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I am: literal, concrete, truthful

since I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome a few months ago I've spent some time reflecting on my life through a new set of self-awareness glasses. although nothing in my past life has changed, it all feels different because the context in which it was experienced has been altered.

my childhood was confusing and at times horrifying. there was no feeling of security, no feeling of being sure I was loved. for a while I was convinced that the reason I felt unloved was that I was adopted. snooping through family documents assured me that was not the case. in fact I found out that I was conceived before my parents married. as an adult, I wonder if their relationship would have lasted more than a few months if it wasn't for that fact.

as it was, they stayed together about four years and had another daughter 18 months after me.

I don't know why my mother is what she is. certainly there were things she did right. she didn't starve me. but there are far too many bad memories overshadowing my struggle to figure out how life works for me to ever think "it would be nice to be a kid again". in fact, if I could go back and choose a different mother, I probably would, even knowing that the course of my life would be unpredictably different. most of it hasn't been that great anyway, but I guess it could have been worse.

I remember her being very critical of me. she was quick to complain and lecture when I didn't do something the way she wanted, although she never gave detailed instructions. it was as if she expected me to just know how she wanted something done, or perhaps everyone else knows how it's supposed to be done. do they? I've never asked. in the cult, I was often told how things were to be done, in great detail. perhaps that's why it was attractive to me at first. for once someone was telling me how countertops should be cleaned, with concrete detailed instructions! it was really almost a relief to finally have a list of thou shalts and thou shalt nots in painstaking detail so that if I followed the directions no one would be angry with me!

my mother often told me I was too literal. I was invariably confused by that, since I didn't know what she meant. I wanted to please her by being the opposite of "too literal" but I didn't know how. since learning about Asperger's, I've come to understand that most people think differently than me. I want words to have exact meanings. I don't want reality to bend for convenience. facts are facts and either they can be supported or they're no good.

once I was of age to be useful as a servant any nurturing she'd been prone to give seemed to evaporate. she was very focused on herself. she expected her children to adhere to her beliefs. I washed clothes, grocery shopped, cleaned, and cooked by the time my youngest sister was a toddler. I was ten years old. as an adult, I retraced the route I used to take to the grocery store. the grocery store was almost a mile from our house. once when I was halfway home from the store, the wheel fell off the two-wheeled wire cart my mother had bought for grocery trips. I didn't know how to fix it. I sat on the curb for a while and cried. I waited to see if someone would eventually come and find me and help me carry the groceries home. no one did. it got dark. I got the groceries home by partially unloading the groceries and carrying them a bag at a time, a short distance at a time so I could keep our food in sight, so no one would steal any of it. when I got home, my mother wasn't even aware that I'd been gone so long.

once she told me I wasn't an indian because I cried and indians would never let someone see them cry. I was sensitive. I cried. I cried when I was too frustrated to form words and push them out of my mouth. I cried when I was scared. I didn't think I was an indian anyway, although my dad looked like one. we had no tribal ties. I hated her for always comparing me to indians, as if all indians adhered to the same set of ideals she'd decided were "indian religion".

I don't know if I had problems expressing feelings because my brain is autistically wired, or if it's because my mother usually informed me of how I felt or what motivated me rather than asking me. I would try to do an internal check, but she never gave me time to sort what she said I felt against what I was actually feeling inside. she would just bombard me with words until I cried. I got used to giving up because there was no point in trying to speak. no one was listening. at least not at home.

I wanted to be a veterinarian. I loved animals, especially horses. my mother told me I'm an artist. it felt like she was telling me that art was all I'd ever be good at. I wanted to learn to play the drums. my mother thought it was too noisy and had no interest in supporting me. I never found a way to even try playing the drums. she didn't like me to have friends, because friends would keep me away from home and she needed me at home to do chores. eventually, being around her just felt suffocating.

naturally, the older I got, the more rebellious I felt. my defiance earned me a beating on more than one occasion. I was barely a teen when she beat me with her fists and dragged me out of the house by my hair. she left me on the porch in my nightgown. I cried and beat on the door to get back in. my feet were bare and it was cold outside.

I left her house as soon as I could.

all I ever really wanted was to be accepted for who I am. I'm literal. not "too literal", just literal. I'm a concrete thinker, and I'm also truthful and fairly blunt. I'm not ashamed of who I am. not anymore.