One Autistic Woman's story

AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen
edited August 13 in Mind and Body Wellbeing

(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 challenges.


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 fate.


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.

Comments

  • WizardryWizardry Citizen, Mentor
    You've experienced a lot of adversity since the very beginning. Being an autistic child who doesn't understand how the world works, what's going on around you and why it's all happening can be very confusing and anxiety-provoking, especially when you're also being mistreated by those who should be looking out for you.

    The world is already a difficult place to navigate. Being autistic exacerbates that, and I'd imagine that being autistic and not knowing you're autistic, not knowing why you are the way you are would only make everything more confusing and difficult to understand.

    I'm sorry that the world can be such a cold place, and that the beginning of your time on this planet was so traumatising and alienating. I hope you're able to heal to the extent that it's possible, and find comfort and contentment with the life you lead now.
  • Statest16Statest16 Citizen, Mentor
    Did you ever read the Donna Williams books?
  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen
    @Wizardry, thanks for the thoughtful support, its my hope to become more comfortable in my own skin. 
    @Statest16 I've been reading about her in the last few days, some parts of her life are very relatable, might try to read one of her books 🙂

  • Statest16Statest16 Citizen, Mentor
    Amity said:
    @Wizardry, thanks for the thoughtful support, its my hope to become more comfortable in my own skin. 
    @Statest16 I've been reading about her in the last few days, some parts of her life are very relatable, might try to read one of her books 🙂

    I read all her books up to that date in the 90's ,I'd get "Nobody Nowhere" first
  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen
    edited September 12

    Picking up where I left off...

    Life continued in this way, it was my normal. On the surface, like with many other families, things seemed fine, sometimes other children were openly envious of the opportunities we had. I estimate that most of the time was uneventful, with regular/family/school/work experiences. When things went wrong though, it seemed to be significant.


    This middle childhood piece is where my awareness of difference was growing, my sense of right and wrong developing and where I started to take on responsibilities’ way past my age. This kiddo had to deal with adult level issues and managed by trying to control everything in these situations.


    Dads drinking was by now a major issue, mums response was to take a zero tolerance attitude to alcohol in the house, there were many arguments, he would have fought with his fingernails when drunk.


    Most of the time he would drink at work and sneak off to get more when he ran out, we were often with him at his outdoor job. I remember having to cover for him being drunk when he couldn’t do his job and customers needed to be tended to. One time he was so blottoed I decided I had to get him out of sight, for fear of him loosing his job; I spoke with a customer that knew him and he agreed to do the job while I had the responsibility of walking dad home. I might have been aged 7 and with my 4 yr old sister holding his other hand we set off being dragged from one side of the path to the other while he swayed wildly.


    After 10 minutes or so my sister had enough, she gave out to him and then stormed off ahead of us, I remember the sense of feeling very alone, with the weight of the responsibility on me to keep him on the path and away from the dangers of the road.


    This memory, among others like it shaped my sense of responsibility and not in a helpful way. I realised that if I took control, in the absence of my father having any, I could influence the outcome of a situation. Until recently I've carried this sense of responsibility, propelled by a sense of duty formed in childhood.
    It was a survival based coping strategy, I'm safe now, I dont have to carry the weight of the 'right thing to do' for anyone except me (and Verity x), the world will keep spinning regardless!

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