autism and angst / anguish
I am having a lot of mixed feelings, now that I have read blog posts by several autistic writers, and 2 books on autism (with more to follow).
If I was a kid now, diagnosed with autism, there’s so much stuff available to help that wasn’t around in the 1970s. And yet…
Help is expensive and time-consuming and puts strain on everyone in the family.
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I have never really gotten along with my parents. But…
I’m now wondering if both of them might not be on the spectrum. My father had all kinds of social difficulties at his jobs (before he started his own business), and a lot of them could definitely have been because he had poor skills at reading social cues.
My mother has no friends, except her sister (my aunt). Who I think is also autistic.
My aunt’s oldest child, a man, is like classic Asperger’s/autistic (and I’ve thought that for years). But, having read more, I’m wondering if his 2 brothers might also have it.
And what about my niece, that my aunt says is so much like me and her both? Could she have autism too? (I don’t know my niece, so I have no opinion of my own.)
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A whole ton of autistic behaviors have been things I’ve done all my life… I just didn’t call them what the literature calls them.
I often didn’t know what to call them, besides personality defects. Quirks, if I was feeling charitable towards myself.
At family parties, I would seek out the quietest room I could find, and read a book. If we were at someone else’s house, I would find the room where people’s coats were, and I’d crawl under all of them, and just lie there in the dark. It was very soothing.
Overwhelmed at home? I’d crawl into the closet, curl into a fetal ball, and hope no one came looking for me so they could yell at me.
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Maybe having me as a sibling actually did suck.
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I think my maternal grandmother has as good a chance of being autistic as anyone else in the family. Family legend tells how she would reach some kind of overwhelm-threshold, and just stand there, screaming at her kids, for hours and hours.
My uncle, the youngest, was traumatized by that. Talking about it 40 years later, he still shuddered. It was clearly this awful, terrible experience.
The thing is, my mother did that too. I don’t know if she didn’t realize she did it. Or if the overwhelm pushed those incidents out of her long-term memory, but… she screamed and screamed at us too.
I remember a conversation with her when I was in my 30s where she said that my youngest brother told her he “didn’t respond well when people screamed at him” (meaning my mother doing it), and she marveled to me that he was “weird” like that. At the time, I thought, “I never responded well, or liked it, when you screamed at me, either. But I knew better than to think telling you was going to make any difference! Probably there would’ve been more screaming.” I didn’t say any of that, of course. No point.
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Apparently a lot of autistic men marry women who are emotionally nurturing.
I bet that’s what my father thought my mother was. He was… so wrong. And yet, where would she have learned that behavior? Even if she isn’t autistic herself, she has ADHD and other learning disabilities.
And as much as I loved my grandmother, I’ve known all my life that I probably wouldn’t have survived my childhood if she was my mother.
I barely did survive my childhood with the mother I had. My father had some good points, too; I miss him sometimes.
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I’m also wondering if Spouse is on the spectrum. And I’m pretty sure his brother (who is much more like me in a lot of ways than Spouse is) is.
Spouse’s brother did marry an emotionally nurturing woman. She seems really nice, but I can’t relate to her at all. I wonder if she’s NT. I wonder if their kid is autistic.
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Maybe I’m just seeing it everywhere because it’s salient^3 right now.
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I’ve always had “melt downs”, but no one knew to call them that.
People, including my younger siblings, told me — well into young adulthood — that I was a crybaby and “being a baby”. I thought they were just cruel. But autism is developmental delays.
And I have always characterized myself as “young for my age” (in an emotionally immature sense). When I was 18, and went to live with my aunt and uncle, emotionally I was ~ 12 or 13 I think. Which is how my 14 year old cousin was able to abuse me as much as he did. I didn’t have any boundaries, or common sense, and I hardly ever picked up on social cues about appropriate behavior.
I had that one friend that autistic girls tend to have. But she was away at college, hundreds of miles away. We didn’t write to each other. I couldn’t make new friends.
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K taking me out drinking and dancing, and thinking I looked like I was “having a good time” when a drunken stranger 2x my age kissed and groped me against my will on the dance floor? If I’d actually been emotionally 18, I might’ve had some clue how to extricate myself. I didn’t, though. I waited for K for rescue me, and of course, she didn’t.
Not then. Not later.
Apparently it’s more common for autistic kids to be molested than NT kids. It all makes sense now.
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If anyone had ever asked me questions, about my life at all, really, or what I wanted to do with it… but everyone avoided me.
My father told me I was “tiresome”. Like Robert. Like Uncle Ron.
Surely behavior is tiresome, not people?
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I’m self-harming, and my eyes are swimming with tears.
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Good thing I already mourned the life I wouldn’t have when I found out I had ADHD, then chronic PTSD, then that my mother might be a narcissist, then that I was neurodiverse in some other unspecified way, then developmental trauma. And now autism.
Lots of grief and loss in my life all along.
Lots of not asking for things, because “people like you don’t deserve nice things”. Lots of trying to make myself smaller, but it never being sufficient so that I could get my needs met.
Being shamed anyway. Being told I was unlikeable.
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At least, now, after reading 100s of books on psychology, cognitive neuroscience, power dynamics, developmental biology, family therapy, anything I could find that might have answers… finally, I know something useful. Something that explains.
It’s really hard though.