(ab)use

Another rough night. Sensory overload, anxiety attack, fever, white noise, hyperventilating, hyper vigilant. Sunken into the abyss of dark heaviness: not dreams, not nightmares, just a huge mammoth weighing down my consciousness. I could feel the heart pounding in a feral frantic dance trying to escape its mortal corporeal cage. Even at that moment, my mind was whirring and making associations – the final dance in Pina Bausch’s choreography for Stravinsky’s Le Scare du Printemps (The Rite of Spring). 

With some vigorous, determined effort, I managed to awaken my aching leaden body. Lucy was already watching me from her bed (she chose to sleep in her own bed last night), eyes and ears alert. I called her to me, and she lay her long body next to mine, her head on my legs. We both fell back to sleep, and the roaring fizzled away, until sunrise. Lucy gently nudged me awake jus as the sun was painting a fiery ascent upon the dull grey-blue canvas. The view from the balcony is obscured by trees, but there is enough sky to breathe in and embrace.

While catching up on Facebook over two slices of toast and coffee later in the morning, I read this blog post on Ollibean: Autism and Visual Detail.

Of course, it isn’t the only piece of writing about the subject, there are many accounts out there to be discovered, from many different vantage points – lived experience, third party observations, and scientific studies. The drama plays out in eclectic ways, varying from one individual situation to another. However, a common scenario everyday life for many autistic individuals across the spectrum, but especially for those who are more actively ‘connected’ to the neurtoypical socialscape, is (ab)use. Yes, I perceive the two – abuse and use – as one entity, because they are branches of the same tree.

Detail-focused cognition and sensory acuity – scoffed and maligned when it doesn’t suit the majority minded, and yet used, manipulated and subjugated by the same people when it suits their purposes.

“You’re imagining it!” / “Stop being so sensitive!” / “Don’t nitpick!” / “Don’t read too much into it!”

vs.

“Could you please smell this cereal for me, to see if it is ‘off’?” / “How do you work this machine?” / “Can you edit this article for me?” / “How do you use this software?”

When is it convenient to have the special ability to notice details and pick up sensory signals that are less evident to others, and when is it an inconvenience? We are the same vessel, this is our embodiment, in all its entirety – not mere told for your gratification.

There is only one way I know of, to effectively deal with these (ab)users: walk away, as far as possible. To those who tell me that I should “Forgive and Forget,” my reply is:

If my abuser is unrepentant and has never sought my forgiveness, then, my forgiveness is to walk away. To offer up myself for use and abuse over and over again is not forgiveness, it is folly. Walking away is the ultimate forgiveness. As for “forgetting”, that too is folly. If I forget, I shall walk into the fire again. Best not to do that.

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