Conformity (Trigger Warning)

I have learned to conform. I am an adult woman with Autism. I am a public speaker. I am a writer. I seem social. I can be the social butterfly. I learned to be a chameleon through abuse. You adapt to survive, at least I did. My name is Kat and I am guilty of self abuse and the perpetuation of the normalacy stereotype.

I realized it today, it is a revelation I have had several times. I do things to blend in, when it hurts me. I am learning how to stop. I avoided using a wheelchair for two years too long because I wanted to blend in. I wanted to pass for normal. I remember the first time I was told by my mother that I was not normal, she did it first you see. She told me I was weird first. I had a date, it was Valentines day and I was four years old. My neighbor Jeremy asked me to the dance. I remember my mother curling my hair, I remember the texture of my dress, it was a silky satin with velvet dots. Red and white of course. I went and pulled on a red sock and a white stock, and then put on my white shoes and proudly went to wait for my date. She even let me put on some lipgloss.

She shamed me. She used my full name, something that my mother only does if you are in trouble, and she said, “Only a stupid person would wear their socks that way.” It may not be word for word, the memory is filtered through damaged moments and is fractured. It’s just a flash amid other flashes. I can remember the dance more clearly. I remember she asked why I was wearing them that way. She jokes about it now but leaves out that she first shamed me, I replied with, “One sock is red and it matches the spots the other is white and matches the white.” I wore my mismatched socks to the dance. My date brought me flowers, he even kissed me on the cheek when I came home. His mother of course drove us, and we even got to go have pizza for dinner. It was sweet, yet also reflected two children trying to mirror the hetero-normitive behaviors of their parents.

By the time the weekend was over I knew to never wear mismatched socks. The rest of the weekend is melted away into a blitz of abuse, pain, the normalacy of my then home. I remember my neighbor Mr.Chang watching. I remember just crying in his arms. I remember his wife saying she thought it was a good idea, but the damage was done. I did my best to always match. You must never mismatch. The result is that I dropped color from my clothes, starting with my socks. They all had to be the same color. The older I got the less color variation existed until for the last decade all I wore is black. You can’t be made fun of for being fat if you wear black and no one can tell you that you are stupid for not having things match to their tastes. I like color, I like to wear what feels good. I still think my outfit was damned good but now, if I like something and want to buy it and it is not black I have to fight with myself, and usually I lose. Mother’s Perfect Person wins.

MPP is the one that knows you always make eye contact. I hate eye contact. I can’t put into words why but your eyes are creepy, so I don’t want to see them. Mine too for some I am sure. I can’t remember if it was Mother or HIM (this HIM is my biological tissue donor aka Daddy). I was bad for something, it was a small something but I couldn’t look at him. Him was loud, him was angry, and his eyes were bad. “Look me in the eye young lady.” I tried, but I couldn’t do it. There was bright light too, and I was small and he was big. He was close so looking into his eyes meant standing funny. If I did that he’d hurt me. It was another line of pain. Some of these weekends of abuse probably are just a montage my mind has made up of suppressed memory particles, as for flashes I am different ages or not in the same clothes. Still I was slapped and pinched and punched until I could look him in the eye. MPP kicks in with every conversation. “You can’t get too close,d on’t be too quiet, don’t be too loud, don’t fidget, don’t breathe too much, don’t eat where people can see you, you are too fat anyway.” There is a check list for how I interact. I try to avoid using it now.

The more stressed I am the harder it is to not use the MPP check list of Perfect Person. Even if I do it all right I am still the weird kid. I will always be on the outside. Sometimes I wonder if the MPP list is what beauty pagent children learn, those girls with the big hair and horribly terrifying make up. They are what MPP is in my head. Stand up straight, smile, make eye conact but don’t stare. It hurts to waste energy on this. Most of the list is gone but eye contact? Nope, I still stare at the forehead or behind you slightly, or just over you. I can’t look away, I can’t blink sometimes. I get told I am so intense, but it’s just because I am trying to multi task. Remembering when to pivot slightly so I don’t look like I am ignoring you and staring over your head. Saying the right things back…

I never could afford the actual right clothes, I never could manage to truly pass but I mastered normal behavior. Normal means to me suppressing what you feel, not speaking out when someone does something wrong, always admitting you are imperfect IE you must be humble, don’t admit you are smart because the men may feel bad, after all a good wife is humble, quiet, and like a child only speaks when spoken to. I think I married the wrong man because of MPP. I didn’t realize I could tell him that his sex was god awful. I didn’t realize that he was wrong for me even because I just didn’t have the skills.

I hear so often that autistic people can learn to blend in. I am proof we can but I also know the cost. If I had been allowed to be myself, I wouldn’t have become a criminal. I assaulted someone in school because I couldn’t deal with what she was doing and I couldn’t be PERFECT anymore. This person was my “best friend” as well. I nearly killed her because of a culmination of break down, because I learned to blend in. It made the news again recently, some poor autistic person being forced to endure water being dripped on them until they stop freaking out, their body scrubbed with a brush until they don’t want to tear their clothes off, loud sounds until they learn to not cry when they hear them.

Learning behaviors to hide the things that are wrong to us is not CURING Autism. It is abuse. The cure for autism is child abuse. I remember birthdays. My family lumps all the birthdays in September into one party. We always went to Pistol Pete’s Pizza. I never remember having fun, I remember always being driven to tears because it was too over whelming. No one ever bothered to ask why I was over stimulated every time, it was instead something I was mocked for, beaten over and punished. I still cannot go into those places but at least my food allergies protect me. Loud crowded places are torture but I was not allowed to not go, and when I had a melt down I was beaten publically. Never once did anyone say a word, because I was an awful child for being upset when I should just have fun with sirens wailing in my ears.

I am writing this while triggered, because you trying to cure my Autism is a trigger. I can self advocate but I think I could have done that if I wasn’t abused much more freely. When you touch me and I punch you, that is a side effect of the abuse. I wouldn’t hit if I wasn’t tortured. All the bad smells, the bad textures, the torture, it wasn’t just my parents either. Nor did any of us know I am a person with Autism. Other children mimicked their parents and did things that hurt, the parents who weren’t mine but were strangers did so, principles did so, though one of them actually tried to help me. Teachers did so, though again there were those that tried to help me.

I have survived an onslaught of violence against my identity. I have given up my birthname because if I use it, I cannot be me. That is a different person that you and your kind murdered long ago. Some of you may say “If you were diagnosed you would be dead”. You are wrong. If i was diagnosed I would probably have had some kind of HELP. I am twenty five years old and until two years ago I had no HELP. I was just ‘eccentric’. I am unable to stop crying right now because of your cures.

Without being beaten into conformity I wouldn’t be trapped by my wheelchair which is broken again. I wouldn’t NEED it. Without being beaten into conformity I wouldn’t have lost my job, the one that lead me to more pain and suffering. I wouldn’t have been broken and not known it. Without being beaten into conformity I would not be afraid to create.

My Autism was never cured. My independance was, my identity was, my ability to dream was, my hope was, I was cured of being able to make friends, I was cured of hope, I was cured of self confidence, I was cured of any vestige of peace. I have had to find a cure for the cures and that is a life time in the making. I know that many punishments I faced would not have been torture if I wasn’t Autistic. If the demons that you see Autism as were accepted, if I was an equal citizen I would have been able to be helped.

As an adult looking back I can see countless people who should have done something, some who knew. I remember the moment each one of them turned away and chose to do nothing. Each and every child that has their autism cured through violence, sensory torture, and other forms of “cure” that are advertised is a child that you are guilty of murdering. The body can live on but the soul rots from the pain. Every child that learns to act the part of Perfect Person, every single one of them is a child that learns that their own dreams, life, and what makes them who they are is evil. Every one of us is a child that grows up and either perpetuates your cycle of violence or must break it. You set us back from evolution. You set us back into prisons.

My mother apologized for not protecting me as a child. She said the words in December, and as I learn who I am each day as I try and come back from another round of attempted murder? All I can think of is… what if she had even tried once? What made me so bad that I wasn’t worth protecting or saving? The answer is nothing. There is nothing wrong with your Autistic child, they merely are unable to see the world through your eyes. Can you see exactly what another “normal” person does anyway?

What I really want is my mother to realize that it wasn’t a lack of protection that hurt me so much as the actions on her part that also are abuse. I want her to see that doing nothing isn’t all she did. Every time she couldn’t get out of bed and I had to compensate for her, most of the time poorly by her standards, and she yelled at me for failing? That was abuse. Every time she tried to make me seem normal, every time she hid my bruises, every time she ignored the fact that maybe my wanting to kill her husband meant he was bad not me? Abuse.

Some of my rage at her has to do with what she did to make me conform. She never once apologized for forcing me to take drugs. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti individuality. Yes some people need them but she never considered that the problems weren’t in my head. I was given drugs that weren’t legal for children to take, some weren’t FDA approved, and many were recalled because of liver damage or other DANGEROUS side effects. Now that I need something like that, there is nothing I can take because my body already has a reaction to everything. The cost of conformity was trying to suppress any feeling. If I felt any anger it meant they upped the meds. If that didn’t work they added meds. I dealt with drug interactions. I was her child. All she wanted was for me to be perfect, was that too much to ask of me?

Is it any wonder I thought she didn’t love me? I still don’t think she does. I do not know if I can love her. I didn’t even know I could love until HIM (exhusband Him not the other HIM). When I did love it turned into something so horrible. The only reason I know I can love is someone else but if I mentioned that person to her she would just belittle my friendship. Is it any wonder I thought that I should kill her? Maybe it would stop hurting then.

I spent years having dangerously long nose bleeds from the drugs, but the drugs were more important to her than I was. I got off of them by trickery. I asked if I could try going off of them and she said no. I had missed a single dose and had felt better so I wanted to try at least lowering them. She told my doctor absolutely no. There was never discussion about what I wanted or even asking me if I felt it was working. If there was, I can’t remember. What if so many of my missing memories aren’t suppressed but I was too DRUGGED to remember?

My trick? I didn’t argue in the office. I just pretended to take them. I stepped down and didn’t go cold turkey aware that this was how you do it. I took a pill out of the bottle at each appropriate time and would let her see me take it, then coughed it back up. I never took them with food just in case. Three months passed and my mother complimented the doctor on his choice of medication. She had never seen me happier or so functional.

I told them then, I went off the meds anyway. My mother freaked out. She demanded I go back on, but I replied, “You said you haven’t seen me this healthy, so I don’t think so. I went off with in two weeks of the previous appointment and I am not going to take whatever he prescribes. Sorry I had to waste your money,” she’d complained of course that I cost her money. I walked out. That was the last time I took medication that I didn’t think I needed.

This is why I have suffered my pain, this is why for years I refused to take any pain medicine even though it made me mean and nonfunctional. I don’t know if I can ever forgive her. I don’t hate her… I just find I care less and less everyday. Yes if she dies I will cry but I suspect it will be about what might have been. I didn’t cry at all over the psychopath she married. I cried for my brother. Will I cry for her? Will it be out of love? Will I even want to go to her funeral? I know I will but I also know I will endure abuse by going… so maybe I won’t.

I am tired of conformity. I haven’t conformed for several years. Conformity is expensive anyway. I write, and that goes against my mother’s ideal of conformity. I wrote a novel once, and the computer, back ups, and even the monitor were all destroyed. By HER. I stopped writing for many years because of my mother. She expects that I will not recall perhaps? She expects me to love her unconditionally? I used to. I don’t believe in unconditional love over all, I think it is rare. I don’t know if I even love my older siblings. I loathe them, but I don’t know that I truly care about their successes or failings… after all, they were considered normal and were given everything.

I do love my younger siblings but, I find they grow more and more distant all the time… because no one wants a weird older sister. I am weird. I am Autistic. I am creative. I am default goth. I am the crazy cat lady. I am a person whose life story when shared with people is often told she lies. I am cured of my normalacy… I am cured of conformity. My dyed black hair with bright red roots? I can’t afford to dye it again… and I think I am starting to like it.

Breaking the Rules.

I am about to break my own rules. I have been listening almost obsessively to the Lily Allen Song,”Fuck You.” I couldn’t exactly get around the song title so my rules are broken just this once. The sentiment of the song pleases me greatly. It is a general Fudge Off to whomever you want. It works well for dealing with Medicaid! I had it running during my half an hour of holding trying to get a ride to the doctor.

Oh yes, I am going. I am expecting to have to walk across an entire hospital, and I am terrified but I may also get my legs working by then. The electric chair, how I miss it. That is not something I can focus on right now, however. I am more concerned with the treatment that I receive whenever I call Medicaid. Why am I not a person? In calling for a ride I was of course required to give all of my identifying details to a stranger over the phone. (So comforting… not!) When confirming my address, I was told that I couldn’t be me because I gave a different address. I have moved, but I updated my address immediately with Medicaid, with the Foodstamps office et al.

I convinced her I was me, explaining that it must not have been updated (because my service coordinator via Amerigroup doesn’t do his job and makes me want to commit acts of violence upon his person so he has to deal with himself in an epic paradox). So I give my phone number, which is off as well, but not to the older number I once had but some number… that was the product of a typo. Switched two digits. The woman then yelled at me.

I managed to convince her to make the appointment for a ride and she then said, “You realize that because you have a service animal the company may be able to reject giving you a ride.” What? WHAT? My brain went blank and I nearly lost it. It took a lot of service cat snuggles and deep breaths to not cry. Confirming the appointment was made was just not happening with this person. I played the song once more, and called Medicaid again.

I was calling to make sure my address and number were correct, but when I mentioned why, after the lovely phone center employee mentioned nothing was out of order besides my phone number… the previous person lied, she put me on hold, and she connected with the transport center, and helped me confirm I really do have a ride. i spent the entire time fighting myself on crying again, and was even complimented on calling back. Apparently few ever do until it is much worse.

So after that I decided, if Medicaid is full of a mix of screw ups and nice people who cannot do more than update addresses all day, what else am I not being told? Turns out my transfer to the new agency is COMPLETE. Actually I was supposed to be in a meeting right now with a potential caregiver but, a sick child happened and the agency cancelled. I am not exactly going to complain, though I am at the limit of my fending abilities.

So I am breaking the rules, I am learning that song, and I am going to play it in my head often. It’s another long week, but at least I got to go Trick or Treating. The cats and I somehow only got candy I can eat. It was like a Halloween Miracle… for my tummy.

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