A realization that most children are spared
Is the stark epiphany that others are wildly different.
More accurately, I was the odd one out.
I felt different from everyone else on Earth
(No wonder I loved UFOs from an early age).
My mind doesn’t process information like theirs do.
I couldn’t understand what made them laugh or cry,
They giggled over things that caused no reaction in me,
And they welcomed behaviors that caused me anxiety.
As a child I felt a pressure to hide my inner self,
Because if anyone knew how unusual I was,
The world would think less of me.
Being close to people is a way to feel alienated,
Since I don’t need to respond how they expect.
They all seem so similar to each other,
While I have always remained a stranger.
It usually takes them opening their mouths
To voice an opinion, or share their interests,
Or just reacting naturally to normal stimuli,
For me to think, “These people aren’t like me”.
Discovering someone who can relate
Is like finding a whole new planet in space.
The only place where I felt like I belonged
Was in the darkness of the universe
(If anything, I wanted to exist
In a parallel universe where I could live
Free of the expectations of society).
When a child’s parents realize
That the kid is different than the rest,
They can go two different routes:
The first explores what makes the kid unique,
And the other insists on him becoming normal,
Which involves smothering his natural instincts
And him learning to behave in normal ways.
I was told the latter, to wear a mask,
Because eventually it would become natural.
It only helped me develop a severe self-hate,
As I kept flagellating myself with stuff like:
“Maybe if I try harder I’ll fit in better.”
“When will these feelings go away?”
“When will I become normal?”
“I must be completely stupid.”
My mind split into two: the conscious brain
(The one that deliberately chose what to do),
And the monster, what dwelt deep inside,
That only spat out unacceptable reactions
And emotions, many of them troublesome
(Or at least made some people uncomfortable).
When I visited one of my first therapists,
My reason for going was, “I can’t feel anything.”
I had come to believe I didn’t experience emotions,
Because for all my life I had to train myself
To discard the products of my subconscious mind,
So I could live like a normal person.
I only identified with my conscious self,
Which barely kept its head above the water
(Opaque, mercurial waters, filled with monsters).
I felt that if I lessened the tight grip on my mind,
My self would literally disappear, swallowed
By the unacceptable, monstrous forces
That I was taught to repudiate and suppress.
This may be why I developed a strong tendency
To view the world as a dangerous place full of threats
(Except that it is such a dangerous place;
Most people don’t care to connect the dots).
A terrifying world full of treacherous people,
Where even many of the benevolent ones are evil.
The very nature of the universe is a conspiracy,
A vast, hostile, and ultimately undefeatable enemy.
I am afraid, terrified, and deeply concerned
About the future of humanity.
Acting like a normal person isn’t a solution,
Because other people behave naturally,
And acting is mostly a conscious action
Sustained in time through mental efforts.
Every day I ended up exhausted,
And some days I even passed out
(I recall one time I took the train
In the opposite direction by mistake,
And then immediately fell asleep).
Worst of all, acting didn’t even work,
Because people realize someone is fake,
Or least they get creeped out enough.
Wearing a mask also damages your dignity.
The mask has to be perfect, unblemished;
Otherwise, the whole facade will crumble.
Also, you’re forced to wear it constantly.
Your brain can’t keep up. You stay on guard
While you’re trying to maintain an act
With no room for error, or slipups,
Because if something triggers a response
That normal people consider inappropriate,
Then everyone will think you’re strange
(The monster can never be seen).
Unless you feel an impulse to murder people,
Just be yourself, and those who dislike you
Weren’t meant to stick around anyway
(And if you want to murder people,
Join the military, I guess).
It took me many years and self-searching
For me to allow my subconscious mind to be,
Which involved learning to listen to it,
Its likes, dislikes, and all kinds of impulses
That I had proscribed for my entire life.
And it took even more to identify with it,
To let it come forth without resistance,
For me to accept the monster inside.
Ever since, I only feel like myself when I’m lost,
When the subconscious mind does its thing,
For example writing or playing the guitar,
Completely unshackled and uncontrolled,
Running too fast for the conscious brain.
People lie to themselves about their choices,
About why they hold certain beliefs,
About the myriad of tiny decisions they make.
Most are decided by the primordial monster,
And the conscious mind takes credit for them.
That self-important conscious brain
Is like a tenant being pelted with objects
In his house during a violent poltergeist;
It’s not a trick, dude: the house is haunted
(I’m not sure if the analogy works,
But my point is that there are forces there,
Down in the ancient depths of our brain,
That we can’t even begin to understand.
Just let it do its thing, throw a few plates).
I recall a moment during a writing class
When everyone burst into laughing
Within milliseconds of the comment made,
But I was the only one sitting there stone faced;
The comment had failed to affect my brain.
The others stared at me as if I was killing their vibe.
None of the people involved chose their reactions.
Curiously, whenever a normal person finds out
That one of us (usually autistic) reacts differently,
They get disturbed, feel off, deflated.
They think that we lack intelligence of empathy.
The empathy accusations always kill me;
They come from people that surround themselves
With like-minded people who react the same way,
And they feel that the accused person should adjust
His mindset and reactions to suit their needs.
I eventually also realized that most people
Don’t walk around in tight circles,
Nor flap their hands to dissipate anxiety.
One of my fondest memories
Involves me waking up from an operation
While I was still high on morphine;
For the first time in my life
I wasn’t besieged by anxiety.
Most people don’t suffer such assaults,
Which explains many of their opinions.
My thoughts also walk in circles,
Caring little about reaching a destination.
My brain forces me to ponder the same stuff
Almost every day, or else it bombards me
With everything that has ever gone wrong,
Or what could go wrong, and the consequences.
I’m one of those autistic people, very common,
With a full-blown auditory processing disorder;
Repetitive noises or sudden, loudish ones
Make me feel as if I have been literally slapped
(It makes me want to get angry at the culprit),
Or else it feels like getting nudged repeatedly
By someone who insists on bothering me.
I’ve never learned to control those reactions;
They come from the depths of the brain.
It gets as bad as losing my train of thought
Each time I hear a meow somewhere around
(Although I love cats, particularly cat girls),
And then I can’t concentrate for life
Until the noise stops and the feeling goes away.
I tend to wear earbuds, or play loud music,
Or white noise of choice, like storm sounds,
Because it helps to block out the world,
The myriad of invading sounds and voices
That circle around inside my head all day long.
I had to learn about prosopagnosia,
Because most people don’t experience it
(It’s more common in autistic people):
Every face looks familiar, but not enough,
And I can hardly recognize people outside
Of the familiar places where they belong.
It even happens with my family members.
As an example of how shitty it gets:
What now feels like a lifetime ago,
I made out with this cute basketball player,
(She was a girl, though, maybe sixteen),
And I fucked up a relationship as I do,
By being a coward and hating myself.
I’m quite sure that I lost her email address.
She lived nearby, but I didn’t dare to go.
As far as I know, I never saw her again;
I assume that I came across her,
But I failed to recognize her face.
The poor girl likely believed I was a shithead
Because I completely ignored her existence.
Sorry, sweetie, I was fucked from birth
With a broken brain.
You dodged a nuclear missile, though
(What I’d do to fondle that ass again).
When I went for my disability assessment,
The guy working there said I should be fine
Regarding the autism with which I was born,
Because it’s called a developmental disorder
(Meaning that such disorders affect growing kids);
For society, adults with Asperger’s don’t exist,
Or else it gets its information from Hollywood
(Hoffman based his Rain Man on Kim Peek,
But that guy wasn’t even autistic).
According to the Spanish government,
I’m fifty two percent disabled,
But I think it should be higher:
I can barely get through a workday
Because of the constant anxiety,
The variety of physical pains,
The need to get away from the noises,
The social adjustments I need to make
To avoid making others uncomfortable,
My difficulties to communicate verbally,
And the lack of trust that comes from it.
And I was born with other afflictions
That factor into that high percentage,
But that have little to do with autism;
Ironically, these cursed irritable bowels,
Which cause me to feel bloated constantly
And to sneak away to the bathroom very often
(That alone incapacitates me for several jobs)
Weren’t considered bad enough to factor in.
I’m exhausted and miserable most days,
Like most autistic people are, I guess.
Anyway, I wrote this poem‘I Was Born a Unicorn’ by Jon Ureña
(Or however I could name this thing)
Because there are still too many people
Who believe that everyone’s brain
Pretty much works the same way.