Tag Archives: Growing Up

My Preciousss…

My one of my earliest memories is of collecting ‘stuff’.  Small pebbles and stones, nuts and bolts, leaves, feathers and other shiny detritus disappeared into the pockets of the eagle-eyed, four-year-old Erin.

My parents used to encourage these short-lived fascinations, helping me identify today’s mystery object, and helping me find similar objects of interest.  God forbid that anyone actually touch it though!

Once an object was claimed as mine.  That was it.  No one touched it without permission, and even then, grudgingly given under the supervision of a stern, yet jumpy child, constantly reaching out to take it back again as soon as possible.

I mentioned my pebble collection previously, which I still have.  I would spend my breaktimes in Primary 7, in the corner of the playground, smashing rocks so that I could see what they were like inside.  I would show my best discoveries to my classmates, enticing some to come and join me, but many would only join me for a few lunches, then grow bored and find some other pastime that didn’t literally involve banging rocks together.

At home, if I took a particular liking to one stone in particular, it was carted around in my pocket until mum found them clattering around in the washing-machine and gave them back.   The rest were displayed on my bookcase like some sort of shrine to geology.

My most cherished position is a pyjama-case, which I am told is a rabbit, but looks more like a yellow person with a button nose, long ears and dungarees called Wortle (Wurr-tul).  Wortle used to go everywhere with me, and I refused to sleep without him.  Only a few trusted family members were allowed to touch him.  But one day, when I was around ten, my sister decided it would be a great idea to get revenge for some overly-blunt comment, by hiding him.

Hell breaking loose probably would have been preferable to what followed.  I don’t remember a thing, but according to mum, the red-mists were down, and someone was in for it – big time!  Thankfully, mum got to me and restrained me, before I got to Emilie, but if she hadn’t, the offending sister would have been pushed strait down the stairs.

She only hid Wortle again once after that, when I was probably around fourteen.  Thankfully, Emilie was the other side of the landing when I found him, and I marched straight into mum’s room and managed to convey what had happened before losing the ability to speak out of anger. I know for a fact that if Emilie had been on my side of the landing before I reached mum, I would have gone for her without a second thought.  No-one touches my things.

My possessiveness also translates to people too.  I remember fighting over one girl with another when choosing pairs in P.E. in Primary 2 (age 7), refusing to share my friend.  I also lost a friend of five years, when I was around thirteen, because I got too possessive, and refused to share her with anyone else, which, at the stage where girls start seeking relationships, was bad.

Talking of relationships, my boyfriend is someone I am definitely possessive over.  I would go so far as to say that he is one of my obsessions (more on those some other day).  Before we were going out, one girl in the group, who had always been a touchy-feely (ugh) person, sat on his knee – an occurrence that happened regularly with all the other boys in the group without me minding.  I did very well not to hit her in the face at that point.  I had learned at sixteen, that hitting people was usually a bad way to deal with situations, but again, I couldn’t speak for a while until I calmed down.  She also never did it again.  I think the sub-zero glare translated well.

Despite this, the mixture of possessiveness and lack of friendship throughout my life translates into an incredibly loyal person.  I always try and do what’s best for my friends, and I think I can safely say that once an Aspie sees you as theirs, they’re not letting go.

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Smack in the face with a cold, hard… truth?

For some unknown reason, I shall never forget the quote from Rachel Caine’s book ‘Feast of Fools’, where someone is described as using ‘honesty as a club’.

I’ve always had a problem ‘softening’ the truth.  If you’re going to say something, say it for goodness sake!  Dithering around the truth wastes everyone’s time, and you’ve said exactly the same thing by the end of it all, so you may as well get your point across fairly quickly in my opinion.

I have always preferred people getting to the point, and I will tend to get strait to the point when talking to people myself, which has landed me in bother in the past where I just came out and said something, and the person I was talking to became upset, as I said it way too bluntly for them to deal with.  This is usually because I can find it difficult to regulate my expression and tone of voice for a long time, as well as usually having something better to do (from my point of view, not theirs).

I’ve also got a propensity to use strong words like ‘hate’, when I should seemingly use ‘dislike’ as they’re less hurtful to others (apparently).

To me, these words mean the same thing.  I don’t really see the difference between using synonyms when speaking.  If I hate something, I will avoid it.  If I dislike something, I will avoid that too.  It all appears the same to me.

My recent word is ‘stupid’.  I see this word as interchangeable with ‘silly’ and ‘muppet’.  Again, I saw no difference whatsoever in using one or the other, but I was repeatedly told that I couldn’t say that, and that it was offensive.

I asked Google:

stupid
adjective

  1. lacking intelligence or common sense.
Synonyms: unintelligentignorantdensebrainlessmindlessfoolishdull-witteddullslow-wittedwitlessslow, dunce-like, simple-minded, empty-headedvacuousvapidhalf-wittedidioticmoronic, imbecilicimbecileobtusedoltish; gulliblenaïve;

informal: thick, thick as two short planks, dimdumb, dopeydozycrazybarmy, cretinous, birdbrained, pea-brained, pig-ignorantbovine, slow on the uptake, soft in the head, brain-dead, boneheaded, lamebrained, thickheaded, chuckleheaded, dunderheaded, wooden, wooden-headed, fat-headed, muttonheadeddaft, not the full shilling;

silly

adjective

  1. having or showing a lack of common sense or judgement; absurd and foolish.
Synonyms: foolishstupidunintelligentidioticbrainlessmindlesswitless, imbecilic, imbeciledoltish; imprudentthoughtlessrashrecklessfoolhardyirresponsible; maderraticunstablescatterbrained, feather-brained;

flighty, frivolousgiddyfatuousinaneimmaturechildishpuerilehalf-bakedempty-headedhalf-wittedslow-wittedweak-minded;

informal: daftcrazydottyscattyloopyscrewysoftbrain-dead, cretinous, thickthickheaded, birdbrained, pea-brained, pinheaded, dopeydimdim-witteddippypie-facedfat-headed, blockheaded, boneheaded, lamebrained, chuckleheaded, dunderheaded, wooden-headed, muttonheadeddamfool;

I made bold and underlined the words in common in both cases, and again, I see no difference.  Both words are incredibly similar.  Indeed, a synonym of silly, is stupid (therefore: silly = stupid using all values of Google.  Q.E.D.).  If Google cannot explain this conundrum to me, who can!?

Some answers came in the form of Magnus (a friend).  The conversation basically went like this:

Me:  But if I think someone is being silly or idiotic, I cannot say that they’re stupid?  It’s like the same word!

Magnus: I think it’s because, for most people, the word stupid suggests that you think they or their idea (or whatever it’s referring to) is inferior, useless, rubbish, or whatever. That might be the case but when it’s been thrown up in their face in what they think is such a blunt way, they take it personally as an attack on them.

Me: But stupid is particularly bad?  How is it any different?

Magnus: Well those words seem more comical so it’s easier for people to take it. ‘stupid’ is like giving someone a burning hot pan. ‘muppet’ is like giving someone a burning hot pan with a towel round the handle so they don’t get burned so quick.

So, calling someone silly, IS the same as calling someone stupid, but with extra padding.  That made sense!

If I throw a brick with a pillow tied round it at someone, they’re not in pain, and I get the satisfaction of hurling a brick at their face… and that’s OK!

People are weird…
Now to work out which words are which…

Imaginations from the Other Side

Everyone appears to have had their ‘monster under the bed’ when they were younger. Whether it be a scary monster from a movie they’ve watched, or a figureless shade that has no source other than an overactive imagination and a fear of the dark.

I’ve always had a great imagination, with imaginary friends for most of my life as they made more sense than my real ones, or at the point when I had no real ones at all. I would take inspiration from books, movies and songs. Creating the perfect character for me to share my time with. Why waste time with people who didn’t get me, when I could make up people who did?

If I was ever struggling to comprehend a situation, I would play it over and over in my head, talking myself through different solutions until I found an answer that made sense. I would often be up until the small hours of the morning, working out how to start a conversation about a specific topic I was worried about. I would eventually imagine a situation that seemed both plausible, and beneficial, memorise it, then try it out in the real world… often with unimagined results. Results I didn’t predict often came as a very unpleasant surprise to me (to be honest, they still do, but I’ve learned that predicting people doesn’t really work, so don’t do it). I would view their stray from the plan as stupidity, and get frustrated and upset when they didn’t stick to the script that only I knew.

So my imagination has always has always been a well-used tool of mine, but I would often struggle to separate what I imagine, from what is real. This still comes to light when I’m afraid of something.

I remember a night, not even a year ago, when my boyfriend convinced me to talk to someone, other than him, about what goes on in my head. I absolutely got that it wasn’t entirely fair to totally depend on him in every situation, but could not see a single way of telling someone without assuming they’d think I was a freak. I had so few friends, I didn’t want to lose one, and it would also mean I would have to cope with a new group dynamic in school, which I knew I absolutely could not deal with. I had a full panic attack. Hyperventilating, sobbing, I was an absolute mess for almost an hour!

My friend was absolutely fine about me when I eventually told him. He could even relate to parts of it. It goes to show that my imagination can very often run away with me, even now that I’m much older.

I’m also still scared of the dark. I’m scared of what’s in the dark, what I can’t see. I have certain criteria that need to be satisfied before I go to bed, otherwise I convince myself there’s something there and out to get me (paranoid much, I know). Nightmares make it worse. There’s nothing like waking up at ***** knows what in the morning, convinced there is something there, and not being able to get to sleep for the rest of the night in case you’re eaten by some ridiculous thing with too many teeth.

An overactive imagination, can be great fun one moment, and distressing the next. I’m still not entirely sure whether I’m glad about not growing out of it like most people. One thing it has led me to learn that I’m not often on exactly the same page as everyone else, but things are almost always better than I think.

Grown Up Quirky?

I remember a day, not too long ago, when Emilie (my younger sister) came up to me in school and took great delight in telling me that one of the people in her class had described me as ‘quirky’.  I wasn’t entirely sure how to take this.

From as long as I can remember, people have described me as ‘weird’, some in nicer ways than others.

I was definitely the odd one out in primary school.  It was a small school, only about seventy pupils, and everyone seemed to already know everyone else.  I will mention at this point that I live in the Scottish Highlands so that this makes more sense.  As soon as I stepped in the door, the others noticed that I sounded ‘English’.  I actually have pretty much no accent at all, but I ‘said things funny’, so that was all the encouragement that was needed for people to start picking on me.

I loved classes, I still do to be honest.  I’d learned to read before I started, and had a really good grasp of numeracy.  Within about a month, I had been moved up to the Primary Two (P2) table, yet was still a part of P1 (three years to a class, with a different coloured table each.  P1 was red, P2 was blue and P3 was grey I still remember).  I really liked this!  I felt as though I had achieved something good.  This made me very popular… not!

I was that clever little English kid, teacher’s pet, who spoke funny.  I often played alone, with my imagination, or collecting pebbles and stones (something I still do).  Being alone wasn’t a problem for me really.  Unfortunately, the others must have noticed that I didn’t crave the company, and began harassing me instead.

I now know that this would not have helped with my Asperger’s at all.  I had next to no chance of developing my social skills when everyone ignored me.  I’d learned that keeping myself to myself was ‘safe’.  This was a disadvantage when I finally moved schools when I was around nine.

My new school was larger, and had a greater variety of children attending.  There was also two other children on the autism spectrum.  One with Asperger Syndrome, and the other with Down’s Syndrome.  I remember being very confused as to why they weren’t picked on for acting the way they did, until I realized that my classmates had grown up with these children, and had been taught to understand them much better than in my previous school.

I met a girl in my year who took me under her wing.  She protected me in school and made sure no one upset me.  At this point, my social skills began to grow.  But I was nine, with a mental development age of four, an Aspie at the age of four at that.  I learned how to talk to children my own age without receiving strange looks by the time I was around twelve.  I still talked about the same few topics, knew exactly what I wanted to me when I left school (marine biologist) and still collected pebbles.

By the time I got to high school, I could talk to most people in my year on a few ‘safe topics’ I had learned.  So long as I didn’t go into all the minuscule details, like the electrical receptors on the underside of a shark’s snout being called Ampule of Lorenzini, I could hang around the edge of groups without attracting too much attention.

I began to develop my School Persona and my Home Persona.  In school, if something upset me, I would barely react.  I became known for being uncaring and indifferent.  I was seen as mature by my teachers because I wouldn’t mess about and chat in class.  I was well ahead in almost every lesson except English and Drama.  At home, I would throw tantrums about a change in the plan, sort my bookcase alphabetically, and spend hours on the internet watching one show (Sonic X – I’ve watched every episode).  This split in personality was my coping mechanism for a long time, until I was about fifteen.

I had just had a major falling out with the girl who had been my friend in primary school.  I had gotten really possessive and didn’t want to ‘share’ her with other people.  I was in an absolute state and didn’t know how to talk to anyone.  I would randomly start crying at break-times because I no longer had a ‘buffer’ between me and the world.

I eventually became part of the ‘weird’ group.  I’m sure every school has one.  I eventually settled back in, but struggled without a stronger person to hide behind, I was really edgy.  I would lash out if people touched me, and generally went out of my way to avoid people out of class.  I would spend breaks in the library, and get to class early to avoid the rush.

Then my little weird group began to fall apart.  One girl moved away; I was beginning to struggle with another, and the last member, the only person I would actually spend time with out of school, was thinking of transferring schools.  I knew I had to do something.  Being alone again was not an option anymore.

I began dragging my last friend around to another group that I got along with fairly well with.  A group of almost all boys, which I felt more comfortable being around than the girls.  I think guys are simpler, more direct, and that suited me much better.  I was eventually accepted into the boys’ group, and I began to feel more secure again.

Now I’m in the last year of secondary school, I still hang out with the boys, and those, along with my boyfriend, have really helped me develop my social skills.  Not all of them know that I’m Aspergic, but a few of them do, and they keep an eye on me.  I still put my foot in it a lot, and upset people by being too blunt, but I’m glad I have friends now, who don’t mind me being quirky.  I still have a pebble collection 🙂