When I Was Fifteen

One of Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop prompts for this week is to explain how a parent or sibling would’ve described you at the age of fifteen. What an interesting thing that Mama Kat should mention age fifteen!

I turned fifteen in June of 2001. By August, looking back, I was close to insane mentally. This was the summer when I first realized I had alters inside of me, although I didn’t know what they were at the time. I just heard some type of voices that were and at the same time weren’t mine.

Neither my parents nor my younger sister knew this at the time. Still, they did realize something was up, if for no other reason, then because I didn’t care about school. I had always been a pretty studious kind of child, but this changed by November or December of 2001.

In addition, I was a rather angry, moody child. I had suffered from depression on and off since age seven or so, but it was particularly bad at age fifteen. I even made suicide plans several times during that year. My parents, being the type to dismiss mental health issues, felt I was just attention-seeking, of course.

My life turned around in a sort of positive way a few weeks before my sixteenth birthday, although no-one saw either the change or how positive it was at that point. On June 16, 2002, my father called me autistic as an insult. This led me to search the Internet for autism and to discover I may be on the spectrum myself. Although it’d take nearly five more years before I was diagnosed, in part because my parents and teachers didn’t believe me, I see this as a pivotal point in my life.

The day after this, June 17, I finally disclosed to my teacher what had been bothering me over the past year. I sugarcoated it a little, not mentioning the voices or suicidality or autism for that matter. I did tell him I was struggling with being blind in a mainstream school and that I realized I had been less than good of a student lately.

My father, at the time, worked at my school. My teacher told him that I had disclosed something to him, but he refused to tell my father what it was. This led to a really traumatic experience, because my parents demanded to know too and they weren’t kind about it at all. I am pretty sure they just tried to gain fuel for their idea that I was one giant attention-seeker.

Many years later, my parents used many of my struggles at age fifteen to “prove” this very point. I can see their perspective, sort of. Thankfully though, my current professionals don’t go along with it.

Mama’s Losin’ It

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 16, 2021)

Hi all on this grey Saturday. Today I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. I just had my afternoon coffee about half an hour ago. If you want a Senseo though, I can make one for you. Let’s have coffee and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, first I’d ask you how your weather is. Ours is pretty cold, but the newspaper said it isn’t even really freezing. I guess I don’t really like winter if I consider this cold. Snow is forecasted for tonight, but I doubt it’ll even create a dusting of white. That’s fine by me as I don’t like snow.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I guess I shouldn’t have said on Thursday that I am glad to live in a stable democracy. After all, the Dutch government collapsed on Friday. It’s totally justified though and no, it’s not about COVID. It’s about parents pretty much randomly being labeled as fraudulent childcare payment recipients and made to repay sometimes tens of thousands of euros that they didn’t have.

If we were having coffee, I would share that my father had his birthday yesterday. He considered the government collapse to be a welcome present, as he doesn’t support the rather conservative parties making up the government.

I phoned my father yesterday and he told me he’d also gotten some type of signal converter, so that he can read the status of his heating on his computer. I sent him a Kate Rusby CD, but it isn’t due to arrive until like the 25th.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I have been quite creative lately. I made a bath bomb on Thursday. I might take it with me into the bathtub later this evening.

My one-on-one staff also helped me bake cookies yesterday. Well, she did most of the prep, as the dough was too sticky for me to handle. That was a bit frustrating. The cookies were delicious though.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had a long phone call with my husband yesterday. I am not going to go to our house this week-end, but I loved to hear his voice instead.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that I’m hoping to get an AFO (ankle foot orthosis) for my left foot soon. The physical therapist already E-mailed the orthopedic equipment maker, but we haven’t heard back from him. Walking is still doable without the AFO, but when I go for long’ish (like twenty minute) walks, my foot drags. This is a little painful. It also causes my shoe to get damaged quite easily. In fact, even though the orthopedic shoemaker had already put some type of buffer thing on it, the shoe was almost beyond repair after three weeks. Anyway, I’m hoping the AFO gets here soon and will be helpful.

If not, my father mentioned that, back when I was little, the doctors had mentioned surgery to lengthen my calf muscle. That probably comes with its own risks though. Besides, as long as the pain and discomfort are manageable, I don’t think any doctor would want to operate on me just to save me buying a new pair of shoes every month.

What’s been going on in your life lately?

Mother As Place of Attachment

It’s already been eighteen months since I last wrote about what I read in The Emotionally Absent Mother. Still, the book hasn’t just sat there. I struggled to move on from Mother As Source. The next section is titled Mother As Place of Attachment. Somehow, this is a really hard section. I don’t really know why. I mean, yes, part of the reason I struggle to move on in writing about this book, is that I do it publicly and what if my parents read this? Then again, I don’t really care. I’m in groups on Facebook for childhood emotional neglect and emotional abuse survivors too. Though the member list of private groups isn’t available to non-members, I’m pretty sure they know somehow. Honestly, regarding this, I care more about my husband’s opinion than my parents’.

But there’s something specifically about this section that is hard. I’m not even sure what. Maybe it’s just that I don’t have a lot of early memories of my mother. I attribute this to my father being the homemaker and primary caretaker in our household. But fathers can “mother” too.

The first question asked in the section on your mother as place of attachment, is to rate your sense of connectedness to your mother on a scale of 1 to 10. The next question is how your sense of connectedness evolved over the years.

Well, with my mother, I am generally at a 5. I don’t feel she “gets” me, but we do get along okay. Like I said when discussing mother as source, I don’t feel that I’m made of her, but she isn’t from another planet either. Or maybe she’s from Venus. I mean, we’re not constantly disconnected.

Over the years, my sense of connectedness to my mother has stayed the same. I never quite felt like we had a strong bond, but I didn’t feel totally alienated either.

My father is a different story. We had a strong connection, maybe around 8, when I was a child. Now we’re at a 3 at best. Like I said in my mother as source post, as a child, I saw my father as the embodiment of intelligence, success and well what other positive characteristics are there really? When I got to question his having sole ownership of the truth at around age 15, things started to change. Or did things change earlier on? I’m not sure.

Another question is about bodily contact. This is where I get to question whether the schism occurred earlier than age 15. When I was a young child, my father definitely did give both my sister and me lots of opportunities for bodily contact. I remember when my sister and I were little, my father would wrap us in a towel and drag us to our bedroom. He called this “swordfish” and my sister always asked for “sordsish”.

My mother says that, around age 7 or 8, I stopped wanting to sit in my parents’ lap. From then on, bodily contact like hugging or good-night kisses was very ritualistic. I remember around age 11, being forced to read a certain number of pages in Braille if I wanted a good-night kiss. This at the time felt very distressing. I haven’t studied emotional development except in the context of intellectual disability, so I have really no idea whether it’s normal to still want good-night kisses at that age. I guess not.

As a side note, I did initiate physical contact such as hand-holding with practically every adult until I was at least 12. In my psych eval report from age 11, the ed psych notes that I claim not to need a cane but grab her hand immediately anyway. That first bit was no doubt related to my difficult accepting my blindness, but I don’t think the second bit is fully. Even as an adult, I truly crave physical contact and am a bit indiscriminate in who can give it to me. I mean, I am pretty clear that no male staff can provide me with physical comfort (or help me with personal care). With regards to female staff though (and the entire current staff of my home is female), I do accept physical comfort. I honestly don’t know how my husband feels about this.

PoCoLo
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday