Friday, 14 February 2014

Let It Go (2013)

I recently decided to watch 'Frozen', the latest animated Disney film, having heard mixed reviews on whether or not it was better than Tangled (I first saw that a few months ago, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it). Before that I'd heard a lot about the song 'Let It Go' which appears in the film, and had listened to it once or twice. It was after seeing the context of the song in the film, however, that the words made an impression on me.

The next two paragraphs have spoilers, so be warned.
If you've not seen Frozen, the story involves two princess sisters, one of whom (Elsa) can create snow and ice using her hands. In childhood this initially amuses her little sister Anna, but after she accidentally shoots ice at her sister, the trolls who heal Anna remove her memories of her sister's ability. The sisters' parents keep the girls inside until Elsa learns to control her powers, and give Elsa gloves to cover her hands so that no more accidents happen. Elsa is frightened that she will hurt her sister again, and shuts herself away: by the time the sisters are teenagers, they are distant and Elsa stays alone in her ice-covered room. At Elsa's coronation, she is unable to control her emotions after an argument with Anna, and accidentally releases snow and ice in front of the guests. Elsa panics at having nearly hurt Anna again and at everybody knowing her secret, and flees to the mountains, unknowingly casting an unending winter on her kingdom. In the mountains she builds a castle for herself out of ice, and at this point 'Let It Go' is sung.

Since then I've listened to the song a fair bit on repeat, and earlier while walking I thought about how 'Let It Go', sung by Elsa, relates to my experience of accepting my diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome. Nowadays I feel more at ease with myself, but before I was diagnosed I felt that I had to hide my traits, much like Elsa had to hide her abilities. My traits came out more under stress or when I had trouble controlling my emotions, like Elsa's powers, however once I was diagnosed I developed a reckless attitude about showing my traits. Like Elsa, this led to my words and actions accidentally hurting others emotionally, and I had to learn to control myself so that I could still be me while accepting my traits as part of that.

(end of spoilers)


Focusing directly on the song, I think it's easiest if I go through it line-by-line and analyse it that way:

"The snow glows white on the mountain tonight, not a footprint to be seen.
A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I'm the Queen"
After I have an Aspie-attack (thankfully this hasn't happened for a while), I shut myself away or stop talking out of guilt and for fear of hurting anybody. It feels like it's just me on my own during these times.

"The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn't keep it in; Heaven knows I've tried"
Far from being emotionless as the media has tended to depict Aspies, I feel really mixed up after an Aspie-attack. When my traits have led to me saying/doing something (or indeed not doing/saying something) which has led to someone being upset, I feel awful, guilty, lost. This stress makes my surroundings seem more intense. And I do try my very best to keep my traits in check: especially before diagnosis, when I'd try to keep inside even my milder traits.

"Don't let them in, don't let them see, be the good girl you always have to be.
Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know, well now they know."
Don't let them know that you're not normal. Hide your Aspie feelings. Be the front you put on, be normal. These are things that I regularly told myself growing up. In childhood I was bullied for my traits, and did my best to hide them from others in order to gain and keep friends as I got older. This was stressful, feeling that I was wrong and that I had to become the 'normal' person that I tried to show. It was easier to dull my emotions than to feel guilt and pain: acting (and to an extent becoming) emotionless also had the 'advantage' that when I was silent, my words couldn't hurt anyone. And then I accepted that I might have Asperger Syndrome not long before I began this blog, and started telling people. I really wish that I hadn't cut off my emotions like that, it made feeling better about myself a lot harder.

"Let it go, let it go, can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go, turn away and slam the door"
So I accepted my traits, and eventually a diagnosis. Then I didn't want to go back to feeling 'fake', so I rejected the front that I'd put on. After a while I felt so different, so removed from who I was, that I wondered if the 'real' me was my Aspie-self or the front that I'd learned to put on. In earlier entries I've discussed various feelings and thoughts on this: last week I was asked which person I was, I said that I just try to not worry about it nowadays.

"I don't care what they're going to say
Let the storm rage on, the cold never bothered me anyway"
Rationally I tell myself that anybody who rejects me or views me in a worse light for having Asperger Syndrome isn't worth my time, but that doesn't mean that I don't feel a bit scared when I tell people. When I put up a link to a documentary that I was in on Asperger Syndrome, I was too scared to open my Facebook page for the rest of the evening to see what others had commented on it. For some months after I was diagnosed, I was quite upfront about having Asperger Syndrome, and didn't care so much about others' reactions then. There was that stubborn part of me that says that even if people leave, I enjoy solitude: I'm not sure I truly believed that even then though.

"It's funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can't get to me at all"
Nowadays I feel at ease with my traits, when I have them under control. I'm not scared to show things like mild stimming or a short break in eye contact anymore, and feel a lot more relaxed in my daily life.

"It's time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I'm free!"
Those Aspie-abilities that films often show? I can't hack computers or give incredibly accurate estimations, but I am able to focus well on things and have a good memory. Childhood bullying of being 'clever' left me reluctant to do things that I find a bit easier than my non-Aspie friends and relatives, but I'm trying to gain confidence in using these skills again. I'm trying to feel that being different in this sense isn't a bad thing. As for "I'm free!", I think I've already discussed this with regard to my immediate post-diagnosis attitude to having Asperger Syndrome, and the bad points of showing no concern for the consequences.

"Let it go, let it go, I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go, you'll never see me cry
Here I stand and here I'll stay, let the storm rage on.
My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around"
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I'm never going back, the past is in the past"
It's been a confusing journey to this point (sometimes it's still not clear-cut how I feel about myself), but accepting that I am allowed to have Aspie traits and still be myself is empowering.

"Let it go, let it go, and I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go, that perfect girl is gone
Here I stand in the light of day
Let the storm rage on, the cold never bothered me anyway."
So allowing myself to be Aspie isn't a bad thing. By accepting my traits, I'm also accepting the (admittedly few in my case) positive traits of my condition. I don't have to be 'socially normal' all of the time, and that's okay as long as I ensure that I don't unthinkingly hurt others.

Writing this blog reminded me of analysing poems in GCSE English. I like that nowadays I'm able to use my own interpretation, rather than what the syllabus told us to think. TVTropes talks about people with anxiety and depression relating their conditions to Elsa and this song, and I'm sure that others will see this song as something completely different. When I deliver mental health training, I talk about how we each see things through our own 'window on the world', which has been shaped by our own experiences and beliefs. Being Aspie affects how I see this song, and my other life experiences affect how I see things in my daily life. I find it interesting learning how others see things, and finding out what their windows are made up of.

In case you were wondering, I think that as a film Frozen wasn't as great as the hype made it out to be. I do love this song though, and would've loved to see more of Elsa's character.

3 comments:

  1. It is a sign of great Art that it speaks to our situation wherever we are.

    Though I'm outraged at your lack of enthusiasm in the last lines, I'm glad you got so much out of the song. It's truly excellent.

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  2. بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم نحن فى شركة الكمال نقوم بكشف التسربات من خلال امببة هواء مزواده بالعداد

    هواء كما يوجد لدينا جهاز الكترنى يكشف عن طريق التزبزبات
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالطائف
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بجازان
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بحائل
    والسلامة عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

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