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I do not remember being normal. Perhaps I never was.

My mom and dad told me that when I was really, really little, I used to crawl to the cabinets and take out the canned goods. I liked to stack them. I do not remember the time before I could walk, who does? But this sounds like me.

But then, something weird happened. I guess. I started blinking. I don't mean normal, keep your eyes from drying out blinking. It was, I don't know how to describe it, but I will try... Compulsive blinking. Exaggerated blinking. Scrunch your face up blinking. Once every second blinking.

My parents took me to the doctor, even though they could not afford it. The doctor told them that I was just nervous. That was his diagnosis for the next ten or so years.

I was a strange child. As I got older, I paced. A lot.

There were these strange things I did with my hands. I liked to take my thumb and do patterns among the remaining four fingers of that hand. Touch the fingers at the tip with my thumb. Try not to repeat, and minimize the adjacent hits. That's what I did, in elementary school, all of the time. While blinking at least sixty times per minute. If I left my hands relax, they would curl into unnatural positions. I do not feel comfortable with my fingers straight. It is better if they are crossed, like the index over the middle finger and the little finger over the one that is left. There are other ways to do it. But I do not like them straight.

I got glasses in the first grade. They were big, ugly glasses. I only found out years later that my vision was perfect. They were just trying to cover up my compulsive blinking. The school recommended it. They called in my parents and told them that. I wore glasses for a long time, into junior high school. I wore them, though, because everybody told me that I needed them. Perhaps I did.

As I got older, I learned to deal. My blinking abated during my teens. Mostly. The secret is, do not think about it, never ever. If I do, or if anybody mentions it, it comes back. Nobody ever mentions it, and again, I am so grateful. I can control the “hand clawing” in public. I can and do. But when I am alone, it is such a relief to let my hands do what they want to do.

When I got to high school, I passed for normal. Well, almost normal. Fortunately for me, I have a genius IQ, whatever that means. I was in the advanced classes, and that helped a lot. I had a girlfriend and everything. I broke up with her after a year in college, when my dad died.

I dropped out of college to support my mom and little brother after my dad died. I got a job in a glass factory, in the “hot end”. That's what they called it. It was, literally, hell.

Before I dropped out, I was an art major. I was told I was talented. Go figure. I am also good at math (really good). And I test really well on English and writing. But when I went back to college, I became a computer nerd (didn't see that one coming? Yeah, that is sarcasm). I also have a degree in business administration.

I have worked for a number of recognizable companies. But the story is always the same. I do good work, great work. But I usually quit. Why? Because they made me quit. I worked for one company where I eventually replaced four people. I do not mean that I was doing the work of four people (I was actually doing more than that), I mean that there were actually four people doing the work that I did before I was there. Nobody was fired, I replaced one person, then another left and I got their work, then another got another job and quit, and so forth. So when the fifth person got another job and quit, well, I could not do it. So I quit). But that is the story of every job I have ever had.

My people skills are bad. I work on them, but I still get taken aback when I say something innocuous and people are offended. And yes, people are offended sometimes when I say something COMPLETELY innocuous. I have recordings and witnesses. I do not get it and I never will. Perhaps it the way I say it. Probably not.

Still, most people think that people like me do not feel like they do. They are so, so wrong. I feel more. I simply am not good at expressing it. What hell is this, to feel more but to be unable to express it? In day to day interactions? I feel the pain of others, sometimes literally. I do. I am better in writing than verbal. Much better. Go figure. And I feel my own pain, especially when somebody freaks out on me for a reason that I cannot understand. It is agonizing, I promise you.

But I have empathy. A lot of it. That is why I am a liberal.

And I am not a bad person.

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