At a certain point in your life in your life, probably when too much of it has gone by…

by Kat

Phoebe: Look. I think about Alice falling. And I look down, and I get scared.

Miss Dodger: Yes

Phoebe: I don’t want to do those things or say those things. I just have to… except here. Everywhere else, I feel ugly.

Miss Dodger: I want to tell you something which may not make any sense. But I should say it just so that one day, you might remember it and maybe it will make you feel better. At a certain point in your life, probably when too much of it has gone by… you will open your eyes and see yourself for who you are… especially for everything that made you so different from all the awful normals. And you will say to yourself… “But I am this person.” And in that statement, that correction, there will be a kind of love.

Phoebe: I’m so scared.

Miss Dodger: We all are.

I’ve found Miss Dodger’s monologue from Phoebe in Wonderland  to be unbelievably comforting when I’m having a hard day, and I feel so odd and out-of-place. I first saw this film in the middle of my undergrad years, and it resonated with me in a way I hadn’t expected. It’s a narrative I’ve come back to on numerous occasions, for reasons I’m still beginning to understand. I was reminded of this scene yesterday when I basically outed myself (as a person with clinically significant levels of anxiety) at a staff meeting.

A fellow staffer asked, “Did you have too much coffee this morning [because I was talking more quickly than I usually do, and my conversational pace is already relatively fast]?” And so rather than using any of my standard workaround / “that is none of your business” redirective statements, I simply replied, “No, my psych meds are just leveling out.” Our interaction felt pretty awkward from my end, and my friend seemed disheartened that she’d pushed me to disclose my mental health status, but at the same time, it was nice to just normalize my experience. As I begin to tell my own story, I continue to be surprised by how terribly ordinary mental health conditions can be. A friend of mine says, “None of us have it together. Some of us are just better at pretending [to be normal – as Liane Holliday Willey would say] than others.” I get that now — maybe in a way I didn’t before I started attempting to be more open with others, as I share my own vulnerabilities.

Not to say the process of measured self-disclosure (right place, right time, and right person) or self-acceptance, for that matter, is easy, but it’s more manageable than I expected. So I’m an Aspergirl with an anxiety spectrum condition… That’s definitely not fun and can feel overwhelming at times, but I’m getting better at finding social-emotional supports.

These people remind me, “I will open my eyes and see myself for who I am… especially for everything that made me so different from all the awful normals. And I will say to myself… ‘But I am this person.’ And in that statement, that correction, there will be a kind of love.”