I don’t belong in this world.
By this, I don’t mean that I hate the world, or anyone in it. I love or have loved many people, some still alive, some not. And while sometimes I’ve shunned the world and held myself aloof from it for my own self-protection, yet at other times I’ve felt huge pity or compassion, even aching sorrow, for the world’s inhabitants and whatever pain they’re suffering, and I still do.
I also love the world’s physical beauties, its forests and sunsets, beaches and waterfalls, sweeping mountains and ever-changing seas. I even love many of its manmade splendours – feasts of colour and light, music that transports me, or the many architectural wonders of the world, especially old buildings, archways, hanging stones and other ancient sites.
But I’ve never felt like I belong here.
This not belonging has many layers or facets to it. There are spiritual facets – I know this isn’t everyone’s thing, but it is mine. It has nothing to do with what anyone else believes or doesn’t believe, but rather with a series of personal understandings I’ve gained over the years. Many years ago, for instance, I was in the women’s spirituality movement, but left because of its focus on Mother Earth and our female bodies – something I just do not feel that connected to. And for much of my younger years, I experienced something I could only describe as a ‘butterfly in a jar’ feeling. Then one day I realised it was my spirit yearning to be free. My true home, I know now, is with the Divine. One day, when I’ve done all I’m meant to do in this life, I’ll get to go there.
But it goes beyond the spiritual. I find myself repelled by many of the values that rule the world. Over and over again, I see honesty, integrity, decency, basic civility and even common sense being sacrificed on the altars of Ego, Greed and Political Expediency. Whether it’s in the political arena or the personal, I see so many appalling behaviours, and constant attempts to justify them by blaming the victims or some conveniently horrible ‘enemy’.
This is a world where there’s supposedly ‘not enough money’ to ensure decent incomes, housing, education or medical care for all, yet somehow there’s always enough money to go to war. A world where if you’re black, you can be arrested for sitting in a coffee shop waiting for a friend, or shot at for asking directions, but if you’re white and rich you can literally get away with rape.
And then there are wars, and pollution, and a greedy ripping out of the world’s resources without thought for the future, the capitalist hegemony that knows the price of everything, but the true value of nothing. And yes, I know there are those who fight against these warped values, but on the whole, the good people are not the ones in power, and even where they are, they’re sailing against the wind. I despair for the world, I truly do.
There’s also the effects of my physical disability – an acquired thing, yes, but it’s meant that for most of my adult life paid employment has been minimal to non-existent, and I’m now pretty much unemployable. Ditto for education, and any kind of community involvement. People rush off daily to wherever, while I stand apart, and isolated. (And poor, of course, something else that separates me from most others.)
Being a writer also means standing apart from society to some extent anyway, being an observer rather than a participant. Not to mention, when I have had jobs, I always felt like I was ‘wasting time’, and not doing what I felt I was ‘meant’ to be doing, ie writing.
But if I was simply any of the above, I would still be able to find a sector of society I’d fit into and be regarded by all as just another part of humanity, even if some disagreed with my political or spiritual opinions, or disliked what I wrote, and so on. But I’m also autistic. And as an autistic, I feel at odds with the entire world on a daily basis, its precepts and practises that just make no sense, and the constant slamming up against unspoken rules and social expectations. Even after decades of learning social skills, this is still a regular occurrence for me, and, I suspect, for most autistics. It’s the ‘square peg in a round-holed world’ feeling.
And while we autistics now have our own community, it’s one that most of the world seems to think shouldn’t exist. We’re seen as less-than-human, or even ‘monsters’ or a ‘disease’, and anything people do to us is considered fair game by most. The usual rules of decency do not apply to us.
So I’m alienated most of all, perhaps, by how we get treated, a mistreatment which ranges from simple ridicule through forced normalisation to outright murder. Not to mention the do-gooders who think they’re being ‘nice’ to us but who reek of fake-cheeriness or pitying inspiration-porn, the parents who never listen to us, the professionals who pathologise us, the teachers who don’t grasp just how different we really are, the media who demonise us… The world makes it plain that it only grudgingly tolerates us, at best, and at worst actively seeks to eliminate us.
So no, I don’t feel welcome on this planet, or that I belong here. And given all the above, I think this is understandable.