January 21, 2022

Do you relate to the song Surface Pressure, from Encanto? One part makes me tear up nearly every time: “Give it to your sister – it doesn’t hurt her.”

I can count a few specific memories of being told something wouldn’t hurt, when it actually did. But only a few. So, why does that line affect me so strongly? What’s going on under the surface?

Maybe it’s the silent, pervasive assumption that most of the things I find hard should be easy for me.

My dad once said that when people see what I create, they’ll always think the hard parts were easy and the easy parts were hard. However, I think the same wisdom applies to more than art.

Hard things often hurt. And sometimes, what hurts even more is the invisibility of the burden.

Perhaps what makes that line of the song so powerful is the other sister’s reaction – listening, seeing, flooded with compassion, and finally understanding.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.