Living Well – Fine Revenge This Valentines By Rick London

Today is Valentine’s Day.

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For many years that day didn’t mean a lot to me, whether I was in a relationship or not.

That may sound like a “call for pity” yet it is just the opposite.  I know now how blessed and lucky I am, not just to have my wife Lee in my life, but both of us understanding with what we deal; autism as well as building our lives together.

Some think I talk about autism too much, and that’s too bad and their issue. Autism is very much who I am, why I do what I do, and how I do it.

For numerous years professionals wondered how I “lived through what I lived through”, and there are times when I did too, yet they never told me what it was in which they were amazed about.

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More than one psychiatrist I told I was hidden away in an attic at age five which lasted my entire youth up until age seventeen and then thrown to the wolves.   I am sure most of them knew what that meant, but maybe most of them felt it was best to tell me I had been severely abused, simply by the act of “residential segregation” and the very different rule structure set for me as compared to my siblings.

They also felt it best that my siblings were quite abusive as well, for the most part of their own survival.  That part I understood and even forgave. One extremely well-versed very well educated therapist told me, “If they’d had a backbone, if they’d had an ounce of good in them, they would have turned off the “hate Rick campaign” and done the right thing, as adults after your parents died, but they were too ambitious to “have their name in lights”.  I could easily see them given that I’d had my name in lights several times (and it was highly overrated). I’d never scapegoat a sibling to do so, nor did I ever.

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So given the abandonment (and even abuse) combined with the autism, it is beyond comprehensible to most that I survived. I did have the wherewithal to continue seeing professionals in an extreme effort to find out what had happened to me.  Remember, I didn’t know I had autism, nor that I’d been severely abused until I was 61. I was programmed not only to fail but to die young.

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And that’s probably why I decided I was not going to die young. In spite of two major heart attacks 3 surgeries and stents, I was determined to discover what had happened and who did what.

Then came Lee.  She loved me and loves me unconditionally.  She helped me in my quest, so that I might not dismiss abuse when it came my way.

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Remember, I never even knew I was “at war with my siblings” (I just felt they didn’t care for me) until age 61.  At age 60 I decided to write one of them to let them know of my autism diagnosis. Also of my vanus diagnosis; an extremely painful form of flat feet, also congenital.  As always, I was dismissed by one sibling by email with a line that read “My spouse’s niece had a bit of autism but is fine now. What will you do for symptoms”. (In other words people live with autism all the time.  Get used to it).

Truth be told, most autistic children do not get hidden away in an attic, scapegoated by their entire family, and never diagnosed.  The difference is apples and oranges (than simply “being autistic”.  I survived a pre-meditated war against me, one I never knew I was in, only to find the real truth, and that the perpetrators of that war were rancid cowards, bigots and haters,  and still are.  Now they will coddle their autistic niece to show “their goodness”.   Educated people expect that and are not impressed…in the least.

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I lost it. I was livid.  Symptoms?  Autism does not have symptoms. Autism is who someone is. It is not something to cure. It is something with which to have compassion because the tools to teach autism are just now coming into fruition.

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I told the sibling a thing or two about symptoms (the only true symptoms of such a condition are hate, prejudice and fear) projected by ignorant people, and I made certain this sibling knew what that meant. I never heard from that sibling again and if I’m fortunate I never will.  I know it sounds erudite but these siblings do not deserve to be a part of my life.

I am not perfect, in fact far from it.  But the torture of another person, especially a child who later becomes an adult, to me falls in the category of serial killers and such.  Before you say, “how crude”, so do a majority of the members of the autism groups which have at least 3.2 million diagnosed members not to mention even more than that that are un-diagnosed.

This feeling is real, and the experience/torture is very much of a similar sociopath nature. Those people need help and need it today.  They will within a few years, most likely, find themselves way on the fringe, at least that is what is being reported by knowledgeable scholars acting within the mainstream autism communities. I believe it wholeheartedly.

And I don’t regret writing that. I do not want that kind of “person” in my life, ever.  And though I know they cannot help that they are that sick, they do have the responsibility to get professional help.  After all, I did, and I was not even the one who needed it most. In fact, I am quite at peace with myself most times, knowing that I finally know what really happened to me, and not the “family press release”.

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Yes, I still get the occasional PTSD that I used to get often.  But PTSD is not a character flaw or weakness. It is a healthy response to something very bad that someone experienced or saw.  I can remember having it since age 5 (the year my first attic isolation tank) aka bedroom was built).  Why would a five year old have PTSD?  Child abuse is the reason about 99% of the time. I was part of that 99%.  I survived it and am very proud of that.  Not all do. And that is why I write these blogs.  I don’t believe any of my family will change.  They have too much invested in “the lie”.  But I know others might read it and see hope. I know NPD parents might read it and seek help.  If just one reads it and seeks help, it’s a success.  Torture is torture and if it prevents just one, it proved to be a good thing.

I merely ask you to imagine a 5 year old child alone, isolated in an attic, for 12 years. The first 4 years crying every night to no response (they couldn’t hear me in such a large home and made sure of that).  This causes all sorts of psychological problems, the worst of all chronic insomnia (which is not even allowed in the most brutal wars by the Geneva Convention). Neither is that sort of isolation.  Some parents truly need not be parents.  They are forgiven (by me).  They are also forgotten (by me).   I survived that and I am tougher than I thought.  They are more cowardly than I ever knew.  Sadly, they knew what they were doing.

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The rest of my life went downhill from there.  Until age 58.  That’s when God presented my wife, and there was a definite curve upward.  Beautiful things began to happen.

I realized rather rapidly I was the lucky one by not scapegoating anyone. I was the lucky one for “taking the fall”. I was the lucky one for letting them cast aspersions and tell lies etc.

I  look at my life and I look at theirs.  I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else.    God made certain I would not only enjoy but cherish my 61 year old Valentine’s Day.  We have wonderful friends, most married who share the same affection for their spouses.

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I now am learning how to navigate life with autism. I realize I read and saw and thought everything differently. I also know that was not my fault.  I was not diagnosed purposely for nefarious reasons. Now I am diagnosed for decent reasons and have a beautiful chance to enjoy my life.  Lee and I will only associate with good people who support our relationship.  If you are one of those who find you are not, do not try to be a trickster.  We’ve seen it all, and we fight back. We will defend our love no matter what.

If you and I have been friends in the past, in real life, but you are frightened to express it due to NPDs and their “flying monkeys”, might I suggest those days are over, and they turned out to be wrong.  Very wrong.

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And if you don’t believe me try contacting one of the major Autism associations.   Most of them know me now, know the dynamics happening, and are not happy with it at all.  It’s very nice to have that support.

They will assure you that abuse and prejudice against autistics will be a dark part of American History. Please, consider siding on the right side of history.  Not the side in which someone might throw you a few nickels or “property one day”, or if you’re really lucky “be a part of their popularity circle”.  Just remember how they obtained that popularity.  With torture.   I will not tell you not to be a part of that.  We all have to answer to our God.  You know best.

You might look at my life and think it was quite unfair.  The real facts is that I was dealt a very bad hand of cards (by humans).  When I let God take over, things changed.  Suddenly my offbeat cartoon of which I’d worked on for 8 years was the Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoon and a few years later my designer offbeat gifts also became #1 ranked.  They have maintained that ranking through hard work all the way up until now (2016).  That is 11 years.  I am proud, very proud, but I clearly understand now it is from a Hand Above and from the loving Support of my Wife Lee.  I couldn’t have dreamed of this.

That may not seem like much, but given there are 100,000+ offbeat cartoons and gifts on the net on any given day (am told), I feel pretty good about that.  Had I been treated fairly, that would have never happened.  So I do have the culprits to thank, and thank them forever and ever.  Nobody has been as good to me (but surely not on purpose), and of course my Angel wife Lee who willfully has been good to me, and has showed me the world in a whole different manner.  I will always push to look at it correctly, and not as a “mean ol’ place”.  It’s not a bad place at all, and most the people in our circles are very very decent.

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Scapegoating toddlers who become children who become adults, with a pre-planned “program” to make them the bad guy and then “buy their friends” is not even considered humane in the very worse cultures and societies.

Sadly, it is done quite often in these United States, and most children/later adults never knew what hit them.  My parents never figured I would have the photographic/date/time memory that gave them away the first time they committed such a crime.  They were busted. They just didn’t know it.  It took me this long to figure out just what the abuse was.

It was so subtle, so professional, so well done in privacy with me; not when other siblings or friends were around, you would have thought it was an Alfred Hitchcock film.  But most Hitchcock films offer a bit of grace and negotiation. Mine offered neither.  I believe with the help of God and amazing friends, I lived long enough to figure it out, and have enough life in me to help others who find themselves in similar situations.

I am able to vocalize to them they are not alone. I am able to shout to them to hook up immediately with autism legal programs, autism support groups, and the like.  They can then safely tell their story and if someone interferes, it can easily become a civil rights matter and that interfering person may just find themselves on the wrong side of history, not where they want to be.

Scapegoating humans and torturing them is horrendous. Doesn’t work nor should it.  It’s hate. It’s prejudice and it’s fear.  It’s masochistic and brutal.  To support it is as cowardly as the act itself.  That’s not you I hope, and pray.

Love is truly the answer

The Beatles were right. Money can’t buy that.  It can’t even buy “like”.

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Rick London is a writer, songwriter, gift designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for his Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts “Londons Times” LTCartoons.com.  He is married to popular nature photographer and gift designer Lee Hiller-London who owns nature blog Hike Our Planet and brand store LeeHillerDesigns.com.

I want this blog to reflect how important it is for a loving married couple to work as a team. I won’t do it justice but I’ll report what I witnessed.  I have what could be the smartest, kindest, and talented wife on the planet.  And I don’t say that lightly.  Here are some reasons why.

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We can all work toward this kind of interaction skills that show love, way beyond mouthing the words “I Love You” which we all know how to do.  This is real.  It can be for everybody if they want it.  We’ve spent 7 years working and playing on our relationship and 6 of it has been in marriage.  We’ve grown, changed, and are growing up.  I like that. Always wanted it.  So did Lee.

So much self-discovery has gone into the past 5 years.  I learned the importance of veganism, not just learning to mouth the words but taking action and doing the right thing.  It was not as difficult as it seemed.

Lee and I had been hiking in Hot Springs National Park, the most beautiful forest I’ve ever seen, abundant with plenty of wildlife, birds, etc.  Many have gotten to know our names. Squirrels and rabbits  don’t run from us.  Mocking birds make a special trip over to land at arm’s length and sing with us.  They know who we are. They don’t do so with everyone (as odd as that sounds).  We talk to the trees. Not all of them but the ones who like to listen “and talk back”.  🙂

Then I used to go home and make some kind of chicken or fish stir fry staying in complete denial I was eating my friends, literally.  Lee had figured it out a year before and was busy putting together new recipes for her new life.  She did not know if I would transition or not, but finally I did.

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Two things helped facilitate that.  One: Watching Paul McCartney’s “Glass Houses” video on YouTube.  Paul is a former carnivore who, with Linda McCartney had a sheep ranch.  They were busy eating their lamb chops and watching the sheep gaze out of their window. Some of them they named, and each animal would come running to them upon hearing it.  It occurred to him they were eating their friends.

Linda came close to becoming a vegan but stayed vegetarian eating some vegan dishes. At the risk of angering some, best tell the truth. Vegetarianism is not a whole lot healthier than meat-eating.  Veganism is what clears the body of it’s horrendous toxins over the years from animal proteins.

cow cartoons by ltcartoons ltcartoons.com

cow cartoons by ltcartoons ltcartoons.com

Also watching Lee in her vegan regimen and watching her skin clear up; her scowl turn into a smile, her weight dropping off like nothing I’d ever seen. I said to myself, “I want what she has”.  She told me how to get it, and she was right.  Lee is 58 years old. She does not mind that fact being known. Some women do. Lee wears no makeup. Her face is natural beauty like I never knew existed.  She does tai chi, has taught it to me, and together we are learning to take care of our bodies.  This is a lot better than the old destructive ways which were handed us from a prior generation.  Again, I am very blessed.  She is the best, by far.

Also, upon discovery of my autism and lifetime punishment for being born with it, Lee declared 2016 (in our home), the “Year Of Rick”.  She said I have helped her (not sure if that is true) but now she was/is going to make sure I get through this.  She is (doing so).

I had to go to the hospital yesterday due to an undiagnosed severe kidney infection.  My pain level was past a ten.  I didn’t take any opiates but I took about 20 more per month of my vagus nerve medicine. This is not enough to kill me, but create a vicious cycle in which it seems it would never end.

They now have my meds straight. I am fine; and am driving to the grocery tomorrow.  They thought it was be 2-3 weeks.  They thought wrong. Not to worry. It was never enough to kill me, but it was enough to add to the toxins of the untreated kidney (antiobiotics and herbal tinctures are healing that).  I will be most likely hiking with Lee again next week.

One funny thing.  The hospital, as they do most patients, attempted to manhandle me in and out. Not this time.  Lee stood by my side and put her elbow up in front of her when they tried to push her out of the way to get to me to drag me away. She let them know she was/is in charge and nothing is going to happen here without her knowledge or permission.  Talk about patient advocacy. It was something out of a very good movie. We both smiled and the hospital had a change of heart taking as much time as I needed, with Lee by my side. She left them with a cold stare (all of them) that clearly stated, “You are treating Rick in a dignified manner or not treating him at all”.  (They seemed to get the message.  I wanted to applaud her.  Everyone and I mean everyone deserves that kind of medical advocacy whether from a wife, significant other or family member.  Otherwise, treatment might be less than par (at best).  It was good.  Very good.

Lee told me anyone can do that, take charge of their medical rather than leaving the whole thing to hospital staff.  And they hopped to it.  We heard one young nurse outside our door near the x-ray room yell, “Dam she is GOOD, Brilliant”.  LOL.  🙂  And she is.

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I have learned a lot, a whole lot.  I don’t think I would have learned much of any of it with Lee’s assistance.  She is magnificent.  I am the most blessed man in the world, to hell with the “most interesting”; I’d rather be blessed any day, and I know I am.

I am no guru, but please take care of yourself.  Eat right to the best of your knowledge.  Find doctors you trust and follow their orders.  If you don’t trust your doctors, find others. There’s plenty of good ones out there.

Don’t scapegoat people.  Don’t isolate them and make them feel different.  Karma often comes knocking one day along that dreary path.

Be good. Be good to yourself and others.  Laugh a little. Do something good for someone who cannot (at this time) do anything or much back.  Maybe they never will be able to do so.  God smiles upon that kind of thing you know.

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for his launch of Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts from a tin shed in rural Ms in 1997.  It has lured nearly 9 million visitors since that time and has been Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoon since that time.  He is married to the love of his life Lee Hiller London founder of nature gift store LeeHillerDesigns.com and popular nature blog Hike Our Planet.