Me, Myself, I & Him!
“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness”
When l was first diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome l was admittedly somewhat clueless as to what that really meant. My knowledge on autism was restricted to the 1988 film starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise as the Babbitt brothers! Sure, l had heard snippets about the topic over the years, but had never any real cause to concentrate upon it.
But let’s be honest, that is how most things are with people, not just awareness of autism used as the example here, but equally as fitting we can see mental health, politics, cancer, sex drugs and rock and roll or sausage rolls if you prefer. The point is – if it doesn’t affect us, why do we need to know?’
As we age of course, our motivations change directions – we become more ‘globally aware’ of issues that concern not just us, or the peoples of the world, but planet earth as a whole. We adapt to learning on the curve known as life and like a good red wine, as we age we mature and we become wiser. [Or we at least should]
From as far back as l could remember l had been quirksome, but also so too had my entire family life – my Father was in my eyes not quite right, my Mother neurotic and my Sister somewhat aloof, as a family we made perfectly dysfunctional look normal! Our lives were erratic, and troublesome, and stressful and mind blowingly irksome! Back then growing up as we all were together, there was no talk of autism – which although that was the main ingredient to our specific formula – it was just exercising the chaos theory day in and day out – getting through from dawn to dusk in one piece was everyone’s prime motivation.
The only awareness any of us had was survival – we knew that we all lived in a dog eat dog style of life and the fittest won the day whilst the weakest trembled behind closed doors. Back then, the only true awareness l knew of was that my odd ball Father was a violent man who had his own demons running loose within his head.
Autism which was inside us both ,was not an awareness, nor was it an acceptance it was literally an invisible entity that invaded vast areas of cranial territory daily and made the resident hostile to the environment, its people and its functioning. In those days atypical to Highlander ‘There could be only one!” My Father took the unknowing road of being the households’ main Autistic presence, whilst l on the other hand took the role of the subservient alongside my Mother and Sister.
Would awareness of autism have made any difference what so ever to us as a family has long been a question over recent years that l have asked. If we had known of ‘his’ autism, could that of helped him back then with everything going on at the time? Could a childhood diagnosis of my own made things less aggressive on the home front?
Years on and sadly l can say that for my Father, no amount of awareness knowledge would have made the slightest bit of difference for him. But also, l can say that now l am ‘aware’ and have accepted autism freely into my life, l am glad that l was not diagnosed all those years ago – not for any denial aspect – no. My thought pattern lies in the one truism that stood back then which was survival. Knowledge of autism in his life then would only have served to further fuel his already atomic aggressions and anger and the hostility that he displayed to his family in his desperations to purge their flaws from his eyes would have meant that mere survival for the weakest could have become impossible.
Knowing what l know now, as it was growing up with a narcisstic autistic Father was hard enough l became the target for all of his own torment – and my imperfections needed to be eradicated from the family way of life. Taunts and jibes were a daily routine with him, my sexuality due to my extreme shyness was a cause for great amusement – not accepting that l was just nervous around girls, no, he was never content with that – l had to be a homosexual – it was that simple and that was unacceptable. In my feeble attempts to fit into my peer group dying my hair and adorning my ear with a stud enraged him and his dark beliefs further.
If not that then my odd behaviour was the results of a raging addiction to drugs and alcohol and if NOT that, then there could only be two other possibilities – l was either not his son, or l was retarded.
Growing up in a household without awareness was hard enough, growing up in a household back then with awareness l think personally would have been much harder.
Here l am in my early fifties and have had my own diagnosis now since my mid-forties and l am all for promoting the importance of not just awareness but more importantly acceptance and not just from those off the spectrum but equally from those on the spectrum.
Still my Father doesn’t accept even remotely that he may be on the spectrum, it is still a flaw, one giant imperfection, a handicap that society needs to ignore. That his Son sits on the so called spectrum only adds value to his notion that he was right all those years ago when Father and Son were growing up in the same household – that he was faultless.
I am autistically aware and proud to be so, but l am also aware of the acceptance needed to be so.
But how about you, how aware are you – autistically?