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The first thing I remember, after they left me, was waking up in a box. The sides of the box were clear, and I could see, through the half-dark, two white shapes gliding on padded feet to and fro, with stiff white headdresses.
Scratchy wrappings smelling of something that made my eyes water bound me tight and I grew very afraid. Then I found that I could wriggle one hand free, and soothe myself by sucking the largest one of the digits. This took away most of the fear.
After the half-light memories faded, I remember no more until much time had passed.
They had told me that I would not remember them, when they dropped my astral body into this receptacle, this mobile vessel that the natives here call “human.” But I do have faint recollections of my real people, mostly in the form of feelings of kinship, and an understanding that surpasses words.
Although my memories of what happened after I left the box have been erased, I have seen a home movie of my first steps at the age of nine months post-emergence. The movie shows a small native female running away down a sidewalk, falling, picking herself up, and running further away, until the large native identified as “my mother” runs and picks up the small one, carries it back to the starting point, and sets it down; whereupon the small female commences running away again. The natives surrounding the movie camera are heard “laughing.” The small female was me: trying, as soon as I attained locomotion, to run home.
Several years later they took me to a building full of native children, and a large female overseer gave each one a paper covered with shapes, and color sticks, and commanded all to fill the shapes with color. I saw no point in this meaningless exercise and turned the paper over, so that I could draw a picture of my real parents. The overseer objected strongly to this, and made me stand in a corner; this was a relief, as that way I did not have to participate in their ridiculous activities. From then on I learned the ways of achieving the corner, and did spend most of my time there, dreaming of home.
At night I sat by my window for hours, pleading with my parents to come and get me, explaining to them that they had left me on the wrong planet for too long. I heard them from afar: Not yet, not yet. Your job is not finished. Not yet.
My native “parents” did not know what to do with me, since I refused to associate with the native children, whose language was simple and crude, whose games ridiculous, and who, at the age of six, could read nothing more complicated than “Dick and Jane.” By that time I had read a good deal of my parents’ library: Herman Hesse, Gunter Grass, Franz Kafka, which was my favorite, especially Metamorphosis. This was by far the best thing about this world: books, because they took me away, for a time.
The animals were a relief from loneliness. They have great wisdom and do not require speech to explain their thoughts and wishes, which are many and subtle. The natives have terrible misconceptions regarding the animals: they think that because the animals cannot speak as they do, that they must be an inferior race. This is wrong.
In my readings I discovered that there are special doctors for people whose minds work differently from those of the rest of the natives. In these times they are called “Psychiatrists,” but in earlier times they were called “Alienists,” because those who do not conform to the norms of this world are considered “strange,” or “alien.” I also learned that beings originating from other planets, like myself, are called “Aliens” as well, because we are strangers in this world.
Upon a time, there were great houses called “Alien Asylums,” where Aliens were sent for safety. I thought, perhaps, that in an Alien Asylum I might find some one like myself, from my own planet. I wanted to learn all I could about these places, and to see if there was one nearby. So I got out the great book called “Encyclopedia” and looked up “Alien Asylum,” and was shocked at what I found there.
The Aliens were tortured in a ghastly fashion, with straitjackets and cold sheet wrappings and electric shocks. I decided that I would not go there; in fact I decided to try to mimic the natives so that they would not know that I am an Alien.
I did so by spending all of my time at my studies, or in reading famous books, or in working with the animals, so that they could see that I was a very good native.
Many years passed in this fashion, but then something—I do not know what–happened that damaged my gyroscope, and I found myself one moment flying toward the sky and my home planet, and the next moment crashing to the ground. I was unable to right this malfunction, and soon it became known to the natives, who carried me against my will to an Alien Asylum.
Fortunately the Asylum was not like the ones in the Encyclopedia. In fact, it reminded me markedly of my first days at school, where I was given the papers with shapes and the color sticks, and told to color inside the lines, if I wanted to get out. I refused to participate in this absurd activity, and they gave a bad report of me to the Alienist. He ordered them to make me swallow pills, many pills every day, that made me feel weak and dizzy. But then I was no longer expected to color either inside or outside of lines.
When they released me from the Asylum, the Alienist sent me to be “Tested.” A kind native woman asked me many questions and gave me puzzles to solve. I solved many puzzles, until there were no more left. Then she asked me to look at pictures of native faces, and tell her what the people in the pictures were feeling. This I could not do, because I am not a native and I do not use their modes of communication.
After we finished all the tests, I returned to the Alienist for his report on their outcome. He told me that I had Asperger Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. He explained to me what those things mean; but it was nothing that I did not already know.
I am Alien.
Soul Survivor is an Alien who writes a blog called Bipolar For Life, and is a member of the group mental health blog A Canvas of the Minds. She is currently writing a novel about her life as an Alien living among humans. You can read it in serial form on her third blog, Dina Leah. She is delighted to have found a community of like-minded beings in the Mental Health Blogosphere, and very happy to be a contributing author at Rx Black Box Warnings.