Conformity (Trigger Warning)

I have learned to conform. I am an adult woman with Autism. I am a public speaker. I am a writer. I seem social. I can be the social butterfly. I learned to be a chameleon through abuse. You adapt to survive, at least I did. My name is Kat and I am guilty of self abuse and the perpetuation of the normalacy stereotype.

I realized it today, it is a revelation I have had several times. I do things to blend in, when it hurts me. I am learning how to stop. I avoided using a wheelchair for two years too long because I wanted to blend in. I wanted to pass for normal. I remember the first time I was told by my mother that I was not normal, she did it first you see. She told me I was weird first. I had a date, it was Valentines day and I was four years old. My neighbor Jeremy asked me to the dance. I remember my mother curling my hair, I remember the texture of my dress, it was a silky satin with velvet dots. Red and white of course. I went and pulled on a red sock and a white stock, and then put on my white shoes and proudly went to wait for my date. She even let me put on some lipgloss.

She shamed me. She used my full name, something that my mother only does if you are in trouble, and she said, “Only a stupid person would wear their socks that way.” It may not be word for word, the memory is filtered through damaged moments and is fractured. It’s just a flash amid other flashes. I can remember the dance more clearly. I remember she asked why I was wearing them that way. She jokes about it now but leaves out that she first shamed me, I replied with, “One sock is red and it matches the spots the other is white and matches the white.” I wore my mismatched socks to the dance. My date brought me flowers, he even kissed me on the cheek when I came home. His mother of course drove us, and we even got to go have pizza for dinner. It was sweet, yet also reflected two children trying to mirror the hetero-normitive behaviors of their parents.

By the time the weekend was over I knew to never wear mismatched socks. The rest of the weekend is melted away into a blitz of abuse, pain, the normalacy of my then home. I remember my neighbor Mr.Chang watching. I remember just crying in his arms. I remember his wife saying she thought it was a good idea, but the damage was done. I did my best to always match. You must never mismatch. The result is that I dropped color from my clothes, starting with my socks. They all had to be the same color. The older I got the less color variation existed until for the last decade all I wore is black. You can’t be made fun of for being fat if you wear black and no one can tell you that you are stupid for not having things match to their tastes. I like color, I like to wear what feels good. I still think my outfit was damned good but now, if I like something and want to buy it and it is not black I have to fight with myself, and usually I lose. Mother’s Perfect Person wins.

MPP is the one that knows you always make eye contact. I hate eye contact. I can’t put into words why but your eyes are creepy, so I don’t want to see them. Mine too for some I am sure. I can’t remember if it was Mother or HIM (this HIM is my biological tissue donor aka Daddy). I was bad for something, it was a small something but I couldn’t look at him. Him was loud, him was angry, and his eyes were bad. “Look me in the eye young lady.” I tried, but I couldn’t do it. There was bright light too, and I was small and he was big. He was close so looking into his eyes meant standing funny. If I did that he’d hurt me. It was another line of pain. Some of these weekends of abuse probably are just a montage my mind has made up of suppressed memory particles, as for flashes I am different ages or not in the same clothes. Still I was slapped and pinched and punched until I could look him in the eye. MPP kicks in with every conversation. “You can’t get too close,d on’t be too quiet, don’t be too loud, don’t fidget, don’t breathe too much, don’t eat where people can see you, you are too fat anyway.” There is a check list for how I interact. I try to avoid using it now.

The more stressed I am the harder it is to not use the MPP check list of Perfect Person. Even if I do it all right I am still the weird kid. I will always be on the outside. Sometimes I wonder if the MPP list is what beauty pagent children learn, those girls with the big hair and horribly terrifying make up. They are what MPP is in my head. Stand up straight, smile, make eye conact but don’t stare. It hurts to waste energy on this. Most of the list is gone but eye contact? Nope, I still stare at the forehead or behind you slightly, or just over you. I can’t look away, I can’t blink sometimes. I get told I am so intense, but it’s just because I am trying to multi task. Remembering when to pivot slightly so I don’t look like I am ignoring you and staring over your head. Saying the right things back…

I never could afford the actual right clothes, I never could manage to truly pass but I mastered normal behavior. Normal means to me suppressing what you feel, not speaking out when someone does something wrong, always admitting you are imperfect IE you must be humble, don’t admit you are smart because the men may feel bad, after all a good wife is humble, quiet, and like a child only speaks when spoken to. I think I married the wrong man because of MPP. I didn’t realize I could tell him that his sex was god awful. I didn’t realize that he was wrong for me even because I just didn’t have the skills.

I hear so often that autistic people can learn to blend in. I am proof we can but I also know the cost. If I had been allowed to be myself, I wouldn’t have become a criminal. I assaulted someone in school because I couldn’t deal with what she was doing and I couldn’t be PERFECT anymore. This person was my “best friend” as well. I nearly killed her because of a culmination of break down, because I learned to blend in. It made the news again recently, some poor autistic person being forced to endure water being dripped on them until they stop freaking out, their body scrubbed with a brush until they don’t want to tear their clothes off, loud sounds until they learn to not cry when they hear them.

Learning behaviors to hide the things that are wrong to us is not CURING Autism. It is abuse. The cure for autism is child abuse. I remember birthdays. My family lumps all the birthdays in September into one party. We always went to Pistol Pete’s Pizza. I never remember having fun, I remember always being driven to tears because it was too over whelming. No one ever bothered to ask why I was over stimulated every time, it was instead something I was mocked for, beaten over and punished. I still cannot go into those places but at least my food allergies protect me. Loud crowded places are torture but I was not allowed to not go, and when I had a melt down I was beaten publically. Never once did anyone say a word, because I was an awful child for being upset when I should just have fun with sirens wailing in my ears.

I am writing this while triggered, because you trying to cure my Autism is a trigger. I can self advocate but I think I could have done that if I wasn’t abused much more freely. When you touch me and I punch you, that is a side effect of the abuse. I wouldn’t hit if I wasn’t tortured. All the bad smells, the bad textures, the torture, it wasn’t just my parents either. Nor did any of us know I am a person with Autism. Other children mimicked their parents and did things that hurt, the parents who weren’t mine but were strangers did so, principles did so, though one of them actually tried to help me. Teachers did so, though again there were those that tried to help me.

I have survived an onslaught of violence against my identity. I have given up my birthname because if I use it, I cannot be me. That is a different person that you and your kind murdered long ago. Some of you may say “If you were diagnosed you would be dead”. You are wrong. If i was diagnosed I would probably have had some kind of HELP. I am twenty five years old and until two years ago I had no HELP. I was just ‘eccentric’. I am unable to stop crying right now because of your cures.

Without being beaten into conformity I wouldn’t be trapped by my wheelchair which is broken again. I wouldn’t NEED it. Without being beaten into conformity I wouldn’t have lost my job, the one that lead me to more pain and suffering. I wouldn’t have been broken and not known it. Without being beaten into conformity I would not be afraid to create.

My Autism was never cured. My independance was, my identity was, my ability to dream was, my hope was, I was cured of being able to make friends, I was cured of hope, I was cured of self confidence, I was cured of any vestige of peace. I have had to find a cure for the cures and that is a life time in the making. I know that many punishments I faced would not have been torture if I wasn’t Autistic. If the demons that you see Autism as were accepted, if I was an equal citizen I would have been able to be helped.

As an adult looking back I can see countless people who should have done something, some who knew. I remember the moment each one of them turned away and chose to do nothing. Each and every child that has their autism cured through violence, sensory torture, and other forms of “cure” that are advertised is a child that you are guilty of murdering. The body can live on but the soul rots from the pain. Every child that learns to act the part of Perfect Person, every single one of them is a child that learns that their own dreams, life, and what makes them who they are is evil. Every one of us is a child that grows up and either perpetuates your cycle of violence or must break it. You set us back from evolution. You set us back into prisons.

My mother apologized for not protecting me as a child. She said the words in December, and as I learn who I am each day as I try and come back from another round of attempted murder? All I can think of is… what if she had even tried once? What made me so bad that I wasn’t worth protecting or saving? The answer is nothing. There is nothing wrong with your Autistic child, they merely are unable to see the world through your eyes. Can you see exactly what another “normal” person does anyway?

What I really want is my mother to realize that it wasn’t a lack of protection that hurt me so much as the actions on her part that also are abuse. I want her to see that doing nothing isn’t all she did. Every time she couldn’t get out of bed and I had to compensate for her, most of the time poorly by her standards, and she yelled at me for failing? That was abuse. Every time she tried to make me seem normal, every time she hid my bruises, every time she ignored the fact that maybe my wanting to kill her husband meant he was bad not me? Abuse.

Some of my rage at her has to do with what she did to make me conform. She never once apologized for forcing me to take drugs. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti individuality. Yes some people need them but she never considered that the problems weren’t in my head. I was given drugs that weren’t legal for children to take, some weren’t FDA approved, and many were recalled because of liver damage or other DANGEROUS side effects. Now that I need something like that, there is nothing I can take because my body already has a reaction to everything. The cost of conformity was trying to suppress any feeling. If I felt any anger it meant they upped the meds. If that didn’t work they added meds. I dealt with drug interactions. I was her child. All she wanted was for me to be perfect, was that too much to ask of me?

Is it any wonder I thought she didn’t love me? I still don’t think she does. I do not know if I can love her. I didn’t even know I could love until HIM (exhusband Him not the other HIM). When I did love it turned into something so horrible. The only reason I know I can love is someone else but if I mentioned that person to her she would just belittle my friendship. Is it any wonder I thought that I should kill her? Maybe it would stop hurting then.

I spent years having dangerously long nose bleeds from the drugs, but the drugs were more important to her than I was. I got off of them by trickery. I asked if I could try going off of them and she said no. I had missed a single dose and had felt better so I wanted to try at least lowering them. She told my doctor absolutely no. There was never discussion about what I wanted or even asking me if I felt it was working. If there was, I can’t remember. What if so many of my missing memories aren’t suppressed but I was too DRUGGED to remember?

My trick? I didn’t argue in the office. I just pretended to take them. I stepped down and didn’t go cold turkey aware that this was how you do it. I took a pill out of the bottle at each appropriate time and would let her see me take it, then coughed it back up. I never took them with food just in case. Three months passed and my mother complimented the doctor on his choice of medication. She had never seen me happier or so functional.

I told them then, I went off the meds anyway. My mother freaked out. She demanded I go back on, but I replied, “You said you haven’t seen me this healthy, so I don’t think so. I went off with in two weeks of the previous appointment and I am not going to take whatever he prescribes. Sorry I had to waste your money,” she’d complained of course that I cost her money. I walked out. That was the last time I took medication that I didn’t think I needed.

This is why I have suffered my pain, this is why for years I refused to take any pain medicine even though it made me mean and nonfunctional. I don’t know if I can ever forgive her. I don’t hate her… I just find I care less and less everyday. Yes if she dies I will cry but I suspect it will be about what might have been. I didn’t cry at all over the psychopath she married. I cried for my brother. Will I cry for her? Will it be out of love? Will I even want to go to her funeral? I know I will but I also know I will endure abuse by going… so maybe I won’t.

I am tired of conformity. I haven’t conformed for several years. Conformity is expensive anyway. I write, and that goes against my mother’s ideal of conformity. I wrote a novel once, and the computer, back ups, and even the monitor were all destroyed. By HER. I stopped writing for many years because of my mother. She expects that I will not recall perhaps? She expects me to love her unconditionally? I used to. I don’t believe in unconditional love over all, I think it is rare. I don’t know if I even love my older siblings. I loathe them, but I don’t know that I truly care about their successes or failings… after all, they were considered normal and were given everything.

I do love my younger siblings but, I find they grow more and more distant all the time… because no one wants a weird older sister. I am weird. I am Autistic. I am creative. I am default goth. I am the crazy cat lady. I am a person whose life story when shared with people is often told she lies. I am cured of my normalacy… I am cured of conformity. My dyed black hair with bright red roots? I can’t afford to dye it again… and I think I am starting to like it.

The Cliche of Anger

I am tired, in massive pain, and yet I still am riding on the waves of fulfillment. I worked an entire week straight. I am taking a few more days to get back to my standard however, and reminded myself why I do not work in a traditional manner. I would have been fired today for being unable to wear standard clothing for one, and my attitude for another. Every action I take, every interaction I am bogged down by references to the past, lessons, and reminders. I hear my mother’s voice most clearly, and that is not something I welcome. I want to be an individual not the product of my family.

I wasn’t going to post until tomorrow but I was reading a few pages over at Womanist Musings. The proprietor of Womanist Musings has recently outed herself as being amid the disabled. She is beginning to run into the challenges of being suddenly unwelcome, invisible, and at times hated for merely existing. Today one of the commenters told her that she should start a civil rights movement, ignoring the fact that the disabled community has been pulling for equal rights for as long as other civil rights movements have been in effect. Before we go on, I want to remind you my dear reader that every single civil rights movement hasn’t ended, and that the fight for equality is on going no matter what your ism is. This reader seemed to think that a few protests fix everything.

This ignores the protests in New York, the individuals who do sacrifice their energy and at times sanity to try and force businesses to comply with the laws, and it ignores the fact that there are those who came before you and I. This is an erasure of our history. I responded with snideness and sarcasm, ignoring for the few moments it took to suggest a hacksaw so she could remove her legs as “easily” as I can get off of my scooter, the voice of my mother. “All disabled people are angry, they think they have rights.” I am aware that it is the events of today that shape the memories that seem to nitpick at us. Before I was disabled my sexuality was most often the harbinger of a Mommy Memory. “Bisexuals are selfish, they just want to have sex with as many people as possible.” Every time I went to flirt with a woman or a man, I heard something like that.

The myth of anger is just that, a myth. It erases the happy moments with friends and family, it erases the moments where competent and open minded people realize that everyone has rights. The myth of anger is often used to subjugate. Stop being angry, so that I can continue to oppress you. That is what I hear. The expectation that an entire group of people must never feel one emotion is ridiculous yet this is foisted on women of color, the disabled, homosexuals, and countless other oppressed groups, all to control us. Anger is forbidden.

Many times when I am smiling, I am told, “This inaccessible area will be fixed soon, we swear!” The tone is always frantic, that hint of “Oh god she will be mad that we haven’t done this yet.” It doesn’t matter that I am smiling and just nod and say, “Great, thanks for letting me know.” The fear of my anger, which is some how more toxic than their anger or fear is there. I still don’t understand it, but, I see this often. The times when I am angry, I am also not heard. It’s enough for me to want to go back to trying to be Super Cripple, but, I won’t do that.

My anger is valid. Your anger is valid. Anger is not a reason to oppress, discriminate, or subjugate. Anger is not an excuse to not build the ramp in an accessible manner, and anger is not an excuse to try to “just get rid of” someone. I am tired today, and I am trying to seem reasonable. My mind is far from reasonable. I am in truth alone, and am having a small tantrum every time I need to get up to move. My fiance forgot to feed the cats, which merited an hour of sitting there whining about how I wasn’t sure if I could do it, I can’t bend, and their bowls are on the floor.

It wasn’t anger that had me make a really big mess trying to feed them either. That was love. They were hungry so I fed them, without bending. (Sorry honey, but the kitties have to eat too!) It won’t be anger that I let him know he forgot either, but amusement. Every emotion that I have is not anger. The lessons that our parents teach us, may shape what we see but it is the choice that I made in my first experience with disability as an adult that showed me otherwise. I chose to not see anger.

It’s really that simple. Demeaning an entire group of people does cause anger. If you fear our anger so much, stop discriminating. If you come near me right this second and discriminate I will show you anger, but I won’t run you down with my scooter. That’d hurt me too, and you just aren’t worth my time or pain.

To my friends, allies, and fellow disabled persons, don’t forget that every moment that we are alive is the revolution for our people. Every time we are seen out of our homes, with our assistance equipment, service animals, and even having issues, this is our revolution. VIVA LA REVOLUCION! Free my people!

Privileged

We live in a world of priviledge. White, Male, Able bodied, and sexual are merely a few. My awareness of my disability became a journey into the cryptic world of truth. This is a part of what has lead me to become a reporter for a local paper. The staff understand that due to my limitations I cannot always “do it” but in turn I understand they have questions about who I am. My questioning mind seeks information out, and I never stop analyzing. This means I also have some very high standards for my social interactions with people. I know what I like, and screw you if you cannot maintain a consistent approach.

Having a diverse friend base, this does at times cause internal friction though I have only told the people I am rejecting to go away. I resort to the screw you if I cannot get through to them with the concept that I am not their friend. This as an adult has occurred with two people repeatedly. Today I told my fiance about a woman, Cynthia McKinney who was kidnapped in a foreign country. He hadn’t heard about this. I admit since we rarely watch the TV this isn’t a surprising factor, though when I mentioned that not many others had, excluding the twitter users and bloggers none bothered to talk about her capture, he was floored.  He then said the most wonderful thing, for it filled my heart with joy that I live with a man who is aware of his privilege. “It’s disgusting. We have these rules, that allow people to do that crap and feel better. It’s a band aid over a slit throat that’s dirty, old, and infected. Sure, we think we’re fine but our body is dying.”

Our body is dying. I think on privilege often. Neither of us can ignore it. As a disabled woman, I run into privilege daily. If I leave the house it is there. Yesterday, I was told just how convenient my wheelchair is because it has a sunshade. In my brand new effort to not be Super Cripple, I said, “Absolutely, I only had to break my spine, become homeless, and develop an allergy to the sun in order to have this convenience. Want me to help you get one? I am sure I can find some way for you to become disabled.” I said it with a smile. The cold knife of sarcasm caused the cashier to falter, she looked down, and then I was invisible. She handed MY change to my fiance. He tried to correct her and pointed to me but she just set it down.

i made a choice to use the cutting words, yet this is not the first time that this same cashier has said this. She doesn’t seem to remember that she has done it, and I don’t need to be exposed to her ignorance each time. My fiance and i talked about it before I went home by myself, wanting the sun on my skin and knowing that the side walk was safe between the shopping center and the house.

He asked, “Are you okay?”

I replied with a frown, “Yeah, well no. I am so tired of that same behavior. I think I may write the store manager about it, though the other employees also do the same stuff.” Each time we go in, I have someone leaning on my chair, patting my head, and in general am treated like a child. This is a national chain, and my fiance having worked there knows that Walgreens prides itself on how it’s employees are given sensitivity training. With a higher than average rate of ableism in this store, I think the trainer was flawed.  Every time we go in, I am required to educate someone. It is a burden. I usually just need a cool drink to lower my body temperature so that I don’t faint. I may actually just want to get a candy bar. Why am I forced to deal with their ableism? I cannot do so in silence, or it will get worse, but it is exhausting.

He nodded, “Maybe you should offer to retrain them. For a fee.” I laughed but seriously am considering this. I also plan to detail for the management just how much we buy at their establishment. My fiance is lumped into a new category with me. Each time we are out he is given the pitying look by someone, and often has mostly older persons (yes, an entire generation of people oblivious to privilege exists) whisper to him how nice it is that he takes care of the wheelchair woman. Most actually say “Stupid cripple.”

Sometimes I relish his responses, how can I relish the pain and shock his refusal to blend in with other people causes? I think it’s the freedom it feels. I almost feel like I don’t have the right to do this and that is when I start super cripping. It’s a stolen moment of equality, a moment which by all rights is mine, but has been taken from me by the limited acknowledgment of generations before. My favorite response to a person doing this was actually a few days ago.  He was more frustrated than I was, it was July 3rd and we had to get food. Sprite was tucked up in my sun shade and was very miffed that we hadn’t gone home, but without food there would be consequences. All of the local stores were closing early.

I had just cursed someone out (I really said the”f” word) to get her to keep her hands off of me, and it took the threat of bodily harm via the Scooter to get her to step back. I was seething, then my person, my wonderful person comes and gets what we need off of that aisle. He doesn’t know it’s the same woman, as we are walking towards the next section she sidles up to him, I allow this because I am sure she’s about to tell him how evil I am. She says, “It’s so nice you can tolerate that thing.” Thing. Dehumanized in one sentence. He turns a bit red with rage, but she’s about my mother’s age, old enough that hitting her is worse somehow than hitting someone in our age group. He wanted to, it was there. We were both seething with exhausted frustration. “I mean, cripples are such burdens.”

I heard his response though I dropped back. In all honesty and openness I was considering how hard to ram her, and ifI should try to break her hip. I wouldn’t really but at times the visual is so wonderful. Imagination can be a great equalizer. He replied with anger, “She’s not a burden. If anything I am a burden to her. I don’t always pick up after myself, I sometimes expect her to do things she can’t and she does this with grace. She’s not a thing. That’s my wife.” He likes to call me his wife and I really do like it too. “My wife is a real lady, unlike you. She deals with people like you every day and she hasn’t killed any of them yet but she’d be within her rights.” Sometimes I want to and I usually share this with him, to let off the steam. “Another thing, if she’s a thing so are you! You have the privileged of a working body, it isn’t a right. You can be in a wheelchair like that.” Snapping his fingers he then sped up. I zipped past her, and rode beside him with great pride.

We talk about in this house often. There are no children to educate, it is merely something we both see. He has grown, as I have. In fact, he often tries to subvert is priviledge where he can. When he sees someone no matter who they are, having a bad day, he allows them in front of us in line (barring so low energy that this is a danger to my health). He does this to try and brighten their day and does this regardless of gratitude. Most of the time there is a grunt of anger or acknowledgment and that is it. He doesn’t stop. I note most often he does this for women, children, and persons who are most often ignored, allowing the men to wait. I am not sure if this is an expression of privilege but it is also the sort of person I would leave waiting, so if it is it is one we share. He is a joy to watch in the world. I often feel a separateness from most people but not with him.

How many white men who are so privileged to be in their 30s and still have a credit card from their parents usually see their privilege? How many white men usually can see it? In my experience it is the able bodied white man who fears this awareness above all. I know, too, that a requirement for being with the man I love, is this awareness.

I don’t talk about this often, but, some of the exploitation of the disabled that we see includes the cost of being disabled. It is very expensive, especially when the insurance companies don’t want to cover the cost of a wheelchair until you cannot leave your house, and then you still may not qualify for the one you actually need. if you need a bathchair, it is almost impossible to get a prescription for it, where we live. The cost increases as the economy makes money tighter.

What is my fiance doing to try and bring equality to the playing field? He is using his skills with repairing wheelchairs (he has repaired mine when the manufacturer failed) to try and help. He charges cost of parts, because we have to in order to eat, and a loaf of a specific gluten free bread or two dollars per hour, which has so far been used to buy a single loaf of gluten free bread. This fee is even negotiable. It is an expression of privilege that he CAN negotiate yet, it is also something that he wants to do to help people who may “lose their legs” and not be able to get their wheelchair repaired. I live with a man who knows his privilege. Yes, he is still learning about it but, the fact that he is willing to take that journey is by itself a fantastic thing that is the truest show of love he can offer me.

For more reading about privilege, I recommend checking out two places out of the thousands that you could check first. Start with a peak at http://www.womanist-musings.com/ followed up by http://thewhatifgirl.wordpress.com/. Renne, the proprietor of Womanist Musings is a wonderful writer, who has a life long experience with privilege. I find her writing more direct, and often much more clear about what privilege is. She also often reports on news you will not find elsewhere. The What if Girl has recently begun to discover her privilege and is exploring that. On top of this, she is also a fun read. I enjoy both of their blogs daily. You can find further resources at their sites, if you do not enjoy their writing specifically.

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella

There is this claim floating around the world, people are passionate about it. Autism is caused by vaccinations. I disagree. I know this makes me a target. There are people targeting advocates that do not want to cure Autism. I can’t cure myself. I am not a problem, I am just different. I almost didn’t write this because I am very afraid of whack jobs. I come from a family of them.

I am Autistic. I am a woman. I also did not get vaccinated when I was a baby, or at least not the MMR Vaccine. I had Measles. I had Mumps. I also had Rubella. I had each one. I remember little about the measles, I barely remember much aside from my face hurting about the mumps. I was a bit older when I had Rubella and I remember my skin burning. I didn’t have a clue about the dangers I was facing. More reasons that I am angry with the parents in my life.

I am certain that Autism has been around for as long as people have been breeding. I say this because to me, the way I think is perfectly natural. You may not get from my point A to MY point B. It may be point Z for you. For me it is what is logical. I am not a machine. I am not a robot. I am capable of emotion and love. I dislike the proverbial chick flick because it plays on emotions cheaply. I love action movies, because I can cry when the hero gets blown up but he gets up and keeps fighting at the end.

I am an adult who was recently diagnosed with Autism. I am still learning what it means. I have learned that it explains a lot of what makes me who I am, little quirks that I was punished for. Violent punishments. I wonder too, if my mother’s improper diet, diseased body (She has lupus and it has never been treated), and my genetic history with so many mental health issues contributed. I know the violence in my home helped me mask it. I can make eye contact without appearing to flinch. I can also steal a car, and lie to your face about it. This doesn’t mean I want to do either, or will do either now that I know I do not have to hurt myself.

Still, at times I question the validity of my diagnosis, when I hear these claims. Only boys can be Autistic. Only children who had their vaccinations can be Autistic. These are fallacies. Autism isn’t a disease. It is something that creates people like Albert Einstein. I do not know if he was Autistic but, I have often believed he showed signs of what I know Autism to be.

I feel fear when I hear talk of a cure. I feel frustration when I see that all of the care and support vanishes completely once an Autistic person reaches adulthood. I feel loneliness when I am singled out by my disabilities and am then told that Autism makes me inhuman. All of this is wrong. As you advocate for yourselves and others, you must remember that there is no true inhumanity, except those that refuse to see that genocide is imminent. I understand that living with any non standard deviation is frustrating. I do this daily.

I am so nonstandard I cannot have a cup of coffee. It makes me faint. I am so nonstandard I cannot go into a burger joint without risking death. I am so nonstandard I think it is wrong that people are discriminated against for every possible thing. There is a lot of discrimination with in the disabled community. There are people who use walkers and look down on wheelchair users, there are wheelchair users who think that fat wheelchair users are somehow less than. Every chance we get, we need to not pick at the little things but band together.

I will always bear the scars of my childhood, and I display them here so that someone else knows they are not alone. For all of the Autistic persons who read these words, no matter what you are told the cause of Autism is, what you believe it is, or what you know about yourself. I accept you, I do not want to cure you. You are exactly who you should be and you are beautiful.

Personal Space

Before I set into writing the latest post, which proves of all things I am still alive and kicking I have a few updates. First, the biopsy came back, and I do not have cancer. Second, I just painted seven paintings in five days. My hands are sore. Why would I paint seven paintings in a week? One was for fun, six were for a contest. I really want to win, but, only time will tell if I actually do. I am certain a few of you will want to see these pictures. The contest was run by Overground EIC, and as I cannot draw yet, I used their line art. The seventh picture was drawn by a local comic book artist named Paul Ziomek. He’s a really nice guy too. So, here is a link to my gallery on DeviantArt and just in case you want to support artists who are local (to me) here is a link to 7000BC, a local comic book group. They have some really cool stories.

I am actually hoping to start a weekly web comic with someone, so if you know any artists who want to audition, let me know. I will be hosting a contest soon. I already have a few scripts, and it doesn’t take too much time for me to write. In fact, I might even update the blog more often if I do that.

Now, here is the actual blog post for today:

Personal Space:

The issue of Personal Space comes up frequently when we are children. We are taught boundaries, we are taught that we cannot just touch strangers. I was taught this at least, and reminded often that my own space was worthless, but I had best not encroach on anyone else’s territory.

As an adult this was the norm until I started using assistive devices. It was then that I learned another facet of ableism included touching these devices, leaning on them, and even hitting them. Would you ever touch a person’s purse? The answer is usually not without permission. Why is it alright then, for people to smack my chair, try and take the key, or even tell me just how cute it is that I use a wheelchair?

You are probably confused by their actions as much as I am, and you also probably experience versions of this as well. I am not sure why it has become the norm for people to tell me that my wheelchair is cute. I understand the perspective of another person who is shopping for a chair deciding mine is really cool and asking me questions, that is perfectly reasonable, and is something I have done myself. I understand a child needing to ask me what I am driving a miniature care for. I do not understand walking up to someone and smacking the top of their chair and telling them how cute it is that they have a sunshade on their wheelchair.

This happened at a Walgreen’s that is just a block away from my house. My Person and I were there, getting some snacks and were going to rent movies after. I was in glee as I had found lotion I could use with minimal reaction, my arms stayed red for only an hour and eyeliner that I was not allergic to, could use properly, and is hard to obtain. This Walgreen’s carries authentic Egyptian Kohl. I am so excited by this that I actually spent all of my extra money on make up. We were about to check out when the Cashier gushed at me, “Oh how cute your chair is.” I looked at her and told her, “Excuse me?” She repeated it. Then, another employee smacks my sunshade and tells me it’s cool. I decided then and there to put a stop to this.

“Do you really think it’d be alright to smack someone’s cane? Do you think I would go around telling you that your crutches are cute if you broke your leg or your cast is cute? Don’t patronize me, don’t touch me or my assistive devices. I happen to think it’s a shame I no longer get to walk through your store. I happen to think it’s a shame you think that acting like an idiot is going to make me want to shop here. If you touch my chair again I will report you to the management, and if you,” Gesturing to the other person, “Speak to me like a child again, I will also report you to the management. This is not how you treat a customer, or any other human. I am sure you think less of me for saying this, but I think much less of you for behaving in an inappropriate manner.” The woman looked as if she would cry, and the young man who had thwapped my chair had backed up considerably. It took a lot of will power to not curse at them. I wanted to. Instead the woman said, “But it really is cute.”

My person knows I dislike advocating. I don’t know anyone who really enjoys it or wants to spend all their time arguing with people about their own right to exist, but, he has accepted that I will and must. He also has accepted that at times, he must as well. He spoke up then, “Don’t patronize her. Trust me, you don’t want to continue down this path. It’s not a threat, it’s just a warning from a fellow Walgreens Employee, that she knows her rights, and you are infringing on them.” He used to work for Walgreen’s, and as a result I know that the staff are taught to be courteous. I am certain that these two people have never really had to interact with a disabled person.

I am not proud of having to put them in their place or making sure that they feel a little bit less than but, I am still reeling with confusion at their actions. It has been almost a week but I cannot figure it out. This isn’t the first time people have told me just how adorable it is that I can shop, or function in society. Each time I have explained, to the best of my ability and as calmly as I can. I have also learned that it is alright to show anger. Any ‘normal’ or ‘regular’ or able bodied person would be angry if I told them how cute their flaws were, or how cute it was that they were absolutely stupid. I am learning that I have the right to anger.

I will go back to this Walgreen’s. It is a very nice store, and they actually measure their aisle displays for accessibility. I caught them in the act, the manager was correcting an employee on the placement of a standee that held some make up, “You can’t put this here. People will be unable to pass.” The employee walked around it, “I can get past it just fine.” The manager then said, “What about people who can’t walk or use a walker? How about this, if you don’t move it, using this measuring tape for a 28 inch radius, you lose your job. I don’t want anyone to sue me over the ADA or anything like that.” He added something else too, “Oh and what about customer service? It’s gotta be a pain in the (censored) to have to ask for help to reach a bottle of lotion.”

I hadn’t had to advocate to them, but I was watching. I was paying attention. I know that the management at this Walgreens cares. If when I return this patronization happens again, I will bring them into it. I will also offer to train their employees. The only reason I did not have to fight them more was that I had left Sprite the Service Cat at home. She wasn’t feeling well and I wanted to go out.

It was still a lovely afternoon, but, it left me chewing over the concequences of their actions and my reactions. I am proud to state that I did not punch the man who touched my chair. I almost did, but I managed to catch my impulse in time, and used my words instead. I have been having a lot of trigger issues with men and my chair lately. They come up behind me and I want to run them down to make them go away. I haven’t given in yet, but, when the strange males who trigger me then touch my chair, all bets are off!

I haven’t much else to say on this matter, beyond, advocate for your personal space. I didn’t at first. When I used the walker and my abusive roommates would pile heavy objects on it so that they didn’t have to carry them, or when they kept dumping things into my chair so I couldn’t use it when it was brand new, I at first kept my mouth shut. I was so used to staying silent so that they wouldn’t punish me or decide to expose me to even more allergens. At first I let people do things like this out of the house too, because I was afraid. I feel less fear when I advocate. I also worry at times that I am being too sharp, too harsh. There have to be times when I am the gentle advocate, and there are. I worry over it even when I am putting in extra effort to not hurt people’s feelings despite their refusal to let me have my basic human rights. It sounds preposterous when I say it or write it, but it feels right to try for extra kindness.

I am also learning that my Autism may factor into my need to not be touched. I have always been extremely sensitive to touch and texture. I like to control what things feel like around me. I once could not adopt a very adorable and well behaved puppy because his fur felt too stiff. I found him a good home but, I couldn’t cope with the texture. Sometimes texture can even cause nightmares. This adds to my unwillingness to let strangers touch me. I don’t hug people often. I do make sure to touch my Person, but sometimes it takes massive amounts of effort. He is understanding when it comes to my reticence, but I also want to make sure he has nothing that he wants or needs for.

What about you? When you advocate does it help your anxiety level or make it worse? Do people infringe on your personal space? This goes for those with sight issues or hearing issues, do people at times touch you just to try and make you function the way they want? What are your reactions? If you are an Autistic, do you also have touch issues? What forms of contact ableism are you familiar with?

Blogging Against Disablism

I have restarted this post twice now. Part of it is my pain clouding my mind and a resistance to taking my pain meds. I have not shaken the habit of taking them only when I cannot stand the pain. This has left me fighting off a meanness that the pain brings up. I don’t even feel it at first, but, then I realize I am harboring a great deal of anger. Once I accept that I can take my pain and that it is alright to take the little pill that lets me do more than just deal with it, I can resume living.

I see this as my truest handicap. I am at risk of pushing people away because I fear being addicted to a drug. I am dependant on the morphine, but not addicted. The dependency is my need to actually have a life. I am starting a business, I am following my dreams which I had presumed dead and lost to me for years. I am also using my handicap to my advantage.

I listened to a speaker last night who came to the United States from China. She has not shed her accent, nor should she. In her speech she explained the prejudices she faces as a result of sounding foreign in the united states. This racism that she deals with overlaps ableism. People look at a disabled woman and see her as stupid, inferior. People hear her and presume she is stupid, inferior. They presume that neither set of people has the capability to do brilliant things. We are raised with this belief system. We are told even if not directly by our parents, by the world we live in which segregates the special children, or forces students to take English as a Second Language courses regardless of need based not on their actual language but on their race.

My most recent example of a person using my disability as an excuse to other me comes from the grocery store. I went in with my Person to pick up some items for a road trip, with a client. I must protect myself from allergens and that was the solution. Sprite was riding behind me, tucked under the sunshade, and hiding behind my body. A woman came up, I am leaving out a description of her because when I write it, I other her. That is not acceptable either. She tried to pet Sprite. I didn’t bother explaining anything to her, I said in a very soft voice, meant to be calm, “Please go away.” She exploded. “HOW DARE YOU!” She got in my face, and I dropped the softness, but stayed polite. “Please go away,” She snarled, “You aren’t doing anything and you shouldn’t have a pet in the store.” I replied. “Please go away. I am doing my shopping and I am not here to befriend you, talk about your pets, nor am I breaking any laws. I do not wish to discuss this matter with you and have been polite thus far, despite your yelling and harassment.” I then floored it, my chair whipping around the corner and continued my shopping. Ten minutes later I hear the sound of my Person being pushed. His grunt of pain reaches me just before this woman is in my face again, “YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE RUDE TO ME!” That was when I stopped playing nice. I let myself snarl right back, though I did not yell, “Really? Assaulting someone who is not involved in our discussion is rude, trying to invade my space is rude, yelling at me is rude, and showing your own inability to grasp the rights of others is beyond rude. Get out of my way, I don’t really care what you want out of me I am not here for your enjoyment. If you bother me again I will call security.” She flounced away, and I finished my shopping.

As we left, the store manager who had the law explained to her as we entered was discussing the incident with this shopper. She had gone to the manager to have me thrown out. Instead she was told this, “I am sorry ma’am but you have no right to touch her, her wheelchair, or her service animal. The law protects her rights to shop here in saftey, as it does yours.” The woman replied , “She’s just a cripple, she doesn’t have any rights.” The manager was openly angry at this, which surprised me since she’d been a bit of a hard case about it all before. I left then, to the sound of, “She has just as many rights as you do, and if you continue to behave in this manner I will have to have you removed from my store.” The woman then threw herself on the ground and had a tantrum like a toddler.

I learned something from this, that was the point of sharing it. I learned that every person I edcuate becomes an asset. I did not feel this woman could be educated, nor did I feel prepred to try and spoon feed her the information. The burden of fuctioning with a disability is fighting for my rights. I use my disability as a tool to be under estimated. The woman underestimated the ability of not just myself but of others to actually see the humanity with in my body. She under estimated the ability of people to actually listen. I do at times too.

The secret to blogging against disablism? Is to do it whenever you write. The secret to teaching aout disablism? Is to live.

I know this post isn’t as wonderful as I wanted, I am still distracted and out of it. I am not feeling myself. I hope it does encapsulate an idea. By living and not giving up our dreams we fight ableism/disablism. By having lives we fight against disablism. I am partly distracted byt a disappointment with Obama and his failure to sign the Community Choice Act. I am disappointed with his inability to see the human rights that lie at the end of his pen. There is still time, but, his administration has openly stated that there is no reason for him to actually make the changes that free people from being forced into Nursing homes.

Beyond blogging against disablism, I call you to act. Go out into the world, be seen. Educate via your existence.

To read more about Blogging Against Disablism Day, please follow this link.

The Speech (Trigger warning)

What is below lies a trigger filled attempt at a speech. I am going to give a speech about Rape. I have considered titles which are wholly inappropriate, filled with bravado, and would be more triggering and devalue my own experiences, such as “Rape, it’s What’s For Dinner.” Instead, I think the title may just be, “Rape.” My goal with this speech is to educate law enforcement officials and others about the facts of being raped. I also want to use this speech to reach out to survivors and victims, so that they can begin to heal. I think at this time my updating speed for the blog will be once a week.

I also want each of you to know I could not do this without knowing I have support from my readers. I do, and therefore I know I have a safe place to write. Thank you for that. Between paragraphs I am checking the spam folder on comments, I find it a bit frightening that all of them are for Viagra and Vibrators. Those comments didn’t start piling in until I began to write about rape. I am blessed to have a good spam filter, but, that is a terrifying association.

“Rape”

Rape is often used in the media for drama, there to add tension. The Fear of rape is something that most people have felt at one time or another. Rape can be defined in many different ways. There is date rape, statuatory rape, and then the simple category of rape. The words seem simple, yet, there is a strong reaction to each category. Some people are blamed for their rape, some are told they do not matter, and others manage to fight for prosecution. All of the victims of rape are simply that, victims. Rape could be classified as a hate crime.

What makes a person rape? Most rapists know their victim. The rapists get in close, they are trusted, and often it is an act of domination. It is an act of power. I have been raped. What power does a small child have? I do not know. Perhaps it was the power of life. My biological father was the first person to rape me. He brutalized my body, he tore me to pieces, and then he left me fearing that no one would believe me. My mind suppressed the memories of the worst attacks in order to survive. For years, I dealt with a monster in my bed. I would have rather had the monster under my bed, a figment of my imagination. I did not have the luxury of unfounded fears as a child.

In my journey for healing I began to remember, and due to the law at the time I could still prosecute him. I went to the police. I discovered the horror of being devalued. It is important to support victims of rape, instead of turning them away. The then Albuquerque District Attorney told me, “Your case is just not compelling enough. It won’t matter no one will care that you were raped.” Compelling enough? I still do not understand his choice of words or actions. Why does a case need to be compelling? Justice was lost that day. I was left with the horrible realization that he didn’t care enough about me to do anything. I cried for weeks, for I had wanted to protect other people from my father. I didn’t think he would stop just because I grew up.

I was silent for years after that about being raped. The years of silence festered in my heart. I took the blame onto myself. I presumed I deserved it, because why else would no one else care? It wasn’t until I reached adulthood and began to study law that I understood. My case wasn’t one that would get him political attention. My rape wasn’t important enough to him because he had no basis for what damage could be done. If I had been his sister or mother, he would’ve been enraged. A small and defenseless teenager? He could do as he wished with my rights. I had no way to fight him. I decided then that I wanted to become a lawyer advocating for children, especially those who were sexually abused. Although that has yet to happen, it is still amid my goals.

Another facet of rape came into my awareness as I was forced to confront disability. Bodies that are not as physically able or minds that are not cognizant of the world around them are more likely to be raped with less action comitted to the effort. I have been lucky as a woman with a disability, in that I can still defend myself. I had a “friend” try and rape me a few years ago. I was vulnerable, hurting, and had just found out my back was broken. He made excuses after the attempt. It was only through knowledge that I protected myself. I retained the use of my arms and used the bits of martial arts I could still perform to keep him back. He still hurt me, but, the violation of my body was prevented.

In any country people with disabilities are more likely to be raped. Many people believe the myth that a person with a disability cannot be devirginized, and as the myths pervade about disability and sexually transmitted diseases this leads to thousands of people becoming infected. I have run into the police even locally refusing to enforce any laws that protect my human rights, as a disabled person. They do not listen, and women without disabilities have to fight just as hard to have validation legally. Doing so just after a brutal attack is not just difficult. It is as impossible a task as Climbing Everest.

At the risk of triggering memories for any persons who have been raped I am going to try and describe the emotions involved in being raped. Helplessness. You cannot stop them, you are not strong enough, fear. Are you going to die? There is pain, emotional and physical. The sense of violation doesn’t wash off, even if the evidence of the rape can. You can never wash away the feeling of fingers, hands, and other parts of your rapist entering you. Time might dull that sensation but, the knowledge that you could not stop someone from entering your body is always there. It haunts you, it chases you. Empty rooms, dark nights, and hallways all become places where you might think you hear their voice, or a breathy little laugh that sounds like your assailant. It becomes harder to function, harder to go out. Sometimes it is impossible to stay inside. You want to flee. You want to scream. Some of the victims of rape do. Usually this ends with a brutal beating. Some are too afraid to make sound, and are left to wonder, if I had only screamed would I be saved.

Forever, you carry the burden of wondering what could have prevented this. Some, who know their attackers may not press charges out of fear for their lives. They are left knowing that their rapist is right there, able to harm them again and again if they so desire. Everyday activities become moments where you fear, where you must protect yourself. Even when you don’t know how.

If you are able to try and get police help you must relieve at least a few times the assault, with as much detail as possible. You must allow a stranger to see if they can find evidence inside of your body. You must also wait. What if they do not agree you were raped? This happens often. The police don’t bother with a rape kit, or they decide a person is unrapable. “You are too ugly to be raped.” This sentence is used to justify a denial of justice, to justify mocking a victim, and to justify the excuse that fewer people are raped than the statistics say.

The famed statistic states that one in four women is raped or faces an attempted assault. This might be accurate but with rape there is a huge gap in information. There are no accurate statistics for rape of the disabled, the rape of men, and the rape of women. These statistics try to compensate for those who do not speak up, those who cannot speak up, and yet without actual numbers they fail the victims and potential victims in many ways. The room for error leaves room for disbelief.

The second person who raped me was also someone I knew. I was in Elementary school and this boy decided that he needed to prove to me I was worthless. It didn’t matter that I had no faith in my self or my right to exist. It didn’t matter that we were friends. He pulled a gun out at his fathers house and held it to my head while using my body. I did not handle this well. I was positive no one would believe me. My mother didn’t, I did try to tell her. I had a history of behavioral issues that directly stemmed from the abuses I dealt with as a child. I took my own revenge. I was the one who was punished. I broke the windows in his parents cars, his house, and then I beat him with a metal pole. This course of action landed me in juvenile detention. He never was punished legally. I paid for my crime and his.

I am not finished healing from the experience of rape, but I am sharing with you the facts that I know. If a woman comes forward saying she is raped, she needs the benefit of the doubt. The rape culture in the United States teaches us that she must have deserved it somehow, that ugly women do not get raped, and it teaches us to shame the victim. The media perpetrates this, and despite the best efforts of parents, teachers, and even some of their peers, children do absorb these subconscious lessons.

Rape is a very real crime. It is painful, and it can change the way the victims of rape see the world. Many develope Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, their minds taking triggers from even a smell, and plunging them back into the memories of rape. Many choose to push people away, becoming angry. Some decide they deserved it and throw themselves into dangerous behaviors to try and not feel their pain anymore. Every victim of rape is effected. There is no set response to rape. Some victims may be quiet, appearing calm, others may scream and rage, and still many more may choose actions that include suicide.

If you or someone you know has been raped, or you suspect that a child is being abused please support them and assit them in contacting the police and the local rape crisis center.

At this point I will have my Person hand out little cards with the local crisis numbers listed on it. I do want feedback. I will rewrite this a few times, publicly too. I lost the spark part way through due to my cat jumping on me and spilling juice everywhere. He also deleted a page of vital statistics so I am off to find them.

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