An Antidote to X-ing


This is intended for the Disability Blog Carnival. The topic this month is, “I am.” The carnival is posted at Emma’s blog.

I’ve posted many things like this before, but I don’t know where they are, so I’m writing it over again in slightly different form. A little repetition of this concept never hurt anyone anyway. :-)

(See this entry by Anne for a better description of X-ing than I could ever hope to write at the moment, as well as a broader description of what I am talking about in this post.)

An Antidote to X-ing

It is not arrogant, stupid, foolish, bad, meaningless, or wrong to say that you exist.

There can be a lot of very strange patterns in the rest of the world, some of them involving people, some of them not, some of them seeming to come from inside of you, all of them basically boiling down to the message, “You do not exist,” in one form or another.

Especially if your existence is not something some people want to know about.

Especially if you are in one form or another dissenting from the views of seemingly very powerful people.

Especially if you are accustomed to taking people at their word, even when their word is, “You do not exist.”

Especially if you have been trained to endlessly repeat that mantra for them. (You may even have been taught to repeat it to others, and thus, for each moment you do that, go through the motions of that same destructive pattern.)

Especially if you have been taught that reality (especially the piece of it you inhabit) is upside-down, inside-out, and backwards from what it is.

Especially if you have been taught that existence is unimportant.

Especially if you don’t fit some usual pattern of existence that most people are looking for.

Especially if you have been led to believe that existence is only for people something-er than you. Cooler, smarter, better, stronger, whatever. That for the little piece of reality you are to exist without apology or shame, is arrogant or uppity.

Especially if you have been led to believe that to exist, you have to do, or understand, something complicated, something abstract, some grand and enormous theory about the world.

Especially if you have been trained to be the plaything of people who think that power consists of deluding themselves into believing they’re warping existence to fit their egos.

Especially if you have been trained to ask permission, and apologize, for something as simple as breathing.

Especially if you have been trained to view an assortment of superficial traits as who you are, by people who for whatever reason believe that themselves.

Especially if you have been taught that you have to know who you are, to say that you are.

Especially if you have been taught that existence has to come in a package of intellectually rigorous words all lined up in rows and stuffed into endless books to be devoured by an elite who have access to them.

Especially if you have been taught that existence is some other kind of secret, rather than something that is going on around all of us, all the time.

Especially if you have been taught that asserting your existence is somehow the same thing as the hubris in claiming that the flimsy imaginings of a vain ego are important and real and central.

Especially if your existence is one of those frequently deemed worthless, inferior, defective, and overly expensive.

These things can seem to weave a complicated web around you, and that can seem to control you, distract you, make your mind run in useless circles every time you come close to the idea of existing.

That can seem very complicated indeed.

But one thing, is very simple.

You don’t have to even think it, if even the thought of your own existence triggers some cascade of misdirection.

But it’s there.

It’s always there.

And that fact can’t be taken away.

It’s a very simple fact.

But simplicity is a strength here, not a weakness.

This fact is very powerful.

It unravels all that complex nonsense and shows it for what it is (even with all the complex nonsense in the world trying to claim otherwise).

It’s simpler than even the two words used to describe it.

That fact is:

“I exist.”

Without that, all the ideology in the world will be useless at best, and backfire at worst, becoming part of that strange pattern of destruction.

The more we are told not to exist, or that we don’t exist, then the more we need to assert our existence.

Not necessarily in words.

Not necessarily in ways that everyone would understand.

But certainly in ways that are active and meaningful, and going on from there.

I exist.


About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

10 responses »

  1. The National Autistic Society has been running an awareness campaign called ‘I Exist’. It is being run by autistic adults. For a while I wondered why they chose that particular name, as I thought that there were better things to call the project – things that made it immediately obvious what the project was about.

    Now I see that the current name does make it immediately obvious what the project is about…

  2. For reference, while I remembered the name of that campaign about halfway through writing the post, I wasn’t thinking about it when I conceived the post (which is about a lot broader than just autistic people). But… yeah, they seem to be about combating the invisibility of autistic adults on a lot of different levels. Which is good, because sometimes we’re invisible out of negligence, but other times we’re invisible because people don’t want to see us (we interfere with their pet widgets, especially the ones that depend on there being a new “epidemic” of autistic people, and that insist that even as their insistence harms so many adults who are rendered invisible for the sake of an idea).

  3. “Especially if your existence is one of those frequently deemed worthless, inferior, defective, and overly expensive.”

    The thing I love about your blog is that it goes way beyond autism, way beyond disability. That statement reminds me of something I read earlier today:
    “It is alarming that Britain as a country with a good record of accepting asylum seekers is becoming increasingly hard-line, fuelled by relentless attacks on asylum seekers by sections of the media.

    Not only are asylum seekers dismissed as abusers of the asylum system and as welfare scroungers, they are now also regularly viewed as would-be terrorists.”

  4. You know, someone can make a connection to just about anything, from something seemingly unrelated, if they try hard enough and read into something mixed in with their own thoughts for long enough. That is good sometimes and bad other times. And yet other times it has no effect on anything.

  5. Pingback: A Plea for, Plus More Madeleine L’Engle « Off Our Pedestals

  6. I just wanted to wish everyone who comes here a very Merry Christmas….We put out some suet for the birds and have been watching them feast this morning now that the snow has let up and also we have been watching baby squirrels somersaulting together in the snow….May wonderful things come your way in the New Year….

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