Yesterday R. Harrison gave us some great pointers about creating characters for the Romance Novel. He spoke about how when he gets stuck, it’s often because the characters aren’t likable enough. I found that particularly interesting because I’m currently stuck, but it’s because I found one of my characters too likable! He’s a good guy, the boy scout type, you know, like Captain America, or if you’re more of a DnD geek, he’s Lawful Good. Or here’s a little something for you if you’re into both…
He’s too perfect! He needs those flaws that R. Harrison mentioned.
Of course, then again, I’m beginning to think he’s not so much my hero as a victim, at which point, him being an absolute boy scout works for the story. Then his being so good actually becomes his flaw.
We’ll see how it goes.
When thinking about how to react to R. Harrison’s post, I found myself wondering why we like the flawed characters more, and it goes back to what Tabitha said about craving that desire to be loved. We are ALL flawed in some way, and whether or not we show it, most of us are very aware of our flaws and feel it makes us unlovable, or, at best, hard to love.
I’ve written about that sort of thing before, little over a year ago in fact. I wrote a piece with some advice for men about how to help heal their sweethearts. I wrote about how some of us have been abused so many times that what we need is a man who will hug us and help put us back together again, and instead of telling us to just take the compliments that they give us, to help us to see that we are deserving of those compliments because we don’t believe it.
The Bartender told me the other day that he wished I could see myself the way he sees me.
I wish I could, too.
What I see when I look in the mirror are all my faults. I see my weight, or the hair that shouldn’t be in certain places. I see that my nose is too big to be conventionally pretty, and my boobs are not exactly perky. My hips are crooked, which makes my waist crooked, which makes me limp when I’m tired, or gives me an uneven gait when I try to go quickly up or down stairs. I even notice it when I’m at the gym on the elliptical. It clocks me as going faster with one leg than the other because that leg is just enough shorter than the other that it goes faster to keep the pace.
And that’s just the stuff on the surface!
I, like an ogre (or an onion), have layers. Layers and layers of baggage that have been piled upon me by the men in my past, and my own insecurities.
There’s the layer from the Boy, who couldn’t give me a compliment even when I was begging for one, until it was so late in our relationship that the compliment wasn’t enough to salvage even a friendship.
There’s the layer from the Artist who told me that yes my tits and my brain would get his thing hard, but at the end of the day he’d rather go out with someone he was actually attracted to, even if she was dumb.
There’s the layer from Superman who treated me like I was important, until I caught him in a lie.
There’s the layer from Mr. Nice Guy who said all the right things, until I tried to show him who I really was.
Each layer creates a mask that I put on to hide the insecurity created by an experience. Some of them are close enough that I can just move the same mask from one layer to another.
I’ve gotten very good at wearing masks.
Most notably is my Asperger’s layer, which has done a lot of damage since it wasn’t diagnosed when I was young. I take things literally because of it. I am afraid people won’t accept the real me because of it.
And, as Mr. Nice Guy showed me, many people don’t.
When I first started telling people I thought I had Asperger’s, many of them gave me the look they give to hypochondriacs. The look that says “no that can’t be possible.” And many of them said as much.
Hell, the latest “specialist” said as much in our first meeting, although she recanted some time later, and on this final meeting this past Monday she actually changed my diagnosis because I told her she had offended me on our very first meeting and so I had not dropped my mask for her.
She apologized, and explained what she “really meant” when she told me that the problem with me thinking I had Asperger’s was that people with Asperger’s are “exceptionally intelligent…” Which I took to mean she didn’t think me smart enough to have Asperger’s. She explained that she could see some of the traits, so I did what I hadn’t done since I’d been to see her: I dropped my masks and showed her my stone face.
Stone face. It’s what my mom calls basically my normal face, the one completely without masks. Most people never see it, and so they think I’m this very charismatic, facially expressive person.
That person is a caricature of my true self.
The stone face is one of the traits of a person with Asperger’s, and I’ve done it since I was little. So how did we not notice? Well, it’s also a common trait amongst Native American people. I am adopted, but know enough of my lineage to know that I am indeed Native American, so the stone face, and several other of my Asperger’s traits were chocked up to me being Native American.
The stone face in particular seems to be a rule. “Don’t show the white people that we have feelings. Always take your picture with no expression showing…”
Sometimes I call it my robot face. In fact it’s easier for me to think of it as a robot than the other because as a robot, it shows that I don’t have a grasp of emotions, which I really don’t. I’ve learned to. Learned to read the big ones on someone’s face, but it doesn’t really come naturally.
Although, with the Bartender, it does. He and I are really comfortable with one another and I feel like there’s not really any secrets that we keep from each other, and that’s really nice.
See how happy he makes me? He made me laugh just before the camera clicked because he says my laugh and my smile are amazing! I’ve never been that happy with a guy. Ever. Even my mom said so.
I’ve also never taken a photo with a guy I’ve dated, not that I can remember. There was one picture taken of the Boy and me at a party (that first New Year’s Eve party), but we didn’t really look together…or happy, and it was horribly blurry. Not that this one is anything special…
FYI, we had just woken up from a nap, so please excuse the fact that I have no makeup on and look only half awake. I was only half awake.
Back on topic.
My mother often attributed the stone face with me not paying attention or being rude, so I learned to be expressive.
And actually a lot of my Asperger’s traits are like that. I have my own schedule for when things happen, and so I might not be on time with everyone else’s schedule. Instead of seeing this as Asperger’s, we say I’m on “Injun time.” Or my dislike for eye contact. I’ve discussed before that it’s easier for me to explain it as a spiritual thing or as a cultural thing, but as this “specialist” pointed out, I wasn’t raised on the Reservation or around any other Native people, so how could I have learned the behavior?
I didn’t, but it was accepted that it was part of my heritage, like it was a Nature thing instead of Nurture.
Another thing that the specialist said was that I watch movies wrong…
The Boy had told me that once, too, and it offended me when he said it. It didn’t offend me any less when a specialist told me the same thing. I find the way she says I should watch movies to be extremely lazy, and it’s because we’ve gotten lazy with our entertainment that Trump is leading in the polls.
Hear me out, I’ll make it short because I don’t want to get off topic onto Trump (I’m already off topic enough), but basically Trump’s success is partially due to the Reality TV formula. There’s always that one participant that everyone loves to hate, and because we enjoy the conflict, the networks keep that asshole in until the absolute end, or very close to the end. Or worse, the people actually vote to keep that asshole in until the end, for the entertainment value!
Those people who aren’t voting for Trump because they believe his hate filled vitriol are voting for him because he entertains them. Or (and this may be even worse still) they’re sitting by idly enjoying the show, not taking any steps to stop him.
Our political system shouldn’t be held to the same low standard as reality television, but that’s how most people think these days because they don’t want to intellectually interact with their entertainment.
I like movies that make me think. I try to figure out the twists, and usually do. It’s been easily 5 years since I saw a movie that actually surprised me. My mother asks me (on the rare occasion I can get her to go to the movies to relax) when did I figure out the end or the twist or whatever.
It’s just a thing. And it’s part of my Asperger’s. And according to my “specialist” (the same woman who said the dread of lesson planning caused me to suffer a break down due to anxiety… idiot), it’s not normal and I have to learn to not watch movies that way.
Well she can kiss my ass on that one. I’ll work on not telling all the background for every tiny detail when I tell a story (tomorrow, we’ll start that tomorrow), and I’ll practice not getting upset when people don’t let me finish my thoughts, and I’ll work on not going back to finish my topics when people tell me they don’t care (Bartender had to do that to me about Trump the other day), but I’ll be damned if I’m going to dumb down the way I watch a movie!
I acknowledge my flaws, but the way she tells me I should watch movies sounds boring, and I won’t do it. I don’t think learning to cope with Asperger’s means trying to do away with what makes me me.
The video below is a young man talking about his experience as an Aspie, and they match mine in a lot of a ways, but I went from being me to being someone who wears masks, and now I’m working on going back to just being me. The me that I hide from so many. The me that so many guys have run from. The me that I have run from because I didn’t want to be shunned for my flaws, whether they’re Aspie related or not.
If you’re in a hurry, start the video at about 12:59 to get to where it matches what I’m talking about, but watch the whole thing if you have a chance. His story is inspiring for everyone!
And the cool thing? There are people who accept me even with those flaws. It’s been a while since I was comfortable enough to let people see them, or rather see me, all of me. It’s been since Abilene and around the time 9/11 happened. The friends I made then are still around, and they remember me as a free-spirit who didn’t hold anything back.
Since then, the masks have gone on, layer by layer. I did it to survive. I hid my flaws, trying to fit in and make friends. But for the first time, I found someone who I showed the real me from the very beginning and he thinks I’m beautiful, gorgeous actually, and amazing!
I guess maybe that was the problem all along, I was looking for someone who loved the me without flaws, and that version of me is not real. And the men I’d picked in the past showed me a fake version of themselves as well. I finally found someone who sees me, and who I see, and we like each other just the way we are.
Sounds pretty romantic to me.