Friday, March 16, 2018

Book Review: Life and Love

Life and Love: Positive Strategies for Autistic Adults, by Zosia Zaks, is a must-read book of thoughtful tips, tricks, and explanations for managing adult life on the autism spectrum.  Subjects include: dealing with sensory issues, managing a living space (including priorities), a discussion of living on your own (including living by yourself or with roommates), how to go shopping with minimum discomfort, various transportation options, managing your physical and mental health, and a short section on job tips.  There are also sections for dating, how to make friends (and two types of friends), being safe out in the world, and how/when/why to disclose your diagnosis.

Overall I found this book an excellent read.   The author puts a lot of murky concepts into clear words, with numbered priorities for important concepts.  She also provides helpful examples and visual charts, such as a weekly chore calendar and a monthly chore calendar.  Though I could ask for blank ones to be included at the end of the book, or perhaps a link to a Google Drive document for easy use and printability. 

I found it somewhat telling, I suppose, that the book's spine was broken at the dating section.  Almost all of the books I review for this blog are borrowed from my state's library system, and while mostly the wear on a book is incidental, I suspect it's not in this case.  Loneliness is a huge problem for autistic people, and the author talks about this, as well as society's preached cure: finding a significant other and following the society-prescribed dating-> marriage -> house -> kids pattern.  This pattern doesn't even fit all neurotypical people, why would it be the best solution for us?  The author has other solutions to the problem of loneliness, which include volunteer work (also handy for finding a job), clubs, classes, and good self-care.

I was actually surprised to find this book did have a few things to teach me.  Mostly, I feel like these books tend to cover the most basic of basics and rarely go further.  Ms. Zaks' forthright style of writing and explaining life clarified a few things for me.  I didn't, for instance, really consider self-care a loneliness-fighting solution, but she's right, it is.  It doesn't solve the problem, but it's harder to be miserable about being lonely when you're enjoying yourself.

I also hope to adapt the Frustration Color Scale (Red= Emergency, down to Green = Neutral), for use at home with my spouse and for my personal understanding, as well as her Emotion Rating Scale (1-10, with 1 being things like dropping a box of paper clips, and 10 being something like a tornado leveling your home).  I feel like these tools could be very useful for communicating with my spouse regarding my emotional state, and probably useful for my own understanding also.  I don't really have a good way of judging my internal state, so having these scales defined on the wall or something would likely be very helpful, and it would also mean my spouse could potentially just look somewhere in the house to find out how I'm doing.

All that said, this isn't a perfect book.  I was initially excited to find out this book was written by an autistic lesbian, and hoped she might offer some thoughts regarding being different on that spectrum also, but the section on that subject was less than a page long.  While she had good things to say, I do wish she'd expanded on that section a bit.  The statistics are showing that autistic people tend to display a wider variety of sexual orientations and gender identities than the general populace (probably because we aren't as swayed by cultural ideals, so we simply are who we are).  So this would seem to me to be a rather important subject, worth its own chapter.  Perhaps the publisher disagreed, or the author wasn't aware of how widespread this seems to be.

The dating section is also pretty much just written for an autistic man hoping to date a non-autistic woman.  While that is the most common scenario, and the author says "but you can adapt these tips to any situation," I felt kind of uncomfortable about the assumption, given the author's own sexual orientation.  The misunderstandings the author talks about could indeed come up in any kind of relationship involving an autistic person, but I guess I'd've been happier if female-female examples were used, or if NT male-autistic female examples were used.  I presume, given basic psychology, that I'm most annoyed about the lack of the latter, since it describes my situation.

I also noted a distinct lack of anything beyond safety tips when it comes to discussing sex.  Considering the author apparently suffers a good number of sensory issues, it surprised me that there wasn't a discussion of the problems that can cause in physical intimacy.  I suppose there's still this book for a catch-all resource regarding that, but I'd have been happier if a book that discusses love and autism also covered this rather central expression of love.

Those lacks aside, I was pleased to find a thorough discussion about the differences between autistic people raised female and those raised male.  The author has some excellent things to say on the subject, which I almost entirely agree with and haven't seen anywhere else in print.

I've been tough on this book because it's gotten so much right.  It has an excellent discussion of the senses and how sensory issues can crop up, along with what to do about them.  Its priorities for home management are spot on, and the example solutions should be customizeable and work well for most people.  The transportation, shopping, and health care sections are thoughtful and cover most issues I can think of, at least in the basics.  The job section is short for such an important subject, but has excellent advice.  And in truth, there are whole books dedicated to exactly that subject, so if this one doesn't entirely manage it, there's other stuff out there.

The philosophy on relationships, friendships, and safety all seemed excellent to me, and the disclosure section was sufficiently nuanced that I felt it covered most scenarios, if not all of them.  Overall, I think this book more or less lives up to its title, which is a rare and impressive feat in my experience.

Read This Book If

You're autistic, and want a guide to the things on the cover.  Or you'd like an autistic's eye view into adult life.  This is an excellent book; well-written, clear, and thoughtful.  If any Book Clubs or Book Study groups are looking for a good book to select next on self-help skills and living life on the autism spectrum, this is your book.  It is also excellent for personal reading, and a valuable asset to any library.  In my new house, I will likely have more bookshelves, and I will devote a shelf to stellar books I've found for this blog.  This book will be on that shelf. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Legwork and Life, week of 3/14/18

<movers came- super late, but at least polite and careful>

Yesterday marks the final day of moving.  The movers came on Monday as promised, albeit like... an hour and a half late.  I'd recognized on the phone that they had an accent, but figured I was talking to a Hispanic guy or something... turns out these folks were actually of African descent, and possibly immigrated within the generation, at that.

I can't decide if I'm being racist when I immediately calmed down and assumed they were using "African time."  See, at my church, there's a basic English service that caters to immigrants and refugees.  While the main service starts within minutes of the scheduled start time, this basic English service starts 15-30 minutes after the scheduled start time, because some people are late and everyone likes to be friendly and concerned about each other.

This is actually indicative of a larger cultural phenomenon.  US culture, and especially the Dutch heritage culture around here, is very persnickety about being on time and not wasting others' time.  But elsewhere in the world, people don't live and die by the clock.  Life happens, you get there when you get there, and nobody takes things too seriously.  It's a bit overspecific to call it "African time" but that's what they called it, so that's what I learned it as.

In truth, though, I didn't inquire into the movers' heritage (nor was it my business, really).  I think the textbook answer to the question of "am I being racist?" is "if you're worried about it, it's probably fine."  But I'd feel better if someone who had a better understanding of the issues would tell me one way or the other.  Anyway, the movers did a fine job once they actually made it to us, and appreciated our helpfulness as we opened doors and had already emptied out the furniture they moved.  Apparently not everyone takes their stuff out of furniture they're having moved?  That flabbergasted me.  Furniture is heavy enough without keeping your stuff in it...

When all was said and done, our furniture arrived with no apparent damage, the head guy gave us a hefty discount by way of apology for being so late (which took our moving costs for that under $200- nice!), and now all that's left to do is clean the apartment up and turn in our keys.

I'm not looking forward to the cleaning, but what can you do...  well, besides forfeit hundreds of dollars for spite, I guess.  I already did the lung-killing section of the work, which was to clean out the oven.  Last time we moved, I'd bought a can of cancer-causing death chemicals for use in removing all the grease from the oven, and we still had that, so I used it again on this oven.  (The can doesn't say it causes cancer, but really, something that lifts baked on grease that easily?  You just know it's going to turn up 20 years from now as a hazard.)  I don't think I cared enough to make this oven as clean as the last one, but it's quite clean, and suitable for use by new residents now. 

In other news, I'm going back to my college for a few hours this week to help some students with a study on autistic people and humor.  I have a bachelor's degree in psychology, which makes me wonder A) if I'm going to mess up their study by knowing too much about what they're doing, and B) what they're actually studying, because a hallmark of psychology studies is that they're not necessarily studying what they say they're studying.

There's reasons for that, they're not just lying through their teeth because it's fun.  The problem with testing sentient creatures that can second-guess themselves (which is to say, humans) is that they will do exactly that, rather than simply reacting like most creatures.  There's also the problem of people trying to guess what the researchers want to see, and then acting accordingly (or oppositely) rather than how they'd normally act... which again, if you're serious about doing science, is a problem. 

The ruling body of psychology, the APA, thusly allows researchers to lie to their research participants/subjects... but only as long as necessary for the study to be finished.  As soon as that's done, they're required to explain what was really being tested and why.  There're some really interesting (and sometimes flatly horrifying) studies that have been done over the years, prior to modern standards of ethics for psychology, but that's probably a post for another day...

Monday, March 12, 2018

Reading the Research: Smartphone Addiction or Social Addiction?

Welcome back to Reading the Research, where I trawl the Internet to find noteworthy research on autism and related subjects, then discuss it in brief with bits from my own life, research, and observations.

Today's article calls into question the current thinking about why people are so attached to their smartphones.  The stereotype is that it's "those darned kids," but in all honesty, I've seen plenty of older folks, including my dad, tote their own smartphones everywhere and get distracted by them on a regular basis.  This isn't a generational thing, it's a human thing.  Younger people are just more likely to have learned the ins and outs of their phones, and thus are able to maximize their usefulness. 

This attachment and frequent use of smartphones is considered antisocial, because people sometimes pick up their phones for seemingly trivial reasons, mid-conversation (in person), mid-dinner at a restaurant, or even mid-work.  Most research has underlined that assumption: using your phone is antisocial.  Therefore with the rise of cell phones, humankind is becoming less social. 

This article challenges that assumption with a simple observation: the most addictive smartphone apps and functions allow you to connect with other people.  Think about that.  Does it sound anti-social to you? 

These researchers didn't think so.  Rather, they suggest that smartphone addiction is, instead, a hyper-social response.  Humanity is wired to be social, even those of us with social difficulties.  While sufficient trauma or even sufficient disability can counter that wiring, most people do have what psychology calls the Connectedness Motive.  Or in non jargon-y terms: the drive to connect with and be connected to other people.  That's why small talk is a thing: the weather isn't really that interesting of a subject (to most people), but by talking to a stranger about a thing you both have in common, you feel connected to that person. 

Autistic people tend to favor a second motive, called the Mastery Motive, over the Connectedness Motive.  The Mastery Motive, roughly, is the desire to improve and become competent at a subject.  Special Interests/Hobbies are a way of expressing this motive, and it's something we do pretty well, overall.  But even if an autistic person doesn't have a Special Interest/Hobby tendency, like myself, the motive still applies.  I value the truth, accuracy, and precision highly.  I tend to get my facts straight before posting something on social media.  If I don't know the answer to something, I tend to look it up, or refer to someone I believe is more knowledgeable on the subject. 

But all that said, before Facebook kicked me out, I did still catch myself refreshing my Facebook feed over and over in hopes that something would happen.  It's been assumed in the past that autistic people weren't social, or didn't have the Connectedness Motive at all.  I can safely say that is not the case.  And I would also extend this article's range of effect beyond smartphones, to computers as well.

A common complaint of parents with autistic kids is that they spend all their time at the computer, being antisocial and just playing computer games.  While that absolutely can be a problem (sitting at the computer rarely gets you exercise), I'd urge those parents to take a closer look at the computer games their kids play, and the activities surrounding those games.  Is the computer game a multiplayer game, so the kid is playing with other people?  Is it an MMO, where all the players of that game play together in the same world and bump elbows regularly?  Are there guilds/clans/some other type of "social group" feature?  Then maybe your kid isn't being antisocial, maybe they've just developed friends in safer, kinder environment than school or work. 

Even if the game isn't multiplayer, or doesn't have social features, there are still fan sites and fan communities your child might be a part of, with everyone discussing the game, making art, or even inventing new content for that game.  Just because this kind of social interaction doesn't look like anything familiar to you, doesn't make it not social interaction. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

House-hunting While Autistic, Part 4: Moving and Making a Home

This is the fourth in a series about my experience of finding a house.  (Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, Part 3 is here)  As I'm autistic, the process proved to be a bit more challenging than it would be for most people.  In part 1, I covered why we decided to buy a house and what things we opted to look for, given my disabilities and challenges.  Part 2 describes the actual search process, which proved to be both draining and frustrating.  Part 3 talks about the aftermath of putting an offer down on a home.  This week I'll talk about the actual moving process.


Moving is one of the most trying experiences I've had the misfortune of having.  It's hard on a person who thrives with habits and familiar things, when all that is taken away.  Yes, the final result is probably worth the effort, but that doesn't make the experience less upsetting while you're in it.  At the time of this writing, moving is still in process, and probably will be for a couple weeks yet, but the bulk of it is done.

Moving is not just the process of taking all your stuff from Point A to Point B.  If it was just that, it would be draining and frustrating.  However, Point A and Point B are usually not identical floor plans.  That means your comfy chair is going to go somewhere not quite as adjacent to your computer, or the extra-sunny window.  And your desk, which formerly had a view out the window at the old place, may now be sequestered in a back corner so that other furniture will fit.

Your essentials, like your toothbrush, shampoo, and basic kitchen supplies, will end up in boxes, and your new bathroom and kitchen won't have exactly the right drawers and cubbies to put things back the right way.  Your bedside table, power strip, and lamp may not be exactly where they were.

For someone who is comforted by the familiar, moving can be roughly described as "hellish."  All your familiar gets thrown into boxes and then dumped out into the new place, and you have to slowly pick up the pieces and establish new familiars.

Chris had suggested, in order to not make the whole ordeal both painful and overwhelming, that we each take a blue plastic tote full of things to the new place, once a day, for a minimum.  This was a pretty good idea, as it made things more bite-sized rather than "well, this entire kitchen needs to go... right now..."

Two of these have gone from the old apartment to the new condo every day since Saturday the 17th of February. 
In most cases, I took more things than just what would fit in that blue plastic tub, but having the minimum settled made it more okay for me to just throw up my hands and say "screw it, this is good enough."  And it also made me feel better about myself when I grabbed just a few extra things.  So that was a very positive strategy.

A normal carload for most days: a tote full of stuff, plus 1-2 extra things. 
I do have to stress that it's an unusual one, though.  Our apartment complex insisted on 60 days' notice before we could move out.  (The state minimum is 30, and mostly that's standard.)  So we ended up paying a lot more rent than would be normal, and having the apartment for a lot longer than would be normal.  In most moves I've been a part of, you needed to get your stuff out of there in a hurry.  So you got a ton of boxes and hired movers and packed what you could before they arrived, and then they took all your stuff and dumped it in the new place, and you spent the next year unpacking it all.

We were able to do the moving process over a longer period of time because of the apartment complex's greediness.  So I guess that's not all bad.  Moving the stuff ourselves makes it a bit more manageable in some ways.  Then, too, the place is large enough to literally just dump those blue plastic totes out in a corner or something, and then go back the next day without putting everything away.  Which we have done, and quite a bit.  It'll be a mess to sort it all, but I'll also get a chance to prune some of the stuff I've accumulated.

In addition to the piles of stuff, we also went looking for furniture with which to populate our new home with...  Starting with this thing, which I have dubbed The Monster. 

This is an 8 foot by 4 foot conference table.  It was extremely inexpensive, and you can probably see why. 
This is my spouse sitting at The Monster.  He wanted a conference table to serve us both as a computer desk.  
I was dubious... but it actually does work pretty well.  Our computers are diagonal from each other. 
The Monster isn't the only piece of furniture we welcomed into our home.  At my urging, we put together a list of furniture we wanted, and then Chris hunted down a list of secondhand stores for hopefully acquiring those things. 

Nameless corner entertainment center-thingie, found at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  The TV barely fits in there, but it does!
Not just a recliner.  A blue recliner!  Chris settled into this at a furniture store and promptly decided he needed a nap.  I laid claim to it after that, and it's now mine.  : 3
But that's okay, because this thing, Couchlet, is his.  Minus the change someone left there, anyway.  It's very comfortable, and we paid a good bit of money for it despite its mud-brown hue. 
Together, they form the Relaxation Station.  Both sides have windows to look out of, too. 
This isn't a new piece of furniture, it's an old one that's been somewhat repurposed to sit in the Relaxation Station.  Tea and hot cocoa for everyone!  And other essentials below, such as crafting materials, my supplements, and some scented candles. 
The exercise bike made it as well, and gets dragged around the basement as the whim takes me.  Mostly it sits by the window, but I tend to use it next to the computer. 
Chris bashed his head on this light one too many times... so in lieu of a carabiner, this was what we had to raise it higher. 
We've mostly adhered to the 1 tote a day per person rule, but sadly one day had to be an exception... we needed to take the bed, most of the bathroom stuff, the kitchen stuff, and our computers all on the same day so that we could start living in the new place.  It ended up taking most of the day to do it, and even then, we didn't actually manage all the parts of the kitchen we'd wanted to.  I was kind of a wreck by the end of the day, too, which did not help matters in the slightest.

In addition to the actual packing and the furniture shopping, we've made trips to various department stores and grocery stores in search of home-making supplies.  Roll-y mats for under our computer chairs (so the chairs don't wreck the carpet), floor mats for the various entrances, bathroom cleaning supplies, soaps for each bathroom, more trash cans for the various rooms in the house, etc.  It's not something I gave a lot of thought to when we finally closed on the house, but it became more obvious once we started using those areas.

This coming Monday, the last of the furniture is going to make its way here by way of a local moving company, which should settle basically everything.  There isn't much left, thankfully, so this won't be too expensive... but it is unfortunately mandatory because our chest freezer is far too heavy to move by ourselves.  When we bought it and had it shipped, it took two burly men strapped into harnesses to bring the ridiculous thing up the stairs.  Short of heaving it over the side of the deck, I don't think we're getting it back down again without help.  So the freezer, the dining room table, the guest bed, and my poor man's bookshelves will be taken by the movers.  We'll also toss a couple pieces of furniture (my old ratty computer desk and a viciously heavy and mostly broken entertainment center) rather than bringing them.  No sense bringing things we don't want to our new home.

All in all, the sheer amount of time and energy poured into this endeavor has cost me a lot of sanity and energy, and the moving in process will continue long after next week is over with.  The 16th of this month is when we have to be out, officially.  But we'll be re-arranging and organizing, and I'll be pruning my stuff for months, probably.  

It'll be worth it.  I just need to manage to keep putting one foot in front of the other 'til this is over...

In the meantime, the view out the back windows is nice.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Legwork and Life, week of 3/7/18

The moving continues!  We're about at the point where we need to arrange for actual movers, though.  There's piles of stuff everywhere in the house, with no homes just yet, and the amount of stuff in the apartment is well diminished... except for the heavy furniture.  There's no way we're getting the chest freezer by ourselves.  It's like 4-5 feet long, at least 4 feet deep, and 3 feet wide, minimum.  The rest of the furniture would mostly be doable, but if we're already hiring movers for the chest freezer, might as well make them move the rest of it, too. 

Yesterday Chris and I both opted to snag some of the more fragile things we own.  Various glass pieces, some of the wedding decorations, our framed pictures, and various bits of art.  I expect we'll probably be done moving everything but little bits and pieces by this time next week... which I'm looking forward to, because I'm really tired of the abuse that road heaps on my car.  Awesomely, though, yesterday was the first snowfall ever that I didn't have to worry about clearing off my car.  I had a car in college, but there was no parking structure.  And natch I've had a car since, but it's all been parking lots.  Since we now have a garage, I simply parked my car inside the garage.  The snow fell, but not onto my car.  I have like three ice scrapers and two snowbrushes and I'm enjoying the fact that I'll only need them occasionally now. 

Today marks the first week we've lived in the new place.  I'm finding the neighborhood much quieter, though a couple days ago my doorbell did ring, and an elderly lady presented me with chocolate chip cookies and a welcome to the area.  I was somewhat startled; I'd kind of thought that sort of hospitality was dead.  But apparently not.  I'm hoping to make a batch of chocolate chip breakfast bites (highly nutritious grain and nut balls) and go visit her at some point.  With so much else to worry about, though, it might have to wait 'til the weekend. 

The soundproofing in the new home seems nice as well.  I can't hear the garage door very well from the basement, nor from the bedroom.  We technically have a shared wall, but it isn't a very big shared wall, and if I didn't know better, I'd assume our neighbor was dead.  A great improvement from being able to hear the whine of someone else's shower, plus the noise of the heater, plus the booming bass of some thoughtless git's stereo outside.  Plus whatever assorted people happen to be out there "talking." 

The noisiest things in this neighborhood appear to be the geese.  And sometimes the ducks.  But even they're much further away, and as a result, much easier to ignore.  The most disruptive thing thus far to my sanity is the light in the bedroom.  In the apartment bedroom, we have almost all light blocked out with the use of blackout material.  It's crude at best: we more or less stapled a sheet of blackout fabric over each window.  We'd prefer to be a little classier in this new place, so whenever I work up the nerve (probably right after this, since I'm shaming myself about it publicly), I'm going to message a more sewing-inclined friend of mine and see if we can pay her to make some proper curtains with blackout fabric. 

The house is basically still piles of stuff everywhere.  But we've been making some improvements despite that.  There are now trash cans in most rooms, and soap, extra toilet paper, and cleaning supplies have made it to all three bathrooms.  We still haven't located a decent couch for downstairs, but by the look of it, that might take a good while.  In the meantime, we're still hoping to find shelves... but apparently shelves are about the one furniture type you can't find secondhand.  Everyone always needs shelves. 

We'll either have to buy new ones, or Chris has said he might be able to make some from boards and such.  It would be pretty cool to have handmade shelves, but my skill with woodworking was limited to like three projects in shop class.  It sounds like I should be grateful I was able to have shop class at all, between the past mentality (females weren't supposed to learn "manly" trades like woodworking!) and the current mentality (cut EVERYTHING out of school except academics/sports!). 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Reading the Research: Anxiety as a Memory Aid

Welcome back to Reading the Research, where I trawl the Internet to find noteworthy research on autism and related subjects, then discuss it in brief with bits from my own life, research, and observations.

Today's article covers something I noticed when my anxiety levels started tapering off: that anxiety can be beneficial to remembering things.  The study covers a relatively small group (less than 100 people), but the results were marked.  People with higher anxiety tended to remember details better, possibly because they had additional emotional contexts assigned to it. 

The article here does put in an important cautionary, which is that if anxiety levels get too high, this  benefit goes away.  Very high anxiety levels just destroy your concentration and keep you distracted by worries and fears.  In my personal experience, too high of anxiety made my mind foggy, and thinking was like slogging through molasses.  Even now, with my magnesium and my exercise and the other anti-anxiety things in my life, I still sometimes have days, or hours, like that.  There are also days where it feels like a swarm of rats is eating me alive, one nibble at a time. 

In the past, it was worse.  I lived with a lot more anxiety, to the point where it was commonplace and although it tormented me, I hardly gave it much thought.  I was anxious all the time, and I was used to being anxious all the time.  In school, that showed up as aversive behavior, and it still does sometimes.  Instead of studying for tests long in advance, I'd procrastinate by doing projects for the class.  To procrastinate on those projects, I'd do the coursework/homework.  In the end, my test results probably weren't as good as they could have been, but I got every piece of homework completed, and every project finished. 

I was almost never late for doctor's appointments or scheduled meetings because I worried so much about missing them, I'd keep checking my calendar and the clock.  I'd leave 10-15 minutes earlier than I really needed to, just so I could be sure I'd be there on time.  When I got there early, that was my cue that I could relax, because anything that went wrong after that was someone else's fault.  I still adhere to that thought pattern to this day, even if I don't leave quite as early these days. 

My anxiety made me more organized.  Because I hated not being able to find things, I paid more attention to where I'd put them in the first place, and designated homes for important objects (like car keys, text books, notebooks, and homework).  I have never been, and never will be a paragon of perfect organization, but the important things, I kept track of. 

Since getting treatment for that anxiety, I've noticed I forget things more often.  My memory for details is fuzzier.  I'm late more often to appointments.  What used to be a near-photographic memory is now much more ordinary.  In some ways, this saddens me.  But in other ways, it's an improvement.  The sharp detail of memory helped me avoid misplacing things, but it was more commonly used to create Boomerang Memories, which torment me to this day, albeit less often than they used to. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Worth Your Read: Parents: Let's Talk About Grief and Disability

As I get more tied into the disability and autism community, I occasionally run into articles that I don't have a lot to say on, but I do think are very worth your time. 

This particular article is from an autistic parent to all parents of children with disabilities, on the subject of finding out your kid is disabled.  As I'm not a parent, I don't have a whole lot to add to this discussion beyond what the author espouses here... but I'd like to underline what he says about finding out you're "broken." 

I learned, over time, that I was different than other children.  Unlike the author, my parents weren't given this song and dance of grief to do.  They simply... dealt with me.  Not ideally at times.  But they were forward-thinking enough to just let me be me. 

And still, I learned that I was broken, that something was wrong with me.  But it wasn't nearly to the magnitude that this author talks about.  Knowing your own parents wish you were someone else?  Knowing they wanted to fix you rather than love you?  The mere thought staggers and hurts me. 

So please, give this excellent article a read.  And let's try to do better by all of us.