The Wednesday HodgePodge (August 17, 2022)

Hi everyone. I’m joining the Wednesday HodgePodge again. Here are Joyce’s questions.

1. August is National Back To School Month…how does that make you feel? Share a back-to-school memory.
I don’t really feel much regarding back-to-school time, as I’m not in school anymore (it’s been 17 years since I graduated high school) and my nieces are too young to be in school. I’m so glad to be out of school though.

A back-to-school memory? My first day at the school for the blind I spent fourth till sixth grade at. We went to church to mark the beginning of the school year, as it was a Christian school. I found it all very strange, having never been to a church before, since my parents are atheists. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep during the service though.

2. Something you’ve learned in “the school of life”?
People who get paid to have any sort of relationship with you, won’t stick around for you, so you have no reason to stay for them either. Yes, I’m referring to my wish to transfer to another care facility here.

3. Three words to describe your current mood.
Unquiet, determined, sad.

4. A summer food you’ve eaten too much of/are tired of? A summer food you haven’t had enough of?
There isn’t any summer food I’m really tired of, though today I turned down another ice cream cone because I’d had three in the past week already. A summer food I haven’t had enough of? Summer fruit!

5. What small stuff do you sweat that you know you shouldn’t?
I tend to get very easily frustrated, so quite a lot, but lately I’ve also tried to solve small problems more rather than just not caring. An example are air bubbles in my clay. The reason that I do try to solve the problem now, is that I know how to (to an extent) rather than just having to wait for my pieces to be cured and then deciding whether they go in the trash or are just about good enough to be displayed. It’s a tricky balancing act of trying not to sweat the small stuff but also trying not to be careless.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
Yesterday, we had daytime temperatures of 30°C. It isn’t expected to get this hot again anytime this year. My husband, not surprisingly, started the Christmas prep WhatsApp group with his family. He always does in mid-August. I, too, before we got to discuss this, started reading a winter-themed chapter book.

How I Was Disciplined As a Child

Hi everyone. Today’s topic for Throwback Thursday is “rules and discipline”. I am going to try to keep this post as non-triggering as possible, but if you endured childhood abuse, you might want to skip this post. Then again, maybe what I endured wasn’t abuse at all? Well, in that case actual survivors might want to skip it because it might come across as invalidating.

My parents rarely set clear rules when I was a child or teen. I can’t remember having curfews and, even at ten-years-old, I was allowed to stay awake in my room for as long as I wanted provided I didn’t wake anybody else.

In this sense, none of the provided questions in Maggie’s original post made much sense. I mean, I was often sent to my room as punishment, but I cannot remember what for. I also was never told how long to stay in my room, so I usually stayed for about an hour then slowly re-emerged.

My parents, both of them, also used corporal punishment. However, I get a feeling that they hit me more out of a sense of powerlessness than out of a righteous wish to set me straight. Unfortunately, corporal punishment didn’t stop when I got older. In fact, the last time I was hit, was when my parents more or less kicked me out of the house when I was nineteen. And then I don’t include the time my mother tried to slap away my hand from my hair to prevent me twirling it when I was 23 but I slapped her hand away.

My parents, like I said, didn’t have clear-cut rules, but they did have expectations about socially appropriate behavior. They had their own words for ridiculing me when I “misbehaved”.

The positive side of there not being many clear rules, was that my parents encouraged me to do things most other teens, and certainly disabled teens, would not have been allowed to. I was allowed on a four-week-long summer camp to Russia at age fourteen, being the youngest of the Dutch participants and the only one with a disability (the program officially catered towards the visually impaired). Then again, when I struggled socially in Russia and for this reason wasn’t allowed back the next year, my parents, especially my father, completely guilt-tripped me rather than showing me support.

I was mostly a rule-follower, insofar as there were rules at all. However, as a teen, I became secretive. I actually had my father drive me to a meeting of people with mental illness when I was seventeen, while I’d led him to believe it was a disability meeting (because one of the people there was in a wheelchair). I’m pretty sure he knew, but he never confronted me.

I don’t have children of my own, so I cannot say whether my upbringing influenced the way I discipline them. However, I did find I got easily triggered when I got the impression my sister and brother-in-law used corporal punishment on my older niece (this was before the younger one was born). Thankfully, they were able to reassure me that they didn’t.

My First Date

Hi everyone. Today’s topic for Throwback Thursday is first dates. Since my now husband, Jeroen, was the only person I ever actually dated, I’m going to share my experiences about meeting him.

As regular readers might know, we met on a message forum. More specifically, he met me there, because I barely knew him by the time he private messaged me. He, on the other hand, had read most of my posts on the forum, as well as my blog.

I wrote on there, for all forum members to see, that I was feeling lonely living on my own in my student apartment in Nijmegen. At the time, he had decided he wanted to expand his circle of acquaintances. Neither of us were really looking for love, so in that sense, maybe it wasn’t actually a date.

Jeroen PM’d me asking to have a cup of coffee or tea somewhere in Nijmegen. I agreed, then backtracked, fearing he was a “creep in his fifties”, as I worded it. You see, I had barely read his introductory post. He invited me to the forum meeting in Utrecht where, according to him, at least fifteen other forum members could vouch for him that he didn’t appear creepy and was nowhere near fifty. He was eighteen at the time and I was twenty-one.

Looking back, I still took an enormous risk, as I never went to that Utrecht meeting. I did tell my support worker where I’d be meeting Jeroen, but, me being an adult, I didn’t have a curfew or anything.

I can’t remember whether I was stressed beforehand. During our meeting up, I certainly was. I can’t remember who paid for my coffee and his tea, probably him. As I’ve mentioned before when discussing this first “date”, I tripped over some steps in the cafe, spilling my coffee. I screamed in frustration.

As for who did the talking and who did the listening, neither of us talked much. Jeroen asked me about my taste in music, to which I replied vaguely that I like world music. I honestly wouldn’t have a clue how to respond now either, as I’m not really that much into music.

This “date”, to be honest, was quite the disaster, but Jeroen had it in his mind that, if he tried to meet me another time, we’d have many more dates. And we did. We got married exactly four years after this date.

Bat-Tea

In the psychiatric hospital, coffee was consumed more than any other drink, except for maybe alcohol by the dually-diagnosed. (No, that’s not true: even though I’ve seen my fair share of drunken patients, they probably still didn’t manage to drink on a daily basis.) We had set coffee times, but everyone knew the way to the coffee machine in the outpatient clinic’s waiting room; actually, a nurse showed me.

Even so, when we were unstable, we drank tea, specifically rooibos with strawberry and whipped cream flavor. I don’t understand how any of us liked it, but we did. I nicknamed it bat-tea, for it helped us when we were going batty.


This post was written for this week’s Six-Sentence Story link-up, for which the prompt word is “coffee”.

A Courageous Choice

I was a shy, withdrawn teen who was loyal to my parents even though they didn’t have my best interest in mind. I mean, if they’d had their way, I’d have gone to university and lived on my own straight out of high school in 2005, even though I could barely take care of myself. That had been their attitude towards raising “responsible” children ever since I was a little girl: if I couldn’t – or in their opinion was too strong-willed to – learn a skill as a child, I’d learn it as an adult by myself. Or not. In any case, there was no safety net.

Though I do indeed feel that children benefit from learning by doing themselves, this was not how it worked in my family. I don’t blame my parents for not having the patience to teach me self-care skills, given that I got frustrated very easily, but I do hold them responsible for not having accepted the help they could have gotten. Though it might not have led to me becoming as independent as they’d want me to be, my current situation is about as far from that goal as can be. Then again, my parents hold me responsible for that. And I, in a sense, do too.

I was reminded of this situation when I read a journaling prompt that asked me to reflect on a courageous choice I made as a teen that’s still helping me today. I immediately thought of the choice to go into blindness training rather than straight to university once I’d graduated high school. Though this decision itself did not by far lead to the self-awareness I needed to try to get into long-term care, it was my first step into the care system. And, of course, as my parents predicted, I never fully got out.

Back in June of 2005, when I accepted the blindness training center psychologist’s offer to put me on the waiting list for the basic training program, I still had my head deep in the sand about my lack of independence skills. The psychologist did not. He suggested I go to a training home after finishing the program. He probably knew that, like many young people blind from birth, and especially those from families like mine who value academics over life skills, I wouldn’t be ready to move into independent living after a four-month, basic program. I wasn’t. I never would be. Till this day, I’m not sure whether this is my blindness or my autism or my mild cerebral palsy or what. I believe strongly that, with multiple disabilities, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Thankfully, the authorities approving my long-term care funding, eventually agreed.

When I Was Twenty

When I was twenty, I lived at the independence training home for disabled young adults in my parents’ city. I had had one particular assigned staff member for the first year that I lived there, but due to my challenging behavior, she refused to be my assigned staff any longer. I was fine with this, because I couldn’t get along with her anyway. Instead, the team coordinator became my assigned staff.

Over the next six months, we developed quite a strong bond. I started to feel like I could be myself with her. That was rather unusual, as I’d never felt like I could be myself with any outside person at all. I started to show her bits of my inner world, started to be vulnerable with her.

Then she went on vacation. When she came back, she informed me she could no longer be my assigned staff. I don’t remember her reasoning, but it was related to both her workload and our relationship.

I think back often to this staff now that my assigned staff at the care facility is leaving. It feels as though she’s rejecting me, just like the other one rejected me. After all, shortly after that staff could no longer be my assigned staff, I had to leave the training home.

I have been flooded with memories from when I was twenty again. I try to remember I’m 36 now, but attachment loss is still as difficult as it ever was.

In truth, I should have learned my lesson back then when I was still young: care staff are not there to stay. Don’t be vulnerable with them.

This post was written for Five Minute Friday, for which the prompt this week is “twenty”.

Precious Memories of My Father

Hi everyone. Today in her Sunday Poser, Sadje asks us to share our most precious memory of our father or the father figure in our life.

My father was a homemaker and my and my sister’s primary caretaker when we were children. As such, he, rather than my mother, was the one I’d see when I came home from school.

As a child, I took very much after my father, but now I have very mixed feelings about our relationship. My father is intelligent and he knows it. He also knows that I am intelligent and he feels that this somehow negates all my problems. In his opinion, all people who disagree with him, particularly those in the helping professions, are stupid.

Because my father and I are both intelligent, my father did encourage my cognitive development from an early age. This is evident in my different response to my parents when prompting me, for example. There’s this Dutch nursery rhyme that goes: “One, two, three, four, paper hat, paper hat.” Whenever my mother chanted: “One, two, three, four…”, I’d reply with “paper hat”. When my father chanted the same though, I’d reply with “five!”.

this is not a direct memory I have of my father though, as I was too young to form actual, verbal memories when this happened. I do remember, however, my father teaching me math when I was about seven. He would show me square calculation by using computer chips that were square-shaped. He’d lay them in a row of, say, three, then lay them in a square of three by three and explain that this is a square calculation. (The Dutch word for the square calculation and the shape isn’t the same, so I had to follow an extra step.) Similarly, he’d explain squareroots by doing the reverse.

We would also spend long evenings looking at his world atlas to see where different countries and other geographic areas were located. I still had enough vision to, with some difficulty, follow his finger along the maps.

When I got older, I had to catch up on reading, as this was one of my weaker subjects, mostly because I didn’t like the fact that I had to read Braille. My father encouraged me, well more like forced me, to do extra reading at home. One memory I have is of me reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in Dutch when I was about eleven. To show me that he, too, was taking up a challenge, he read the book in its original English. I am currently listening to the audiobook in English on Apple Books.

In short, my father nurtured my intellectual side. Currently, I much more value my creative side, which my mother nurtured (a little). Still, my memories of doing academics with my father are mostly good.

Because I’d Had a Stroke…

I couldn’t possibly be autistic, my psychologist said, because I’d had a stroke as an infant and that somehow precluded a diagnosis of autism. Never mind that autism is genetic and said stroke supposedly didn’t change my genetic makeup to make me neurotypical. I, however, had to be diagnosed with acquired brain injury-related behavior change instead, but then again I couldn’t either, because I was too young when I sustained the stroke for my behavior to be considered as having changed either; after all, a six-week-old infant hardly shows any behaviors that would be considered significant in an adult. For this reason, I ended up with just some regular personality disorders, specifically dependent and borderline PD. Never mind that these have their onset in early adulthood and I’d shown symptoms since childhood. As it later turned out, my psychologist’s reason for changing my diagnosis had nothing to do with logic and everything with her wish to kick me out of care.


This post was written for the Six Sentence Story link-up, for which the prompt word is “stroke”. It isn’t completely factual, in the sense that, though my psychologist kept referring to what happened to me at six weeks of age as a stroke, it was actually a brain bleed. That doesn’t change the rest of the story though.

The Staff Have the Key

I have a morbid sense of humor that has sustained me through the darkest times of my life. I remember when I was in a suicidal crisis in 2007, being held at the police station while waiting for the crisis service to assess me, telling the officers how I wasn’t all that creative, since I had thought out only a few ways to die. I think one of the officers tried to distract me by saying that I must be creative, since I have a blog, but I wouldn’t listen.

Once I had been admitted to the psychiatric hospital, locked ward, with no privileges (as they are called) to leave the ward unsupervised by staff, I started to crack jokes. They were rather lame jokes if you ask me, jokes I’d plucked off the Internet, such as those about the differences between the patients and staff on a psychiatric ward. First, the patients get better and leave; second, not all patients believe they’re God; lastly, the staff have the key.


This post was written in response to this week’s Six Sentence Story Link-Up, for which the prompt word is “key”.

My First Crush

Hi everyone. Today’s topic for Throwback Thursday is first crushes. Let me share.

My first crush was a boy called MJ (that is, he had a double first name). I think he was a year younger than me. I was ten at the time and in the fifth grade at the school for the blind. Back then, we would always say we were like 90% in love with the other one. I don’t know where the percentages came from or if kids in other schools used them too. I certainly remember telling MJ that I had a crush on him and at that point, several kids in his class pushed me to kiss him. I gave him a quick kiss on the cheek but till this day feel intense shame about it.

I don’t remember feeling heartbreak when that “relationship” ended. It only lasted for a couple of weeks anyway. I do know that MJ passed away when I was in high school, something I didn’t find out about until many years later.

My second crush was a girl named Layla and I’m not even sure I’m spelling that right. I was fourteen at the time and had only met her once. She was in the grade below me at secondary school. At the time, I was still about as clueless about love as I’d been at age ten. After that first encounter, I never met Layla again and so I never told her I had a crush on her.

For years, I’d have fleeting crushes on various girls and boys who paid me attention, but I never told them. I never quite fantasized about having a husband (or wife, since same-sex marriage is legal here) when I’d grow up. In fact, when my now husband told me he was in love with me, I wasn’t so sure whether to reciprocate it. I did like him, but did my feelings go beyond mere friendship plus a little puppy love because he was paying me attention? In the end, it didn’t really matter, as our relationship and now our marriage is a happy one.