It’s been a while since I wrote a blog about my time here at Gaulier. I should, I suppose, be writing reams of text by now… as I have only one module left (Shakespeare/Chekov), which starts in 3 weeks.

This term, I have had my biggest crisis since the first time I stepped into my first Gaulier movement class over 1.5 years ago.

I’d say that the crisis is still ongoing…

It’s a big one.

In a way, it’s a variation on the same crisis that I have been having the entire time I have been here at Gauiler – the struggle with the feeling that it’s not okay to “be me”…

It’s the fear that, if I am fully authentic and open, the world won’t accept me.

For me, very few of the crises I’ve had here at Gaulier have been related to what I’m doing on stage. Some people have huge crises about how well they do in the classes. But, I think I “trust the process” enough that I don’t mind failing on stage anymore – you always learn more from a “flop” than a success.

My crises are usually related to social dynamics.

Over the last year here at Gaulier, I have felt the most loved and accepted by the community than I have ever felt in any community.

It feels like this is my home.

This term I have felt more love and support and caring from the community than I have ever felt before. I have felt more accepted for being me.

But, at the same time, this term, I have felt a resurgence in a feeling “social danger” (is the only way I can describe the feeling).

What is the feeling of “social danger”?

It’s the voice that says “Look out! Be on guard! People are judging and misunderstanding you! Don’t get too comfortable!”

As someone who – I now realise – has done a lot of unintentional “neurodivergent masking” for years, perhaps this is a normal part of the fear that comes when we “unmask.”

I think all humans all have seeds of this type of fear. It’s natural – in tribal communities, social rejection was literally a threat to our survival.

If you are neurodivergent, I’ve read that this fear can be even stronger than normal… because you ARE actually different. As with other minority groups, there is an actual danger to being “different,” especially when your differences are invisible and misunderstood by most people.

Why is it coming up for me again now?

There are probably various reasons…

One is that I’m trying to come to terms with the possibility that I might have autism… I don’t know if I do or not. Maybe I’ll never know for sure (I’m still waiting even for an ADHD diagnosis for another 4 years maybe, and a diagnosis of autism is potentially unnecessary as there’s no medication).

Both my ADHD coach and therapist about 6 months ago, independently said, “Have you thought about autism?” following our discussions on how I struggle with some social dynamics. It has a strong co-occurrence with ADHD (about 20-50% of people with ADHD have autism), and the symptoms overlap significantly. Since then, I’ve done a lot of research.

The possibility that I might have autism symptoms (though it would explain a lot) seems to be far harder for me to deal with than ADHD…

I’ve spent years (and masses of energy, undergoing countless trainings) unknowingly working to try to overcome my ADHD symptoms. The question of “Is it ADHD?” is one that allows me to relax a little around those symptoms and accept that “maybe I’ll just never be good at these.”

But autistic symptoms!…

Those hit to the very core of the “deficiencies” I believe about myself.

Right now, accepting those symptoms would mean confronting my core (and highly detrimental) beliefs like:
“I am unlovable.”
“People think I am weird.”
“Nobody thinks I am attractive.”
“I will never be fully accepted into a friend group.”
“I can never maintain deep friendships.”
“People fundamentally misunderstand me and I can’t do anything about it.”
“etc etc etc”

These are clearly not helpful beliefs. And I have plenty of evidence against most of them, that I’ve built up over this year at Gaulier more than ever… part of me knows they are false.

But these beliefs exist.

And they are strong.

This term at Gaulier has kicked off a “hidden part” of me that has lain dormant for years – the little part of Alex that was bullied for years at school…

The little Alex who was excluded from “the gang” at primary school that included every other boy in the school (I went to a tiny school)… but excluded little Alex and his one friend.

The little Alex who was teased for being “Too clever for your own good.” and who two key teachers punished for being different and overly opinionated.

The little Alex who was told by his mum “They just don’t understand you.”… leading (I think) to a belief that the worst thing that could happen to me in the world is that people misunderstand me.

Being at Gaulier often throws up this sort of foundational crisis.

The social environment is intense.

The classes are intense.

And, if you use the opportunity to explore your own fears and demons (which I do), you can suddenly find yourself facing versions of yourself that you hadn’t even realised you had been hiding.

Even in the face of great love and community… scared little Alex inside me is shouting “Don’t relax! Don’t let your guard down! Danger! Danger!”

For me, I think it’s fair to say this is the biggest crisis I’ve encountered here at the school. Bigger even (though it might be surprising to hear) than breaking my spine while skiing last year and missing 2 modules…

… but that was because my broken back was an external issue… while this one is created by my unconscious fears.

Last term, I felt so confident.

I felt more connected to myself and my body and my “soul” (see previous blog) than ever before.

I had expected to come back this term and build on that confidence.

But that’s not how stories go, is it?

Things don’t just get better and better with no dips.

If we were to view this as a Hero’s Journey story (let’s break out some of my story structure geekery), we always need a “Final Showdown” – a battle where you face your deepest fears head-on.

For the last 3 weeks, I’ve done a lot of mental work…

A lot of meditating.

A lot of journaling.

A lot of talking over my fears with friends.

And the crisis hasn’t gone away yet. It feels like it still has something to teach me.

I have 3 weeks until I do my final module of Shakespeare/Chekov. This is time to regroup and find myself again. I really want that module to be fun…

… I want to “go out with a bang.”

But this crisis persists.

In the Hero’s Journey, perhaps I’m at that point in the final battle when the protagonist is broken and exhausted, their sword lost, with the dragon bearing over them and about to attack…

… where it looks like all hope is lost. The point in the story when we ask ourselves “Was this whole journey (in my case, to regain social confidence) for nothing?”

Thankfully, we know how these stories usually end.

They usually end with the protagonist rising like a phoenix from the ashes. And finally calling on all their strengths and courage to become the strongest version of them that they can be.

I’m not there yet.

But the story is not yet over.

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