Autism, or stranger in a strange land
If you are neurodiverse, but in a way that does not include the autism spectrum, YOU DO NOT KNOW ME BETTER THAN I KNOW MYSELF. Even if you have “read books” on autism. Even if you have discussed autism with people. Even if… anything.
Educating yourself on ableism might be something to look into.
If, while educating yourself on ableism, you realize that you have done and said ableist things, maybe consider apologizing for those things.
Tonight marks the third time that a woman relative has talked to me about reconciling with a different relative, and I have said, “Under no circumstances will I be doing that, or making any little gestures in their general direction. I WANT NO PART OF RECONCILING.” The woman relative then sought out the other relative and told them: “Mea wants to reconcile with you/wanted me to express to you this heart-warming gesture!”
And apparently, the other relative, and any bystanders, accepted that gesture at face value.
= = =
The first two times it happened, the woman relatives wanted me to reconcile with my cousin the rapist. The third time, the woman relative wanted me to reconcile with my mother (whom I broke up with because of her championing my cousin the rapist to me).
These conversations have been years apart. Three separate women relatives. How is it that they all hear things I HAVE NEVER SAID?
I don’t know. But… I broke up with all three of the women relatives since I cannot trust what they “hear” when I speak with them. (Or write to them.)
I’m the only person responsible for soothing my own feelings. And you are responsible for soothing your own feelings. And other people are responsible for soothing their own feelings.
I set my boundaries where I need mine to be. You set yours where you need yours to be.
When we remember our shared past differently… that’s normal.
Your memories, thoughts, feelings ABOUT MY LIFE do not “trump” my memories, thoughts, feelings about my life. Perhaps at the reunions I haven’t attended, the extended family plays a parlor game of dissecting everyone else’s memories, thoughts, feelings too. Perhaps spirited debates occur. Perhaps people vote on the ones they like best; all others are discarded.
THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS I DID NOT TALK TO ANY OF YOU ABOUT.
I would assume vice versa.
Since I stopped attending family gatherings, I develop fever blisters/cold sores maaaybee once a year. (If that often.) That weird “dermatitis/rosaceae-looking” outbreak that I had on my face for 12 years or so, that no doctor could explain, went away without me doing anything differently.
I still get migraines, but… vanishingly rarely from stress. (Environmental sensitivities mostly.)
I don’t dread seeing people for weeks and months ahead of time, saving up “spoons” like mad, and knowing they won’t be enough. That there will be a meltdown, and it will be mine. (And then I’ll be shamed for it.)
Flashbacks and nightmares about my cousin the rapist and/or my mother happen … hardly ever.
The most recent panic attacks I’ve had? Occurred while I was talking on the phone to relatives. (Months apart.)
= = =
When I’m not in contact with relatives, no one yells at me. There is no screaming. No one pressures me to conform. No one insists on how I “should” feel. No one condescends to me, then insists I’m “too sensitive” for not liking it. No one shames me for being the person that I am.
I’m 49 years old, and it’s still relevant to say these things.
It’s true that I would like more people in my life. But they would have to abide by my boundaries, and so far, my relatives can’t/won’t.
I miss… something I don’t remember child me ever having: Feeling safe around other people.
Child me loved my mother’s father, who told me girls were worthless and stupid. Not safe.
Child me loved my father’s brother, who called me a nickname that I hated. When I asked him not to, he laughed at me. Not safe. (When he died years later, his son/my cousin, spoke of the nickname in the thank you card to me. Thanks for triggering me in my grief.)
Child me idolized an older male cousin who called me a different nickname while he tormented me, and laughed at my fear. Not safe.
Child me wanted, desperately, to have a relationship with my godfather — “you’re so alike!” — but no matter how I approached him in person, or in writing, over years and years and years, he always brushed me off. Was too busy. Meanwhile, he liked girls fine. Just not me.
He died Monday morning.
We may indeed have been alike. But I didn’t know him. We never had a relationship.
Yesterday, though, our non-relationship was characterized to me as having been “very special”. People (including my mother) said that about my relationship with my cousin (before he became) the rapist.
The phrase “very special relationship”, to me, denotes me being repeatedly ignored or abused while everyone else looks the other way. Maybe because they think that’s all a defective person like me deserves? I don’t know.
My jumble of feelings refuses to resolve satisfactorily. I’m sad, but not about my uncle. I’m angry.
I’m proud of how I stood up for myself.
I miss Spouse, who has been visiting his parents.
I’m annoyed that I wasn’t asked about my mother-in-law, who is actively dying.
I’m annoyed about a whole bunch of things.
= = =
I didn’t feel sad until I was writing about child me.
If just one person had ever sat me down and asked me … anything. What mattered to me. How I felt. What I hoped for in my life.
If anyone ever told me a favorite memory of me that wasn’t when I was a baby or toddler; something that I actually could be expected to recall.
If anyone I loved… wanted to talk with me, not at me.
If anyone listened.