One Autistic Woman's story
(All the trigger warnings, x)
I find myself being revisited by old stories, events from my past that return to be with me in the now, its trauma and unwanted memories, who could want to remember such things in this way, not me that’s for sure.
I’m hoping that by retelling what happened to me I can help this past of mine become less influential on my life today.
Trauma, its always been there, a constant presence in my life, in trying to identify a true version of myself, so that I can be authentic, I've come to realise that on a deeper level, I dont know who I am, the first question I had about my Autistic self is still valid, who knows the real you, how can a person tell who they really are versus who they have been conditioned to be. I am still meandering and perhaps that is a real part of my identity.
It’s a story of one undiagnosed autistic woman and there are so
many of us that are particularly vulnerable and came up through an ignorant intolerant
world, I wish to be well and need to be responsible for myself, so I am prioritising myself for a change, knowing that I am not alone in my experience as an Autie woman. I'll start from the beginning...
I think of my foetal experience, I had a vanishing twin, mum experienced their likely miscarriage at around 3 months into the pregnancy, afterwards I was threatening miscarriage she was put on bed rest (with undoubtedly a tonne of anxiety) until I was born. I feel this shaped my introduction to the world, as a place of fear and loss as this seems to be a consistent theme in my life.
My birth was traumatic, but for the advances in medical
practices, I likely wouldn’t be alive today.I went into foetal distress during the very early stages of
labour, my heartbeat slowed to a dangerous level and mum was rushed off for an
emergency C section, my umbilical cord had wrapped around my neck and caused
hypoxia. This likely reinforced what I knew about the world already, it was
going to be a place full of threats to my safety. I guess from the start I was
on high alert.
As a lactose intolerant baby, back when there was no real
understanding of this, I had ever present colic and cried consistently. I can
imagine that the clothes I wore and textures I experienced would have made my
skin go crazy, the noises (likely amplified by the regular and sensory stress)
were at least picked up on and everyone tended to be quiet around me. I knew
love, kindness, fun and had a large support network; this has been my saving
grace, a protective factor, a gift from the universe amongst the many
Life became more challenging as I grew and the circle of people
I was exposed to increased, my sister joined the family and mum gave up her
full time job. A year later I started school, preschool wasn’t available then
and school became another trauma for me. I was totally unprepared for the
reality of a 30 pupil class with a sadist teacher at the helm.
She shouted and roared threats in such a way that terrified me, I couldn’t tell what would get a child into trouble, I avoided her at all costs. I feel a lot of empathy for this autistic kiddo, I was so scared of her, how could I learn anything useful in such a state. It wasn’t just threats though, she slapped with the side of a wooden ruler for incorrect work or misbehaviour… It hurt, it was supposed to, the child had to make a fist on the table for her to give a literal “wrap over the knuckles” or other times it was smacking the side/long edge of the wooden ruler on the side of the knee. She preferred the bony promontories, less likely to leave a mark, to this day I have a dislike for wooden rulers. In between her and the next monster, I had two lovely teachers, not perfect by any means, but the standard was set fairly low, and they were nurturing by comparison.
At home things were going in the wrong direction, I still had the wide support network, thankfully, but Mum returned to full time work and my Dads alcohol addiction began to cause problems, some of my earliest memories are being with him while he snuck off to the pub. I seemed to be in trouble a lot of the time, Mum was crazy with stress and Dads judgement was regularly impaired, being smacked became a normal event, despite being a well mannered child.
It was strange how I could see how wrong many things were, I
wonder from time to time did my Autistic perspective heighten my sense of
injustice. I remember deciding at age 5/6 that my parents slapping me had
caused such harm and feeling a consuming desire to protect my sister from this
I gave up on defending myself, deciding that I was already hurt and that my actions to protect myself would continue to be futile. I chose to interject and protect her from the many over the knee smacking punishments, I picked fights at key moments pre-empting what was about to happen to her, switching the anger onto me. I again feel such empathy for this child version of me, I was doing what I could and understanding very little about what was really happening.
I have many memories like this, some of them are fuzzy but the
fear seems to still be there, alive in my body and I’m hoping to release some
of it through writing it down, letting it out, okay so thats enough for now, I think I need a sleep after this.