I have been pondering on this for quite a few days. I haven’t known how to write it up. I will try my best to explain from my own personal experiences how being made to fit has damaged my understanding of self.
Can I just say this is a personal account and all Aspies are individuals. My life and the effect of being undiagnosed on the Spectrum may be very different from someone elses.
However I feel that me sharing this may also help someone to recognise these things within themselves. That is my purpose for blogging my thoughts.
Misunderstood Meltdowns and shutdowns.
I grew up not knowing that I have Autistic traits. My parents did their best and so did everyone who loved me. I was a very active/curious/hyper child and did extremely dangerous things sometimes.
My Mom was very loving and did everything she could to help me to understand. She would explain the best way she could. However my Dad, who is Autistic, could not communicate well at all and I felt very unloved by his ways most of the time.
When I was overloaded, because of my sensory difficulties, I would very often burst into tears and not understand why I was crying. Also when having meltdowns I was told I was naughty and a nuisance, why couldn’t I just behave myself.
I didn’t understand myself why I was acting the way I did. I still struggle with this now. I write so I can make sense of it all. As a child I couldn’t express in anyway, I am also dyslexic so writing didn’t come until I was quite a lot older.
What I did have as a child was art and dancing. These were my things and this was my way.
That was great till I started school.
I shared about my problem with expressing through art and stories when at school in this post.
With dancing I also explained how being afraid and not understanding in dance classes became so hard for me to enjoy expressing through movement that I would shutdown, this then put me off dancing. This post is about that.
Without being able to explain through the talents I had I became stuck with not being able to express at all. Listening to music and other peoples lyrics became my only way. Poetry started to help me. But I didn’t start writing my own expressive or inspirational poetry until I was in my 20’s. Even then I hid it and never shared because by this time I believed that I did EVERYTHING wrong.
I didn’t want to be a nuisance, I didn’t want to be naughty. I couldn’t stop myself from feeling, from hurting, from “NOT KNOWING” so over time I became quiet. I stopped talking because I was so afraid of who I was and how people perceived me. I allowed others to make my choices for me. These were not always with my best interest at heart.
I stopped looking at people because I thought they could see I was naughty. I felt like they could read my mind and see I was pretending to understand. I felt stupid and too afraid to ask. I made my bedroom my comfort zone. I screamed at people for coming into my space. I didn’t know why so I felt bad about that too.
Conforming to the “norm”
By the time I was 11 I realised that within society my Mom was acceptable but my Dad was not. I knew I was like my Dad and this troubled me deeply. I did everything I could to imitate my Mom, I still wear the mask of my Mom when I have to. I learnt to conform and I learnt that people loved my Mom.
I can see that people like me when I act like my Mom but if I drop the mask and let the Lisa out I have a constant fear of who will reject or abandon me. This I have to work on daily.
What happened over the years was the loops asked the questions. OVER and OVER and OVER.
The loops did the accusing. OVER and OVER and OVER.
I couldn’t always tell what people actually meant, so I would keep replaying it in my head. I would have to analyse every detail of every conversation. If I spoke I had to be very certain of what I was saying.
I became a perfectionist and then very critical of self and others. I had to have everything done my way or I couldn’t cope. As a teen this kind of behaviour is seen as spoilt brat mentality. This also made me feel bad, wrong, selfish…this led to rebellion, mild self harming and suicidal thoughts.
This negative understanding of self within controlling relationships, then made me lose self and become all other.
A perfect imitation of the person I admired, respected or loved. I was so desperately wanting acceptance/approval. When rejection or abandoment happened I would be devastated. I lacked self worth so badly that I would feel dead inside when a person disappeared out of my life. I didn’t function without having that model to follow. I wouldn’t know how to. I would have to find self all over again, but I would be constantly condemning myself for another failure.
A perception of self hate/self rejection.
This became my pattern and it is something I now fight daily.
(Meltdowns + Conformity = Self hate) is something I see in me as an adult!
The “NOT KNOWING” is what caused me to hurt myself.
NOT UNDERSTANDING why I felt so alone.
Unable to communicate how I felt or what was troubling me all became very twisted in my head.
I could either blame others or blame self. I was brought up to value others so I blamed self.
This is what I’m working through now age 42.
When I get overwhelmed by others and their opinions/emotions, I know I absorb them. When I am made to feel responsible and like I have hurt someone, it devastates me inside. I can’t switch my loops off so it goes round and round in my head. My sleep becomes very broken and I have negative self hate cycles in my sleep too. Eventually I shutdown, I become extremely exhausted and I can’t function. I have to isolate myself and just be me. I have to have my space, I have to hear myself, and I have to talk myself through with the still quite voice that says kind and loving things.
I keep records, images and music for these time, of EVERYTHING that is positive in my life. I have letters to me that tell me I’m loved, that I’m accepted, that I’m a wonderful Mom, wife, sister, friend.
I have to reprogram myself.
The slightest thing can tip me over and pour me out
Just like the song I sing with my little nephews.
I’m a little teapotShort and stoutHere is my handleHere is my spout
When I get all steamed up
Hear me shout
“Tip me over
and pour me out!”
Once I’m tipped over and poured out, it can take me a while to hear that voice.
To find the energy to do what I have to do to find me again.