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Stop blaming minority groups for mass shootings

There is a bitter irony as I begin to write this post. What many of you will not know is how I became a blogger. I wrote for an immensely popular outlet, I won’t name them, but they support Autism Speaks. I think just based on that, you can understand why I no longer write for them.

The very first article I ever published, my first outpouring of disdain at the violent hatred of the world we live in, was about people blaming mass shootings on mental health issues. To my surprise, it amounted to almost 20,000 views in 24 hours. Many felt very validated, but of course, the gun nuts of America jumped to the defence of guns. I assume they read the title and not much else.

So, here we are again. Over half a decade since that article was published. I feel it’s time to draw a line in the sand. The nonsense of the world we live in is taking too many lives.

Hearing about the mass shooting in Texas upset me. Not just because of the unacceptable loss of life, but because of the media reporting around the fact that the shooter was a trans person. I am aware that trans people live a life of near constant threats, and the focus on the shooters gender identity will not improve this.

But I am not Trans. I can’t tell you what this specific event is like because their are cultural privileges that I have, and they prevent me from understanding the reality of this particular shooting. I do, however, feel compelled to comment on the broader issue that this has once again highlighted.

Every time a mass shooting happens, it seems that the media will link it to a minority group. Somehow, there is always an underprivileged cultural subset that the salivating masses can turn their vitriol on. Mental health leads to mass murder, Autistic people are predators, Trans people are apparently indoctrinating children, and Black people are guilty of everything. The list of ridiculous accusations has gone on for so long that I won’t even begin to try and recite the whole thing.

Why does the world need to blame minority groups?

I believe this comes down to normativity and essentialism. When we consider the framing of minority groups in stories such as these, we have to consider that;

  • The world has been taught that there is one most “normal” sort of human. The right colour, brain, sexuality, gender, embodiment.
  • You are only worth as much as the body you are born into.
  • Those that fall out of cultural normality (read as; normative standards) are fundamentally less human than those that don’t.

So now we have a world of minority groups who are already traumatised beyond belief by the inhumane treatment of those with privilege beyond their own. We do become radicalised, to the extent (usually) that we will actively voice and enact dissent against the oppressive power structures of our normative world. Yes, some of us do take part in violence.

No, that doesn’t make us dangerous.

Think about it. Think about it really hard. Every country in the world has innumerable minority groups. In fact, if we measured minority as an identity itself, we would probably no longer be a minority, but instead a vastly diverse majority.

So we have a world full of minorities, and yet the vast majority of mass shootings outside of warzones happen in the US. I would venture a guess that even if you counted warzones, the US would still top the list. What is the variable that is being ignored? What can we change to make a difference.

It’s the guns.

Minority groups are not murderers. We are not the monsters you were taught to hide from as a child. Not once did I ask my mother to check for Trans people under my bed. The monsters are the lawmakers and lobbyists that keep gun laws in the US so lacklustre that a person can walk into a primary school with a semi-automatic and two pistols, ending three children’s lives, and the lives of three children.

The people who are responsible for this are the pro-gun cohort. They have the blood of those children on their hands. They have the weight of traumatised children and families that miss their loved ones. May it rest so heavy on their soul that they are forced to lay down their arms.

Stop blaming minorities for mass shootings. The problem is the guns.

The privilege of being neuroqueer

I have, for some time now, discussed neuroqueer theory (as conceptualised by Nick Walker and her colleagues), adding my own takes to the emerging liberatory thoughts of a blossoming post-normal era. I consider myself neuroqueer. Not only because of the relationship between my queerness and my neurodivergence, but also because of the relationship between my Self and normative society.

In my book A Treatise on Chaos, I discuss what I have conceptualised as “the Chaotic Self”. Rooted in the idea that all things tend towards chaos, ever changing, unable to unexperience the events that form our sense of Self. I consider how I have neuroqueered my way to this understanding of myself. What I don’t discuss in that book (although I do discuss in The New Normal) is that I was only able to gain this understanding of who I am through privilege.

Privilege doesn’t necessarily refer to the presence of a benefit. More specifically, it is the lack of obstacles and barriers. I suspect this is why so many people struggle to see their own privilege. Much like the Dunning-Kruger effect, you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t realise the advantage of a clear path through life if you have never had to take stock of obstacles.

I have queered my neurology in a number of ways. One of those ways was the use of mind-altering drugs. I have no doubt that my privilege is what allowed me to do this with no legal repercussions. I also did not have to deal with abusive family and had a safe home away from those who would exploit my journey of Self discovery. I had fewer obstacles to my journey of understanding and growth than those with less privilege.

Neuroqueering requires an element of authenticity in one’s embodiment of Self. It’s necessary to manifest your truth through action, but what if doing so could place you in danger? For BIPOC or other marginalised groups, authenticity can be life-threatening. Authentic embodiment of a marginalised identity is often criminalised or pathologised. Both can land you in prisons or institutions, in some places, it can be met with violence.

Those of us proudly flying the neuroqueer banner need to realise something important. Neuroqueerness is not an individual endeavour. It requires societal evolution. To be neuroqueer requires us to use our authentic embodiment of Self to drive a change that makes a post-normal society safe for all of us. Neuroqueerness that is only accesible to the few is not true neuroqueerness. To be neuroqueer is to fight for the liberation of all humans.

As we move toward a world where normative violence is unacceptable, we need to be prepared for the pushback. Those who benefit from normativity and oppression will not support the redistribution of power. For those with less privilege, this fight could be deadly. As we liberate ourselves, we must make sure to liberate those for whom the barriers to freedom are greater.

I am neuroqueer, and I will fight for your eight to be neuroqueer too.

Autistic people and criminality

Over the years, I have come across a number of stories of Autistic people and the criminal acts they have committed. Often, I find autism part of the discourse surrounding terrorism and random acts of violence. There are a number of factors at play in the development of criminal behaviour, and yet the media has a tendency to just focus on a person’s neurology.

Personally, I believe that the media focuses so heavily on people neurodivergence because it allows them to ‘other’ the criminal. When a tremendous act of criminality occurs, we don’t want to admit the cold, hard truth; given the right environment, any of us could break the law and/or behave unethically.

Being Autistic justifies the othering of criminals, we are able to place a distinct barrier between people using it. It is also indicative of the neuronormativity in society that we (as a society) can accept autism as a reason for criminality. Like many divergent neurocognitive styles, we are seen as inherently sub-human, so the public finds it easy to accept that we are dangerous or cruel.

Historically, we have dealt with ideas of criminal insanity. It provided a means to lock people away indefinitely. By denying a person’s capacity or “mens rea” on the basis of neurology, we justify inhumane treatment such as perpetual incarceration, forced medication, and assimilation by conditioning. Anyone who has been placed under section will tell you; there is a significant emphasis on how our outward expression and internal thought is “defective” and “disordered”.

So when we think about criminal acts with regards to Autistic experience, what are we missing with the medical model?

Autistic people are a minority identity. We are subject to systemic discrimination and minority stress. Knowing the links between social deprivation and criminality, we can start to form a picture of how an Autistic person might find themselves engaging in criminal acts.

We fave housing insecurity and poverty, especially by virtue of our under- or even un- employment. We are subject to structural failure of services designed to support us, not just because of our differences in culture and communication, but because we are pathologised for those differences. We are treated as challenging when we ask under-resourced services for our legal entitlement of support.

We experience clustered injustice. This leads us into life circumstances that lend themselves to criminal behaviour. We take drugs, drink alcohol, join gangs, and behave in ways that are considered antisocial. We desperately want connection, and often, we are exploited through that need by people who intend to leverage our vulnerability for their own gain.

On the topic of drug use; it provides a means to incarcerate and assimilate Autistic people. The criminalisation of drugs has a direct impact on Autistic people, many of whom live at the intersections of race, gender diversity, and psychologically distressing experiences. All of these intersections increase the likelihood of contact with the justice system.

If we want to reduce criminality and ensure that less Autistic people are absorbed into carcerative systems, we need to address the social issues in our society and the environments of Autistic people. If we can remove the multiple injustices that are faced by Autistic people, we allow for a world where criminality is not required to survive. Until such a time that this happens, it is likely that we will continue to witness revolving doors with people cycling in and out of the justice system in perpetuity.

10,000 to midnight: Spectrum 10k and the struggle to exist

Spectrum 10k has been part of a world for over a year at this point, and it’s existence has taught us a great deal about our place in wider society; something we may forget if we do not step outside of Autistic circles all that often.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists runs a blog which houses something known as the dooms day clock. This metaphorical clock counts down to midnight, with midnight being the point in time when society comes to an end. It has been edging closer and closer to that point over the last few year. At the time of writing, the clock is set at 100 seconds to midnight.

The Autistic community, similarly, is facing it’s own collapse, and yet we are not as worried as we should be. For me, Spectrum 10k represents the beginning of the end. This is a study that could be a turning point in both the push to remove Autistic people from the human gene pool, or it could be the moment when people realise that we have a right to exist, and we will fight for that.

Currently, all that stands between us and the turning of the tide is 10,000 samples of DNA. Those 10,000 samples have the power to undermine our existence in a way that we are not yet fully comprehending. I doubt if even the scientists conducting the study are aware of the ramifications of their work; if they were, they might well pick a narrative and stick to it.

Autistic people have struggled to exist in perpetuity. Not because we are Autistic, but because the society we live in is supported by a structure built from oppresive normativity, colonialism, and bigotry. We have to tear down these structures, not just at the surface where projects such as S10k exist, but also at the root, where the coneptualisation of our personhood is misshapen and grotesque. Autistic people are not some sideshow exhibit, we do not exist to shock and astound you. There is beauty in our existence.

So, again we take up our arms, and prepare to fight the rising waters of normativity manifest in eugenics. Again we fight for our right to exist. Again we fight to have a peaceful and fulfilled life.

Those malefactors for whom the eradication of difference is a priority, will come to regret the side of history that they have chosen. We have drawn our line in the sand, we have declared our right to this space. Now we must defend it.

The infinite and I: Exploring my Neuroqueer Self

Of recent, I have been somewhat hyperfocused on how people understand their own identity, and our individual sense of Self. I have discussed in my book The New Normal how the Self is socially constructed from our interactions with others and our wider environment. I think, however, it’s time to really zoom in (or perhaps, out?) on what the Self really is to me.

If being multiply neurodivergent has taught me anything, it’s that the variation of the human mind that exist are as numerous as the people on earth, but what of the Self? How many variations of me are possible?

First it is necessary to consider how my Self came into existence. It was constructed and scaffolded, not just by the people in my immediate environment, but by the conditioning that I have been exposed to in wider society. Society has given me structures based on false binaries, which I have had to deconstruct.

What has become clear to me is that I can become whoever I want to be. The Self is not a fixed point, it is a fluid and moving substance, more akin to a liquid than a solid. The Self that I am now, is not who I was 10 years ago, and is not who I will be 10 years from now. All things change, including me.

In that sense, each human life represents infinite possibility. Each person that exists has unlimited potential. By inflicting normative violence and attempting to mould another to who we believe they should be is to perpetuate trauma. We have to recognise that each time we hold something to be “normal”, we are likely projecting a piece of our own trauma onto another.

Conformity and assimilation has been weilded under names such as “unity” by those in power; but the true unity is in the radical queerness of subverting the social construction of reality. All things in human knowledge are socially constructed to some degree, we have a responsibility to constantly question what we hold to be true. There are infinite variations on the truth because the normative version of truth is in fact a mistruth.

We have been told that who we are, how we think, and how we express ourselves, needs to be in line with a collective truth. This is untrue, we are physical manifestations of infinite possibility. The oppressive structures of colonialism and normative culture rely on us forgetting that. Of course, because how do you control a population that knows it’s own endless possibility?

So, how do I understand my Self?

I am whatever I want to be, I am an ever changing and flowing river of possibility. Like any flowing substance, I calve a path through the landscape. That is why I have to be responsible with the course I take through life. It is not my right to cut through others and their landscape. I must calve through the oppressive structures of my own landscape, while elevating the voices of those for whom the landscape and structures are different.

We are multitude of drops forming an ocean, and we owe it to each other to create the tidal wave that washes the old world away.

Autism “cure” culture and normative violence

TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains detailed discussion of harmful “cures”. It also mentions ABA, MMS, Chelation, and has in depth discussion around normative society and the murder of Autistic people.

For as long as I have been an advocate, many of my fellow Autistics have spoken out against cure culture. From Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) to Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), there are myriad “treatments” that claim to purge the autism from autistic people. I could speak at length about the direct harm that these quack interventions inflict, but there is a deeper level of conversation to be had.

We are engaged, at present, in a culture war. On the one hand, we have Autistic culture which teaches us to be neurologically queer in every sense of the words. Be ourselves, connect with the self and express it in a way that honors our neurocognitice style. On the other hand, is cure culture.

Cure culture teaches us that who we are is broken, deficient, unrelentingly burdensome. Curists would have you believe that our lives are empty, broken, that we are trapped in a living death. Alive but somehow non-existent. The discourse around autism “cures” is dominated by non-autistic people who believe they are performing acts of mercy by pouring bleach solutions down our throats, and chelation drugs into our veins.

All of these things are a form of violence against a minority group that simply wants to live in peace. A minority group that intersects with many other oppressed demographics.

This is why Autistics get angry, this is why our lives revolve around our Autistic identity. Not only do we have to be Autistic in a world that desires normativity, we have to justify why we shouldn’t be tortured and murdered by people that are often (incorrectly) described as “well-meaning”. We constantly have to justify our existence. We are begging to be allowed to live while the world at large seeks to destroy us.

And yes, my Autistic self is defined by that which they seek to remove. Remove the autism, and you remove the person. Autism doesn’t even exist, only the Autistic-self exists. I am Autistic, not a person with a fucking carry-on bag where I store my quirks.

Do you want to know why pretty much every Autistic person you meet is at some level of burnout? It’s because we are dealing with this bullshit every second, of every minute. Every hour, of every day. By their nature, our lives require us to educate people on why we should be allowed to carry on existing. Have you tried to every account while teaching literally everyone you meet why being Autistic is not something to be grieved and/or corrected? It’s exhausting.

This is the culture war that we are fighting. We have no choice but to join the frontlines. We have to raise our voices above those who would speak over us.

After all, isn’t the whole point to leave a better world for our progeny?

Filming addicts in crisis is a form of violence

I remember some years ago when the drug known as “spice” was sweeping through my country. Not only were the tabloids having a field day, and not only were people filming addicts on the street under the influence, I was using it.

It was a relatively common sight in some cities. Individuals helplessly and mindlessly stumbling around in a zombie like fashion, people screaming curses, refusing to see the suffering of those of us who were hooked on the stuff.

But what I really want to focus in on are the people who were filming us. They were the worst kind of people, and sadly, they still exist.

The people holding the cameras often claimed that they were “spreading awareness”. In fact what they did, was post the video to social media, and embark upon discussions of how people like me were scum, how we deserved to die, how our suffering was our own fault.

They weren’t spreading awareness, they were spreading hate. It was an act of violence against a group of people that are already significantly marginalised by society. It was the moral model of addiction running at full tilt.

When a person is suffering in such a way, filming them and posting it to Facebook is perhaps one of the most humiliating things you can do. Unfortunately, humiliation is what these people go for. People speak words and carry out acts of violence against addicts eith great regularity. Often without ever raising a fist.

I hope dearly that none of my followers have ever done such a thing. And if you have, I hope you have come to feel remorse about it. By doing such things, you are actively helping to kill addicts.

If it sounds like I am using strong words, then take heed. This is not a harmless matter. Imagine trying to rebuild your life from addiction while videos of you in the thick of it circulate on social media. The Internet is forever.

If you ever see a person suffering in such a way, please extend compassion. Make sure they are safe, call for any help that may be appropriate. You can also help protect opioid addicts by receiving naloxone training. The dawn of naloxone has saved many, many lives.

Addicts are human beings with emotions, hopes, and dreams. We are often traumatised children. Extend compassion where you can.

[GUEST POST] Dating my way back to healthy

Written by Sarah Snow

CW: Suicide, Rape, Cancer, Intimate partner violence

After leaving an abusive relationship, I developed a plan to create healthy relationships as a way to heal past traumas. I was determined to never choose another situation where I would give away my power to someone else, and by using my background as a psychology major and the years I had already spent in therapy, I came up with a personal plan to heal. I embarked on a year long journey to become trauma informed, heal my trauma, and then create new relationships that would support me in my growth.

Trauma is when a distressing event causes extended long term damage to our brain and nervous system, resulting in poorly regulated emotional responses and long term issues. The more helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized, and our bodies will replay the event repeatedly through our behavior until it is healed. When childhood trauma is not resolved, a sense of fear and helplessness will follow us into adulthood. When trauma isn’t healed, over time it can look like personality, family traits or culture. Healing is ultimately a lifelong discovery of learning the ways we have been holding ourselves back in our lives, and overcoming all of the limits placed on ourselves by our own minds. 

In my own life, I experienced many traumatic events and have a long list. When I was 3, my mother drove off of a cliff and was crushed between a truck and a tree, resulting in a head injury and her being permanently physically disabled, which meant many responsibilities fell to me as a child, due to my father being absent and neglectful. My mother’s bipolar went undiagnosed until shortly before her suicide in 2018. I was bullied and socially ostracized by my peers while growing up. All of this and more impacted how I function today.

I was late diagnosed with Aspergers officially in 2007 when I was already 26, and thus share a story that is common with many other autistics in my age group of millennials who grew up being the scapegoated child, whose behaviors got them labeled as the “bad” one in the family, when all they really needed was empathy and more effort from those around them. All of these traumatic experiences added up to me scoring an ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score of 8. Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood and are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 6 adults reported they had experienced four or more types of ACE’s, and the economic and social costs to families, communities, and society totals hundreds of billions of dollars each year. (Find out your own ACE’s score here.)

I then went on to have cancer twice as an adult, before leaving my psychologically and emotionally abusive marriage of over ten years. My marriage taught me that if someone only “loves” you when you do what they want, it’s not love, it’s control. My entire story is one of survival and overcoming my circumstances to make the best of what I was given. We all have different starting points, but almost every single one of us carries some form of trauma that is waiting to be healed.

“We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”

Doctor Who 

The single biggest risk with trauma is the fact that it causes a chronic belief in the idea that paranoia and mistrust are actual prerequisites of survival. You start thinking that assuming good faith in anyone is actually dangerous, because it leaves you open to being dominated or exploited. This generates a negative feedback loop, which ultimately means that you no longer have the ability to trust anyone, because you assume that the only outcome of attempting to do so will be pain.

Trauma is healed in safe environments where we feel seen, heard, understood and accepted. I knew I would need to have healthier models around me for the behaviors that I was trying to create in myself. Because trauma shatters your sense of security, it’s important to create supportive non judgmental environments that give us opportunities to experience feelings of safety and trust. Surrounding myself with people who could offer me grace and understanding that I’m always trying my best even when I’m not always at my best became a priority in my recovery. I didn’t know what healthy was yet, but I knew that it was what I ultimately wanted, and I wasn’t willing to settle until I had it. But because I didn’t have any relationships to begin with yet, I began with myself instead.

“Attract what you expect, reflect what you desire, become what you respect, and mirror what you admire.” 

– Deb Sofield

Despite a decade of being told daily by the man who I married that I wouldn’t make it out of our marriage alive, I was still deeply shocked and traumatized when my former husband reacted to my request for an amicable divorce by raping me and then throwing me out into the cold a few days later on October 14, 2019. My world turned upside down and was suddenly a terrifying and unpredictable place. I was immediately very afraid of men in general, I felt they were all out to get me somehow, but I didn’t want to have that crippling fear of people anymore. I went out of my way to reach out to a few select men I already knew who seemed fairly non toxic and self aware, and could model for me the healthy boundaries that I was trying to emulate. During the early days of being homeless in my van in the winter of 2019, a dear friend from high school reconnected with me and agreed to help to guide me through my healing process by providing me a friendship as a safe place to process my trauma, and I will always be grateful to him for the time and effort he invested in me to do so. Around the same time, I also approached a local facebook friend that I trusted to spend time with, and he helped me to trust in my process and my spiritual journey. In 2020 shortly after I found stable housing I sadly lost both relationships due to being emotionally reactive and having trauma responses before immediately regretting burning my bridges, but the reasons for my actions don’t matter, ultimately I am responsible for the consequences of lashing out at them.

Both of those men practiced a relationship style called polyamory, having consensual loving relationships with more than one partner, which led me to discovering a relationship style called Solo Polyamory, the practice of having multiple loving relationships while still maintaining independence and living as a single person. As someone recovering from Intimate Partner Violence I found the idea of putting my autonomy and freedom first empowering, and embraced the concept of dating myself. I never really understood hierarchical ranking the importance of human beings by applying specific labels to them anyway. Everyone is a partner. Love is love!

Dating myself meant setting fun dates to focus on self care, but it also meant becoming the kind of partner that I would want to date, so I had to get very honest with myself quickly about what would potentially hold me back once I actually was dating other people again. In order to attract what I wanted, I had to first become it. I learned the difference between loneliness and being alone when I started enjoying my own company. I started journaling lists of my triggers and areas I still needed to grow, but also listed the things I was doing right, and wrote myself love letters. Finding a balance and practicing self compassion was so important! I made a list of goals and went back to therapy. I started following mental health professionals on social media. And I started reading self help books on codependency and attachment theory as well as childhood trauma. One of my favorites is “Unf#ck Your Brain: Using Science To Get Over Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Freak-Outs and Triggers,” by Faith G. Harper, Phd LPC-S ACS ACN. This taught me that an underlying issue was my own boundaries. Boundaries are limited rules within our relationships, and can be rigid, porous, or healthy. They can be physical, emotional, sexual, intellectual, or financial. In addition to being extended to others, they also apply to ourselves. Learning healthy boundaries was a key factor in my eventually finding healthy relationships. 

The Four Principles of Healthy Boundaries
1. Let people down, but don’t let down the people who matter.
2. Make conscious compromises
3. Be comfortable with discomfort
4. Don’t be the elephant in the room.


Also instrumental in my recovery was in teaching myself green flags. I knew about red flags from my earlier classes in preventing Intimate Partner Violence and the patterns I had already seen in my marriage to my ex husband, such as lovebombing, gaslighting, shaming or belittling, isolating, testing boundaries, blame shifting and fault finding to not take responsibility, among others. But learning that there were also green flags to look for allowed me to create standards for myself and identify things to look for in the healthy relationship I wanted but had yet to experience. These relationship green flags include open communication, vulnerability, empathy, integrity and personal responsibility, self sufficiency, healthy hobbies, spirituality, long standing friendships, the ability to self reflect, honors boundaries, practices self care and has long standing friendships. Affection, maturity, confidence – suddenly I knew exactly what I was looking for. 

I became very intentional in my search. In the early fall of 2020 I created what I called my “recipe for a mate,” a list of qualities I wrote out to narrow down my search. I became specific and in addition to green flags, I identified my own values that I wanted to see reflected in a romantic relationship, such as understanding consent, being a child at heart who likes to play and a best friend before anything else. I knew my standards were high but I also knew that I was able to reciprocate anything that I was requesting, so I refused to compromise until I found it. 

I slowly began to put myself in situations where I would meet other people, but I did not use dating sites or apps because I knew I wouldn’t find the love I was looking for amongst people just trying to fill a void of loneliness. If I wanted to find someone like me, I was going to find them in places that people like me hung out in. The search began by letting my friends know that I was starting to look and was open to finding someone else again, and then due to it being a pandemic I simply began being more active in Facebook groups created for people with similar interests as me. Then I was patient and just leaned into the pause. I knew I was ready so I waited for love to come and find me, and eventually it did!

“An old alchemist gave the following consolation to one of his disciples: no matter how isolated you are and how lonely you feel, if you do your work truly and conscientiously, unknown friends will come and seek you.”

Carl G. Jung

I learned by trial and error. Success is a function of correction; try, try again! The first relationship found me by commenting on a post I made. We discovered things in common and mutual interests but then I started overlooking red flags once my feelings got involved. Things started escalating quickly which should have been another red flag, but at the time I didn’t know any better. It ended badly after a few months but it taught me a lot about searching for partners who appreciate things rather than judge them, and who can take responsibility instead of justifying and laying blame. This was the relationship that taught me to recognize trauma bonds, the process through which you begin to confuse abusive behavior for love. In healthy love, your affection for one another grows over time. In a trauma bond, it’s instantaneous because it’s not love, it’s attachment, an idea of love that makes you feel better about a preexisting issue in your life. With every failure I was able to narrow my search, and every time I walked away from toxic it got easier. Already having several newer healthy relationships to walk towards helped to leave the toxic behind me where I left it.

After learning to identify and walking away from trauma bond relationships, my patience and resilience paid off, and love started showing up in my life, usually in unsought for and entirely unexpected ways. This led to an entirely new challenge, how to navigate healthy relationships for the first time, which ended up being much scarier than I first anticipated. Being autistic, I had to teach myself small talk for essentially the first time, and in the beginning I would bombard my dates with infodumps as a way of attempting to bond. Many of the people I had started talking to were neurotypical and not on the spectrum at all, and while they were willing to meet me in the middle this also meant I had to learn more effective ways of communicating, such as using “I” statements that didn’t come naturally to me. However, I keep trying to do better than I did the day before, and things get a little easier each day. 

My new healthy relationships are teaching me how to be a better person and a better partner, which in turn makes me a better parent for my children. Each of my partners is showing me with effort and not words what it means to care for the people you love. One of my relationships is about five months old and he has yet to actually say I love you, but he shows me daily in how he shows up for me and is present in my life that he already does, so I know it will come eventually when he’s ready. He’s been the literal opposite of my ex’s love bombing and future faking, slow and steady was everything I needed to teach me how to trust.

In summary, healing trauma will only happen in an emotionally supportive environment, and to achieve that we have to be selective about the people we surround ourselves with, especially during the dating process. Invest your time in yourself first to become who you want to attract. Take a personal inventory of strengths and weaknesses, then turn those weaknesses into strengths and goals to smash! Learn to be okay with being alone. Brush up on your own relationship skills. Get intentional and know what you want before tuning in and broadcasting your signal. Take it slow and put in the time to get to know someone. Be willing to walk away when things aren’t working. Don’t chase or force anything, trust in the timing and most importantly, expect the unexpected!


Sarah Snow was previously a psychology major, before becoming a mother and teaching preschool. She had breast cancer twice before leaving her ex husband and becoming an advocate for intimate partner violence and trauma education. When she isn’t spending time with her wonderful kids or volunteering at her local library, she loves writing and painting, and living a peaceful and intentional life!

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