(Article first published in a Tublr post called Bi Any Other Name)
As a neurodiverse person, you can bet that my formative years weren’t easy … and, coupled with my tumultuous home life, things weren’t always so clean-cut and easy.
My parents have always been fond of gas lighting and emotional abuse. While some grew up learning their ABCs, I grew up knowing words like “fucking bitch” and “you piece of trash”. While some have fond memories of playing on the playground as friends, I can recall almost nothing from my childhood (oh the joys of repression). In many ways, growing up that way shaped my views of the world. It shaped my views of myself.
You see, for those who have never heard the term gas lighting before, let me explain: Gas lighting is a form of emotional abuse in which false information is presented in order to make a victim doubt their memory, perceptions, sanity, and even (to some extent) their understanding of reality.
So, when you couple a history of emotional abuse with a budding sexuality that people often tell you “is not real” what do you get?
A whole lot of self-doubt.
For me, because I am neurodiverse, a majority of biphobia I experience also intersects with my mental health, history of abuse, and overall sense of self.
When someone says “I don’t believe bisexuality is real” it is not only a phrase that makes me feel delegitimised based on sexuality, but it also reminds me of the stigma I face as a neurodiverse person and a survivor of emotional abuse. It reinforces the abusive gas lighting I’ve received long before. Not only do I experience biphobia on a bisexual front, but also on an ableist front as well.
And this combined experience has forced me to cope in different ways.
My bisexuality has forced me to accept certainty – even when I have none. I must appear certain when I tell people I am bisexual. I cannot waver. And even when I do relay that certainty, there’s still a strong chance that others will respond with, “I’m sure you’ll figure it out some day…”
What others fail to recognise is that my bisexuality – and my experiences as a whole – are mine, and mine alone. They are not up for debate. To say otherwise reinforces all the abuse and stigma I’ve previously received.
It is not my job to “make sense” or explain myself to others. Living my life the way that feels genuine and right makes the most “sense” to me.
My memories and my reality are of my own making now. Not someone else’s. There is a power in being proud. A power in community. A power in pushing back.
I will never know if my experiences or words reach those who are in need of them – truthfully, I never know if anyone will be helped by them at all… But they are here. For any who see these words, please remember that you are not alone. These experiences are mine – they were hard won through sleepless nights, exhaustion, and a great many tears… but they are also yours to read, and to find solidarity within.