For about the past week or so I have been trying something new/old, I have been suppressing my tics as little as possible. At the same time I have not fallen into the trap of simply staying inside the house and moping about my tics coming back. Granted there are some things I simply can not do. For instance, I’d really like to see Casino Royal, the new James Bond film. This is just not practical. I am willing to accept the necessity of not suppressing my tics even in public settings, but I am not a completely selfish bastard. In most other venues though people’s reactions have been dramatically different then I expected. Primarily, none at all.
For the first several days I seriously psyched myself every morning up for dealing with all the negativity I expected to be coming my way. I have some pretty serious hang-ups about ticking in public and I apparently expected everyone else to have them also. It’s not like there haven’t been a few assholes, but I was not emotionally fucked up by them the way I expected I would be. The majority of people have ignored the tics and most of those who haven’t have approached me to ask questions not lob accusations. The more I was able to be out in public without problems, the less the occasional hostility bothered me. I knew that my tics were not intended to offend or annoy others, but seeing that most people understood that as well made it clear on an emotional (already there on the intellectual) level that people who react first and often entirely with hostility are the folks who have the issues, not me. Just reading that over it sounds like the kind of self-help feel-good crap that is often disregarded for its hokey-ness, but it is true none the less.
At the risk of sounding like a whiny little fuck; oh hell, I’m going to sound like a whiny little fuck for a few. I come by some of this emotional baggage legitimately. While most of my biological family has always been incredibly supportive when it comes to my Tourette, my biological father has made himself something of an exception. After my folks split up when I was very young, I only lived with my father for one year. I was thirteen and there were a lot of reasons I went to live with him for a year but they are not relevant here. What is relevant to this issue is that my father knew that folks with TS could suppress for periods of time and he felt that he needed to make me understand that it was my duty to do so in public at all times for the sake of others. I received a good number of lectures about “not imposing my condition on people I don’t even know.” He wanted me to promise not to tic in public which as my symptoms were very severe at the time, I couldn’t do. Since I couldn’t guarantee that I wouldn’t be ticking in public, my father wouldn’t take me out of the house when I wasn’t in school. At one point he even complained about me taking walks in the neighborhood and ticking because people in the condo development were starting to ask questions. Since I already had plenty of other issues around my father, this experience messed up my head but good.
Not that he didn’t have a point; he just took it way too far. I don’t think it is unreasonable for me to avoid movie theaters when my symptoms are too severe to safely suppress for several hours. I just don’t want to be a virtual prisoner in my house.
Whiny little retrospective over, sorry ‘bout that.
Interestingly, I am actually much more willing to go do errands and such now that I am not suppressing. Being out at the supermarket or other such banal happening is no longer the stressful exhausting experience it was. It is amazing what just removing the constant thought of “what if I tic” made things much more tolerable. Obviously, not having the strain of suppressing has also been a great help.
The Lady and Var have been amazingly generous in the last few weeks with regards to letting me focus on getting an emotional handle on this aspect of my life. Readers of this blog have probably noticed that the “shaman” in “barking shaman” has been absent for the past few weeks. There is some heavy shit coming down the pipe in the next few years and I guess that my Bosses were willing to grant me a few weeks to get my head in better order. I have it on good authority that I am going to be getting back to work quite soon and “work” is going to make my recent shamanic ordeal cycle look like the “employee orientation and break in period” that She claims it was.
“Notes from a Barking Shaman” was intended as an amusing and in the end, self deprecating and ironic title for a blog that She insists that I write. Over the past several months however, I have found myself seeing it more and more as simply a statement of fact. I have many different aspects to my personal identity, but I am realizing that the barking shaman is one of those. Not as someone with TS who happens to be a shaman. Nor as a shaman, spirit worker, and magician who just happens to have TS. Some part of my identity is to be the Barking Shaman, not just a shaman who also barks. Just as being queer has had an impact on all aspects of life, especially the sprit work and magic, so will the Tourette.
Sometimes I just fucking hate it when They turn out to be right about something they’ve been saying for a while after all.