Living on the Spectrum and other Poems by Nikki Satterlund

Nikki Satterlund "Living on A Spectrum"

By Nikki Satterlund

Living on a Spectrum

I live on a spectrum
Of colors and lights
Where here it is dark, and here it is bright
But mostly,
I balance on the shades in between.

In my world, yellow is happy
And blue is sad.
And a rainbow is what I am.
A rainbow of colors, the shape of a circle,
Where the ink bleeds from beginning to end.

My colors, they shine like lights.
Bursting from me.
Society wants to dim the lights,
Put a lid on them,
Tuck them away from everyone’s eyes.

Because somehow,
I’m never enough.
I’m always too much.
Not disabled enough for this
Too disabled for that.
Not gay enough for this,
Too gay for that.

But my world,
This spectrum
Is not a puzzle
Though I am a piece.
There are no slots, no puzzle shaped holes
But maybe this piece was not meant to fit in.
Maybe none of us were.

I’ll spin, I’ll stim, I’ll flap.
I’ll be who I am
And love who I love
And think how I think
And stand where I stand.
I’ll drop my balancing act
Uncap the lid
Let out my light
And break out of the shades in between.

The Other Side of the Glass

Nikki Satterlund "The Other Side of the Glass"

I see you
See you smile,
And I laugh
I laugh when they laugh.
Try to reach them,
But I can’t.
So, they just pass on by.

Because it’s hard to reach the world
When you’re watching from a distance.
I’m so tired of being different.
So, I’m waiting here
On the other side of the glass.

I watch the raindrops drip slowly down
Down the cool, silken glass.
Maybe I’m slow,
Or maybe they’re fast.
I try to go where they go.
All these people who love me
But they don’t even know.

Because it’s hard to teach a world
That keeps you at a distance
It’s hard,
But I’ll learn to be proud of being different
I’ll keep waiting here
On the other side of the glass.

And when the glass is clean, I can see through it clearly.
But fingerprints, smudges, and cracks?
I can’t see a thing through this glass.
But in the reflections
I see beauty you never can.
Standing here,
On the other side of the glass.

More Than Different

Nikki Satterlund More Than Different

Little girl wanders the edge of the playground
She watches the other kids play basketball
Wishing she could play along.
But she knows
Even if they let her join in
They’d never pass the ball to her.
So, she puts her head down
And walks away.

The words the grown-ups say
Echo in her brain
Autistic
And different.
And if you tried harder, you’d fit in.
But how can they say this?
They don’t know her
Never took the time to understand her
If they looked closer, they’d see
She’s more than different.

Teenage girl
Sits on the corner on the curb
Her head in her knees, she’s crying.
Because she doesn’t understand why the other kids taunt
And jab their words like needles
that poke and prod at her skin.
And all she’s ever wanted was to be herself.

The words the bullies say
Echo in her brain
Why are you so different?
Why can’t you just fit in?
Put yourself together
Pull yourself off the floor.
It doesn’t matter.
She’s been broken too many times before.
If they took the time, they’d see
She’s more than different

And I’m more than just the girl on the playground
Or sitting on the curb
I’m the one standing next to you
Who you’ve never seen
Because you’ve never really looked.
And the words people say
I will shove them away.

I’m autistic
Creative
Amazing, my brain is.
I might be the one with a disability
But I’m not the one who lacks empathy.
Step back
Take the time to know me.
Because I’m proud to be
Different.

My name is Nikki Satterlund, I’m twenty-three years old and autistic. I spent much of my life as a child being picked on or ostracized by peers. I know several other neurodivergent people who’ve been through the same thing. It seems to be a near universal disability experience. Though I’ve seldom experienced it, I also know several people who have been subject to bullying behavior at the hands of adults who should be supporting them. I’ve learned to accept my differences as an autistic woman, and I have a strong desire to share my experiences. I identify as bisexual, and that has been a road of its own as well. It took me a long time to be okay with who I was, but I’ve learned to embrace it. My art and poetry reflect on the nature of being different and on my identities as autistic and LGBTQ+.

2 Comments

  • I love your songs, Nikki !

    Especially “the other side of the glass”

    What you describe is so familiar to me,
    yet there is also some difference.

    From a young age, as a little boy, I learned to expect very little
    of others, and to take myself as being different for granted.
    I gave up trying to be like others, and soon came to the conclusion
    that it is better to be different, since this way I will not lose myself
    in others as I saw other people do. Once you pass the barrier of being
    able to do that, there is happiness and blessing on the other side.

    Today, as a grown up person (58 years old), I know that there was
    and still is a great treasure in this ability to be different and true to yourself.

    Struggling this way through my life, I earned a great and unique treasure that
    many others would wish to have. Today it even becomes apparent to everyone that
    this is indeed so. People love me today very much and cannot understand how
    I am so easily able to be so free.

    I feel that I made it.
    I earned my freedom.
    I am full of love and peace now,
    never being alone even if living by myself.

    Sending you all my love,

    David Goren.

  • Dear Nikki,
    I started crying seeing you express that you are not a burden. YOU ARE NOT A BURDEN, YOU ARE A GIFT!

    I am an art and psychology major at The University of Arizona with the intention of becoming a creative arts therapist. You’re voice matters so much and is so underrepresented in the world. Your art speaks volumes.
    Don’t ever stop being you.
    Love,
    Jeanne

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