Ask an Aspergirl

Essays and poems about Autistic experience, mental illness, & (post-) ABD life

Being Meg

dark and stormy night

“It was a dark and stormy night. I’m not usually afraid of weather. It’s the weather on top of everything else. On top of me. On top of me, Meg Murry, doing everything wrong.” [From Hope Larson’s graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle]

So dear readers, we’ll begin with a poem I wrote a few weeks ago, and then I’ll begin to tell the story of how Madeleine L’Engle’s novels took care of me emotionally when I felt odd, ignored, or merely unacknowledged:

And we are the fuck ups, (or so we think anyway) 3/25/2013

CLASSIFIED for reasons unknown… and yet do we even want to know or care;

UNDELIVERABLE because we can’t begin to share these bits of ourselves…

They live deep within us, these

TOP SECRET(s) that we fear, yet wonder if people will understand or want to join this secret club, the one where we acknowledge that the world is fucked!

[And we are not!]

I  can’t remember the first time I read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. It was sometime in the middle of elementary school because I read all of her young adult novels that I could find in the public library by the time I finished middle school, which would have included the Time Quartet (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time — interestingly enough, this collection contains five books, instead of the expected four titles) and her stories about the Austin Family. I just remember devouring my pink 1970s era paperback version and realizing how much L’Engle understood me, later on realizing that there were others like me (much, much later, dear readers).

It was so comforting to read about a heroine who was smart and kind, but couldn’t seem to find her place in the universe, so she was drifting through school feeling utterly purposeless. I’m grateful that I had teachers who encouraged my voracious reading. I’m still not entirely sure how I heard of A Wrinkle in Time (henceforth referred to as Wrinkle), but who knows, it may have been through one of them. Since then, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read the novel. I even wrote my term paper during my sophomore year of college about its spirituality and in Wrinkle, how  G-d’s love reaches the depths of creation.

It’s funny, I guess that of all the novels in the bookstacks, I fell in love with Wrinkle, a novel with a strong female heroine not too different from myself. My therapist says I probably picked the best possible book to escape to when things at home were hard. We’ve had entire conversations using L’Engle’s novel as an anchor, trying to decide together how being socially different can be a strength. Books show us parts of ourselves we didn’t even know existed. Wrinkle did that for me and continues to do that for me every time I read it. Last week, I finally finished reading Hope Larson’s graphic novel adaptation of Wrinkle, and it is lovely. I get the sense that Larson loved the book as a child and when she became an artist, she wrote this adaptation as a 392 page love letter to Madeleine L’Engle.

Thank you Madeleine L’Engle for writing about a young woman like me in a time when publishers thought readers didn’t care about womyn science fiction protagonists. Also, to you, Hope Larson, thank you for sharing your love for A Wrinkle in Time with me, via gorgeous pictures and recreated prose.

So I’ll leave you with a quote from the 1962 novel and a scripture L’Engle lovingly borrows to remind us how strong people like Meg truly are:  “Love. That’s what she had that IT did not have… And she had her love for them…She could stand there and love Charles Wallace” (L’Engle, 1962, p. 207-208).

“God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” (1 Corinthians 1:27)

The banality of talking and why it saved me

From Alison Bechdel's graphic novel, Are you my mother

From Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel, Are you my mother

The banality of talking and why it saved me

Wonderful piece about therapy and why it helps: Here’s an excerpt —

“You fear the judgment, you fear the backlash, you fear that maybe somewhere in your internal muck, that you are lying, and that things really aren’t that bad and if you just sucked it up and do what your working class folks taught you to do, then things would be okay. Talking was reserved for the things that would make people comfortable and happy, not for the things that were not understandable.”

Also from the comments section:

Oh crap. Now I’m all weepy. I remember my 4th or 5th therapy appointment after some terrible things happened, I said to my therapist, “But I’m just telling you the  same thing over again! What’s the point?”

And she said, “You’re going to tell this story over and over again. It’s going to have a different beginning and a different end each time depending on where you think this begins and how it will end. Different sights, smells and sounds will make their way into this story. You’re going to tell this story until you can look at it from a distance and say, ‘That caused me great pain and it made me feel sad and afraid for a long time. It still makes me feel sad and afraid, but now I know how this story goes and I know how to control it. I’ve worked out the details and now it’s just something that happened.’ Other stories are going to come up, and you’re going to tell them over and over again, too, but each time, it’s going to become easier to get to that point were you look at them from a distance.”

And that, I think, is the point of therapy. You keep massaging the details of everything until you can step away from what has been going on and find a little way to be present not in what happened, but in what is happening now.

I love this essay by Audre Lourde because it is true. I’m in a womyn’s writing circle, and being there, I’m consistently reminded of how healing it can be to tell one’s story. The pain already happened, but it helps to verbalize it, to put words to a seemingly indescribable experience.

UBUNTU!

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.

I was forced to look upon myself and my living with a harsh and urgent clarity that has left me still shaken but much stronger. Some of what I experienced during that time has helped elucidate for me much of what I feel concerning the transformation of silence into language and action.

In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light, and what I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid? To question or to speak as I…

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