Sunday, 14 April 2013

how to unlearn a lifetime of "School"

theres a blogger I like called Neurodivergent K. K is Autistic, like me. unlike me, however, she has found her "outside voice" and won't let anyone take it away from her. I'm still looking for mine.

K is also an abuse survivor. physical. emotional. sexual. the kind of hard core stuff no one could ever condone or justify. this makes the next bit difficult.

K wrote a post about "gaslighting", a form of emotional abuse. reading that post, I felt cold. gaslighting wasn't a term I was familiar with, but I have personal experience of almost every example given by K. basically, gaslighting is denying the inconvenient emotional responses of someone you have authority or privilege over. generally, this is done by telling the victim that they're just being "oversensitive", that they need to learn some self control, or that they should be grateful because the person who hurt them was trying to be helpful. after a while, the victim starts to doubt the validity of their own lived experience. they start to internalise the abuse.

I found this post maybe 3 weeks ago. I'm not sure what I feel about it. on the one hand, I'm not comfortable saying that I'm a survivour of emotional abuse. it feels disrespectful to anyone who's had it worse. I know my family love me. on the other hand, if K says it's abuse I'm inclined to believe her (she is, after all, a kind of expert on the subject). at this point, I'm out of hands, so I start channelling my inner octopus. the internal dialogue bounces between the voice that claims to be reality but might just be internalised gaslighting, and the other, more sympathetic voice. for the sake of clarity, the first voice shall henceforth be known as "School" and the second "Bicon".

"School" is louder most of the time. "School" stops me asking for help because I "just need to try harder" or I have no right to ask for "special treatment" or simply because "everyone else can do it". "Bicon" tells me "School" is the reason my life sucks. if I could defeat "School", I could get a job, escape Croydon for ever, conquer my deepest fears, get everything I've ever dreamed of. "School" ignores "Bicon". "School" won't dignify that with an answer.

"School" is so loud that I'm shocked whenever another person sides with "Bicon". I'm used to "School" telling me "Bicon" is a pathetic excuse or an overreaction that I see that as the only reality. but if "School" is right, why am I crying? some people agree with "School" (including my family), but my close friends are all "Bicon" (and so are most of the counsellors I've seen) and that's wonderful and painful and confusing. I love you all even when I'm not strong enough to believe you.

some day I'll find my outside voice. then I'll use it to shout back at "School" and everyone who agrees with her.

(but I'm still not comfortable with the abuse survivour identity though, sorry K)

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