Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Being "other" - Other than what?

I think my self image is symbolized by a series of interwoven and overlapping bell curves and spectrums which contrasts with the equally interesting series of interwoven and overlapping bell curves and spectrums that depict the way others view me.  Like two fabrics with the same pattern in different colours.

Maybe this is not making sense... but imagine that nearly everything could be measured on a bell curve...  How tall are you?  8 foot is on the extreme right - 3 foot is on the extreme left and my 5 foot 6 inches is in that amalgamous clump in the middle.  So it is with sexuality and also with disability (in its many layers).  Curves, spectrums and methods of measuring people and ranking them against one another.

Don't go screaming out that people are people and we are all individuals - I know we are... in fact that is the very topic of this discussion!

The girlwiththecane made an interesting comment on my last blog that got me thinking...  She was referring to my parallel of butch being "visible lesbian" like certain physical disabilities are "visible disability" and mentioned the universality of being "other".   But is it "universal" and what is "other"?  Does a brunette cheer leader feel some sense of "differentness" (aka "otherness") because she is not blonde?  Does being overweight elicit the same feelings of "otherness" even though there are so many people who share that situation?  I know that one can feel an "otherness" when overseas or when culturally displaced... In fact my very name "Displaced" derives from this feeling of not belonging.  Is there anyone who doesn't feel a sense of "otherness"?

Even in our own families, where surely we have more commonalities than with strangers, most of us feel some sense of "otherness" of being "the black sheep" or of having been born into the wrong family.

Really is it only the narcissist (clearly the extreme edge of the bell curve or spectrum of self assuredness and ergo "other") who, in his or her delusions of perfection, sees themselves as belonging?

I must speak only for myself... I don't fit, I never did and I never really knew why.  I wasn't like other kids and I wasn't like my family.  When I finally understood that I was a lesbian in my very early 20's I attributed this sense of "otherness" to my previously misunderstood sexual preference... I guess I figured that others had felt or sensed something in me that I had not accepted or recognized yet.  Then I learned that I am also not like other lesbians and I don't really fit in with that crowd either.  Now I have this annoying issue with my invisible semi-disability and I feel like I don't quite fit with either the fully healthy, the sick or the disabled.

The people who I connect with are few and far between - they shine like gemstones catching a flicker of light  on the sands of an endless beach, when I catch that glimmer I set my course in that direction and hope to see the flash again because I know how truly rare those gemstones are.  I seem to find one, or if I am lucky two, per decade.  Even then it is not that we are so similar, or that we have any sense of "sameness", it is more that we value and appreciate our particular versions of individual "otherness".

My life in a nutshell;

I am NONE OF THE ABOVE  (and to be quite frank - nor are you.)


  1. Love the blog title. Reminds me of a Dorothy Parker rhyme:

    I never give a squeal, nor squirm
    To tread by chance upon a worm
    Ah ha! My little friends, I say
    My clan will pay you back one day

    Having an invisible disability is an incredibly hard thing to live with. People have such high expectations of you when you look "normal."

  2. Thanks M. - I LOVE Dorothy Parker what a delightfully twisted mind she possessed!

  3. I wonder if 'heterogeneity' is a popular blog tag? Are people searching for it? (If so, hi!)

  4. Oh Kerry - didn't you hear? It is all the rage!
    (I would like to see you use it in scrabble!)

  5. LOL (comments)
    I still fit in nowhere. Even my partner of 32 years struggles with my WHOness. "Who ARE you?" I am me, just me, maybe gay, maybe lesbian (partner is a female bisexual and I believe I am a male brain in female body. (that really sucks too) I need power chair all the time now (thanks, MS) but I have lived the "invisible disability" life. Since I am too old and small boned to be a normal looking man (and if I look like a freak what is the point? back to square 1) by sex change, so I will live my life hidden to all those who don't make the effort to get to know me. Fun.

  6. Diane - I hope to get to know you through your blog and mine! You are just you and I am just me and as different as we are we have also found commonalities. Aren't people interesting?
    Viva La Difference!!!

  7. Absolutely love your eloquent way of writing how you feel. I can relate to you in not feeling part of any group around you. I stand alone!

  8. Deb - welcome fellow individual! I think we all stand alone, even when surrounded by many. thanks for the comment!