Post-Group #THRIVING reflections live reflections and resources linked to the FB live
I just finished a Zoom support group for people who are thriving in a pandemic but are called maladaptive. I want to make sure that they are time-logged when I have that energy of what was shared in this space. The real-time notes that I have taken were my immediate reactions, my subconscious playing with my fingers on the keyboard and letting it flow whatever was relatable. I just logged it on a note list because that’s how I accommodate myself.
I want to reflect about: What the topics were when people were originally joining.
We were waiting for the space to fill, right? So in that awkward space, I introduced my friend as someone that I’ve met in Troublemaker University. What troublemaking means? What does creative self-play mean? finding the self. Liberating yourself from whatever constructs, wherever you come from. We wanted to know:
How do you give yourself permission to thrive? How do you claim your sovereign right to thrive?
Sovereign Right. A number of years ago, if you have experienced that claiming the right to thrive happened while you were in a very strict religious environment from birth and recognizing, containing something that there is just no truth in your actual world. That could have been a very true difficult transition. In that time of transition, few people would use the word thriving to represent what they’ve experienced. But over time the process truly became more sobering. And to claim your sovereign right, you have to also claim your right to have the power of your own mind: what you believe, what you think, and what you choose to be a part of.
Thinking about people who decorated their background. That shows some self-determination. We got to see someone’s background today which was a red and blue checkerboard with a chicken in every other box and it was fantastic. It unlocked a little bit of the spontaneity that we had going in this group.
Graduate Programs. A very dogmatic institution. Told that the professor is the boss. The professor teaches you how you should: think & conduct yourself. If you’re upset with their wrong structure that doesn’t align with you, you’re the one with the behavior problem. That type of group-think, we can also find it in the social justice movement because we’re gonna have this dogma on how we’re gonna change the world. That too is very-very terrifying for people who come from high-demand groups to suddenly experience themselves in another high-demand group in the name of social justice. It doesn’t sit comfortably with people.
I don’t identify as a self-advocate. I advocate for autism support but I’m not an autistic self-advocate. I no longer am a self-narrative zoo exhibit. I don’t provide this emotional labor.
The way that I do it is in a completely different way. I enjoy being silly, returning to a child. I didn’t have these creative opportunities when I was a child. I was in a system that didn’t tolerate it. It was a behavior problem. It was against God’s will. Being able to liberate my creativity, I feel like I’ve returned to the inner child. I am being grown-up, chronologically, professionally with a Ph.D. but the perpetual play is keeping me alive.
Major Transitions. Learning about their autism diagnosis in a very hard and traumatizing way by being diagnosed by a top professional in a different country, attached to the head of a university who paid zero attention to this person during the diagnostics and just saw them as a diagnosis, not as a human. They described it as being “silly” never really knowing what that meant, this sense of agency. Once they developed this feeling for about a year, they began to do more important research on their own and struggled to work with sensory overload but not being validated. Giving everything but not being seen or understood, being just diagnosed in your late 40s.
So where is this perpetual child, your perpetual child in your world?
Where you’re situated right now and everybody shared, learning from other people about where they’re currently situated, where they’re at, and why they are thriving.
We were all just born somewhere and we didn’t have the choice to choose our identity.
Now, what about if your identity is linked perpetually from the perspective of the passport you’re holding?
The sacred paper, the dogma of nationality. Then merge that with religious teaching.
Suddenly, you’re born with instructions that the brain must be inside the box. You just receive the orders, you follow it. You’re having a political expectation to live in a certain way.
Somebody who was born in Palestine shared that hatred was the teachings and it was the foundation of all of their teachings.
Growing up in such a terrible reality, you actually didn’t know what was happening. Childhood was not an option because you have to see so many unpleasant things.
Growing up and you discover that your passport keeps changing for political reasons. Sometimes it gets renewed every three years, five years. Sometimes you have to leave the country or you have to come back, to claim your nationality. Then you find that when you go to the bank in another country, Palestine doesn’t show up in the bank system so you actually can’t withdraw your money from your own bank account. So what is yours, what is your sovereign right? Do you have the autonomy to have access to your own finances or passport, that sacred paper of belonging?
And if you’re outside the box, everyone is rejecting you, treating you like you’re a stranger, you don’t belong. You must not be considered part of the family or a group or of any society ever again because you’re the bad guy. You’re the one who chose to think like this.
So here, wherever you want to go, you cannot even be considered because your passport suddenly is not even a thing.
Childhood Experiences. Another member discovered that they were trying to fit in. But every time they had the normal event and they, the autistic student, are pulled away by the special Ed teacher from the group. She could never feel completely included in either world. She wanted to be in there. She was fitting in but she never got this opportunity. The student has to stay in the library. She finds spending more time volunteering in an assisted living home than hanging out with friends her own age. Being isolated without an explanation. Not being told why you’re being pulled out. Also being forbidden from going on field trips with little or no explanation. Not being explained what the adult’s agenda is, what dogma are they pushing you from side to side?
When it comes back to sovereignty and you have this birthright, I mean, we kind of have to make up our own lives, right? If you think of existential psychology on a very individual level we have such potent agency.
But when you encounter system-think or group-think or systemic oppression, the basic challenges in the systems are nameless. They’re also faceless, right? So we call it a social problem. You have to take social skills class. I’m anti-social. I actually love to say that I conduct anti-social science research. Because I want to see these systemic oppressions which are nameless, faceless, and quantify it, objectify it. Just like they have robbed our autonomy and our sovereignty when we were younger.
Reclaiming that and bringing the inner child out prompted the sharing of someone else’s narrative of being in a cult for 10 years. In their description:
You lose everything. You have to start from scratch, no education. You have to do a lot of research to think about this new mindset you have. To start removing all the layers, removing the brainwashing until you find who you are, the core of yourself. When you realize this cultic mindset, you can see it everywhere. Everywhere you look there is dogma but now you’re hypersensitive to actually identify it.
So our dogma radar goes up very-very high once you’ve had this existential conversation with yourself.
Tension between Individuals and Culture around them. We’re all born in a family. We’re born into a tradition. A tradition is an extraordinarily powerful tool. And at that point, we were clocking in at 49 minutes which was our promised zoom time. So, anyone who stayed beyond that, it was just extra leisure.
Life can be incredible. So on this very individual level when these changes happen to someone. Learning, opening your eyes to see that,
“Oh my goodness, my life can be, life can be. Love is possible.”
who knows? But then you’re paraded around. You’re looking at the parade of examples of success. When you’re trying to achieve those milestones for yourself, the inertia seems to move very, very, slowly. With the traditions you’ve been raised with your entire life, it becomes very difficult suddenly to continue and carry those on. Because you’re starting to see some traction about these examples of success. Because they become relatable to you or you admire it.
Plato’s allegory. Cave people are chained in a cave, looking at shadows on the wall. Because that’s their job and that’s all they’re doing essential, slave labor. But at the end of that story, one of them is let free to go check on the outside world. To see if the shadows reflect what is actually experienced in the outside world. But then, that individual who leaves the cave and is unchained actually experiences some light. It becomes a very intense experience coming back to the people in the cave. Talking to them in their shadows. The immediate experience is this intensity of what if.
Essentially, you’re actually still sharing. You’re still staring at the shadows of your own wall when you’re asking yourself: what if.
So today we extended honorary membership to the Doogri Institute for anyone who has attended the Zoom groups up until today because we want to continue to inform our members that we promote classes on how to use different social media platforms to find your voice. Ask yourself these existential questions: Do I want to be the one who sees the light of how my anecdotal evidence is relatable to people, even if you can’t imagine right now?
Who cares if I show my cat on TikTok? Who cares? Well to answer that question, we have Tik Tok Tuesday. All Tuesday technology classes are about TikTok. So if one class is full, we’ll keep teaching. We want to show you what Tik Tok has unlocked for me and for others. It is just the permission, this unapologetic permission to be in a perpetual play state. If you follow, for 15 seconds you may see me struggle with a coffee pot in the morning. If that’s relatable to you, I can’t imagine but I know I’m sowing the seeds of not asking the “but” and “what ifs’.”
When we say I am sowing seeds, you can’t imagine what is sprouting under the soil. I went out there and I saw it. Because eventually, something happens. The private messages: “You’ve made me giggle,” “Your Tik Tok videos are cracking me up.” Even if one person never watches my Tik Tok videos, I will continue to do it. Because it’s for myself. Being able to be completely who I am and all the people who have tried to hurt me in my adult life. That’s because my existence shattered their worldview. An autistic person trying to have a career, no-no-no-no.
Professional & Academia Hazing. So you encounter this type of hazing in the professional, in academia. “No, we can’t have disabled people in our class.” “We can’t have blind people learning how to be teachers for the visually impaired and blind students.” Why? You don’t know how to adapt your curriculum to blind students?
This continuous blocking and blocking and blocking. We’re over it. Just continue to exist. Put yourself into existence mode. Thrive, play, and just do because you already belong. You have already been born. You have an identity. You’re allowed to exist. You’re allowed to be learning to speak up even if they don’t want to hear it.
Being told to stay in your place, “We’re the grown-ups so we can bully you ruthlessly.” Getting away from that, where do you go?
We had a clinician in the group who heard these narratives, of the trauma of leaving groups or leaving an identity. When you experience an autism diagnosis, your whole life goes bust. There’s so much retribution when you can liberate yourself from these diagnostics that you didn’t align with (mention of inaccurate diagnoses prior to an autism one). But suddenly you have something that rings true for you. Whatever it is, let it be schizophrenia. If you’re Trans, whatever is what you come out to yourself, you accept. Because you identify with it.
That part of knowing from another clinician the message of hope she says is, “As a clinician, to hear what autistics are overcoming in their own usual development. It’s not unusual and it’s like all other people who try to find their group and their community as part of natural human development.”
And when you have to explain your story, it’s because it’s up to you to teach the clinicians. Most deemed professionals don’t at all know what they’re doing. You have to decide, am I going to be a champion in my own life? Can I take a lifetime to advocate for my life?
It’s unfortunate that the autistic is put into the role of educating the clinicians. But at the same time, outside of autism diagnoses, it’s unfortunately not so calm, not so uncommon. Pretty much everyone who’s been in therapy may have experienced something like that. Or being rejected when you try to bring your actual story when you need accommodation in college. This is a very relatable topic where suddenly, you have to be providing emotional labor, being a self-narrative zoo exhibit, feeling so invalidated, feeling like a hole is directly under your feet with something that somebody shared.
Then they said to her, “We are the experts and you basically know nothing.” For her, she experienced that it is the nervous system of both people in this relationship of, “I’m going for a diagnosis, you’re the counselor” “You’re this genius, I’m the apprentice.” In a professional career, “I am the supervisor, you’re the employee.”
Any type of systemic dynamic change that makes it impossible for a person to thrive. It is if you look at it from the cognitive side that involves the nervous system, we know that it’s a relationship from the nervous system to the nervous system. It takes out this whole personhood, the diagnosis. It becomes on the human level. It becomes so beautiful because it’s not the oppression of the church of psychiatry, which I like to call it. But you start to see the side, somehow, that they are living, existing opposites that can be contained in a single relatable moment, digital or in person.
In the next zoom meeting, What sense of play are you bringing? Bring your inner child. Bring puppets. Show me your pet. Forward-facing camera. Show me the landscape. Show me the wallpaper of your living room, something relatable. It turned out that because we had this conversation, we discovered that their situation right now is trauma from being forced into eye contact from a very young age. When we talked about this, there was a comment that said, “Yes, I will try to see what I can play with to return to a child and I’m comfortable showing my cat. Because I love cats.” Then to explain how much they love cats, it was because “dogs or puppies rather are very emotionally demanding.” I mean, that at least explains why so many autistic people are cat people and rather than dog people. But yesterday’s group we talked about being pet non-conforming. You can love both dogs and cats. We don’t have to be in that binary of being a cat person or a dog person.
You’re allowed to have those thoughts. You’re allowed to exist. It can be silly and that’s okay. Because at least you’re making me smile. So you’ve sowed your seeds. I will see you in two weeks. Thank you for watching. And thank you for commenting. Overall, continue to use that search bar: Doogri Doogri Doogri, you will find us.
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Reflections and Resources:
- #THRIVING FB Live reflections (playlist)
- #THRIVING Youtube Playlist
- Other reflections: Sia’s Interview and Elissa’s Comment