On Being an Outsider

outsiderimage250I frequently get this recurring dream where I can barely walk and I find myself in a neighbourhood where thugs abound, specifically, black thugs. I try to get away from them but my legs won’t let me run away. It almost feels like I have ALS or MS and my leg muscles simply refuse my command to haul ass. What a nightmare. I just had that same dream and it’s still rocking me.

In real life I’ve found myself in neighbourhoods where I’m an outsider destined to fail. In Trinidad I was a light-skinned Asian/black mix which the darker-skinned kids shunned and cast out of their groups. Consequently, I learned to ignore their favourite sport which, in this case, was soccer. When I came to America the culture shock was being in a huge city with tall buildings, subways and graffiti everywhere. My head felt like it was going to explode. I couldn’t relate to the people’s music, their food, their speech, their dress, their way of life. It didn’t help that I had Asperger’s either. Sounds were too loud and lights were too bright. I did find the punk rockers but this was short-lived as they found jobs and had families. Socially, I was a misfit and became an abject loner. I was a trespasser in the white neighbourhoods, too. As far as I was concerned I was born to fail and was just wasting my time staying alive. There was no point to it; staying alive was just a vain effort in futility. I didn’t belong and that’s the bottom line.

From neighbourhood to neighbourhood I was an outsider and I knew that couldn’t last. So I attempted suicide. I was out like a light for about two days then ended up in a psych hospital for two months. When I got out I went back doing the things which made this world bearable – alcohol and drugs. The alcohol “turned the world down” and the drugs brought me friends, albeit temporary ones. Hey, people would be leaving me anyway so why not buy a few friends while I had the money? Anyway, I do feel better these days. I’m autistic and a Jain so at least I now have two groups I can call my own. They may not be popular but it’s better than nothing. Way better.

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