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Posts Tagged ‘Difference’

Coming out is firstly about bestowing ownership of ourselves to ourselves.

During the American Civil War, the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This document lead to the end of legal slavery in that country. It is now considered basic morality that no person can own another person, but do we really own ourselves?
From the moment we are born, we are labeled, categorized, pigeonholed in one way or another, and we become both slave to and defender of categories and labels. Such labels and categories carry with them not only dictionary definitions, but can be defined in many ways, and such labels can often have confining expectations placed upon them.
As children we taught what everything is called, for example, the names of colours, and things that are associated with that colour. We are made aware of the differences between boys and girls, and words that are used to describe each. As we get older we are socialized into what is expected of ourselves and other people as far as behaviour, dress lifestyles. As children we are expected to become slaves to society’s expectations, by convention, by religion. We become owned, lock, stock and barrel, by the demand that we fit in to the straight-jacket labels imposed upon us, and that no matter what, you must fit in, and difference to the norms is not to be accepted…
Differences to what is considered ‘normal’ are often ridiculed, vilified, and sometimes condemned. From a young age many people learn derogitory words that are used against people who are perceived as different, many learn to pour scorn on those that are not considered ‘one of us’ in whatever way.
For those who are perceived as different, and are the target of hostility of those around them and the society in general, the upset, shame and internalised pain is felt deeply and can be carried for a lifetime. The constant struggle for acceptance, the inability to fit in to a patriarchal heterosexist society can rob a person of their self worth, or of a sense of belonging in their family, community, or even themselves.
Coming out – to ourselves
Coming out is a term generally used to describe an act of disclosure, a finishing point, but there does not seem to be a term for the journey taken to reach that point. I define coming out as both the journey and the disclosure. To me, the journey begins when a person first recognizes that they are different to the societal norm, in this illustration, the heterosexist norm; lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans (or whatever term applies). This recognition can be an extremely scary experience for some, and my cause them to fight against it and do things to show that they are not what they may be (in a sense trying to ‘cure’ themselves), a homosexual person marries heterosexually, the trans person may do extremely stereotypical activities corresponding to their sex designation at birth (in the case of MTF – sometimes dangerous activities). This is done in an attempt to fit in… both internally, dealing with their socialization and expectations imposed upon them by the society they live in, and externally to give the appearance of fitting in. We are slaves to perceptions..
But there comes a time when the ‘act’ wears thin and not even the actor can believe it anymore, and the person must at last join those who didn’t fight, and accept who they are and learn to own themselves.
Coming out is firstly about bestowing ownership of ourselves to ourselves. Recognising that we have a right to define ourselves as we are, live our lives as we decide, and deserve the same dignity as anyone else, is knowing you own yourself and you belong as you. The journey may be smooth, the journey may be difficult and painful, but we are freed by the transitive journey from trying to fit in to belonging.

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It is a year since I began this blog, and to ‘celebrate’ that anniversary and just because I feel it needs to be said again, I repost my first post of this blog from January 2008:

What follows is a talk I gave on January 20, 2005 at a disability and rehabilitation conference. While parts of what I spoke of are not new concepts, it is in how I presented them, and made several links that caught the interest of some of those present… Sadly, what I say in this talk is understatement.

I was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when I was 39 years old.

Even though I was diagnosed with a condition that I had lived with all my life, and the effects of my difference had been noticed and acted upon, I can stand here and say with total confidence – I have never suffered from Asperger syndrome.

I have never suffered directly from its effects on my behaviour, I have never once experienced pain nor spontaneously bled at the moment when saying anything or doing anything inappropriately. I have not needed hospitalisation at the moment of reacting in a way that I thought was appropriate for the situation.

I have never suffered from Asperger syndrome, because Asperger syndrome itself does not cause suffering… I suffer grievously, and have suffered for more than 35 years, from OPD.

OPD is an insidious thing to experience,

it affects everything we do,

it effects what we think of everything we do,

it robs many of us of ambition,

and it inevitably affects how we think of ourselves.

OPD causes great suffering, often including physical pain and injury. It causes rejection, isolation, depression, sometimes even suicide.

OPD can lead the most brilliant people to doubt their abilities, qualities, even their basic worth as people.

OPD can cause systems to work against sufferers.

Systems like education systems – where the sufferers are penalised for being themselves.

Welfare systems – where the suffering is downplayed,

family systems – where the sufferers find more pain where they ought find solace.

OPD can affect families; it can cause rejection by siblings and parents.

The only known cure for OPD is education…

So what is this scourge?

What is this thing that some must endure a ceaseless battle against?

What is this thing called OPD???

OPD is – Other People’s Discomfort.

We (aspies) may not feel the discomfort, but we certainly suffer its consequences…

Let me put it like this:

Being uncomfortable about other people for one reason or another may be seen as part of the human experience; but when that discomfort leads that person to purposefully act against the person he or she fees uncomfortable about then we enter a different realm.

A definition of the word ‘disorder’ is – a condition in which there is a disturbance of normal functioning. If a person changes their usual pattern of life to purposefully act against a person as a result of his or her discomfort over them, then this person is experiencing a disturbance of normal functioning, of normal social functioning.

When the level of discomfort felt reaches the point of acting against another in response to that discomfort, then I argue that the discomfort becomes a disorder… But I think all that goes without saying – we know that, but we don’t break it down in such a way. We do not call OPDD (Other People’s Discomfort Disorder) by that name, we take groups of people with a particular difference that make others uncomfortable, and sectionalise OPDD, hiding its common basis. Hatred may be seen as an emotional manifestation of OPDD.

We call the discomfort over people of different races or skin colours RACISM

We call the discomfort over people from different countries XENOPHOBIA

We call the discomfort over people who are (or may be) homosexual HOMOPHOBIA

BUT

We seem to call the discomfort over people with a disability NORMAL

Each a different weed, but all from the same seed (discomfort of difference).

Can you see the link? Can you see how discomfort over someone else’s difference is the basis for so much unnecessary pain?

ONLY through education, only through learning about the qualities different people have irrespective of what colour their skin is, or where they came from, who they love, or how their brain works, or anything can we hope to eradicate OPDD…

OPD occurs only as a result of encountering a person with OPDD…

If being uncomfortable about other people for one reason or another is part of the human experience, then we are all subject to OPDD…

WHO MAKES YOU UNCOMFORTABLE??

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What follows is a talk I gave on January 20, 2005 at a disability and rehabilitation conference. While parts of what I spoke of are not new concepts, it is in how I presented them, and made several links that caught the interest of some of those present… Sadly, what I say in this talk is understatement.

I was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when I was 39 years old.

Even though I was diagnosed with a condition that I had lived with all my life, and the effects of my difference had been noticed and acted upon, I can stand here and say with total confidence – I have never suffered from Asperger syndrome.

I have never suffered directly from its effects on my behaviour, I have never once experienced pain nor spontaneously bled at the moment when saying anything or doing anything inappropriately. I have not needed hospitalisation at the moment of reacting in a way that I thought was appropriate for the situation.

I have never suffered from Asperger syndrome, because Asperger syndrome itself does not cause suffering… I suffer grievously, and have suffered for more than 35 years, from OPD.

OPD is an insidious thing to experience,

it affects everything we do,

it effects what we think of everything we do,

it robs many of us of ambition,

and it inevitably affects how we think of ourselves.

OPD causes great suffering, often including physical pain and injury. It causes rejection, isolation, depression, sometimes even suicide.

OPD can lead the most brilliant people to doubt their abilities, qualities, even their basic worth as people.

OPD can cause systems to work against sufferers.

Systems like education systems – where the sufferers are penalised for being themselves.

Welfare systems – where the suffering is downplayed,

family systems – where the sufferers find more pain where they ought find solace.

OPD can affect families; it can cause rejection by siblings and parents.

The only known cure for OPD is education…

So what is this scourge?

What is this thing that some must endure a ceaseless battle against?

What is this thing called OPD???

OPD is – Other People’s Discomfort.

We (aspies) may not feel the discomfort, but we certainly suffer its consequences…

Let me put it like this:

Being uncomfortable about other people for one reason or another may be seen as part of the human experience; but when that discomfort leads that person to purposefully act against the person he or she fees uncomfortable about then we enter a different realm.

A definition of the word ‘disorder’ is – a condition in which there is a disturbance of normal functioning. If a person changes their usual pattern of life to purposefully act against a person as a result of his or her discomfort over them, then this person is experiencing a disturbance of normal functioning, of normal social functioning.

When the level of discomfort felt reaches the point of acting against another in response to that discomfort, then I argue that the discomfort becomes a disorder… But I think all that goes without saying – we know that, but we don’t break it down in such a way. We do not call OPDD (Other People’s Discomfort Disorder) by that name, we take groups of people with a particular difference that make others uncomfortable, and sectionalise OPDD, hiding its common basis. Hatred may be seen as an emotional manifestation of OPDD.

We call the discomfort over people of different races or skin colours RACISM

We call the discomfort over people from different countries XENOPHOBIA

We call the discomfort over people who are (or may be) homosexual HOMOPHOBIA

BUT

We seem to call the discomfort over people with a disability NORMAL

Each a different weed, but all from the same seed (discomfort of difference).

Can you see the link? Can you see how discomfort over someone else’s difference is the basis for so much unnecessary pain?

ONLY through education, only through learning about the qualities different people have irrespective of what colour their skin is, or where they came from, who they love, or how their brain works, or anything can we hope to eradicate OPDD…

OPD occurs only as a result of encountering a person with OPDD…

If being uncomfortable about other people for one reason or another is part of the human experience, then we are all subject to OPDD…

WHO MAKES YOU UNCOMFORTABLE??

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