My son ran into the front room to tell the adults who were looking after him that a helicopter had landed in the garden. He was excited, he wanted them to come and see. He was 6 years old.
Knowing that children are prone to fantasy and that helicopters did not land in gardens - certainly not theirs - they did not share his excitement. Knowing what they knew… meant they didn’t have to look.
At some point in our lives most of us have experienced what it is like not to be believed. Having our experience invalidated and with it a sense of who we are is painful. A moment of excommunication which can only be lifted by denying our experience and falling into line with the mainstream consensus reality. When those moments run into countless moments the result is confusion, doubt and an intolerable sense of pain.
In her recently published book, the comedian, Hannah Gadsby recounts what it was like growing up in a world that insisted that what she was experiencing wasn’t what she was experiencing. In speaking about her neurodiversity in an article in the Guardian Gadsby writes, ‘It was difficult to believe that I wasn’t entirely to blame for my life being such a painful struggle, because I was so used to assuming I was a bad person.’
But perhaps the most telling line in the article in reference to her ‘difference,’ is the last, ‘…but I wouldn’t change it for the world, because I believe communities need thinkers like me.’
The adults looking after my son never did see the helicopter in the back garden. Perhaps if they had their world and ours would be the richer for it.
Read Hannah Gadsby's article
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