Inside and Outside Safety (warning from the top of the post: Mentions of violence towards PwD, both external and internal. Passing mention of the R-word and of a cat dying.):
We are told that in order to save ourselves from the violence out there we must do everything we can to look normal out there.
And when we do look normal out there, they pretend that no violence is being done to us. Too often, they forget the violence that they did or dismissed to make us this way. Too often, they will always dismiss that it left us with violence in our heads.
As time goes on I try to unlearn the violence that was taught to me. I try to uproot the strongholds that tell me how wrong and bad it is of me, how selfish, to want to be okay with myself. This process isn’t helped by living in a society that reaffirms that all the bad things are because I’m wrong, I’m deviant, I’m disabled and I dare to try not to hide from it.
Disabled, Not Different (warning: ableism, violence against autistic people, sexual abuse, bullying, use of words "human" and "not human" to describe disabled people):
I could be a manic-pixie-dream-girl, right? That was like the epitome of different, and I was so very, very different. I only wore skirts, and I said strange things and repeated things over and over and scratched patterns out on my skin. Surely I just needed love, friendship, someone to save me who also needed me to save them.
I discovered, though, that manic-pixie-dream-girls don’t bang their heads, and when someone touches them they know how to let themselves be touched. They see the world differently, but it’s an endearing and quirky and acceptable and unremittingly real view, not one that is confused and forgetful and blurred and above all fleeting. They use words differently, but they use the same words as everyone else and they seem to mean the same things.
People like manic-pixie-dream-girls. Some people even like nerds, and gifted students, and kids who spend their Saturdays painting sets.
People didn’t like me.
They were so nice to me, carefully working at smoothing out my edges until I fit into one or another of the acceptable differences they offered me, and I was so ungrateful and selfish and obsessive, not cooperating with any of it.
The second one is a little speciesist, assuming that everyone identifies as human, but, these are amazing in all other ways. I feel like I want to rock with happiness just thinking about how well they say the words I thought so often. How it's only "okay" with society to be different if you are inside a certain narrow limit of "different", acceptably different. How, being forced to act normal when you don't feel normal, to hide your own identity because it is thought as shameful, is abuse.
I needed these essays so much. Thank you, writers.