TO BE YOURSELF
in a world that
is constantly trying
to make you
something else is
THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT
Ralph Waldo Emerson
TO BE YOURSELF
in a world that
is constantly trying
to make you
something else is
THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I was standing on a sandy beach in Northumberland. The ocean stretched out in front of me. A vast expanse of movement. I stood as close as I could to the water’s edge without getting my boots wet because it was a three hour drive home and I didn’t fancy having to take my socks off, one reason being I hadn’t shaved my toe. Yes, it’s true, women do have hairy toes!
Kites were doing acrobatics above our heads and people were throwing balls for their dogs via ‘Chuckit’s’. Damn fine invention, Chuckit’s, because handling drooly tennis balls is a tactile nightmare for autists AND NT’s alike. URGH.
A massive Alsatian bounded after a frisbee but mistimed his jump and knocked me flying. Being British, I brushed myself off, smiled and accepted responsibility for being in his way. Then, I staggered off up the beach only to be accosted by a small terrier chasing a ball. The dog ran into The Boy and The Boy started screeching. This set the dog off on a rapid-fire yapping session which upset The Boy even more. The dog’s owner gave it a telling off (of sorts) and launched the ball in the opposite direction and off the little bugger raced, yapping all the way. YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP YAP
However, the highlight of the day was the who dog stopped mid-chase to take a crap. I scanned the beach for it’s owner and saw a bloke, shit bag in hand, hurrying towards the crouching hound. Well done, Guy! I just hope he disposed of the bag in a bin instead of flinging it into the sand dunes. What is it with people who bag it but don’t bin it?
It was early April but Mr Whippy was still parked up on the car-park. He had a steady stream of customers as well, some of whom were buying ice-cream. ICE CREAM!! IT WAS FLIPPING FREEZING!!!! FOOKINBRRRRRRR. Keep your ice-cream, mate. GIVE ME TEA!
Back on the beach, the woofing/yapping faded away as I stared at the sea and went into my ‘zone’. I stood there for what felt like hours but in reality was only about five minutes. My zen was rudely interrupted by OH shouting, “YOU. ARE. GOING. TO. DROWN!” I looked down to see the water lapping at my boots so I did a backwards jog, which on unstable terrain is a bit risky, trust me. However, I managed to stay vertical cuz I haz the SKILLZ, INNIT?
Or maybe it was just luck?
I was lost in the waves, almost literally! I just forgot myself, see. When I look out to sea, I am peaceful and relatively sane. It blows my mind to know I am part of something much bigger than you or I could ever understand. Maybe the secrets of this universe will be revealed to us in death? Maybe before we get to heaven (or wherever) we will be given the answer to EVERYTHING and we will be like, ‘OH AYE, I GET IT NOW!
All I know is, for now, it is what is it is, and it is beautiful.
I know I’m not alone in my love of the sea. It has the same effect on billions of us and there is a scientific reason for it because marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols believes that we all have a “blue mind that is a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.” According to him, this is triggered when we’re in or near water. Basically, we are hardwired to react positively to water. This doesn’t surprise me as I definitely respond positively to water, except when some stupid cow is shoving me at the deep end of a swimming pool, giving me a near death experience.
If you can’t get to the water, bring the water to you via relaxation apps. You can be soothed by the sound of waterfalls, or waves crashing over rocks. Even the gentle sound of falling rain. Not that I need an app for THAT one. I live in Greater Manchester. It rains for 364 days of the year. The other one, it snows. 😀
“Look at that sea, girls–all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.” ~ Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery
September 1982 ~ Secondary School Cloakroom
*flashback to the odour of sweaty plimsolls, Impulse, and the sound of dripping taps*
I’d just started secondary school. Everything was strange and scary. You know how it is? I was in the cloakroom hanging up my coat when a shadow appeared in my peripheral vision. I looked to see that the shadow had frizzy hair and was the size of a barn door. IT was a grizzly bear in school uniform and IT was looking at me with an expression which I couldn’t accurately place. All I knew was, my stomach was doing somersaults. According to my friend, IT was a couple of years older than us and IT had a reputation for being a cow.
Out of nowhere, IT hit the side of my face with an open-handed smack, leaving a red mark behind.
For a second or two, I was seeing stars, the blow was THAT hard.
IT was towering over me while her cronies stood in the background sniggering like Beavis and Butthead.
‘What did you do that for?’ I asked IT, rubbing my face.
IT bared her teeth and said, ‘I. DIDN’T. LIKE. THE. WAY. YOU. WERE. STARING. AT. ME’.
I couldn’t help but notice that she hadn’t cleaned them..
Staring? It was no more than a glance. You’re not exactly easy on the eyeballs, Mate.
Is what I WISH I’d have said.
Right after I bitch-slapped her face with a size 9 plimsoll. No, make it 10.
Once IT had left the room, my friends suddenly found their voices.
Oh, THERE you are! I thought.
‘I wouldn’t let IT get away with that. You have to tell a teacher!’. They said.
So, I told a teacher, who just happened to be the deputy head. I don’t do things by halves, me. IT was made to apologise to me. Not one to one in the deputy head’s office but in front of EVERY girl in the school. No doubt, Miss felt this necessary but what all it achieved was guaranteed bullying for the foreseeable. Nice job, Miss. *double thumbs up*
I have loads more of these type memories. This is because people mistake sensitivity for weakness. They sense the opportunity to make themselves feel important by making people like me feel inferior. It’s taken me all these years to understand that it’s they who are the weak ones. IT was built like a brick shit-house but did she pick on someone her own build or bigger? No. She picked on an awkward looking first year. Well hard, eh?
Happy and well-balanced people don’t bully others. They are the ones with the problems. As for the ‘victims’. Well, I hate that word for a start because it implies weakness. I never was and never will be, a ‘victim’. The tears might have stung my eyes that day but they never fell. I REFUSED to let them fall and it takes a LOT of willpower to withhold tear flow, trust me.
At home, I cried myself a river. Snot. The lot.
Then I doodled pictures of IT, giving her a MASSIVE perm that took up half a piece of A4.
Then I wrote something like, WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE, YOU GREEN-TEETHED FUZZY-HAIRED COW. MAY ALL YOUR ZITS MORPH INTO FESTERING BOILS THAT REQUIRE LANCING. I. HATE. YOU.
Then I probably comfort ate my way through a six pack of Penguins. And maybe a few packets of crisps.
Via therapy, I have concluded that the problem was never with me but what to do with all these thoughts that are fighting for space in my head?
Actual or imaginary, BALLOONS.
I’m going to need a LOT of balloons…
The memory of IT will go into a beautiful yellow balloon, symbolic of her cowardly act towards little me.
A bully’s ‘power’ always comes at someone else’s expense. They choose someone smaller and more vulnerable than themselves. IT targeted me and having received no physical retaliation, she knew I was fair game for the forseeable. Had I have hit her back that day, I probably wouldn’t have had any more trouble from her. As it was, I didn’t and so she made my life miserable.
Nobody stood up to her for me. My friends looked the other way whenever IT pushed me into the wall or tripped me up. I get why. While she was picking on me, she was leaving them alone. I get that but I resent it. Is that what friendship is? To look the other way when your friend is being hurt? I often wonder if Beavis & Butthead were IT’s friends simply because it ensured that they were never on the receiving end of her fist? Either way. Those f**kers can have a balloon each as well.
No doubt IT has long forgotten about the little girl who’s face she slapped for no reason at all. I wonder how she’d feel now, to know that she is being placed in an imaginary balloon and buggered off into the stratosphere as part of a therapy cleansing exercise? I would be MORTIFIED if I knew that I had done something to warrant such an act. However, this isn’t for IT’s benefit. It’s for mine.
Firstly, I don’t apologise for calling you IT. That September day, you treated me like a sub-human yet it was YOU who acted like one, hence, I am calling you, IT. It’s either that or COW.
I hope you evolved into a better person and that you and yours are happy. If you are alone, maybe you need to work out why that is? We create our own stories but it really is never too late to change the script. I’m changing mine with the help of balloons.
The last time I saw you was in 1986. You got onto my bus outside college. You saw me but pretended you hadn’t. Funny how you weren’t so tough without Beavis & Butthead flanking you. You were just a scowling-faced teenager with a REALLY bad perm.
I’ve been hauling you around in my head all these years but it’s time for you to float off, dear. So without further a do..
I forgive you.
Maybe you were mean because your home life was shit? Maybe your parents didn’t show you enough love? Maybe you were bullied yourself? If any of this applies, I feel for you because I know how it feels to be hurt. However, you always had the choice how to conduct yourself. NOTHING we do or say comes without the freedom of choice. You could have shown me some kindness on my first day in a strange school but you chose to show me the palm of your hand instead with the full force of your weight behind it. While I won’t ever forget what you did, I can release this memory’s hold over me. That’s my choice.
“A young outcast will often feel that there is something wrong with himself, but as he gets older, grows more confident in who he is, he will adapt, he will begin to feel that there is something wrong with everyone else.”~ Criss Jami, Killosophy
The internet is a great invention. There is literally nothing that you can’t find out via the world wide web in a matter of seconds and I quite like the fact that I can do my shopping online while wearing my rollers and tea-stained nightie. This means that I don’t have to put myself through the sensory nightmare of crowded supermarkets. I also like how I can keep in touch with people without having to physically write because I HATE writing. However, there is a downside to the internet and that is INFORMATION OVERLOAD.
The accurate term is ‘Cognitive Overload’.
Our brains are designed to take in lots of information but it seems that technology is moving way too fast for our brains to keep up. Cognitive overload can lead to stress and for sensitive people, like myself, it can make you PROPER CRANKY.
Wandering around a bookstore the other week, yes ACTUAL BOOKS, I was amazed (not) at how many relaxation/meditation books there are now with authors urging us to ‘unplug’ and simplify our lives. I came away with a book called, ‘Unplugged’. I was attracted to it because I was overwhelmed. After a four month hiatus from debilitating anxiety, I was hurtling towards burnout stage faster than a seagull after a Harry Ramsden chip on Blackpool pier..
One night I sat up in bed watching the hours crawl by (AGAIN) and I told myself that I would do whatever it took to get myself back to generally insanity, as opposed to ‘AM LOSING IT, DOC’ – insanity.
I realised that the internet is both friend and foe and that my use of technology was taking up the majority of my day, in one form or another. The first thing I did was to put an ‘out of office’ message on my Twitter. I normally just disappear for a few weeks but this time I felt obliged to inform the world of my absence. I suspect many may be praying that I don’t return ha ha.
The thing about Twitter is the volume of information in one hit. It’s a real emotional roller-coaster. On top of this emotional baggery is the news of the day – fires, terrorism, deaths, politics and Trump being a dick. It is an PHENOMENAL amount of information. The brain then has to trawl it’s way through the quagmire of info and somehow make sense of it. Is it any wonder that my dreams have been psychotic, if the last thing at night I am reading is this lot?
I’ve adjusted the brightness on my phone and enabled the night-setting. On my Kindle, I have changed my font to white on a black background which is easier on the eyes. I also make sure that I don’t have my phone by my bedside at night. If it’s there, it’s too easy to open it up and check in with the world because I will be gutted if I miss that Instagram pic of somebody’s ingrowing toenail, eh?
There is also evidence to suggest that Wifi signals emitted from phones and gadgets next to your bed can interfere with your quality of sleep, so if you are sleeping poorly and you charge your gadgets next to your bed, or worse, sleep with them under your pillow – it might be an idea to remove them from your room and see if your sleep improves? Why people sleep with their phones under their pillows is beyond me. Vibrating phones in pockets, I get. But pillows? No.
Its not the technology itself that is making me ill, well, maybe it is when it comes to migraines. It’s more to do with the amount of exposure I am getting and that choice is mine. Nobody forces me to check Twitter or look at pictures of somebody’s pie and chips on Instagram. It’s me.
I knew the amount of information I exposed myself to was hurting me. I was incredibly stressed out and needed to do something before I got back into breakdown territory. I couldn’t go back there again. NO FLIPPING WAY, HOSE!
So, I experimented..
The Experiment: To See If Using Electronics Less Improves Stress and Sleep
Kindle – 2 and 1/2 hours
Internet – 1/2 hour (e mails)
Instagram – 1 hour
Total = 4 hours
Sleep – 1am until 6am.
Reason I was so late was because ah wes watchin Catherine Cookson on telly an ‘ah forgot abyeut the time. It turk us an hoor tuh git tur sleep, pet.
Quality of was sleep improved.
Dreams not exactly sweet but nowhere near as funky.
Internet (e mails & blog) 1 hour 5 mins
Kindle (three hours)
Instagram 30 mins
Total = 4 hours 35 mins
Sleep -10pm until 7am
Woke up a few times in-between but not enough for it to be a problem. Dreams improved.
Internet (e mails & blog) 30 mins
Kindle – 4 hours
Instagram 30 mins
Sleep – 12am- 7.30am
I struggled to get off to sleep, probably because I’d watched another strife ridden Cathy Cookson before bed. I tossed about for a couple of hours but once asleep I pretty much stayed asleep. I had one of my reoccurring dreams where I buy the house where I was born, only it’s a lot bigger than it actually was/is. Also, it’s part house/part social club where you access the magical world of darts, pool and beer via the loft? No. I have no idea where it’s come from either. A pleasant addition to this particular version of the dream was that my parents were in it. My DEAD parents. Only, Dad was telling me I would have to get rid of some of my books.
That one is easy enough to decipher because we need a new book case as I have too many books! Actually, what am I saying? You can NEVER have too many books!
Internet (e mails & blog) 30 mins
Kindle 4 hours
Instagram 15 mins
Sleep – 11pm until 7am.
I had a few dodgy dreams but the one thing I did differently was to read my Kindle until 9.30 pm. *slaps wrist*
Internet (e mails, blog) 1 hour
Kindle 4 hours
Instagram 10 mins
Sleep = 10pm – 6.45 am
Dreams were NON ANXIETY and representative of what I had done that day.
Went on electronics for hours on end to see if it was, like, a placebo effect.
I was wired all day and struggled to sleep at night. Stephen King was writing my dreams again and I awake from 5am on Sunday morning feeling like I’d been steam-rollered.
The evidence strongly suggests that my use of technology IS affecting my anxiety, sleep and general well-being and by making a few teensy adjustments I have improved things significantly and I have to admit that I feel better for it.
When it comes to dreams, my brain was starting to decipher actual things in my life instead of random rubbish via the internet and because I was getting more restful sleep, my body was feeling more refreshed on waking. I may not been Julie Andrews first thing but I wasn’t the total Mumzilla, either. I had more energy and my short-term memory was less shit. It was by no means a cure but it was a good enough improvement for me to consider spending less time on electronics for the foreseeable.
If you spend a lot of time on computers and stuff and are struggling with anxiety or sleep, maybe it’s time you unplugged?
Disconnect from technology to reconnect with yourself.
The first five years of my life were happy because I was at home reading my books, doing my own thing, y’know? Then I started prison (school) and my constant state of happy changed to happy that came in moments, none of which happened there. Since then, life has been hard work with a huge amount of effort going into every single day. The world has farted in my face more times than I’ve had inappropriate thoughts about Nick Rhodes and for the last five years it’s been more about existing than living, thanks to my anxiety disorder. You become wary of life itself. Exhausted. Burnt out. Unhappy.
When you suffer with anxiety or depression, it’s hard to thrive. Moments of happiness (if any) are fleeting and hysterical laughter can change into a snotfest of sobbery within a matter of seconds. You can look at something beautiful and be, meh, or you can moved beyond all comprehension. NOTHING is balanced and it shits your family right up cos they think you’re madder than a box of frogs, innit.
You watch the news and see the face of a six year old boy smiling back at you. He has no hair and there are tubes up his nose. He’s dying. Despite everything he smiles THE most wonderful smile and you feel guilty because you’re alive. This child is grabbing every single second of his life and making it count while you’ve spent another afternoon horizontal on your bed having done sod all but binge watch box sets of Life on Mars.
Yes, I’m talking about me.
There is NO shame in having a mental illness. Nobody is ashamed of any other illness so why be ashamed of anxiety or depression? It’s an illness just the same but just as we take steps to get better if we have the flu (or whatever) we have to take steps to improve our mental well-being, innit?
With my ongoing therapy, it’s becoming clear to me that I can’t change the world or the people in it. However, I can change how I react to things they say or do.
I can change how I think.
So, new motto is…
There are so many thoughts and memories that make me unhappy. Like limpets on rocks, they are an absolute bugger to prise off. But you know what? I am done with being unhappy because of other people. I want to be unhappy on my own terms, not theirs. So eff ’em, eff em even more and then eff em again. I’m not the problem. I never was the problem. THEY are the problem.
They are no longer MY problem.
*breathes in for four seconds and out for eight* *smiles serenely*
My heart wants to be happy. How do I know? Well, our bodies thrive with happiness but wither with sadness. This is scientific stuff. So doesn’t it make sense to try and find our happy? Hopefully before we die?
My children make me happy.
OH makes me happy.
Books make me happy.
Music makes me happy.
My psychotic lurcher makes me happy.
My friends (online and off) make me happy.
Those who love me, make me happy.
They make breathing in and out worth the effort.
What makes YOU happy?
There are things we can do to combat anxiety and depression and bring ourselves a bit of happy. Yes, I know how hard it is to see the light when your world is so dark but trust me, it’s there.
Exercising ~ Even a short walk will get the endorphins flowing. You will always feel better for it.
Mindfulness ~ Bringing yourself into the present by noticing the world around you instead of focusing on how shit you feel.
Do Something New ~ Trying out something different, like photography. Anything that takes you out of yourself, even it’s for five minutes.
Goals ~ Having something to aim for in each day, even if it’s to get that ruddy great pile of ironing done.
Therapy ~ Go unleash your shit onto somebody who gets paid to listen. Fill your boots. Use ALL their tissues.
Sense of Purpose ~ We all have a place in this world. We all need a sense of purpose to give our lives meaning. Find your purpose, you glorious being, you.
Focus on the Good Bits ~ Life can be EPICALLY CRAP but try and focus on the better bits, no matter how small. I call them, ‘my lights’. Grab those lights and hold them tightly and when the darkness threatens to overwhelm you they will shine all the more brighter, just like stars.
We may not have had any choice in being here. After all, we are the result of our parents having ‘sexy times’ and we were the best swimmers, but seeing as we ARE here, we might as well try and make the best of our time because in the great scheme of things, it’s very brief. Like, blink and you’re dead – brief.
No matter how sad you feel, happiness can ALWAYS be found.
A wise old wizard once said: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
I’m with you, Dumblydore.
The Boy LOVES the Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He’s a big fan of the books and loves the films..
Before his 8th birthday, he’d never been to the cinema. This is because he’s autistic with sensory processing disorder and the cinema is a very sensory experience with sound, lighting and crowds. We’ve known about autism friendly showings for a while but no film interested him until Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Long Haul came out, so we decided that this would be as good time as any to see how he coped with the experience. On this occasion, it was at the Odeon cinema.
For those unfamiliar with Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, the main protagonist is American middle school student, Greg Heffley, who starts sixth grade and writes down all his thoughts in a diary – though he prefers to call it a journal. Greg is always getting himself (and his family) into the deepest of poo. Put it this way, if I was his ‘Mom’, I would need gin via an intravenous drip.
Greg Heffly is involved in a particularly embarrassing incident in a family restaurant and plans to turn shame into fame by going to meet his idol, Mac Digby, at a gaming convention. However, Mrs Heffley forces the family on a road trip to attend great-grandma Meemaw’s 90th birthday party. As usual, things go wrong spectacularly wrong in true Heffley style.
The Cinema Experience
Adjustments for autism friendly showings include:
I liked how relaxed it was. I’ve seen numerous films in my time and it’s always taken me a few days to come down from my ‘high’ due to over-stimulation. With the autism friendly screening, however, I was absolutely fine. The Boy LOVED it. He wasn’t anxious at all. He was excited but not overwhelmed. GET IN!
One thing that short-circuited my brain was the fact that ALL the actors have changed from the first three films. I didn’t do my usual research so I wasn’t prepared. Nor did I look too closely at the advertising posters (OOPS) and I found it hard to get my head around at first because I’m autistic and don’t like things to change. However, Zachary Gordon (who played the original Greg Heffley) is now 19 and the original Roderick (Devon Bostick) is 25.
I’ve seen some less than favourable Twitter comments about the change of actors, especially the new Roderick with whingers (mostly girls) hash-tagging #NotmyRoderick.
HERE’S THE THING, GALS
Greg and Roderick Heffley do NOT age in the books so a recast is inevitable. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE POPCORN!
Personally, I think Charlie Wright does a decent job as Roderick, so, NER.
There are some laugh out loud moments but, for me, The Long Haul isn’t quite on par with the other films of the series. That said, The Boy thought it was ‘hilare’ all the way through.
I’m obviously old and miserable, but then, I probably have more in common with Great Grandma-Meemaw than anybody else. *sighs*
My rating for the autism showing experience at The Odeon is 9/10. This is definitely something we will do more of as a family. The only whinge I have is the ASTRONOMICAL price of sweets. Then again, you are allowed to take your own food and drink in so I guess I’ll just have to shut my face on that one, eh?
As for the film itself, I’ll give it 6/10 for some REALLY funny moments.
The Boy rates this film 58 million.
I’ll leave the last words with him..
“The cinema is great. That’s it for the cinema.
The film was very, very, very funny and exciting and awesome and also happy at the end.”
Eat your heart out, Kermode.
This is not a sponsored review.
My darling girl,
when are you going to
realise that being normal
is not necessarily a virtue?
It rather denotes
a lack of courage.
~ Practical Magic ~
Creative Commons Image
I like to be alone.
I am completely comfortable in my own company, probably because it’s only when I’m alone that I can be myself. There’s no need to pretend to be normal. I can just be me.
When it comes to loneliness, people usually identify it with physically being on their own. Not me. I can be in a room jam-packed full of people and still feel incredibly lonely because I know I don’t belong. That’s my lonely.
I didn’t ask to be born. None of us do. We are here by choice or mistake and nine months later, out we pop, with no instructions on how to do life. We are at the mercy of those around us and all too often those people let us down.
Those people who had a duty of care to me at school let me down.
As a child I played alone until the age of five and then I had to attend school, or ‘shithole’ as I call it.
School was where I was expected to socialise and interact using skills which I didn’t possess or understand.
School was where I was bullied by children AND teachers.
School was where my sense of not belonging started.
It was clear that other children didn’t like me but I didn’t know why. I tried my best to be invisible but all that did was make me even MORE conspicuous. All I know is that I came to dislike myself too because of it. I couldn’t bunk off because I knew it was wrong. Nor was I able to express my struggles to my teachers or parents so I had no choice but to endure every hellish second of it until I got home.
Home was where I felt safe.
Home was where I was loved unconditionally.
Home was where I could lose myself in my obsessions.
Yet even with my closest family, I was unable to be me. I belonged, yes. My parents would have loved me regardless of anything but I didn’t know how to be myself in front of them. Most of the photographs from my formative years are of me looking away from the camera. That was me before life pressured me into being someone I wasn’t in order to try and fit in. Personas and masks became necessary in order for me to survive.
Something that is common to ALL humans is the need to belong and be accepted by others. I have a need to belong in some meaningful way just as much as anybody else and I want to leave this world having made a difference in some small way. Yet for most of my life, I have felt alien, like I don’t belong here. I breathe the same air. I am a human being in every respect of the word except that my brain is wired differently and people know you are different. They can sense it even if they can’t see it, like Will Smith in Men in Black, who can spot the aliens a mile off despite them wearing their ‘human suits’. That’s how it feels to be me sometimes – an alien wearing a human suit.
These past few months have been an eye-opener for me. The most important change is that for the first time in my life I no longer feel alone in this world. Why? Because there are 700,000 autistic people in the UK alone so add to the rest of the planets autistic population and that’s bloody shit-loads!
There is an autistic community where I don’t have to think, ‘Will this freak people out?’ before I ‘speak’ because people get it. Imagine. After ALL these years. I get to be my freaky self and other human beings say, ‘Yeah, I do that’.
I’m hoping that the therapy I am currently receiving will help to address the many years where I was treated badly simply for being me..
The girl who walked up to me one day and slapped me across my face for no reason at all? She was a coward. She was a big girl hitting a small girl – a bully who needed to be flanked by her cronies at all times. I blamed myself for so many years but I know now that I wasn’t responsible for what she did. Nor have I ever been responsible for the actions of others. The problem is with them, not me.
At some point I need to let the past go and move on in order to make the most of the time I have left. Four years ago I felt that nobody would ever understand how I feel. Then my son was diagnosed ASD and I knew that I was autistic too. On hearing my own official diagnosis, I got control back of my life. I know who I am now and why I am different and these next years of my life are going to be lived MY way. I may be in a minority but my life counts just as much as everybody else’s on this planet.
It always has.
I still like to be alone because that’s when I function at my best but liking to be alone and feeling alone in the world are very different things. That’s changed now. There are people in this world who get me. There are also people who don’t get me but are willing to understand and support me. So you see, I am not alone in the universe.
CC Image Via Pixabay
On the day I was born THIS was number one in the Top 40.
“Have a drink, have a drive”
Have a crash?
Side-burns and demijohn as a percussion instrument aside, it is a catchy tune, but I’d rather have hung on in there for a few more weeks and slithered out to Elvis Presley’s The Wonder of You. Then again, it could have been Tom Jones’ Daughter of Darkness, which some light say, would have been more apt.
It was summer. The days were long. The jeans were flared and summers seemed to go on FOREVER, as happens when you’re on child-time because child-time is different to real time. Everyone knows that, right?
The skies were bluer. The clouds puffier and the sun cracked the pavements EVERY SINGLE DAY!
Then there were family holidays..
I’m fairly sure we went away most years but I only remember a few holidays and judging by sulky chops on most of the photographs, i.e. me, I can only imagine that I was my usual shit self during each and every one of them. I can only apologise to my parents who no doubt sacrificed all year in order to give us a nice holiday. If they were alive today, my autism diagnosis would maybe go some way to explain my behaviour…
I tried hard to enjoy holidays but being in unfamiliar places (and sleeping in strange beds) sent my anxiety orbital. The beds often smelled funny and had, er, unidentifiable stains, and at that time my olfactory sensitivities were monumental. Also, I couldn’t verbalise my problems so this reflected in my behaviour. I was either ‘showing off’, ‘naughty’ or ‘moody’. Moody, I’ll hold my hand up to but I wasn’t ever intentionally naughty and I was too introverted to ‘show off’. What I was, was overwhelmed…
It also pissed me off how flies used to do that circles round the light fittings. Why do they do that? Daddy Long Legs were much bigger when I was a child. They. Were. HUGE. Spiders were the size of COWS and the world was against me in general. Despite all this, I was supposed to enjoy myself?
Sometimes we stayed in B & B’s. I HATED that. It was bad enough being in a strange place with my own family without having to cope with being around strange people too? Strange sociable people who really annoyed me with their constant, “Are you going to give me a smile?’
No. Eff off.
I didn’t say the F word, obvs, as Mum would have ended my life, but I certainly thought it. Why couldn’t they understand that I looked miserable because I FELT miserable?
Then there were the days out..
If I was lucky there would be a plan and I’d know where I was going (sort of) but more often than not Mum and Dad did the ‘spontaneous thing’ which cremated my brain. The result?
Beach days were the worst.
What child doesn’t like the beach?
I like it now (when it’s empty) but not then. Never then..
I considered it a breach of my human rights to be made to take my clothes off on a beach in front of strangers.
“Who do you think’s looking at you?!”
Well, I don’t know, Mother, perverts perhaps?
To be fair, most children stripped off without a care in the world but I wasn’t like them was I? I was a self-aware misfit. I refused to remove so much as a sock without Mum standing in front of me with the biggest bath towel we had and even then I tried to keep my knickers on under my bikini bottoms. Yes, I was that girl.
One bikini in particular stands out in my memory. I was about 4 or 5 but it was way too big for me. In those days, you had to grow into stuff so nothing fitted. The top was more like a scarf and the bottoms were saggy-arsed which was dead amusing, apparently. The relief when I was upgraded to a swimsuit was IMMENSE!
The whole beach experience was an onslaught to the senses. The smells. The noise. The stimuli..
We had a little Calour Gas stove and I liked the smell of the gas. Possibly inhaled more than what was healthy for me, though. Then there was Ambre Solaire which Mum and Dad slavered over themselves. They’d sit and sizzle in their deck-chairs, havin’ a smoke and drinking countless cups of tea and be in some kind of heaven while me and my brother whinged like buggery – him because he was stuck with his moody little sister and me because I wanted to be sand free and back HOME with my Enid Blyton’s.
I feel guilty about it now because Mum and Dad worked hard to keep us fed, clothed and living in a nice clean home. They deserved a nice holiday but I always managed to spoil it for them, not that it was EVER deliberate.
When it comes to weather – THAT summer of 76 overrules all other summers in my entire memory.
In the Summer of 76, the average house cost £12,704. Wages were about £72 p/w (in those days they came home via a brown envelope) and a loaf of bread cost 19 pence. 19p!!! You could get a huge bag of sweets for like 5p. Imagine that, Kids?!
It was, like, SOOOOOOOO hot, the tarmac on the roads melted. Google it!
Chopper bikes, Space Hoppers, Quosh (warm), water shortages, IRA bombings, unemployment, flares, platform shoes, white dog poo, really great music, really shite music, melty roads and deviant DJs. The 70’s had the lot. I don’t remember the serious stuff because I was just a kid. What I do remember is how uncomfortable I felt in general. Summer is supposed to be fun but it’s not that simple for sensitive souls is it? Plus, I have to remove my cardi, which is like asking an NT to remove a kidney.
Dare I say, roll on Autumn?
“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.”~ George R.R Martin ~ Game of Thrones
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