how to be autistic

by Charlotte Amelia

you will be told you are a troublemaker, that the thing you can’t put into words yet that divorces you from everyone else, is responsible for the way the other kids pick on you and you really must try harder to fit in. you will realise quickly that you cannot trust anybody, not really, because they will ask you to do things that break you, that will haunt you for years. you will meet people who you will revisit in nightmares and go to places that will hide behind your closed eyelids as you toss and turn at night. you will learn to be afraid. you will learn how to be afraid and still breathe. you will learn fear as survival.

nobody will ever tell you what is wrong with you, just that you are wrong, and that what you do and say is wrong. you will look at the world and you will see everybody else and find yourself lacking, and not know why. you will cling to the edges of tables and shift in your seat as you try not to pass out as another wave of panic crashes through you. you will vomit on your shoes.

you will not be allowed to go home.

you will learn that retreat is safer than attack. that home is safer than outside. that people are cruel for the sake of being cruel and the scars of their words will etch into your brain. you will scratch at your skin and pick at the scabs and mark yourself in the most base animal way of blood and torn flesh. you will make deals with the devil.

you will cry hot tears and smudge your eyeliner. you will wash the streaks off with cold water and be sent back to class. your legs will fold and you will forget how to stand. you will believe them when they tell you that you are doing this on purpose. you will learn to hate yourself the same way they hate you.

you will take tablets designed to sedate and you will still not BE sedate. you will fondle the silver of the blister packs and thank every god you can think of for these small blue marvels that allow you a space to think and be without the constant gnaw of anxiety. you will leave the house and the world won’t end. you will learn that these tablets are the only thing that can save you.

you will learn that the people designed to help you don’t care whether you live or die. you will learn that being suicidal means a four week wait for an appointment. you will learn about forged care plans and missing medical records. you will listen as medical health professionals lie through their teeth about you. you will wonder why nobody ever took a step back and actually looked at you.

you will stop looking in the mirror. you will feed the hatred and disgust and loathing that grows black and malignant inside of you. you will line up for the firing line and stand back straight facing the muzzles of guns because you believe you deserve it. you will think you are a burden. you will be told over and over by charities that say they want to help that you are better off dead. you will hear about the murders of other people like you and hear the sympathy poured out to the murderers. you will learn that your life has less value than normal people.

but –

you will live in spite of it all. you will read and write and draw and paint and create and sing and dance and laugh and love. you will be magnificent. you will feel the catch in your breathing as you walk towards the best day of your life and you will keep walking. you will hold close to you the people who didn’t abandon you. you will never, ever be able to give enough thanks to the heroes who ran up the phone bill, who made appointments, who begged and pleaded on your behalf. you will look into your mother’s eyes and know that she loves you without conditions. you will live to see your sister’s children grow from helpless to incredible. you will sleep with your cat’s fur brushing the end of your nose and smile to yourself as she purrs. you will push yourself further than you thought you could survive and you will survive.

you will survive.

you will survive.

see, here’s the secret. to break concrete with your bare hands, you have to train for years, breaking your fingers and healing those fractures until your bones are stronger than your obstacle. every time you’ve cried, every time someone else’s words have broken you, every time you’ve wished you were dead but survived the night, you have broken and healed the microfractures of your soul. you are carbon, turning slowly to diamond. and every single time you were knocked down, you stood back up.

carl sagan once said that we are all made of star stuff. that when the universe first exploded out on itself it created the atoms that eventually became us. so when your breathing hitches, remember that you are swallowing ancient planets, that every single second since the birth of our reality has been leading up to this moment. so, you’re allowed to be afraid.

there’s no bravery without fear, no courage without that awful lump at the back of your throat and the turning of your stomach.

you will survive.

because it’s been thirteen point seven seven two billion years since you were created, and you are fucking cosmic. you have shone in night skies before day and night existed. you are a fluke, a chance, something so utterly unlikely that the odds are incalculable. and yet there you stand. a miracle.

they’ll never understand, the ordinary folk. because they take what they see for granted, and it’s not their fault, it’s just all they’ve ever known. you have had to fight for your existence every step of the way. so you know, you know the cost of survival.

and i know, and you can trust me on this, that you are going to claw your way through this life and one day, a long time from now, greet death with a smirk and a firm handshake, utterly unafraid, because fear is something you know, but, like a wolf showing its fangs, your fear makes you powerful.

and i think, maybe, that’s why they were afraid of you. because they knew your potential. they knew that you were more. that in the light of the moon you were beautiful. so they tried to hide it from you. tried to beat it out of you.

they failed.

you will survive.

Advertisements