No poetry this time.

In this world, everyone expects us to speak constantly. If you don’t respond within 5 minutes on Facebook, Snapchat, and WhatsApp, you’re instantly accused of ignoring. And maybe, in a way, at times I do just this, as I am not stuck to the internet. I like reading books, dancing, going outside, and so much more. Our world is not limited to the internet.

It is not all of the reasoning, though. The reality is that I have a condition known as social pragmatic communication disorder. What this means in consequences is that I have difficulty understanding and using language in social situations, building and maintaining relationships, participating in social activities, and understanding figurative language. I take things too seriously and too literally most of the time.

My condition is also the reason why I started writing poetry, as it was to improve my language skills and open up about things dear to me. This is why most of my poetry is focused on specific subjects. It’s what gives me a lifeline in a way, not straying too far from the familiar path.

I have two other conditions. The first is myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition that primarily causes persistent fatigue that is not relieved by rest. And the second is non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder, a condition that causes my internal clock to not be aligned with the normal 24-hour day cycle. Basically, I am always tired, and my days happen at different times, always shifting, including sometimes when it is nighttime.

But just as much a reason is my brothers. I have two older brothers (Vladislav and Anton), two younger brothers (Aleksander and Ilya), a baby brother (Samuel), and two baby sisters (Solomiya and Rachel). When it comes to my 4 brothers who are no longer babies, they’re all autistic. Each of them has their own struggles and peculiarities.

Aleks (short for Aleksander) is overly active, to the point that he frustrates me at times. And I’m just soooo glad that Vlad (short for Vladislav) often chooses to keep him busy. While Anton, he is non-verbal. He can speak, but he chooses to almost never do so. It can be frustrating as well, as sometimes it’s clear something is bothering him, but he won’t speak about it. This may seem all negative, but there is an opposite to both of them.

When it comes to Aleks, he always keeps away from my bedroom when I am here. Without ever having to tell him, he knows he needs to give me my rest, peace, and privacy. While Anton, he notices instantly when I am not doing well. He takes my hand and points to the sensory room our parents have made. We sit there for as long as it takes me to feel better, and he will always notice when that moment comes and hug me. It’s like clockwork; he simply knows.

That happens to be my last reason for not speaking much. People always assume regardless. It’s like there’s this claim that autistic people don’t feel empathy. While each of my autistic brothers does show clear empathy, just not in the ways most would expect, nor possibly even notice. But I’d rather have their empathy than the supposed ‘empathy’ in this world, where there’s so little love and care for others.

The world is often seen as black and white: you belong to one group, and I belong to another. Empathy is few and far between; instead, people judge everything. If I admitted being born in Belarus, I would be judged because of it. If I say I live in Poland, the same thing happens. Being vegan isn’t any different. And being fair-skinned, do I even need to explain?

People don’t truly listen. In most cases, people only listen to respond. And it wouldn’t be hard to assume conditions like autism and social pragmatic communication disorder are forms of evolution. Certainly, they disable us in parts, whether people like to admit it or not. However, having a harder time speaking leaves more time for listening, and in this regard, I’m glad and happy for who I am.

In a world where so many people speak, the listener is worth the most.

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