Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I Rage

I speak up about sexual assault not because I'm humiliated that it ever happened to me, but because I want other survivors to know that they're never alone. 

I rage against this patriarchal society we're in, one that so thoroughly devalues women, that female rape victims are treated more harshly than the male rapists, because I was once told I'd encouraged my attacker's actions and had ruined his life by telling. 

I was five.

I speak bluntly about the prevalence of molestation within families and spheres of influence because someone has to and I'll be damned if I speak of it from a parent's perspective- this cannot happen to my children.

I mourn when rapists and child molesters get a pass in order to "live normal lives" because the privilege to that same normalcy is denied to victims the instant they are attacked. Why are the guilty lives preserved when the innocent's are tossed away?

Why ask what someone was wearing instead of asking why someone felt the need to rape? 

Why is it that, when women are raped, our pasts are examined to the nth degree, trying to find some pattern of behavior which suggests we deserved to be raped? Why is it that men's lives are looked upon as having potential lost due to a woman pressing charges or making accusations. How in the hell does this make sense? 

And so, I rage. 

I rage for every woman (and man) who has ever felt we have to keep our mouths shut because what the hell is the point in telling? I rage for children whose innocence is lost before they're old enough to speak or dress themselves. I yell for the girls who've been groped by their "friend zoned" guys. I do it for the women and men who have had something slipped into their drinks and have little to no memory of anything after that. I've been in every single one of those situations and they, too, fuel this slow burning rage. 

I rage that I've already had to explain to my eight year old son that females, from the day we're born until the day we die are trained to always be cautious around men. That we, as women, are told to ignore the boys who give us unwanted hugs or kisses- they're only doing that because they want to be our preschool boyfriends and isn't just too cute? That we're forced to hug near strangers and this lends to a lack of feeling in control of our bodies.

That, when he hit a girl, I hoped her daddy told her that my son was an atrocious jerk and not someone who was sweet on her. I'm furious I ever had to explain to him the why behind that.

I explained this to him because I refuse to raise my future men with the notion that rape or assault might ever be okay. As women, we have to fight for the body autonomy which is denied to us early on and  he, as a male, has a place in society to stand up for what is right and not buy into the same misogynistic bullshit which has played out for us in centuries past.

I rage because people think that rape culture and revictimization don't exist when they so clearly do. 

I rage because someone, somewhere, once implied to all of my attackers that my body was theirs for the taking and it was okay to call me a bitch and threaten me when I said, "no." That, when I walk down the street and hear someone catcall me, I always tense up because I know if I don't smile, the words, "fucking bitch" are likely right behind the "heyyyy, girl! You gotta fine ass!" 

I'm spent because this is a never-ending cycle of violence against women and it seems to grow worse yearly. 

I'm so tired of raging. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

What Autism Has Taught Me

I've been doing this parenting autism thing for about eleven years now, knowingly for sixish, and have had knowledge of my own autism for about three years. It's been one heck of a learning curve.

In that time, autism has taught me that it's never static and always changing. Yet, whole days, weeks, months, and even years go by that seem like Groundhog Day, where the routine rarely seems to vary. In that rigid routine, though, is a constantly evolving hub of skills, understanding of the world, and hard won accomplishments- sometimes so tiny, we have to squint to see them, but they're still there.

Autism has taught me that there are many ways to slice an apple, pizza, sandwich, toast, etc., but only one correct way. Any other way than the right way will result in mutiny.

I've figured out that it is, indeed, possible, to be asked the same exact question 1,583,923 times in a day and then get asked again because echolalia.

I've learned that no amount of worrying will ever fill my bucket of fears, there will always be more things to consider, examine, and worry about some more. Because of my own autism and comorbid of severe anxiety disorder, I get the extra fun of perseverating on topics such as "what will middle school/high school be like?" "have I taught him x, y, z?" and, my personal favorite, "what's the future going to be like?" Because thinking of something like that while you're pacing and slightly manic at 3am just adds a little shot of fun to it all.

I've learned that things like milestones, time tables, and age appropriate and pretty much entirely made up and will never apply to us. Once I learned this, I was much happier.

Autism has made me realize that there are reasons why I can't learn something with just one or two demonstrations, thanks to the processing disorder side of things. This would explain why I get stuck on instructions, or forget steps in multi step problems. Morgan's the exact same way, but to a more severe degree.

I've figured out that the right fidget or sensory object at the right time can solve just about any problem, at least for a few seconds.

I've learned that I don't need to be surrounded by a ton of people who may or may not "get" me or my son. However, a small but great support network, complete with people who are willing to listen, learn, or are already "there" themselves, is key. I don't even need to actually know these people in person- I threw out the whole, "don't talk to strangers on the internet" thing a long time ago. Some of the people I've met through Facebook groups and this blog are now some of my closest confidants.

Autism has taught me that I have a resiliency within me that I never fully realized. One that will walk into conference rooms for IEPs and quietly demand the utmost best for my son and not back down until I find a way to get it.

The most important lesson autism has taught me, though, is that there are many ways for a family to be normal- it doesn't need to look like a modern Norman Rockwell painting. In our case, normal is discussion of IEPs, Thomas the Train with our eleven year old, quiet discussions with our eight year old about his worries for his brother, visiting every train museum we can find, and speaking as bluntly about autism as possible. Or, really, speaking as bluntly as possible about pretty much anything. We don't really do filters here.

Autism has taught me so much. I haven't been the most willing student at all times, and I'm still not. However, this education has been worth it because Morgan's worth it, and so am I.

What has autism taught you?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring Cleaning

I cleaned out my Monica Gellar closet (if you don't know this reference, we can't be friends) and realized it was a metaphor for my mental illness. It was like the Pandora's box I haven't wanted to open for years, and yet, I knew it was time. I needed to do some cleaning, both figuratively and literally. 

This is my closet now. 

Kind of pretty, isn't it? It looks organized, I have a nice little work space. Things are in specific places, and I even have a spot for my taxidermied animal thingy. 

I'm showing the "after picture" first because, frankly, it will look better in the preview picture in the link.

However, this is the before. It's bad, huh? 
The closet had been a dumping ground for randomness since the day we moved in over a year ago.  took four or five huge lawn and leaf bags of trash and four lawn and leaf bags to charity, twelve hours, and me falling down a massive rabbit hole. 

You see, as I was purging, I realized that I hadn't touched some of that stuff since we lived in Tennessee- in 2012. That's three moves, an autism diagnosis (mine), a slight mental breakdown (again, me), another severe endometriosis diagnosis for me, and so much more. 

As I was digging deep into crafting supplies, I kept wondering "why?" Why in the ever living shit did I have some of this?! I mean, at one point I was selling hair bows and accessories, so some of it made sense, but Jesus, why did I need five rolls of ribbon that were the exact same color? What the hell was going on with me when I was buying this stuff? And why was some of it so ugly?

Then, I remembered. And I got mad. I remembered Thomas and I fighting like all hell five years ago about my spending money on this shit and my denying it. The craft store was better than eating because I was steeped in anorexia and mania and I was out of control, all while trying so hard to pretend I was in control. It was when I was battling the school on IEPs, and Morgan's placement, and so much more. This was the time frame I became and advocate. 

Before that time, I broke off contact with my biological father. I fired my shrink. I fired everyone. I went off my meds. I went full blown wide open. I lost my proverbial shit. All of that was in the closet, too, in pictures, journals, and drawings I'd hidden away from myself. 

Mental illness- it had filled up bins, boxes, baskets, and bought hundreds of rolls of ribbons, and I'm not even sure how many fat quarters of fabric. I had hoarded and, scared to death of losing more things and I was losing control, I kept it all. 

I threw out guilt as I threw out cards, papers, bags, notebooks filled with manic scrawling. Rage and sadness filled me because I wondered how much time I've wasted over the years due to this crap in my head. 

By the time I was done, I felt as if I'd taken a long and hot shower.  It was as if by unleashing my compulsiveness in a healthy way, I'd been able to clean out the recesses of my brain.