violetcheetah: (Default)
[personal profile] violetcheetah
This started off as an attempt to explain the emotional/mental side of scentsitivity, but it spread to encompass other ways in which I'm invaded.  I wrote it several months ago, and rereading it, there's a resonance between the way "normal" people seem to perceive me — that they are interacting with a figment of their imagination because they can't conceive of someone like the actual-me existing — and the way I feel interacting with my mother.

I have porous borders — mentally, emotionally, sometimes physically. Refugees crowd against me, cross into my space, like Syria into Turkey, like countless nations during wars. But it's not just refugees that cross; it's ISIS or other militants; here people worry about drug cartels coming over from Mexico, or up from Central America now. With my own border, I am like the minuteman militias, lumping in asylum-seeking children with the gangs they are running from, shrieking hysterically about Ebola and TB and taking our jobs; my mind sees every incursion as a threat in some way, or in all ways at once, or just doesn't know and braces for the worst. Too much metaphor, but: it doesn't matter if they are benign, just children, just innocent refugees, because there's nowhere to put them. I want to help; I'm a liberal here in my mind, too, as in the real world, but there's no place inside me, and it -is- less invasive when it's someone who needs help, needs comfort, or is just out of step. It's easier at the time, at least, to have them take up part of me, easier for me to step out of the way for a moment. Later I'm exhausted, even then, but it isn't, isn't -drowning-, not at the time, and not as much after. Just the heaviness, and restlessness.

I don't know what the difference is between invasions, types of people who invade. I told my psychiatrist that it's easier to deal, at work, on the train, with people who probably aren't "neurotypical," or who are mentally ill. Is it empathy, or is it just the lack of judgment from them? Lack of flinch. The people who invade and burn, I was trying to think, what it is that burns me, and part of it is the entitlement, that it's their right to be loud, to be angry, to just be talkative and pressing-in. The not knowing that they are unwelcome, or something about them is unwelcome, not understanding, or not caring, or not being able to comprehend that they aren't cute or clever or likeable. But part of it is the flinch when I say something to push them away, or when I say nothing to push them back. If it isn't -them- that something is wrong with, it must be me. I am invaded, and cornered, and ashamed that it bothers me, not ashamed, but wrong; I am wrongness. It is -my- problem, my abnormality, because -they- are normal, sane, friendly, fun. It's being wolf-whistled on the street, and when you protest, the problem is with you for not taking their attention as a compliment. "My perfume smells pretty; something is wrong with you that you don't like it." "I -want- to talk to you, or I find you appealing in some way, or I just find you useful or convenient; something is wrong with you that you aren't flattered."

And it's not the same burn as being seen. Because I'm not. It's the opposite: I don't exist to them. It isn't me that they are interacting with, because as far as they understand, people like me don't exist. They are talking to the skin on my face, and it's hard enough to claim it as mine, to look in the mirror and recognize that that's me, but when they talk to it as if it is the face of some other person they imagine, someone unlike me, then I am not, not necessary, not there at all. And when I show myself, they are confused, appalled, sometimes angry, that I misled them by having this face that made them think I was someone else. And it seems right that they are angry, because that other person, that other type of person, or at least a person who is willing to pretend, is what they always encounter, -that- is normal, expected, that is just what people do.

It isn't assault. It isn't what my brother did. I'm ashamed to make the comparison, to equate perfume or an angry cellphone conversation or being inebriated near me, with sexual invasion. Or something that presumably was that invasive, because I don't remember the feeling, or what I remember must be muted because it -had- to have meant more than these things. But what I remember feeling, or not-feeling — it's the same. The scent doesn't flash me back to the car with my brother, or to my father in the living room, but the, the command, urgent — close the border, stop breathing, stop being, suspend, halt, stop existing, be not — it doesn't feel different. It doesn't.



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Violet Wilson

October 2016

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