Fighting shadows and imaginary demons. That is how many neurotypical people view sensorial hypersensitivity. Add to that, the dimensional polarity of the autistic perception, the entire experiential phenomena becomes doubly difficult for un-affected neurotypical minds to empathise with.
At this very moment, the cloying, nauseous smell of cigarette smoke once more seeps through the cracks in the balcony door and into my small little sanctuary. It tastes like muddy sandpaper. Someone, somewhere nearby, is smoking and they are not supposed to be, as this entire area is supposed to be a smoke-free zone, and that includes the building and apartments herein. Well, who in the world would be able to smell it from this distance and behind closed doors anyway? Yes, I can. When I was a child, my mother and older siblings would variously reprimand, mock and / or even punish me for my constant sensory overloads. According to them, I was merely deliberately being contrary and over imaginative. Anything that did not fit neatly into their neurotypical social frameworks were aberrant, and anything they could not themselves see, hear, smell, feel or taste was an annoying quirk of my over active imagination. I have lost count of the number of times I was accused of lying when trying to vocalise my sensory discomfort or pain. Soon, I began to doubt myself. No, I did not doubt that I could sense all that I was sensing, but I began to question whether I was somehow ‘wrong’ to even be able to do so.
Eventually, I developed a false persona, that of the spoilt bratty diva, because that was the only way I could present my hyper senses in a way that the world could easily understand. The sun and blinding glare, the tropical heat that melted and crawled across my skin, the chokingly stinking frightening crowds of human bodies, the terrifying noise – they could not empathise and would not believe that that there may be a straight forward, unembellished reason behind my quirks, and after decades of criticism and ‘corrective training,’ contrariness became a mantle that I wore. It was an uncomfortable cloak, so I took it, wove silken threads of gold and kaleidoscopic colours into its heavy dark fabric, I made it shine with baubles and buttons, and I wore it like an ornately decorated stage garment. I emerged as the Diva. If you would mock me, then mock me for being more precious than you are, from beneath my pedestal.
But it wasn’t a comfortable place and it was not a real space. It was as it was, an elaborate theatrical performance.
I am at last where I have always wanted to be. Within a headspace that is mine, speaking in my own voice, and re-learning how to embrace my hyper senses without self doubt or censure. It is not easy. I repeatedly slip into the modality of the subservient subjugated Deviant. I apologise for my ability to sense and my being overwhelmed by sensations. I just do it, without forethought, because it has been engraved like a slave tattoo into my subconscious that I ought to be sorry.
Lucy teaches me so much in this realm of just being. Our walks together, four times a day, one long and three brief, are treasured pockets in time and space, where I commune with her, and with the elements around, without condemnation from Self or Other. I am just being. Sometimes, I see interesting juxtapositions that make me feel sudden dipping sadness without complex explanations, or surges of rejoicing, again devoid of attached theoretical reasonings. They are just pure sensations. I stop to photograph little things, Lucy waits patiently for me. She understands without understanding. It is enough for her that I want to stop and do whatever I wish to do. She does not question or judge. Lucy does not look at me with doubtful eyes and curling lips of derision. She can hear me without the need for words, and she leads the way into my becoming me again. No more boxing at shadows and screaming at imaginary ghosts. They are all real after all.