Revelation of the Self: Confronting the Internalized Ableism of my Identity

There are things I have learned about myself, recently. Things that have been true for a very long time, but which it took time for me to process as a part of my identity.

Why does it take so long for me to connect my reality with its implication?

Perhaps it is simply another way in which my brain gets stuck.

But I think there are two other reasons. Both are a kind of internalized prejudice.

One has to do with social norms, with stereotypes and stigmatization and fear and contempt. If these traits are part of my identity, then I am Like Them, and They Are Different and They are Bad and I am Not Like Them.

The other is an internalization of the refusal to respect marginalized people’s self-definition and self determination. If Those People cannot define themselves, and I cannot define myself, then I certainly cannot define myself as One of Them.

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Speak English

When I was younger people would tell me to
speak English because I guess the words I used were
Obsessiveimpressiveprecise and
Specific like
“iambic pentameter”
means what I mean when I say it and
nobody knows what
“trochaic tetrameter” means so stop
showing off
and isn’t it funny how sometimes I can’t
understand English at

I guess maybe I speak in
languages that don’t make sense like
character on a tv show and
ReadingAboutShakespeareAt5in the
Morning and
AccidentallyPickedUpSlang because I
Forgot to stop trying to fit in

And sometimes
ColorTasteSoundNumber wave
When I mean
TouchFeelSmellSee think
When I mean

Like sometimes my mouth forgets how to make
words or my brain forgets to
send them and I end up
prrrrrrrring like a cat and
flapflapping like
my hands are loose lips sinking
ship after ship after ship

And sometimes people talk and the words fly
past my head like particles of dust that
flutter out of the way of my hands  and when I try to pin them down they
speed like

And when I can talk in
sentences and understand
how people string together thoughts I guess they call those
“Good days”
Even though they change by
But when I talk my brain gives me words like a
textbook and I guess I’m still doing it

And when I was in high school I could list my symptoms like I was
WebMD but maybe
that’s because I spent three years with no one but
But fourteen year olds don’t talk like
medical reports so I guess I was

And sometimes when I talk I forget that I need
or my voice won’t move the way it needs to and my face won’t
curve and my throat won’t
laugh and they told me in linguistics that English wasn’t tonal but I don’t think
that’s true.

And people who are good in English class you’d think would be good
at English but I can
only read things half the time and sometimes
English stops making sense and I understand
sarcasm but only in theory and I understand
metaphor but only in books and I understand
people but only when I can map their arcs like
waves inside my head

And I spent my life mapping the English that they speak in
written down worlds  and still only grasp it sometimes
but the English that they speak in
eludes me.