There is a phrase, “to cut off your nose despite your face” meaning that someone does something that is counter to what is best for them. As I child I often attracted this quote though it took me many years to work out what it actually meant for me. It happens when I have to make a decision about something. When I make that decision it may not agree with the consensus of the other people (one or more) in the group so I am expected to change my decision or graciously accept the majority I suppose. The problem occurs because it is at that point that I cannot change. It seems to be an emotional driver because at the same time, I can acknowledge the logic of the discussion, I may be better off changing my mind but I cannot. I might try and justify my position with arguments that are easily countered which leads to being overwhelmed or more likely than not, I will just go stubbornly go incommunicado and refuse to join in.
This happened to me yesterday. A group of us had travelled to see the Six Nations of the Great River Pow Wow which consisted of various types (traditional, grass, and fancy) and age groups of First Nation competition dances accompanied by live songs, with a large craft market and lots of food stalls. It was fascinating seeing the different hand-made regalia and dancing styles that I think belonged to each Nation and a lovely experience to share amongst the group. The car I travelled in arrived later than the others due to a wrong turn at an intersection so we met the others in the bleaches. It wasn’t obvious how to get to the seats but I eventually made it up to the top of the stand, sat down, and observed whilst taking the occasional photo.
At some point I was asked if I wanted to go for food. I was hungry when we first arrived but that had past and I didn’t feel hungry right then so I said no. I was challenged on this, and I knew I probably could do with some food but it seemed such a hassle to get down from the top that I stuck to my answer and watched my car group make their way through the crowd. I had the feeling that I had made the wrong decision but equally I was okay with not eating.
After the dancing competition heats finished the group decided to look at the craft stalls for half an hour, a decision I agreed with and off we went, though we fragmented quickly and I was left in the company of my daughter. I would have liked to have bought some beadwork but mostly the beads were being sold to the dancers to decorate their dancing outfits and it seemed to me to be a missed opportunity to sell kits for tourists like me. [I just have had an ideal about making a waistcoat with north west coast designs on it in beadwork!] There were these ultra-soft blankets that I fell in love with (so soft) but I didn’t really need one but with a bit of gentle persuasion from my daughter I did get one in the end. We did run out of time though, I would have like to have seen more stalls but I accepted that groups of this size (13) need more structure.
Later we are alongside Lake Ontario (how can that all be fresh water?) and the question of food comes up. Having recently bought a couple of cakes from Timi’s along with an Ice Cap, I am again not feeling too hungry. The decision asked was whether to go for a sit-down meal or just get something to eat from all the food trucks where we were. My decision was to go for a sit-down since it was my son’s birthday and I thought we would get better food that way. The majority decided on the food trucks so that it what the group did. As they left, I sat down at the rendezvous point. I knew I should probably eat but I couldn’t just change my decision and join in.
I am sure my mother would say I was sulking and the phrase “cutting off your nose …” came to mind. My son sat with me and tried to understand. With his help I calmed down eventually. People returned in dribs and drabs and along the way I picked up some titbits from them. Looking back I think I just felt overwhelmed by being in a group for so long, having to conform to the slower pace and lack of decisions such groups entail. Having to do the majority thing when it doesn’t fit in with my thinking is really tough and eventually my mind rebels. I have to assert my difference. I have to do what I decide even if it is the opposite of everybody else. I do wonder if I do this unconsciously to draw attention to my autism. Maybe. After all, nothing says different more than being in a subgroup of one.