19th of January 2020
Hi there, whoever is reading. I almost hope no one is reading this one. I kinda hope someone is reading this one.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my family and our history. My dad got ill when I was 6 years old and he has struggles with many different health problems since then. Especially his mental health. He also got cancer when I was 16 and getting cancer-free was a year in hell. And my mom has been the rock, the solid ground, the one who took care of everything and made out family function and run smoothly, the one who took care of doctors appointments and knew what had to be done and got it done. My brother is dyslexic and he needed a lot of help with school work.
And then there was me. I was always as problem. And I feel like everyone thought I was difficult on purpose. But it wasn’t on purpose. The world just hurt so much. And I was 30 before I had my autism diagnosis, that would have explained everything to everyone (including me). I didn’t have the language to explain myself. And no one had the energy or clarity or time to understand or help me find the words.
People tell me I am so eloquent. I am so good with words they say. But all forms of communication feel so difficult and hard and unnatural. There are days I think being non verbal would be relaxing. But I know how to speak and use my words so I don’t have an excuse to not communicate the way others ask me to. And even when other people compliment me on my communication skills I so often feel like I am an ocean that have only communicated a pond or a puddle, and everyone talks like they can see me clearly. Sometimes it feels like communicating hurts and I do no understand why. There are times when I am too overwhelmed when I cannot speak. Or if I am able to force words out they are the same few sentences like “Its fine. It’s good. Yes, that’s fine.” Often with smiles that feel so fake that I cannot understand that no one sees the pain and panic in my eyes. But they never do.
I was about 8 or I years old, when the school reacted to my isolation from the other kids. My mom had asked for help for me repeatedly before then. So when the school suggested a psychologist she of cause said yes. And that started this long process of several different psychologists, being taken out of some classes to sit with a special teacher and learn on my own, my mom taking time off from work to take me to see the psychologists (and we needed the money so her being away from work was bad and the bus tickets to go to the psychologists cost money too). And my parents were scared and angry, sometimes at the school, sometimes at me. The message I got in the midst of this confusing time was that everyone (maybe not my parents, but maybe also my parents), was unsatisfied with me. Everyone knew (as I knew) that I was not like the other children, and now that was a problem. I was a problem. I needed to be fixed. And the easy fix was to tell me to change, and have me change, and then the problem would be over.
Except I refused to change. I was me, and I didn’t want to not be me.
A better person would have sacrificed themself. I am not a better person. I am stubborn and arrogant and… I must be a lot of bad things. Because my family needed me to sacrifice. They needed me to give up something for them and they would have been fine if I had. They wouldn’t have had to o through whatever it was they went through. And I don’t remember much from this time (it’s like it’s hidden in an impenetrable fog or like my memories are missing, all I have are feelings and a few clear memories). What I have later learned is that what happened during that time is what caused my dad to start a long series of suicide attempts. And my mom still to this dayis so scared of being a bad mom. None of them can talk about that time. Whenever the subject comes up their voices turn hard and cold and angry and just behind that anger is pain and trauma. And though I do not understand it, it’s somehow clear that it’s my fault. That is also one of the few things they will say to me about it. They tell me I chose to be weird and not like the other children, that I made a choice to not conform and hidden just under that statement is the notion that I did it all on purpose. That I hurt them and I could have chosen not to.
And a part of me believes that they a right. I had a choice. It feels like it was a choice. Maybe just because that is the story I have been told for the last 20 years. Maybe because it was. No. It was. In part it was. I remember looking at the other kids at school and thinking that I wasn’t like them. I didn’t think I was better or worse. Just that I was different. And to be like them would be to not be me. And that would be a betrayal, an act of violence, something horrible and unnatural that I would have to do to myself, and I chose not to conform and try to be or act like everyone else. Something else that confirms that this was a choice I made is how many people I have met later in life whom have all had the same feeling of being different and needing to conform to be accepted. And I have never talked to anyone who made the same choice I made. They all talk about it as a choice, just like I do. And not a single one of them don’t regret conforming. I know in my heart that I made the right choice. I would make the same choice again and again and again. Even now, knowing what it cost my family, knowing how it hurt them, I wouldn’t change my choice. Even if I could go back I wouldn’t change what I chose.
Who am I to do that? Who do I think I am that I believe that that choice was worth the pain I caused my family? How can I not want to go back and take back their pain? Who am I to think I shouldn’t sacrifice for my family? They would sacrifice for me in a heartbeat. They would not hesitate do to anything within their power for me. They love me. They would do anything for me. Why couldn’t I sacrifice for them?
I don’t believe in that kind of sacrifice. And I would never ask that kind of sacrifice of anyone. I am always a bit suicidal, so saying I would die for someone is a bit meaningless. But it’s not that I wouldn’t die for the people I care about. It’s that I would not sacrifice a person’s humanity for anything or anyone. And I would hate to know someone did that, even if they claimed it was for me. I would die, I would fight, I would live, I would suffer if I knew it could save the humanity, the soul, the feeling of value and respect and… I don’t know. All the things that makes life life. If I could save those things in another person I would sacrifice. But I will not sacrifice myself, my core, my value, my independent thoughts and feelings, my soul, my light, my being, just to not cause discomfort or pain in people who cannot tolerate difference. And that is what I was told was happening. I was different and that difference had to be killed or destroyed, and if I died with it no one cared. No one would miss me. No one would think it was a loss. Instead a new person was to be installed in my head, a new person who wasn’t me, who wasn’t different, who comformed, would be given my life. And I would either be dead or a silent passenger watching someone else walk away with my life and be loved for all the things I could never be. And I rebelled against the idea and I fought back with what little I had to fight with.
And so the thought that has stuck with me in the last month and a half while thinking about this is that I get why my family doesn’t like me. I get why they would dislike me, hate me, wish for me to not be the person I am but instead be the person they needed. And a better person would have given them that. I am not a better person. Sometimes I think this is the very reason I always end up in Slytherin when I take a Hogwarts House test. I don’t believe in that kind of sacrifice. I was arrogant enough to believe I deserved better. I refused to kill parts of myself to be accepted and loved. And I stand by that choice. With all my heart. Even when my hearts breaks. Even when I know I am not loved for who I am. Even when I feel unlovable and unloved. I was asked to sacrifice. And when I refused my dad started trying to kill himself, believing his family (my mom, my brother, me) would be better off without him. My mom is still haunted by the things that came as a result of my decision. In a way I sacrificed them. I didn’t understand it at the time. But I do now. That is why I am not a good person, why I am not someone they can like, why I feel unlovable. Because I am an adult now, I know better now, I understand the consequences of my choice and I still choose me over them. I still choose not to conform, not to sacrifice, not to break myself. And I wonder what kind of person I am. I wonder where I got that arrogance. How did I ever come to the belief that that was an acceptable choice to make?
I am not always a good person. I try to be. I work hard to be. I feel like I have spend every moment of my life, trying to compensate and make up for that choice to not conform. I know I have caused more pain that I can ever hope to make up for. I own that choice. I am what I am. I did what I did. But every choice since then has been an attempt at making the lives of my family, a little better, a little easier, a little less painful. And I almost managed to erase myself in doing that. I didn’t learn boundaries and didn’t stand up for myself in any other way. I feel like used up all my being difficult points in one go, on one choice, and had to be a nice agreeable person for the rest of my life. Breaking free of that thinking is so hard. But I must admit that if anyone has the arrogance to believe that that debt can ever be repaid I am probably that person. I don’t feel guilty about what I did, but I do feel like I owe my parents something. Something I am not sure what is. Except that it means I should not be difficult or cause them problems. And that every time my mental health causes me to need help and support, I am somehow adding to the debt.
These are just thought and feelings. I see their cause and effect. I see the path from my 8 year old self to now, and how that has shaped me. But I am not sure I am allowed to undo this. I am not sure I am entitled to erase the debt and tell them I no longer owe anything in payment for that choice.
I needed to write this. I needed the words out, even if no one reads them.
There’ll be a real letter on Friday. This one was just an extra.
As always a thank you for your time. I wish you the best and hope, whoever you are dear reader, that you have lighter, better and kinder thoughts to keep you company.