Handwritten name tags and typed memories

By Kat, published with permission.  Original blog posted here in

Herb of memory before me; as I sit with the events of months past, years past.

List of traits, impairments, attempts at describing myself, my experiences, thoughts from swirling brain to page; in colorful diagrams and two-columned lists; this is me.

You sit a witness to this sprig of time past, elapsed with a much smaller audience. Who will testify for her? I will. Neurodivergent even is both complicated and easier than one would think to explain. Impaired by a world that disables, that is slowly learning to make room for difference.
A new normal is too loud, too blatant, too personal. But she is here – between the bullet points and workarounds. In the just is, neither good nor bad – sometimes just surviving.

Is an object that names itself real, if it remains unrecognized by anyone else? Is it becoming real when label makers eventually arrived? Typing out an identity and affixing it to her person. You are real now. We named you.

The naming sticks. Where shall I place it on myself? She readjusts the adhesive, placing it parallel to the colored lines she already created. Handwritten labels and their typed equivalents . Typewritten, word processed reports of who she is to appease the doorkeepers.

Now you may enter autism land. But I’ve been squatting here – with the shes who’ve assembled materials to sustain ourselves in unsafe dwellings. Holding themselves together. Surrounded by these rosemary bushes.

Stories inhabit this space. Proud words of naming ourselves. Before seeking out the official words, we begin here. In recognition, then memory, followed by acceptance – perhaps the others’ recognition.

We know ourselves first. Before obtaining the permit to our dwelling. The walls of cardboard and collage that barely keep the rain out. We live here, together in the dialogue of difference, learning what #SolidarityMeans. Exchanging images of who we are.

Becoming; recognizing; entering this dwelling we built together. However small and seemingly limited. It is enough for now. We exchange ideas for keeping the rain out, the storms at bay, hand-making umbrellas and self-love. In this spectrum of being brave enough, to name ourselves before others do.

Perhaps community looks like this. In shared memories of being ourselves.

#poem #adultdiagnosis #actuallyautistic #memory

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