My Blanket

I remember my security blanket.  I can’t recall when I got it as a child, but it brought me comfort.  A person with Asperger’s tends to latch on to an item that makes us feel secure.  Mine was a blanket; I carried everywhere I went except at school or a friend’s house.  My parents accepted my need to carry the blanket around the house.

It comforted me in times of feeling anxiety, which happened a lot around my mom.  I especially loved my blanky when it got washed.  I would caress it between my fingers and rub my nose in it for hours.  This behavior comes across as weird and abnormal in the neurotypical world, but for us Aspie’s, this is comforting and normal.

As I stated, my mom had no problem with the blanket.  When my parents got separated the final time, I got to take it with me.  I held that blanket more often once we arrived in Chicago.  The adjustment was traumatizing, and I clutched my blanky as often as possible.

My mom tried to enroll me in the public school but withdrew me when the superintendent told her because of my high grades; I would be bussed over an hour away to a magnet school.  Thankfully, she turned down the request.  Instead, she enrolled me in the Catholic school.  The same one I attended when my parents first separated when I was six years old. Oh, joy.  My anxiety went through the roof, and my blanky and I did not separate at all at my grandma’s house.

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My First Separation

 

My first marriage at the tender age of seventeen was a mistake.  In spite of my mother forcing the issue because I was pregnant and it was the correct thing to do.  It was absolute hell.  We were together for three years, but I spent a total of a year and a half with him.  The first time I separated from him was right after our son was born.  He disappeared for days leaving me to care for our son.

I had gotten a botched episiotomy and could barely sit or stand for long periods of time.  The apartment building my mother in law owned could care less about the maintenance.  Drug addicts were roaming the halls while the inside had rats and cockroaches galore. Plus the heat wouldn’t work half the time.  Not a healthy place especially for a newborn.  It was January and quite cold, and of course, the radiator heat would not kick in.  It was the middle of the night, and I was too tired and sore to seek out my mother-in-law to fix it.

Suddenly, water began to spout out of the radiator.  The water drained all over the floor, and I didn’t know if it was scalding.  I started to cry not knowing what to do.  I left the pool of water and decided to try to sleep.  I barely drifted off, when the baby began to cry wanting his bottle.  I edged myself out of bed because of my soreness, and carefully walked around the water.  I decided as I fixed the bottle I would contact my mom a little later on the whole situation.

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Grandma’s Jealousy

I was about to finish up freshman year of high school when my mom broke the news.  Grandma is selling the house and supposedly going to help my mom get her a place.  I thought, wow that is out of the blue.  What it was about, is my grandmother was jealous my mom and I went to Hawaii the previous year and decided she should also go.  She had little to no cash.  All the equity is locked in the house.  If she wanted to go, she had to sell the home.

My life was about to get turned upside down once again.  It had been four years since my parents separated but still no divorce.  My mom ate all the money from the sale of the motel, so she had nothing to buy a home.  She believed my grandmother was going to help her.  She found out the hard way… my grandmother, her mother, was a lying, manipulative witch.

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More Asperger Traits

Internally, being a person with Asperger’s is complete hell.  The internal battle is neverending, and at times I want to give up. My mind alone races about two hundred miles per hour.  Sleeping at night is a luxury not easily found for us Aspie’s.  And even if I were to fall asleep, I dream nonstop.  I read somewhere the typical person barely remembers their dreams.  I wish I could forget most of mine.  My dreams are all in color and vivid. I can recall dreams from my earliest childhood.

My imagination was off the charts.  I imagined I was a male dog named Pete.  I played this role from the time I was three or four and stopped once I started school.  I would role play while laying in bed at night and drive my sister crazy.  She would get annoyed because I talked out loud and she was trying to sleep.

I would play with dolls some of the time, but I enjoyed playing with my brother’s trucks. Aspie’s can gravitate towards gender opposite things.  I always considered myself a tomboy even though my mom would try to force me to act more like a girl.  I hated anything related to shopping, grocery, clothes, etc…  I thought it was boring and it brought on a lot of anxiety when my parents would take me.

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Giving Birth at Seventeen

I screamed at the top of my lungs.  “Do the breathing techniques I showed you,” as the nurse held my hand.  “The more you fight the contractions, the longer you’ll be in labor.  Let your body push the baby out.”  I remember that nurse as clear as day and that was almost thirty years ago.  I was a scared seventeen-year-old just married a few months living with an abusive husband. It was January 3rd, 1989.

My husband and I were on and off with separation since we wed September 1988.  I was attempting to study for my G.E.D before Christmas break. I was supposed to be finishing my senior year of high school, but pregnancy happened.  I promised my family I would earn my degree and graduate no matter what it took.  It was not easy because my husband was abusive.  He would leave me alone with no food and money to pay bills.  I wasn’t working; I spent my time taking classes and studying.  When my husband would be home, he usually was drunk and verbally abusive.

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Hawaii Bound

My eighth-grade graduation was coming up, and my mom wanted her and me to go on a trip.  She received settlement money from the motel selling as part of the separation from my dad. She wanted to splurge on something nice, even though she was blowing through the money like crazy.  I told her I would have been content going to Mackinac Island in the upper Michigan peninsula.

Nope.  Mom wanted to go big.  She insisted that we should go to Hawaii.  I wasn’t all that thrilled because my mind believed there were tarantulas and other poisonous what not on the islands.  She pushed the issue not because it was what I wanted to do but what she wanted.  There was no convincing her otherwise, so she planned the trip two weeks after I graduated.

It was my first long plane trip.  I took plenty of plane rides between where I lived in Canada to Chicago which usually took approximately three hours total flying.  Hawaii was eight hours from Chicago, and it was a nonstop flight.  We arrived sometime in the afternoon Hawaiian time.

Mom set it up that we would tour three of the islands.  The first island we visited was Oahu. One of our stops was to see Pearl Harbor.  It is a somber sight.  As we ferried towards the memorial, I had the sense of uneasiness.  We disembarked off the boat and unto the memorial where no one said a word.  I looked down the one side of the open area and could see the USS Arizona.  I wanted to leave.  I think the Asperger’s in me could sense the travesty.  At one point, I felt as though I had to puke.  I was relieved to leave and head back.

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Final Separation

About four years after my mom left my dad the first time she decided this was it. She was leaving him for good.  She had the opportunity to move into grandma’s house because my aunt and uncle were divorcing.  She was carefully plotting for months on how to leave without him realizing it.  She sucked me into her maddening idea.

She painted a picture of us being in Chicago and having all kinds of fun, just like during their first separation.  Our house wasn’t pleasant in the past few years.  My parents barely spoke, my mother was always depressed, and my dad was sullen.  I was the only kid left at home.  My brothers were living in Chicago at my grandma’s house, and my sister was living on her own in Nipigon.

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Parents first Separation

The first time my parents separated I was six years old.  My mom was going through a deep depression, and I think she blamed my dad.  She believed her best bet was to pack her and my brother and I and move into my grandma’s house in Chicago.  She owned a two-story house with an apartment above where she lived.  My aunt and uncle lived on the main floor.  My two older siblings were also living in the house.  We were in cramped living quarters.

My mom, my sister and I and grandma lived in my grandma’s apartment which was not that big.  My brothers occupied the basement.  None of us lived with my aunt and uncle even though they had a spacious area.

We left Canada as soon as school ended for my brother and I.  I was too young to realize what was going on but I remember being excited to stay at grandma’s house.  I don’t think my mom ever told my dad she was leaving him; we were going on “vacation.”

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Dad’s Christmas Visit

It was my first Christmas in Chicago since my parents separated in September.  I remember December 1982 being damp, dreary and not at all what I was used to since moving from Canada.  Canada by Christmas time has layers of pristine snow, and when the sun shone, it would brighten up.  The Chicago weather was depressing.

I probably wasn’t to keen on much since I missed Canada and wanted to see my dad.  I sat perched atop my grandmother’s radiator which was enclosed by a covering.  The covering was as long as the four large living room windows. Between watching whatever was on television and glimpsing outside, I spotted what looked like a familiar car.

It was drizzling out, so I thought the car was going slow because of the weather.  I went back to watching the television.  A few minutes later I saw the same vehicle slowly pass our house.  I took a closer look, and I knew for sure I recognized the car.  It was my parent’s station wagon that my dad still drove.  I didn’t say anything to my brother or mom since I didn’t want to cause a stir.

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Talent Inherited

 

My dad’s mind was unusual. He could be very analytical one minute and immersed in being an artist.  I carry the same thought processes.  I know where the Asperger’s came from, he had the same quirky traits as me.  His quirkiness wasn’t quite as pronounced as mine.  I think some of his faded due to the hard life he had as a child.

One of his talents was being a master at carving wood.  He mainly did it in wintertime when it was a slow time at the motel.  He would spend days on end creating something from a block of wood.  I sometimes watched.  There were many pieces he created over the years.  One time he spent about four months carving a jewelry box for my mom as a Christmas gift.  I watched as she opened her gift and had a look of “oh great another one of your carvings.”  I couldn’t believe she didn’t appreciate all my dad’s hard work to make her happy.

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