A ‘Winter’ Tale

the {ar}chive

By Jay Carr – The Boston Globe; Via Alan Rickman Fan Page

Getting a new role down cold, Alan Rickman makes his debut as a director

You’d know the languid, chiseled, resonant drawl with your eyes closed. It belongs to Alan Rickman, who has managed the difficult feat of remaining a respected British stage presence while launching a Hollywood career based on playing indolently sexy villains who seem amused by evil-doing. Perhaps because he holds strong socialist convictions, and to this day feels a conflict between Hollywood’s high-priced glitz and his egalitarian principles, he has not exactly been extroversion incarnate when talking about himself.

Maybe the reason Rickman is relaxed on a recent cold afternoon is that there is no audience except for a lone journalist in the tiny office borrowed from a theater manager. Certainly it helps that he isn’t going to have to talk about why women find…

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Alan Rickman Reads

The Poetics Project

When I read, I don’t hear my own voice in my head. Generally, I’ll hear someone with a British accent. Why? Because I like the way it sounds.

And, after watching some of my favorite movies like Sense and Sensibility or, you know, any Harry Potter film, I get Alan Rickman’s voice stuck in my head. For about a week on out, his voice echoes in my head as the voice of every play, poem, and novel I read.

And now I’m going to get Alan Rickman’s voice stuck in your head too. Youtube – beautiful, wonderful Youtube, has entire playlists of Alan Rickman just reading stuff, like poems and excerpts from novels and plays. My favorite reading, because the only thing I love more than Alan Rickman’s voice is Shakespeare’s works, is Alan Rickman’s reading of Sonnet 130.

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No room to grieve and no room to breathe

An ode to facing hard truths unashamedly weeping and to those strong enough to be weak

This past month has been filled with the empty business that death brings to the mourning. Nothing made sense, everything tasted and sounded grey, nothing caught my eyes or ears for all my efforts to listen in his memory. I have enough practice in grieving to go through the motions mechanically. Stopping makes it all much more unbearable and even worse brings everything to a standstill.

I do cherish and adamantly defend downtimes as autistic people, introverts and highly sensitives are known to do but I cherish and adamantly look forward to the times I’m pretending to be a normal non grieving still human being. Neither is the truth anymore (have they ever been?). Truths seem to have stopped existing. Again. He seems to have taken them with him, along with colour, taste, cuddles, smiles, sense and a great deal of my personality.

 

I’m well and truly miserable but unlike most people I grew up like this so this is my home turf. It’s what I know, what feels comfy because I know every nook and cranny of it. There was a time my demons had tea in my mental living room and there was nothing I could do about it just as I couldn’t do anything about the demons claiming to be loving and supportive family members. So the sight of said demons taking away hard won victories against depression and cPTSD does not horrify me in the least.

I find many people are pathologically obsessed with feeling happy all the time and manically fleeing into escapistic escapade after escapistic escapade pretending everything is just fine. This does horrify me. We evolved with a full set of feelings, including sadness, frustration, anger, shock, fear and all the other distinctly uncomfortable feelings and they all serve a function. I find it truly sick how people seem to actively castrate their limbic systems and think this is a good idea.

If you run away from the skeletons in your closet said closets will become surprisingly mobile and versatile in finding ways to haunt you. Your life will be spent forever running and running and running all for the sake of some fleeting happiness. We do not even seek content, the more sedate and longer lasting positive feeling. Instead consumerism has indoctrinated us successfully. We think we can have the short enthusiastic sparks of happiness all the time. We can buy emotions and harness and control them according to what we like. It’s no wonder people become mentally injured living in such a world. As soon as you aren’t manically smiling you suddenly become defective rather than simply being a full human.

This obsession has gone so far that people simply can not stand someone being in touch with their harder to deal with feelings anymore. Being reminded of the castration we are demanded to collectively perform on our limbic system is uncomfortable and thus a part of what needs to be slaughtered away. So it isn’t enough that one does not allow themselves to have a full set of emotions, people also have to preemptively castrate the people around them as well.

This is such an accepted practice that it’s become the norm to tell other people with mental illnesses including ones about whose lives we know about three sentences of conversation all sorts of bullshit rather than just being real with them. As if it was the end of the world to simply say “I can see you are going through a hard time and I bet it’s teriyaki hard, heck it’s already very stressful for me to just witness it.” We have no room for humanity anymore because we have no room for the uncomfortability of the human condition. We think if we give the run down house that is our loneliness and isolation a fresh coat of paint everything is fixed and we actively harass people who acknowledge this house is pathetic and there needs to be something done about it.

To me grieving isn’t done for the dead, we mourn because we are still alive. We mourn because our lives have to change and we have not chosen this change. It’s frightening to face change in general, but changes we didn’t look for become the stuff cPTSD is made of. Especially if we systematically erode all versions of support systems that should help deal with the catastrophes we all inevitably face during our lives.

We need to have a right to be miserable again. We need to stop wishing everyone without fail a happy day and to sleep well. Some days there is no room for happiness and some nights are sleepless as a last expression of fondness for the ones taken away from us. To me this is sacred and I have a hard time understand why this wouldn’t be sacred to anyone who is mourning. I also have a hard time understanding why mourning as another castrating act needs to be limited to the physical death of blood relations or you who is already in a rather dire phase better be ready to justify yourself to the grave that may or may not exist and back.

 

I see us being so cruel to each other and I see this planet being made inhabitable as a result of us locking our empathy with ourselves and others away and some days I just wish the human species would just find its selfish end already. The skeletons in our closets will not stop haunting us unless we stop our frenetic flight in a hamsters wheel and turn around and face the ugly truths we will find. Personally I consider it an extreme failure of evolution that there is any species who attempts to forget that simple mechanism.

Alan Rickman

These last few months I got a lot better with many things that for a long time were simply impossible for me. For the first time in my life I had a healthy BMI, meaning I had to buy new clothing because you know the old jeans didn’t fit anymore also for the first time in my life. Spooky. Even spookier I developed a sleep pattern that was a lot more normal.

 

Yesterday it all came crashing down again. I had forgotten the sensations like crying until one was nauseous, being so sleep deprived and disoriented you feel like you have a herd of chloride molecules lodged in you nose. I had forgotten how it feels when emotional tolls can cause you to be physically off balance. Some things were new since I now fel more of my emotions than I ever did. This is the first time in my life I did the stereotypical rocking back and forth to soothe me and the first time I cried myself to sleep. (The latter is an achievement in more ways than one I could have never fallen asleep that upset as close to a year in the past.)

Some things I remembered tho. How you should make sure to use soft tissue when blowing your nose to delay the inevitable soreness. The late night cravings to write for my life and sanity. The need to keep your plushies close because they will never desert you on their own free will. They will not be sick or preoccupied with their own issues and most importantly they will not die on you.

 

This time around tho I do not mind so much. I feel the pain in all its expressions can not be strong enough. Just yesterday morning I thought how I wasn’t connected closely enough to anyone to mourn their death badly. Depression warps your thinking in unreasonable ways sometimes. It’s not true and sadly in the afternoon my Depression got a firm and well earned talking down to.

 

You see sometimes life writes strange stories. The person who donated a sperm to my existence simply was never interested in the act of parenting anyone. I grew up an orphan and later I made the discovery that even if like any well trained neglect survivor  I could not accept kindness I can use my imaginary world to somehow make it work a bit in a weird way. Accept a shadow of the things normal people seem to need to get from day to day.

I stumbled across “Snow  Cake” in those days. A delightful movie about a foreigner stumbling about the canadian landscape and an autistic mother grieving her child. Lina Freeman, said adult autistic character made sense to me in a way no one ever made sense to me before. I got her, they way you get people of you own culture or gender.

But more important for me even was the way the lead treated all of Lindas little and not so little differences. Alex Hughes was incredibly accepting and rather supportive of even the weirdest of Lindas boundaries. He never asked her to justify the way she is until late in the movie. When he already had a designated and very small area in the kitchen, questionable sleeping arrangements, a dog and a curious diet (for both him and the dog) to deal with.

 

It took some years to sink in but that movie made me realise I was autistic and that was ok. It would have never been on my radar if it hadn’t been for Alan Rickman. That same time I also started noticing him. Growing up in such a hostile environment it was weirdly reassuring to notice Alex Hughes’ other incarnations had been flimmering across the screen all this time. My exmother even had a Mike Oldfield CD. I felt someone had been there in a way. I felt seen just a little bit. I couldn’t have dealt with more and less wouldn’t have helped me heal.

 

Over the years I watched and listened to everything Rickman I could get my hands on, somehow he had cast a powerful spell on me (the muggle variant) and the famed Aspie obsession kicked in. It has changed my life a great deal. Even before the Autism thing really came to fruition my obsession with him and his nice slow way of speaking meant I could hear the gaps between the words in this English language that isn’t my native. It gave me time to process and learn the prosody. Even when I didn’t understand much of the language (cough close my eyes cough) I could still enjoy his voice and his acting. I achieved fluency in English because of him.

Also coming from someone who is face blind it is akin to impossible a compliment to achieve to enjoy someones acting. To have some resemblance of information from facial expressions. He still managed. Just like he managed to enter into this fort I had built around my true self. The self I almost forgot existed. He made me take up acting. I couldn’t do it as a full time job but it was as serious as getting cast as an extra in an oscar nominated movie and doing a few stage plays.

 

But over the years his impact became much greater even than enabling me to learn a language proper or branch off into a new side career. His most important legacy in my life is how through little bits and glimpses I got to know a kind, warm hearted and generous person from afar. I slowly, painfully learnt how the place I came from was anything but and begun the grueling journey of learning to accept good things in my life while letting go of the bad. (Very much a work in progress still.) He gave me the strength and he was the guiding light I used to orient myself in this strange world I previously only had intentionally misleading guides to. Or to borrow the words from Alex Hughes and twist them to suit my situation: I didn’t loose just any favourite actor. He was the one who helped me make sense of all this shit.

 

I could never thank him enough for all the good he has brought into my life, all the strength I direly needed and all the wisdom and wit that kept me sane enough to last another day when I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I meant to write him a letter after my life settles down a little more again next month attempting the impossible of framing my thanks for his generosity and sort of mentorship in words that would no doubt have been only a hollow echo of the things that truly went on. I did and do consider him the closest thing I ever had to a father figure and I meant to ask his permission to legally change my surname, hypenate his to mine in honour of the massive healing, saving, supporting influence he was in my life.

The world is a colder place now and I don’t quite know how to go on from here. I relied so much on a man who never knew me, who now will never know what he has done for me. He wasn’t just an artist to me, it was more than that. A part of me always felt creepy for elevating him so much, projecting so much onto him, objectising him that way and rob him of the say a person usually has in an important relationship with someone. I wanted to give him this power back. I will forever regret I didn’t.

Question #135: How do I deflect the well-meaning people who ask me about my abusive dad?

Captain Awkward

Luke and Darth Vader in an Elevator

Hey Captain!

I’ve been dealing with a rather awkward social conundrum lately, and I’d love some advice. The short version:  I need to figure out how to fend off well-meaning questions from acquaintances about my semi-estranged father.

The longer version: my dad’s an alcoholic person with bipolar disorder, and he’s non med compliant. I grew up in a very unstable, sometimes emotionally abusive home, and it’s left it’s marks on me. My mom  was brave enough to divorce him a year ago, and I’m finally facing the demons my childhood left me with. I’m getting weekly therapy, and have taken steps to limit contact with my father.

The problem is, my dad was outwardly quite charming, and I often have to deal with people asking after him. I really don’t know how to answer friendly questions about him. I refuse to pretend everything is (and was always) peachy, and…

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