Many people pretend to be things they are not. This is something that is hard for most people to figure out. It seems to become even more difficult when you’re autistic. It took me 40 years to work through how often people with the best of intentions are often those manipulating others the most.
What made it so hard for me to figure out was I always assumed emotionally manipulative people purposely acted in such ways. That’s what most people will tell you. Yet I’ve found more often than not, these types really want to be the thing they are trying to represent. What I saw time and time again were people living in a world where their ego seems to take over subconsciously and this brings about cognitive dissonance so badly it warps their own reality. This would be okay to ignore, but I was often left damaged from these encounters with such people that it left me traumatized. Though I never realized I had been traumatized, it would just manifest as severe social anxieties or depression. So then the cycle would repeat because I’d latch onto the next type that was just like this, through trauma bonding with them. I’d ignore all the red flags and believed all the lies. Often feeling validated by seeing all the people that admire such people in large numbers. I thought, how could these people manipulate that many people at once? They must be genuine!
I’ve had this happen with interpersonal relationships, to medical professionals, to mental health professionals, to many more. To recently seeing how a majority of autistic organizations are run by deeply emotionally manipulative people (that often aren’t even autistic themselves) that mostly just need to stroke their own egos or fill their pockets with money, instead of helping actually autistic people. Realizing that this past year since finally getting diagnosed autistic, also began waking me up to all the other power structures in our society that we’re often told are there to protect us, but end up doing us more harm than good. Just look at what’s happening with the rest of society waking up to how dangerous many cops are to marginalized groups, though we’re told they are supposed to serve and protect the people.
There’s so many examples I can give, but I’d be exhausted typing it all out. I feel our society seems to be structured on others exploiting the masses by pretending to be things they are not. I believe I often stayed oblivious to this because I didn’t have enough confidence in myself. So that I was always seeking validation that others would have the answers for me, because clearly I thought so little of myself that I felt I could never figure the answers out for myself. Once I began building true confidence in myself, I really began waking up to these types. Though some people are more subtle to their manipulations, so it may take me a bit longer.
My latest art piece, is “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”, to represent my frustrations with these types of people, organizations, or systematic power structures that really believe they are not wolves, but indeed the sheep and are only there to help out the other sheep that need guidance. These types seem to prey on the weak and powerless to amplify their own agendas. Whether that’s for really malicious reasons or those that really want to help but because they are not actually sheep, they end up doing more damage than good. Which to give a more direct meaning, those types are just not emotionally stable, though they believe they are. So even though they might intend to help others, because they are so unstable they damage other people by being so toxic it overflows into the helpful things they are attempting to do.
I often find myself fighting against these types and feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. I’m often one of the rare few that sees these people are out of place and not who they think they are. Or I’m at least one of the rare few willing to speak up.
When I had initially starting creating this piece it was an anti Autism Speaks piece. It ended up evolving in my mind to so much more. With current events in the world. To even realizing that the #ActuallyAutistic community has a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing rampant throughout it. Seeing those that have the biggest and loudest platforms are often the most toxic and emotionally manipulative. Simply because they haven’t dealt with their own internal toxicity that they end up doing more damage than good by spreading misinformation, ignoring healthy boundaries, or even flat out bigotry. I’m now having to limit my other social media advocacy and mostly just using my platform on this blog, to avoid dealing with all the bullshit that seems to be so thick, yet commonly accepted by the whole collective. Those of us that speak up and against such things have been so quickly kicked out, pushed aside, or passively treated like we’re the ones to blame. I can only sit here and laugh at the hypocrisy that those are the same people that claim autistics are so against social hierarchy structures, yet they’ve created their own that are just as equally virulent and detrimental.
Even though people like me that see through the facade are few and far between, we’re actively working to show others who these people really are. We’re using our voices to call attention and will slowly bring more to us to help in this fight. We will slowly chew away the sheep’s clothing and expose the wolves for who they are. Even if we only expose them to a few, that’s still better than allowing them to fool everyone.
I’ve really enjoyed making this piece. Oddly enough when I was creating it I ended up having to deal with three separate wolves that are not the good intended people they think they are. It was rather cathartic to look at my creation and be reminded that people like them exist and I have the option to either follow their lies like the other sheep, or stand up and fight against them to take my power back.
I hope when you look at my art and read my words, you can do the same in your life.