The Djao'Mor'Terra Collective (fayanora) wrote,
The Djao'Mor'Terra Collective

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Selective mutism

Whilst reading a story about a girl who is “differently brained,” one part of the story has her saying how she can't sing along with the national anthem, even though she wants to. It made me think about how the same is true of me. It's something I notice a lot about myself, something that bothers me every time I notice it. I find it difficult to speak when someone else is speaking, or sing when they're singing. I've been getting better about wedging myself into the cracks between turns (my odd way of saying “getting a word in edgewise”) during conversations, but I still find myself wanting to say things and not being able to get them into the conversation in time, so I end up holding onto what I want to say, looking for a place to inject the comment until we've gotten so far off that topic that either I give up, forget what I was going to say, or take advantage of a lull in the conversation to backtrack to the topic I wanted to I wanted to comment on. It's very frustrating to me. It would be less frustrating if everyone else would talk at the same speed as I do when I do talk, and spend more time on topic. But they don't. This is why I prefer non-realtime Internet conversations (IE, not instant messaging); I can comment on everything said in a thread at my own pace, and say everything I want to say.

Of course, talking with Lilla in person has the opposite problem. Anything she says in person is usually so full of “um”s and pauses, backtracks while she tries to figure out how to word things, and odd self-commentary like “just a share,” among other speech peculiarities we are unable to describe even to myself, that it takes her so long to say anything that even the most patient of us sit there inside the brain metaphorically tapping our fingers on the desk waiting for her to finish. We even have a special mental construct specifically designed to be used while she's talking, that sits there filtering out the “noise” part of her speech and turns the “signal” part into words written in big bright letters in the air; that is literally how we see most of Lilla's words, translated into text by this construct. But knowing how slow we are compared to to others helps us be patient with Lilla.
(The really concerning part is that Lilla didn't used to be anywhere near as bad in that regard as she has become in the last year or so. She always had that problem, but it's gotten worse. We didn't come up with the “Lilla speech to text” construct until this last year; we didn't need it before then.)

This last Sunday, I was at a Beltaine celebration/ritual at Lord Ansur's place, with PACT coven and Lyceum of Trees. During the ritual, I again noticed – and got annoyed by – my inability to speak when others are speaking. In a ritual like the one we did, it involves everyone in the circle speaking in unison. But I have multiple problems with this kind of ritual. First, the most obvious part of being unable to join my voice to a crowd. Second, if I don't know what to say, that adds a lag. Third, the way my mind processes things adds an even greater lag. It all adds up to my doing one of two things during such rituals: either I'm several entire seconds out of sync with everyone else, or I just go completely mute despite the fact I want to join in. It is very annoying.

I think I first started noticing this in myself in middle school. I didn't care much for music class back then, and for a long time I didn't know why. I mean, aside from the fact that my voice is so naturally soft that the volume I have to push my voice up to, to be heard, feels like screaming to me. Anyway... in middle school, I started noticing that even the songs I knew, liked, and wanted to sing along with, I was unable to do. Something was preventing me from joining in the singing, even when I knew the song well enough to sing along with a recording of it. Yes, oddly I could sing along with recorded songs, but not with live human voices. And that hasn't changed.

Of course, sometimes I don't join in stuff on purpose. Not so much anymore, but I remember when I was a kid, thinking that the pledge of allegiance was stupid, and not wanting to do it. I remember trying to just stay seated when the teachers forced us to say the stupid pledge, and being forced to stand there and pretend to go along with it, when all I wanted to do was stay seated. I was born in this country, raised here, but even as a kid I didn't feel like I belonged here. Even then, I felt like an alien. I suspect I may have had some unfavorable opinions about the US back then, but I don't remember enough details to be sure. Even if I did, it's entirely possible that these opinions were at the level of “things I know but don't know that I know.” Which is a level of my mind that still exists; things I think, things I do in mind-space, which seem like deliberate acts of my conscious mind, but which are not. From what I understand of psychology, I think it may be a level of consciousness unique to me. Because it isn't the subconscious, and it isn't the conscious. It's sandwiched between the two. I call it the meta-conscious mind. And yes, that is a term I appropriated from Star Trek. Stuff happens in my meta-conscious mind all the time, and slowly filters up into the conscious mind.

I know it's not my subconscious, because my subconscious mind is this big blank space in my mind. I mean, there's stuff down there, and I know it. But I can't sense it. I can't really see into my meta-conscious mind, either. Hell, the information above about the construct to translate Lilla's words into text is a great example; the very act of creating that construct – even the recognition that it was needed – was done in the meta-conscious mind. My conscious mind never paid any attention to the construct, and took its function for granted; my conscious mind didn't even notice the construct, its function, the reason for its existence, or even the fact that Lilla's speech was getting harder to follow, until I wrote those words earlier in this post, about it.

(Oh good gods... *facepalm* And now I've just realized something else about my meta-conscious mind: it can control the body enough to write things out. Now I have some idea of how I was able to write about Shao'Kehn being a Goddess with multiple Aspects, and write down clues in my stories that multiplicity is common on Traipah, years before my conscious mind became aware of the possibility of our being a collective mind. D'OH!)

There was a series of meditation exercises we had to do in group therapy a few years ago, and one exercise was that we were supposed to look into our minds and find the negative internal narratives, those thoughts that keep bringing us down. I remember being frustrated by that exercise, and also getting an epiphany about my mind's inner workings, because I discovered that I could not find the negative internal narratives. Thinking back on it, I don't know that I even have any. But if I do, they're either in my subconscious or my meta-conscious mind. Either way, if they are there, they are invisible to me. Either because they're hiding, or because my conscious mind hasn't picked up enough clues from my meta-conscious mind yet, to figure it out.

Well, that entry kind of wandered off topic. :-)

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Tags: about me, annoying stuff, differently brained, issues, lilla, mental constructs, multiplicity
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