The Hidden Village of Aspergers

April 16, 2013

(I Don’t Want To Go To) Coventry

It’s April, Autism Awareness Month, and funnily enough, I’m sitting here typing this after having a major meltdown at work. We’re talking tears, animal wails, hyperventilation, hallucinations, the whole fun package. For obvious reasons, I’m not going to go into details about my job, but I will say that I’ve been dealing with something that has been causing me a lot of unhappiness recently, something that resulted in me going backstage at a Space gig in Leeds with scarred arms, and pouring boiling water on my arm two days later. It’s a technique that’s been used against me in the past by countless people. It’s ostracisation.

I am not psychic. I cannot always read faces or voices, so it stands to reason that mindreading is beyond my capabilities. When someone is angry with me and I don’t know why, it makes me paranoid as hell. It makes me wonder what I’ve done and the ability I have to trust other people gets slowly chipped away. When they refuse to speak to me, even if it’s in a situation where not talking to me causes even more problems – i.e. a work situation where people are required to communicate with each other. As a result of being ostracised at work, I got into trouble. Again, I can’t go into details. Because work was where I had the meltdown, it’s going to happen again. I spent most of last week and the week before that sitting in silence, not knowing what I’d done. The last time it happened, I was told that I had been rude and not apologised – I know for a fact I had apologised – and I ended up crying and begging for forgiveness, and later cutting myself when I got home.

Going silent on me is one of the cruellest things a person can do. Talking to a person refusing to speak to me is like battering on a door repeatedly, until my fists are bleeding. I remember after I’d taken an overdose in 2005, and when I walked into a room where my housemates were, they made excuses and walked out. A week or so earlier, when I came home from the hospital and rang the doorbell, one of them let me in, glared at me and just walked up the stairs without a word. Not one of them asked how I was. They avoided me after the overdose, even after I thought I’d made some headway, and soon after, I moved out.

I hate being left out of things. It’s happened to me since I was a kid. I was always standing on the fringe of groups in high school and was never really a part of any of them. So many people I thought were my friends actually hated me. I remember the pain of being one of the few people in my year who wasn’t invited to a popular girl’s party, and hearing everyone who had gone talking about it and what a laugh it was. This happened in Year Nine and in Sixth Form – two different girls, two different parties, and the same situation. I remember sitting in the common room in the area where the popular crowd sat, and although I was friends with some of them, I remember a big group of them dancing in a circle in Love Street, with me on the fringe, and one night, one of them telling me to my face that no-one liked me. When I got older and went to uni, the same thing happened – not just with my housemates, but with people in the Rock Soc as well, and because I am so clueless about socialising, I didn’t know whether my attempts to integrate were working or not. Trying to navigate the Barcelona Metro is as easy as breathing, compared to trying to navigate interpersonal communication.

When a colleague makes a big point of ignoring me while talking to everyone else, it fucking hurts. It makes me feel so tiny, so insignificant, so invisible. It reminds me of how I am an outsider and how I will never fit in. I’m back in the common room. I’m back in Jilly’s Rockworld, watching the man I obsessed over and his group of friends hanging out, knowing that if I go over there, he’ll make a big point of walking away. Sometimes I want to stand in front of them and slash a vein and spray my blood over their face, just to remind them that I am there, sinceĀ I suppose the idea behind ostracisation is, ‘if I pretend Lotte isn’t there, maybe she’ll disappear’. I wish I could, but sadly, it’s not physically possible for me to just fade away into the ether. I am not a ghost. I am a fucking human being. No amount of ignoring me is going to make me disappear.

You’d think adults would know better, but some people never leave high school, it seems. I try not to think about it too much – I left over eleven years ago – but I have a lot of trust issues as a result of high school and there are certain things I react to badly, and ostracisation is one of them. OK, so it’s not anti-Semitic abuse or arse-pinching or nasty notes on my desk, but it is still a form of bullying, and it hurts. It hurts seeing people having a laugh and knowing you will never be accepted into their group, even if said people all actually hate each other. It makes me want to scream and shout and smash things and hurt myself.

I am currently looking for other jobs as a result and hoping to go into translation work. My office is small and open plan, a hellish place with someone for Asperger’s Syndrome, but that’s for another post. I know I should be grateful for having a job in these times, but when that job is causing me to come home feeling miserable and barely able to function, it’s time to get out.

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