Sunday, 5 August 2012

The opposite of passing

I'm not talking about passing a test or a tricky overtaking maneuver - I mean passing for normal.

It's a term I first heard used by some trans* folk of my acquaintance, to whom "passing" means literally being able to pass as a male or female. Since then it's cropped up in disability circles in a similar way; passing for normal, hiding your non-normal ways and appearing to be a non-disabled, neurotypical member of society.

maksed woman
Pictured: normal
Of course, this has a lot of benefits in a society where being Other is still a recipe for all sorts of problems from being looked at funny to outright violence.  I totally understand why a lot of Aspies who can pass, do so.

But I often can't, or don't, or a little of both.

I suppose in one way I'm a master of passing, since I sailed through life undiagnosed for a quarter of a century.  But those were very hard times.  I was often lonely, confused, hurting and frightened, and I'd reached the point where I couldn't pass any more.  The pressure of passing, the exhaustion of trying so hard day in day out to be normal, had worn me down to the point that my life was coming apart at the seams, crumbling into the sort of ruin you'd expect of a building erected on a foundation of shifting, sliding, treacherous sand.

I'm very 'out' about having Aspergers.  I bring it up in job interviews, when meeting new colleagues, when joining groups or turning up for an exercise class... Not in a special snowflake way, but because I think  it's best to get the disclosure out of the way as soon as possible.  That way, it's on the table before people make their own negative assumptions about my eye contact/clothing choices/stimming/bluntness.

The other reason I'm very open is that I refuse to force myself to act normal.  I've tried, and that way madness lies in quite a literal sense.  I refuse to torture myself by suppressing stimming, forcing eye contact, struggling through sensory hostile environments, and attempting things I cannot do due to the buffet of odd physical problems that come with the Aspie territory.  These things wouldn't improve my lot in life any, the only benefit would be to the neurotypical people around me - by pretending to be normal, I save someone else the discomfort of having to deal with and make allowances for someone different.  Someone Other.

But we are all someone's Other.  There's someone out there who hates your skin colour, your religion, your genitals, your choice of sporting team and your decision about whether to eat meat.  But that's their problem.  You can't live your life in a way that makes other people happy, because there are too many people with too many agendas, and in doing so you're handing all your power, your choice, your self, over to them.

These days I'm keeping my power, my self-determination, my who-I-am.

And that's the opposite of passing.

In passing: a note on the use of "trans*"

Thursday, 2 August 2012

On Things

My My Little Pony

When I was young
I had a blue My Little Pony
I really wanted a pink one
but I loved her anyway

When I was young
I had a rag doll called Jemima
I loved her like a sister
took her everywhere

When I was young
I didn't have any friends
But it didn't really matter
I had my things

When I was older
I moved out of home
and left my beloved things
In a box under the bed

The box was shifted
forgotten
ignored
tripped over
dragged out
ignited
ashes
gone.

Now I am older
I have some friends, but not many
but I try not to fill the gaps
with my things.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Perfectionism = Procrastination

Dirty dishes in the kitchen
grotty teabags in the sink
a pile of unread papers
and I just don't want to think.

There's dust on my guitar
and my novel is unwritten
and I need to do some sewing
but these thoughts swim up unbidden.

I'm so sick of being useless,
Always struggling, always late
never up to standard
feeling like I've blown my fate

Like I could have been so awesome
That potential's unrealised
because the pressure to be perfect
has left me paralysed

I'd rather just do nothing
than try, and get it wrong
it's why I never worked with oils,
wrote a book, composed a song.

If another person wrote this
I'd tell them let it be,
Just have fun and do not worry....
but it's different when it's me.