“She calls it a meltdown, but it’s just a temper tantrum because she didn’t get her way.”
“You have control over your behavior. Stop making excuses and calm down.”
“So much drama.”
“I don’t love you when you act like this.”
For November 2018, I’m exploring different things people have said to me, then the internal thoughts those remarks stirred.
I can go on with the micro-aggressive rhetoric autistic people face because of meltdowns and shutdowns.
I can list the family relationships torn asunder.
I can count the friendships gone up in flames.
I can remember each loss; each abandonment; each time my reality was gaslit, because facing the fact I cannot control meltdowns, I am disabled, and I do feel neglected…
Well, that would be too much.
Because of how people react to meltdowns, I live a lonely and estranged life.
Because I’ll never figure out how to convince others I cannot “get a grip” on meltdowns, I live with perpetual social anxiety.
Because I spent 30+ years of life being guilt tripped, “held accountable,” and smeared for my meltdowns, my self-esteem is thumbnail-sized.
I have no pride.
I am walking shame.
I am convinced my brain’s been swollen for most of my life, trapped in depression that cannot be reasoned into peace.
The only place I feel safe is the university. I never have meltdowns in colleges. They remind me, somewhere on this planet, I can still be free. No other place feels this way.
But what is it about university that feels so safe, so lovely and grand?
I am invisible. I blend into the classroom; I am either a student, or one of many undervalued adjunct professors.
I am valued, in my own quiet way.
At university, there is no attention, drama, or guilt. There is no one telling me to “own my behavior,” to sign contracts to memories that are not mine. There is just exploration, curiosity; ideas.
I am returning to college with 15 units next semester, where the meltdowns are nonexistent, I might regain self-worth, and most of all: no one will ever hurt me.
Kourtnie has an MFA in Creative Writing from CSU Fresno and a BA in English from CSU Fullerton. When she isn't writing or making art, she's moonlighting as a professor at community colleges. Read her writing at Kourtnie.net or Wattpad.com/user/KourtnieNet.