was a core trauma memory when I recall how it was constantly pointed out.

He immediately started to laugh and said "Yeah, it was ridiculous how much you really did do it. It was a lot!"

Instantly my shoulders dropped and I'm sure my face fell. This memory is one that began forming over 25 years ago and was pointed out habitually since. *To this day* it is nothing more to my own dad but a joke that he made fun of my vocal stims and ticks; even now knowing I have been diagnosed BOTH as ADHD and ASD. It is a reminder to me that no matter how progressive or "woke" someone calls themselves or aims to be, there will always be a part of them that excuses behavior which predates the knowledge. That he can say to himself on any level "it is an inside joke from her childhood" or that he is entitled to laugh because it is funny to him...

I know he saw my body respond negatively. He dismissed his own laughter as being just a normal response and no big deal. He suggested I finish my comment and tasks so we could begin the remote interview and he went about doing his own preparations. The nature of masking for an Autistic means that all I could really do was manage the physical reaction and sigh. I turned on my heel and finished my tasks so we could begin on time, since it wouldn't be "professional" to make this artist wait for us (particularly me) to get thru a bout of RSD and likely the associated stress induced aphasia that comes with it.

I once again had to do my level best to fully suppress and ignore everything my own body was communicating to me about how it felt and what it needed. The only way forward was to do my dambdest to push forward and "be the bigger person" again. The result of me having been masking so much of my life means I was able to do it and the interview went really well far as I can tell. (He said he had fun and enjoyed it both at the time and later on Discord. I appreciate his effort and participation. I can only hope he was honest about that and that I didn't fully screw the whole thing up.)

In so many situations I am forced to look at my own feelings and use them as a metric for reminding myself that judgment and potential condemnation of others rests almost fully on assumptions and interpretations. I have to make decisions about their internal lives and struggles and when I know full well my own are completely unreadable to the world because of my own masking; it is a firm slap in the face that I am in NO position to do such things. I am in no way allowed that right or standing. It is completely the better choice to over explain my view or position. It is better to ask more questions and risk being seen as annoying than allow room for misinterpretation.

Why is all that better? Why open myself to the questions or risk being viewed as annoying?

I prefer honesty. That's the final truth of it. If I am taken as annoying or called a bitch, it means I have spoken enough to be sure that I am actually as clear as *I* feel I need to be. If I am asked so many questions that quiet frankly even I get bothered by how many there are being asked, I can be sure that they feel ok asking me things. I can be sure that they know I want to be clear and give them full information.

So do I prefer that my dad was "honest" about him still finding it funny? Yes and no. Him being so cavalier about it tells me to be more guarded with my emotions and honesty around him. It tells me how he will react to things regarding my kids, both of whom are also ASD. It also still hurts deeply that me mentioning *explicitly* a traumatic memory causes him to outright laugh. It bothers me on many levels that his automatic reaction to me expressing worry and fear that I will mess up this very important thing we are doing together, is to make light of it and tease me over stims and ticks. His day job is a Direct Support Professional. His *chosen career* is working with people who have conditions like mine and have more intense needs than mine. They have ticks and stims just like me and just like my kids. It is good to know the truth of how he sees the situation, but that doesn't make it hurt any less.

So yeah, it still hurts Dad.

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