BOOK - THE VELVETEEN RABBIT OR HOW TOYS BECOME REAL by Margery Williams
|An explosion of rabbits!|
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Love this book. It’s only forty-four pages long, but the message is beautiful, and I always cry when I read about the little rabbit becoming fully real at the end.
And, hopefully, without getting tangled up in abstract language and waffle about feelings (which I have, but have a hard time identifying or expressing “appropriately”), and being emotionally available, and authentic (come again?), here’s what being real means to me, as an autistic.
Stop denying my autism (and adhd) in an attempt to fit into the neurotypical world, which is presented as the primary blueprint for how to live a happy and successful life.
In practical terms, this means not searching for answers on the internet, or in books and other literature written by non-autistics, for how to manage my life as an autistic. This encompasses everything, from sites dedicated to autism (telling me what’s wrong with me, how to deal with it, and manage my life as an autistic more effectively), to all those non-autistically-related sites that want to tell me how to do everything more effectively and productively, from writing and art, to how to organise everything in my life, from my shelves to my time.
Simple but not easy, given that I have an in-built, arbitrary drive to copy; a rigid viewpoint about there being a right and wrong answer; and a fear of making mistakes. Hence constantly checking to see whether I’m doing things right, or whether anyone else has a better answer that I just haven’t thought of because of my limited imagination. Plus, I just seem to have a peculiar obsession with all things neurotypical, even when I don’t agree with anything they say!
Of course, this is not very useful in helping me to become more consciously aware of, and comfortable with, who I am, if I’m trying to look at myself through the eyes of someone who has no comprehension or experience of what it’s like to be autistic.
Ultimately, though, I think the message of this book is that becoming real is a gradual process which happens over time. So, even though I do still get lost at times comparing myself to non-autistics, and temporarily forget myself (but who has someone to remind me of the truth of who I am), I have turned into a real person - one who, right now, happens to be really obsessed with the internet!