I’ve managed to contain my PTSD into a neat little container. I can’t drive on the freeway. If I do, I panic. Panic of the sort that in my teens and early twenties could hit me while brushing my teeth or standing in line at the store, irrational fears that all the worst things that can happen will happen in the worst way and there is nothing I can do about it.
This past couple of weeks I had a situation come up where I had to face the shame of the fact that I do not drive on the freeway in a way that really got under my skin. It became clear to me as I communicated with several people about my plans for a trip that did not involve me driving a rental car, but instead involved careful planned taxis, public transport, and ride sharing, that no one else did those things in this situation. I kept getting met with pushback. This stirred my thinking about how intolerant most of us are for personality differences and quirks. Worse? I’ve bought into that crap all my life.
Our bigotry is evident everywhere. We use words like “issues”, “illness”, and “strange” to describe people who think and act differently than we do. We try to hide our quirks and differences, spend time and money trying to fix them. We are all so afraid of crazy, we leave no room for eccentricities. We live in shame of our every strangeness.
Now I know that there are some pockets of society where we accept strangeness and eccentricity, but as a whole, we do not.
I’m tired of pretending.
I am a nutcase at times. I battle anxiety, sometimes depression. I have shades of OCD in my obsession with organization and keeping things in their place. At times of highest stress, I get eczema on my hands and then I run scalding water them to relieve the itch and give temporary relief because the pain stops the itching. When there is pain, there is only pain. I am extremely reticent around strangers. I battle insecurity and feel inferior on a daily basis.
I am a capable weirdo and I wouldn’t want me any other way. My weirdness pervades every aspect of who I am. What needs fixing is our obsession with fixing everyone to make them the same. Perhaps if we embraced our own strangeness we could find a way to embrace the strangeness of those people who are truly mentally ill and in need of our love and support, not our fear.
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