Saturday, April 26, 2014

USM Deaf Film Festival

Some thoughts that I had to put down somewhere.... so be it.

The USM Deaf Film Festival Spoke To Me So Loudly

I had one of the most intense days of my life today. I went to a deaf film festival at USM. I took the bus over there around 4 or so and read psychology textbooks in the USM library for an hour before the reception started at 5. It cost $8 to go. I gladly paid it, even though I didn't end up watching any of the films! I thought it would be a good opportunity to interact with others in a meaningful way and it was. There was a reception for 90 min on the 7th floor of the library and then the evening part of the film festival. I stayed from about 4 to 830, when I then realized I could walk to Whole Foods from there and and did. And then got a very cheap cab back with some food. Then talked to Nate for 90 min. And that isn't even counting the cool people I met at the public market who told me about a social thing at the woodfords church on Monday. I've been walking around feeling like my heart is living outside of my body. I've been walking around feeling like an entirely different person. It's so bizarre but it's so good because for the first time I can start to feel other people inside my heart. And that ....... I don't even have words for.

People I talked to at the film festival.... I saw the guy who was translating the Take Back the Night March last night there. I talked to an older couple who moved here from Worcester area in MA a few years ago for quite a while. As I had suspected it might be, using the play Tribes as a starting point for discussion went over very well. Everyone had heard of it, and even those who had not seen it were very up for a discussion of it. It was wonderful to be in a room full of people who seemed to share one of the basic tenets of my life with me without actually giving words to it....That being something along the lines of "Communication is difficult and it is something we have to give a lot of thought and effort to, but when we can do it, it is such a joyful thing!" There was a lot of laughing going on. It was just amazing. I hadn't thought beforehand that most people would be signing, and it made me nervous at first, but it ended up being fine. I was able to find the speaking people for conversations, and in a few instances people even offered to translate conversations with me with the deaf. Most of the people signing did speak as well, although not all.

But to share that.... To feel how much energy, strength and persistence communication took but to also feel the joy that happened when it took place... was amazing. I talked to this one guy about my age who I had seen in the audience at Tribes. I saw him in the hallway and asked one of the people in the purple shirts if they would translate a conversation for me. So we did. Maybe not long or as in depth as I would have gone had there been more time and resources, but still very nice. It made me think... Just to put myself in his shoes.... How hard he has to work to make himself understood.... When most of the population does not use ASL. How hard you have to work not to become disillusioned. I have his email address and need to remember to email him.

So let's see, the elderly couple, the ASL teacher which was translated for me, the deaf guy, and there was this girl I sat next to who was breastfeeding her baby, and in the course of conversation it came out that she had grown up in Cumberland and graduated Greely in '03. In all of the people I have ran into who have a connection to Greely, ranging from '81 to the present, that is the first time I have ran into someone I actually went to high school with. Talk about coming full circle. So she knew a lot of people I knew - Of course I didn't write down her name and I don't recall it, but most of my friends were in her class. To run into someone like that.... In such a different setting... 10+ years later.... Very much to start to see yourself in a different way. She had connections to both the autism and deaf community. The connections between the two fascinate me. And a couple shorter convos. People seemed pretty genuine and open for the most part and it was a fascinating experience, not just because I was doing something new by going into new buildings, and not just because I was doing something new on my own (and I almost never see single people at these events, it's like people don't think they can possibly be social without someone else by their side...sure I would like to have that but since I never have, I have probably developed skills to be able to do these things on my own that I never would have otherwise).

Slowly but surely I am learning that I am good enough the way I am. Slowly but surely I am learning to dismantle the shield of shame and blame that has been wrapped around me so closely over the years. I am learning how important it is to have a good, stable self concept of yourself that you can stand firm in when talking to other people. If you just let other people dictate your opinion on yourself with every single interaction, you're going to be extremely overwhelmed and never feel an actual sense of emotional connection with others. If you can stand steadily in yourself while interacting with others, there is room to be curious about them and how they experience the world without having it threaten your sense of who you are. That's when true emotional connection can come. And we're all good enough - we all need to find the people who make us feel like we're enough just by who they are. Those that can't don't matter. Such interesting things I am learning lately and trying to put into play, and so thankful am I to have such great teachers in my life.

Further unrelated thoughts from tonight

I've been writing some amazing thought provoking emails. I want to share one piece of one here. The guy who gave me a ride home from the meetup in North Yarmouth this past Tuesday said to me that "he has to guess how intense it is okay to be at any given time," which REALLY resonated with me in a way few other statements ever have. I have been thinking a lot about that. I realized that it is at the root of all my social anxiety, that sentence right there. Not trying to guess what the social norms are - but trying to guess how much it is okay to break the social norms! While I have a value of being myself, I question how to get around this, thinking that some things are just facts and that most people's tolerance level for intensity is pretty low is a fact.... but maybe there's a way to be uber-intense, if that is who you naturally are (and it is, for me, I am realizing) and okay with it. Intense and okay with it. If you can be okay with it then you will exude happy, calm, peaceful, healing energy.... because you will be in your center.

Maybe if you can be okay with it it won't matter how intense it is because when you're in your center, good things happen. This is the message from the meetup I go to but I didn't understand it until now.

People are too quick to try to mold themselves after social norms. I see the point in it.... There are many things that require this. But there is a such thing as going too far... and I think I have.

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