‘you bleed gold’ is now live on Youtube to celebrate being one month away from the release of How To Be Autistic!
“You’ve been quiet when you should have been loud. You’ve bent at the waist and held tight to your stomach when you should have stood tall. Looked away when you should have made eye contact. Stayed when you should have left.
You’ve been violent to yourself when you should have been tender. You’ve been tender to others when you should have been violent. A century of rage and you misdirect, misinterpret, aim and fire, self destruct.
You’ve been ugly when you should have been shining. You’ve – well, you’ve never quite figured out a way to be beautiful. You’ve traced the line of your nose and how it twists off to one side, and you’ve hated yourself.
You’ve been a thousand murmured rumours and none of them true. You’ve been a single truth untold. You’ve held your tongue and bitten your lips and the taste of blood is copper in your mouth.
You’ve been a forest fire when you should have been an ember. And, oh, for so long you were an ember when you should have been a forest fire. You could have burned so bright if you’d have only let yourself.
You’ve been blaming yourself for being small. You’ve become small because of how you blame yourself. You don’t think that possibly it’s not you, that it was never you, that people are cruel because cruelty is power, and people find power more appealing than kindness.
You’ve been wondering why you didn’t leave. Why you didn’t speak up. Why nobody told you that it was wrong, that you were being hurt. You’ve checked your wounds like a list of the dead and found yourself to be a graveyard.
You’ve been walking this world like a ghost. You’ve been barely there, seethrough, and wondered why nobody ever really saw you. You’ve risen from the grave and now you’re a revenant, you howl in the night and shake the beds of those who have wronged you.
You’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about what happened to you. You’ve been trying to remember how it felt to be that child, the one who stared out of windows and waited for a car, waited to be rescued. You feel the ache in the back of your throat, muscle memory, that awful certainty that nobody is ever going to make things okay. You shake with it and you dream about it and you wonder how far you’ll have to run before it can’t catch you anymore.
You’ve been through hell, and the ash is still smudged on your face. You have broken every bone and healed each one jagged and wrong. You are not the shape of the person you were before it happened, you are something new, forged from a war you didn’t sign up to fight, but that, somehow, you won.
And no, it doesn’t feel like a victory. That’s the secret of war. There are winners and losers, but ultimately, the cost outweighs the medals, the parades, the written history of battles and triumph.
You wonder, if perhaps, you didn’t survive, so much as live through it. Whether there’s a distinction there. People try to make this a martyrdom, and they try to make it sacred. People try to worship at the words you’ve spat, angry and afraid, and they try to make them beautiful. And you think – I am not special.
And that is the thought that scares you the most. Just because your voice is the loudest, you know (god you know), that doesn’t mean it’s unique. Whispers in the dark, a shared history, we have been there too, and it hurt us just as much, if not more, they say, they say, they say. Dream of silver days when nobody will find these words and find themselves within them.
I see you, you shout. I see you, and I know you, and we all bleed gold, glinting in the sun as it streams from us, more precious than blood, because blood is spilt without thought, whereas this – what has been done, what will be done again and again because goddammit, power and cruelty will always win over compassion, the gold we bleed paths the streets and makes them glisten and people tread over it and don’t seem to realise the cost of it.
You are held together with spit and glue, and you fight with fists and words. Tell you something though, I think maybe you’re stronger than you know. Because the world could have made you heartless, could have made you cold, could have made you just the same as those who hurt you. But you kept something, secret and small, safe and sound, yet big as a soul, big as big can be.
You kept yourself. You kept your kindness. You kept your empathy. And yes, you kept your spite, because sometimes you need that too. You live in spite of, and to spite, and you live quiet or loud, soft or violent, but dammit, you live wonderfully.
And if you think you don’t, if you think they really broke you, if you think, no, you left yourself behind somewhere along the way – I disagree.
You’re not who you were. And you’re allowed to mourn that loss. Because it is a loss. But also know that as long as you breathe, as long as you stay here, as long as you’re in this world, you’re living proof that no matter how bad it got (and I know it got bad, I know, I know) you stood back up. So you know the taste of blood in your mouth, you know the colour of bruises, you know the way words ring in your ears for days or weeks or months or years. Soldier, you fought your war, and you’ve come home, and sometimes that is everything.
They don’t hand out medals. There are no parades in the streets. They don’t mark the anniversary of the final battle. Maybe nobody even knows about it apart from you.
But sometimes, and you might not even realise, you’ll brush past someone in the street who has fought that war too. Who has the scars and the head full of nightmares just like you. You’ll pass them by, and they’ll pass you by, and you’ll both keep living, keep walking forward, ever forward, until you can barely remember what it sounded like when the bombs dropped.
And that’s not nothing.”