Autism Unveiled Week 4
I am a Christian woman, a mom, a relative, a friend, a neighbor, an activist, an artist, a poet…a human who happens to be on the spectrum.
I guess it doesn’t matter that I didn’t relate to and still struggle with the notion of being human, even though all logic points to my being one. I often asked my parents if I was adopted, imagining myself found in some desolate forgotten place…a foreign object. I can’t fight the overwhelming feeling of not belonging to them nor belonging here. Trapped in the heaviness of knowing my purpose is greater than that which I’ve been exposed.
I can’t equate my life being one for having the sole purpose of becoming a source of blame, shame and stress relief for my parents, by way of beatings and sexual abuse; especially when I came equipped with so many beautiful thoughts to share.
I was that strange kid in your class. You know…the odd one who rarely talked, but when I did speak was a wealth of information about that which was not interesting. Not to my peers anyway… The kid you’d see sitting in the far corner of the classroom. Face positioned 2 inches above the desk top, holding a brand new pencil, freshly sharpened to approximately 1 inch in height; carefully and precisely writing letters and forming words. Usually speaking to no one…looking at no one.
Yes, I’m that child…lost in the sweeping sounds of my #2 pencil touching fibrous paper and that lovely tap each time the lead touched down on the hard surface of my desk. I’m mesmerized by the lead leaving its imprint. My pencil is held very tight, forming the perfect pencil shaped callous on my finger, perfect for a non-slip grip. Just what I need for the limited range of motion utilized in my penmanship.
I hated wide ruled notebook paper. Something that I suppose the “experts” deemed necessary for younger writers. It was a waste of space if you ask me. Paper deserves better treatment than that. It needs to be utilized more efficiently, in other words, to fit as many words on a single sheet as possible. I took great pride in being able to write an entire paragraph in the space provided between two lines. My teachers often needed a magnifying glass to read my work.
I’d turn my desk to face the wall, but my teachers would make me turn it back to face the front of the room. I hated that. I hated the bright light too. I’d much prefer to hear my world and allow my imagination to be my eyes.
I didn’t like interactions with peers. I much preferred the company of adults. They offered stimulating conversation, once they got over the fact that I was a child, more so than the mind numbing, boring conversations of children.
Funny, even though I’m much older, I still find some conversations with peers to be mind numbingly boring, but I guess they too can say the same about me as I still get caught up in my love of sharing information, whether considered useful or not.
Fast forward to the present.
I receive a formal diagnosis of Asperger’s Disorder at the age of 46. Like many other women who have been diagnosed later in life, it was not until I had my child that I realized I too was on the spectrum.
For many years I wandered around my life, trying to figure out how to fit in and it all comes down to hearing the words, “I am giving you the diagnosis of…” Though I was already suspect of my diagnosis, it became another matter when the final verdict was rendered.
Now, I find myself in a delightful and insightful journey of self. I’m regaining my voice and a menagerie of unique gifts. I no longer strive to be like others, rather I am embracing my uniqueness. I now understand some of the events of my youth and am more understanding and forgiving of those who do not understand me…even those who ridiculed me and saw me as slow…maybe even retarded. The fact of the matter is I am gifted and uniquely diverse in my thought patterns and actions. I have feelings and empathy, maybe even more so than the average person. Who knows? I am not here to compare myself to anyone.
I am here to be me.
In this and other blogs written, I sometimes struggle to find or even regain a voice once had. A voice beaten and tortured away. It is by the grace of God and His infinite mercy that I am able to share my words, though not perfect, they are honest. And I stand in my truth. I am taking the pain of my past and making it into something useful, maybe even beautiful.
Relieved from living life in the grey scale, I now walk into and embrace life in full spectrum color.
They Them Us Me is a dark poem that exposes unexplored emotions from my past. I wrote this poem about a year ago after recalling a few vivid childhood memories. Writing this poem allowed me feel the truth of my emotions which have been bottled up for many years. I created and recorded this poem. All of the voices are mine.
I am grateful for being able to express my emotions through audio creations. It has been extremely helpful for the healing process.
Jackie Pilgrim, North Carolina, U.S.A.
Jackie’s blog is A Voice From the Spectrum.
Jackie is part of the Autism Unveiled Project – Six weeks of blogs from Autistic people commencing on April 2, 2015, World Autism Awareness Day.