What Can We Do When Everything Hurts?
I stand outside the crowd of people milling about to get inside the special exhibit. This is the person I am, the invisible one, the quiet one, the I’m not here even though I am here. I finally lie on my back and take a shot showing nothing but legs and a yellow dress. I hear the sounds around me, kids crying out for parents, people arguing about how to take a selfie or have that family member pose for them.
I lie on my stomach and feel it happen; my hearing is gone. Everything sounds like it’s down a never-ending tunnel. I breathe and check to see if I’m not cutting off circulation or doing something obvious that is causing my body to send the signals I’m going to faint.
Nothing makes sense right now. The missing hearing gets worse. I slide off the platform, and another person quickly takes my spot. Standing up, I can hear again, but the feeling is there. I don’t know if I should walk around, explore more, or run to my car as quickly as possible and be home if my body decides to shut down.
I have always had these episodes. Now, I realize it may be an effect of having autism. This feeling becomes a sense of a meltdown brewing in me. If I could describe it, it’s like a too shook-up can of pop ready to explode and rumble like an extinct volcano.
As a child, I knew better than to have these meltdowns with family. I’d get punished severely for any way I’d be pulling my parents’ attention away from themselves. I had to navigate their emotions, never my own, so I learned to numb myself and dissociate until I didn’t believe I was alive.
I never know if trying to describe an experience will make sense to those who don’t experience it. I walk down a tunnel of light I’ve always enjoyed. It’s an optical illusion that puts you in the center of the box of light. I go upstairs and know what’s up there. I decide to go to the side to see if they have that room open for an exhibit. A young adult with a museum shirt on blocks my way.
“Are there any questions I can answer for you?”
It’s an odd question in itself. I feel even more haphazard and thrown off.