The yellow stuff in the photo above is durian. A tropical fruit that is either loved or hated for its pungent smell and strong after-taste. I love durian, though I am sensitive to olfactory stimuli, that is one kind of gas that I am strangely attracted to (but only if I am eating the fruit, and not after the leftovers are discarded in the trash heap.)
To be brutally honest, most of what constitutes interaction with humans is to me gaseous emissions – some pleasant, like that of the durian, but mostly fatuous and then some ominously foul.
(I apologise for the awkward sentence construction, though I guess being in a state of high Anxiety, near meltdown and whatnot else is not really an excuse for poor writing, or is it? I don’t really know. There’s too much gas around me.)
This morning, while engaging in some “reading-stimming” (where I read, read, read all kinds of articles online to try and relieve the intense pressure that is building in mind and body due to some trigger or other) I stumbled upon and re-read this blog post by Riah Person, “Gaslighting: what it is and what it does to you.”
It is a simple, straightforward, non-academic piece, expressing thoughts about a crucially important subject.
What follows here is a rambling, babbling, waffling musing on the theme:
Gaslighting is one of the most powerful weapons of destruction and abuse used by humans to subjugate, oppress and negate one another. Sadly, the young human usually experiences this first in the family setting. What ought to be a place of nurture and sanctuary is too often the very first battleground heralding a lifetime of warfare and struggle. Autistics are the most vulnerable.
The stage is set for our doom even before we are aware of our own sentience. We autistics are wired with a different way of receiving, perceiving and responding to the world – an amazing thing in many ways, but a terrible vulnerability where interacting with the dominant majority is concerned. Autistic children behaving like autistic children (whether diagnosed or not) are repeatedly told that our intrinsic existence is “wrong” and the “right” thing to do is to subject us to a plethora of “interventions” and “treatments” to make us “right” or acceptable in the eyes of typical society. This kind of torture is “good” for us.
Siblings, parents and extended family members are the first Gaslighters. This includes the neurodivergent ones who have a penchant for social games. In fact, it is not uncommon that the neurodivergent non-autistic family members are the most ruthless Gaslighters and manipulators of the autistic. Actually, it seems to me that there is often at least one member of every family who has sociopathic tendencies, but of course, I only have (a great many) personal anecdotal accounts to rely on, apart from my own, as this is not a popular subject for scientific study.
From there, it is downhill all the way. In fact, a vast proportion of the mental health struggles and mental conditions commonly comorbid to Autism can be attributed to this. When you tell a child they are wrong, and you act accordingly, the child has no chance not to believe it, even though the subconscious, the intrinsic embodiment, is fighting against it.
Life isn’t easy at all for anyone. But the stage is set for the autistic human to struggle all the more fiercely in the monumental human battle from the very start.
For most autistics, the scars of trauma are indelible, so deeply etched that no therapy in the world, no positive thinking, no strength of will, can heal. No wonder that the suicide rate is the highest among the autistic population, and within this, the most vulnerable to suicide are the so-called “high functioning”, because of the extremely intense conflict of having to live and survive while directly and constantly interacting with Gaslighting humans at every level and aspect of public life (while mostly having little to no opportunity to renew and repair within a safe private sanctuary away from assault). Yet, we tell each other and ourselves, we must push on, for ourselves, because we need to embrace the truth – without the gas – that we are worth our own efforts, even if the world around disagrees. How to do that? I don’t have any answers. I am merely yet another autistic person, trundling along in my rusty wheelbarrow, trying to recover the parts of Self that have been cast away, crushed, downtrodden, gaslit.
I am lucky, though, because as I am choking on the toxic fumes of humanity while trying to be mindful of my own human foibles, I have a Canine Angel who keeps me alive to Hope and awake to Beauty, determined to take that extra deep breath and forge on. It takes a dog to do what no human can. Lucy has given me reason to live, reason to fight on. Lucy never Gaslights, even though her Greyhound digestive system does produce quite foul smelling gas!