Be different but also don’t be.
When he was 3, my son had a series of tests as part of his Autism diagnosis and completed an intelligence test that placed him on the 77th percentile for his age. My first reaction was DAMN he’s not a genius, he’s just ordinary smart. A year later he’s been saying that he wishes he was on the 100th percentile and I told him it’s probably a good thing he isn’t because if you’re too smart everyone probably seems dumb and boring and it might be a lonely place.
All I ever wanted as a child was to fit in or to stand out in a good way. I was invisible when I needed to be seen and stuck out like a sitting duck when I needed to blend in.
I’ve come to accept I’m not normal whatever that means and that sometimes for some people that’s ok. For example, I love Kelly Cutrone, just look at her basking in her eccentricity.
I even have her book NORMAL GETS YOU NOWHERE, a kind of autobiography/advice book that details how she went from a homeless drug addict to the owner of one of the most successful PR firms in the fashion industry. See below some of my favourite quotes from it:
Yeah if only it was so simple. Society is all up in our face like “Yay! I embrace diversity in thoughts and behaviours and culture” but then racism, religious fanaticism, discrimination are like “Hell no! You’re BAD!” The truth is more like Exhibit A below: BE DIFFERENT BUT ONLY SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT SO WE DON’T FREAK OUT BAAAAA!
I didn’t write about my therapy session on Thursday and now I’ve forgotten most of what happened but here’s some of it. I arrived feeling like the normal adult me quite furious about the issue with Childcare (see previous post) but psychologist J said “We will definitely discuss that but first I just wanted to give you the book.”
I read a few pages and felt annoyed by the questions in the “homework” sections.
He said something like, “Take it home and have a look over it and if it seems like something you’d find useful then you can pay me back for it. If not, then I’m happy to keep it” which instantly activated the shame of the inner critic. I thought he had BOUGHT a book for me. It seemed like a very kind and caring thing to do. How stupid of me. Why would he gift me a book.
The inner critic made some remark about how annoying the questions looked and how it could totally see itself NOT answering any of them and he gave his usual gentle reply to any display of resistance, “I won’t ask you to do homework. It’s just a resource for you to have if it seems helpful to you to help you with integration.”
Integration. That word hit me deep. I felt tears coming to my eyes, deep sorrow in my chest at the thought of no longer existing. The inner critic felt like he was saying what I’ve heard so many times before:
“You need to fit in or go away“.
As I sat there crying at the thought of him Kim Jon-Uning me into an single unified North Korea, my throat clenched tight, and I started to swallow a lot. He realised something had gone awry and he ran through a few of his usual questions in moments like this.
“How present to you feel right now. How much to you feel like you’re here on a scale of 1 to 10?” No answer from me.
“Are you having a memory?”
At some later point the inner critic left and I felt more like myself and we discussed Childcare and Psychologist J said they’re definitely being discriminatory in threatening us to have our child removed. It’s just another one of those times where it’s ok to be different but it’s not ok to be TOO different. And this situation it includes look it’s all too hard for us to think like an autistic child and he just needs to go ahead and stop being autistic ok? I stumbled across this which totally sums up the childcare situation.
Sometimes I really hate people and I hate being a person. It’s too complicated. Animals on the other hand make sense. On the weekend we visited my aunt, a dog she rescued called Polly and Polly’s 8 puppies who are currently named things like “Brown one”, “Black one with white markings” and “Fuzzy fur”. Dogs get me and I get dogs. They don’t care how “normal” you are and you don’t have to be cool to sit with them. They only care how you treat them. They’re truly the epitome of acceptance.
So maybe the answer is to be somewhere on the 77th percentile: be special but not so special you’re a statistical outlier. Or maybe that’s not the answer. You should never take advice from social media or blogs especially this one. Although I do quite like the below quote from Dr Brene Brown (she has a PhD so she KNOWS THINGS.)