The Hidden Village of Aspergers

March 30, 2014

Suburban Rock ‘n’ Roll

TW: eating disorders

I hate that coward in my dreams
He steps in front of every goal
Life’s a suburban rock ‘n’ roll

In the summer of 1995, Mum, Jack and I moved to Chester. I left home for good in around 2006-2007, when I moved into a small flat in Victoria Park. When I started at uni, very rarely did I go back there, except to catch up with the odd friend or see my mum. Firstly, I was happy at uni, enjoying the new city, meeting new people and getting to live on my own and eat Nutella out of the jar and go out clubbing every week. Secondly, one of my now ex-stepsisters and her kid were living with us in Chester, and the atmosphere in the house was very tense. I disliked sharing my space with them and whenever an opportunity to go out came up, I took it, as did Jack. My ex-stepsister was getting away from her abusive boyfriend, and one time I accidentally let him into the house – I didn’t know who he was – and had to ring the police. Jack and I were hiding in the annexe, and I was in a mess. Another time, there was a confrontation and Jack had to look after the kid while Bastard Boyfriend threatened my ex-stepdad and the police had to be called, again. Luckily, I was at a mate’s house in Handbridge and missed the drama. At the time, I wasn’t very good at empathising with others, hated change and having to adjust to new people, and hated me, Jack and Mum all being sucked into drama that had nothing to do with us.

I don’t want to post too much about my ex-stepdad, except to say that I cut all ties with him in 2009, and a few years later, I cut all ties with my former stepfamily after Mum wrote an angry Facebook post about my ex-stepdad, and my ex-stepsister sent Mum a horrible message. Jack had cut ties with them long before me. He and my ex-stepdad never got on. I wouldn’t say they hated each other per se, but they antagonised each other a lot. My ex-stepdad talked shit about Jack in front of family friends, and took it out on Mum whenever Jack did anything wrong (he didn’t do this with me). He blatantly favoured me over Jack – when he and Mum were splitting, he asked about me, but not Jack, and made it clear that I was the only one he gave a shit about. This pissed me off. I felt he was trying to drive a rift between us (and I’ll talk more about this in Paranoid 6teen). He wasn’t abusive to me or Jack, he didn’t beat or neglect us, and he didn’t hit Mum or anything, but there was a fair bit of emotional abuse. Even now, I don’t think I know the half of what must have gone on, though a lot came out after the divorce. Out of respect to Mum, I will not go into detail, but what I will say is that she has a lot of demons, and he is one of the causes. It took her a long time to get over him. She constantly beats herself up about remarrying so soon after Dad’s death, and while I was angry with her, I understand now that she’s one of those people who just needs to be in a relationship and hates being alone, and he was basically a rebound. She wasn’t to know how things would turn out. None of us did. I had mixed feelings at first, as he was kind to me at my maternal gran’s funeral and he did have his moments, but now I feel nothing for him. Anyway.

I hate Chester. Not because it’s a shithole, it’s quite nice as cities go, but because of all the memories there. In Manchester, you can be fairly anonymous; in Chester, everyone knows your business. Even after I’d left school, people would shout things at me in the street. As I said in earlier posts, I had a reputation as the school’s weird girl. I couldn’t wait to go somewhere where no-one knew who I was. My social life wasn’t great; Foregate Street is one long row of wine bars, and the one club I did like, Love Street, closed down in 2004, with its metal night moving to Rosie’s, our local dive where most of my year went when we got our A-Level results. I started going clubbing in Sixth Form and loved it. Since we lived in the arse end of nowhere, in Christleton, it got to the point where taxi drivers recognised Jack and me. “Big white house, right?” After life in a city, living in a village where the nearest supermarket was at least half an hour’s walk away and buses were hourly was a bit of a culture shock, as was the fact that nearly everyone in my high school was white (there were about four Asian kids in my year, and that was it) and nominally Christian. Coming back from Manchester was even weirder and made me realise how much I wanted to get out. So many people I knew in high school have left Chester, whereas loads of the old primary school crowd are still in Brighton. People at uni said they loved Chester and asked me if it was like Hollyoaks. If only it were that exciting. Some people might think uni is a waste of time and teaches you no life skills, but had I not gone to Manchester and realised that, despite having Aspergers, I could fend for myself, I would have been stuck at home in Chester for years, living with Mum and doing crappy office jobs and learning nothing. No thanks.

Country life was not for us. We three are townies at heart. The endless walks at weekends that I put up with so as not to anger my ex-stepdad, the mud, the renegade cattle, the pavement-less roads with rogue drivers…it was like being on the moon. One thing I did like was the wildlife; the foxes, the badgers, the odd pheasant or weasel. Other than that, though, it wasn’t much fun being cut off, and it had a weird effect on Mum. She became a lot more conformist, always worrying what people would think of her, and by extension, me. A lot of screaming matches were had and at times I felt I was a disappointment and that I was not the daughter she’d wanted; I was prickly and aggressive and moody and preferred books to clothes, and she couldn’t dress me up and take me shopping and squee over shoes with me. I wonder how much of that was my ex-stepdad’s influence. I know he’s one of the reasons why it took me forever to admit I needed help; he despised depressives and thought they were weak. He also hated fat people. No doubt it would have been some consolation to him to hear his stepdaughter vomiting in her sink.

The song after which this post is named, and the album that spawned it, is about suburbia, the cramped and inward-looking nature of it and the goings-on behind closed doors. We lived in suburbia in our first year here, alternating between a tiny rented house in Hoole and my ex-stepfamily’s house in the sticks, and it was claustrophobic. So was living in the village. Jack’s mates all lived in the arse end of nowhere, while mine lived in Vicar’s Cross, in the sticks. Now that Mum and I have left Chester, we’re like Battle Royale characters whose explosive collars have been removed from our necks. We are free to be who we want. She’s got a new set of friends and I’m living alone. We are not forced into little boxes anymore.

March 29, 2014

Hell Of A Girl

And you’re a lovemaking, earthquaking, dead-waking
Breathtaking hell of a girl

Let’s get this out of the way.

I am bisexual. I have been attracted to men and women for most of my life. I have known this since I was in Year 9. If it’s a phase I’m going through – since a lot of misguided idiots seem to think it’s a phase, and/or we’re just straight people trying to be cool or lesbians in denial – it’s a bloody long one.

I always got called a lesbian in Year 7 because I hung around with my best friend at the time all the time, she was a tomboy, and I had short hair. I thought it was weird. I didn’t understand why people thought we were a couple. We were just friends. I didn’t really think about the possibility that I might be gay or bi until I had a crush on a girl in my class when I was in Year 9. She was blonde and pretty and popular, though I never really became friends with her. Then one day, I saw Cerys Matthews singing on TV with Tom Jones, and she was wearing this beautiful purple dress, and I felt…strange. I fancied her. I can’t describe this feeling, other than thinking she was beautiful and despairing because all these feelings were rushing through my head. Throughout my teens, I wondered if I might be gay. I knew what gay and lesbian people were. Growing up in Brighton, Mum knew LGBT people and I’d read about them in Our Bodies Ourselves. I’d voiced my suspicions to Mum several times, and after kissing a girl in a club during a night out, I officially came out to her and my ex-stepdad the next day.

I’m very, very lucky in that my parents were always OK with me being queer, as were my biological family (though I don’t know if my grans knew – my maternal gran certainly would have been fine with it, though). I’ve never been under pressure to settle down with a nice man and have 2.4 kids. My mum had gay and lesbian mates at uni and she never had a problem with LGBT people; she made it clear that any girlfriend I had would be welcome to come over, just as a boyfriend would. Bastard though he was, my ex-stepdad wasn’t anti-gay either, though some of his family were. I remember watching Strictly Come Dancing with a couple of them and they were making remarks about Colin Jackson being ‘as queer as a deer’. Evidently they were not aware of the bisexual woman sitting next to them, and I figured it would be best not to say. Even now, I wince when people call things ‘gay’ or call each other ‘queer cunts’ or say, “I don’t want to sound gay or anything, but…” especially if they know about me. I wonder if it registers that their words hurt. Do they think I’m disgusting too for not being completely straight?

My sexuality has been all over the place, and I started really coming to terms with it at uni, joining the LGBT Soc and going to gay clubs. I dated a woman I’d met in Poptastic, though nothing really came of it, although it made me realise that I would, in fact, be open to a relationship with a woman. In second year, I assumed I was a lesbian because I didn’t feel any attraction to men at the time. I went to Canal Street every week with the LGBT Soc and read Diva and fell in love with a woman. I was, I’ll admit, rather obnoxious about it, to the point where one girl in Rock Soc said something along the lines of, “How many times have you mentioned you’re a lesbian now?” Then I fell in love with J, my ex-boyfriend, and realised I wasn’t completely gay, and just decided to accept the fact that I can love people of more than one gender. I’m not going to say I don’t see gender, because I do – when I was with Sheryl, my ex-girlfriend, I was more conscious that I was in a relationship with a woman, whereas when I was with men, I didn’t think about it that much. I was more alert to my surroundings, you could say – the possibility of homophobia (she was butcher than me, though I’m neither butch nor femme – I’m somewhere in between) rearing its ugly head.

How does this tie into me having Aspergers? It probably doesn’t, apart from not feeling the need to conform to certain behaviours expected of me. Having said that, it took ages for me to accept myself as a ‘proper’ queer person. I still have a complex about not being queer enough because I’ve never had sex with a woman – the anti-depressants I was on while I was with Sheryl totalled my sex drive – because I’m monogamous and find the idea of being in a relationship with more than one person hard to handle; because I could never see myself as anything but cis; because I’m not radical, subversive or an anarchist; because I’m not a hard femme, I’m not soft butch, not high femme, not glittery and fabulous and beautiful like the girls on Tumblr. I would say I am straight-passing. I always got scared of going into places like Vanilla because I worried they wouldn’t believe me if I said I was bi. But I am more at ease with who I am compared to when I was at uni. I’ve come to accept that at the end of the day, though, when all is said and done, I like people. If the right person is male, female (and in both cases, just to clear things up, I’m referring to cis and trans men or women), or neither, or both, so be it.

March 27, 2014

Juno 54

Filed under: music — kankurette @ 10:53 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

“I think G-d puts you on this earth to do certain things. I think He put me on this earth to (be a musician). I hope so anyway, because it’s the only thing I can do.” – Franny Griffiths

When asked if I’d rather go blind or deaf, I don’t know what to choose. Can I take a third option and lose my voice? If I went blind, I’d have to give up reading. If I went deaf, I’d have to give up music. There are ways around this – talking books and feeling vibrations – but it wouldn’t be the same.

You might guess, from reading this blog, that I might just be quite a big fan of Space. Last week, they toured with Republica to promote their new album, Attack Of The Mutant 50ft Kebab. I spent a good part of last week following the tour and went to see them in London, Liverpool and Manchester. At Manchester and London, I hung out with them after the gigs, and it gave me the determination to conquer the nasty little voice in my head telling me they didn’t really like me. Over the years, they have kept me sane. This is not an exaggeration.

They aren’t the only band I like; I’ve been into the Pogues since I was a toddler (no exaggeration – my parents used to play them all the time, and I got a bit of a surprise when I found out the Old Main Drag, one song I loved as a kid was about rent boys), and I’ve taken Mum to see them a couple of times as a birthday present. They and Abba and the Beatles were the soundtrack to my childhood; Space, Hole, Catatonia and the Manics got me through high school (and so did the music magazines I consumed); RATM and the Deftones took me into Sixth Form; System Of A Down through my gap year; Tori Amos and Regina Spektor and many, many more at university. Music is everpresent in my life. It is my comfort, my escape, just like books. To drown out phone conversations and students and babies on the bus, I plug myself into my iPod and I’m away with the fairies. I’d rather have one noise in my ear than several at once.

This might sound a bit weird, coming from someone who hates crowds and goes into sensory overload, but I love going to gigs. The noise doesn’t bother me, although I could never have withstood My Bloody Valentine’s feedback fest; the only drawback is the crowds, and being pushed out of the way due to being short. OK, so I’ve had the odd bad experience – nearly getting asphyxiated at Rammstein, bad period pains at Garbage – but the good outweighs the bad. I’ve seen Moby, Muse, the Zutons, the Manics, Radiohead, We Are Scientists, Le Tigre, Sleater-Kinney, the Sugababes, Soulfly, Tori Amos, Fear Factory, Cerys Matthews, Machine Head, Marilyn Manson, Queens Of The Stone Age, the list goes on. I went to the Leeds Festival in 2002; the Reading Festival every year from 2003 to 2008, Glastonbury in 2004, 2005 and 2007; Download in 2006; Latitude in 2010; Primavera Sound last year. I’m seeing Super Fast Girlie Show next month, and Nine Inch Nails and Janelle Monae in May. I don’t go to as many gigs as I would like, mainly due to being ill and losing enthusiasm for things generally (I stopped reading Q Magazine a couple of years ago as it was too expensive and I felt out of touch), but I don’t want to give it up either. Some people find the idea that you might watch the same band more than once weird – my friend Sarah, who goes to a lot of gigs, gets this all the time – but every gig is a different experience.

Both my parents were into music; my dad was a self-taught guitarist and wrote music reviews for the student paper at Stirling, while my mum sang in various choirs. I grew up listening to mixtapes in the car and learning to play the piano. I also learned the cornet for a bit, but was shit at it, though I did buy a trumpet a few years ago (and I need to practice more). I played the flute in high school, mainly because I didn’t want to learn a brass instrument (in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t), the drums, and taught myself to play the guitar. At university, I was in a band called Midland Railway for a bit, and I played open mic nights, sometimes with my then boyfriend. Most of the people I’ve been out with are big music fans; my ex-girlfriend made me a mix CD for my birthday. They’ve not all liked the same bands as me, but some overlap does help, admittedly. Having bands in common gives one something to talk about.

Music might not seem an obvious avenue for someone with Aspergers, according to the stereotype, but there are musicians out there who are on the spectrum. Ladyhawke, Gary Numan, Craig from the Vines, Abs from 5ive, possibly Thom Yorke. So much for people with Aspergers not being creative or imaginative. Hell, I write the odd song myself, I wrote songs as a coping mechanism while at uni, though I haven’t written any for ages and some of my old lyrics make me cringe. Cerys Matthews, Franny Griffiths and Tommy Scott, James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore, Regina Spektor, Tori Amos, Kirsty MacColl – I’d draw inspiration from all of them. I find my stuff quite hard to categorise. Wailing and piano-bashing, I guess.

I find some types of music, such as the weird noise stuff my brother listens to and happy hardcore, impossible to listen to, although strangely, I don’t mind death metal. My iPod has everything from Willie Nelson, the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and Glenn Miller to Cypress Hill, the Spice Girls and Naruto theme tunes. I’m happy to give any genre a go. I never really got into boy bands, although I did have a soft spot for East 17 and PJ & Duncan, and went through a Boyzone phase during my first two years of high school. That was one area where pressure didn’t get me too much. In the Times article I quoted recently, there was a teenager, Nina, who hated Rihanna and other popular music, preferring the likes of Nirvana. Her family noted that she didn’t care what was cool. Reading about her, I thought, “Good for you, Nina. Like those bands because they make you happy, not because you feel you have to.” Peer pressure got me in other ways. My music taste was one niche I determinedly carved out for myself.

March 26, 2014

This isn’t part of the Space miniblogs, but it is important.

A mate of mine linked to this article on Facebook, titled ‘Intersectional Collisions: “But What If He’s Autistic?”‘. It’s on Feminist Hivemind, and it’s well worth a read. This is exactly the reason why I started this blog; because of the continued misconception that autism / Aspergers are ‘male’ conditions. People might ask if the guy harassing women is autistic (and therefore, he can’t help his shitty behaviour), but do they ask if the women being harassed might be on the spectrum? Do they balls.

Firstly, it’s bloody demeaning to men on the autistic spectrum. For every Chris-Chan, there are plenty of decent men who, while maybe being a bit socially awkward, have boundaries and respect them, and don’t use their disability as an excuse to creep on women.

Secondly, what about us? What about the women on the receiving end? What about autistic women being harassed by neurotypical men? I wrote a bit about this myself in the Bastard Me Bastard You post. We aren’t always given the tools to deal with harassment. Should we laugh it off? Ignore it? Respond? I’ve seen the ‘he might be autistic’ excuse used enough times, and it absolutely does my head in.

Anyway, go read.

March 25, 2014

Gravity

You’ve lost all the feeling in your heart and soul
It’s not enough to cry

We all knew the end was coming.

In that respect, we were lucky. A friend of a friend’s dad had gone to play tennis and never came home; he’d died of a heart attack. On 11th September 2001, eight years after my dad died, firemen and passengers alike were killed in a terrorist attack, their children unable to escape from the horrible images on TV and in the press for days on end. On 15th April 1989, several kids in Liverpool waved goodbye to their fathers as they went off to watch a football match in Sheffield, never to return. Other children have had to wait for days, weeks, months, not knowing if their fathers are alive or dead, until the dreadful news finally comes. That was the one advantage we had; we knew. Mum and Dad were always honest with us. Unlike my best friend at the time, who only found out her mother was dying through overheard conversations, we were told everything. There was no bullshit, no whitewashing.

All we could do was wait.

We had had a false alarm at one point; it looked as though he was going to be OK. But from the beginning of 1993, he went into rapid decline and had to move in with my paternal gran in St Annes-on-Sea; he was in a nursing home for a bit, but it was pretty bad. He gained a load of weight on steroids and sent letters typed on Gran’s typewriter and – thank G-d – was around long enough to meet Laura, his new baby niece. In September, on the day Jack was supposed to start primary school and I was supposed to start Year 5. Instead, we found ourselves on a train to Lancashire. Jack explained that Dad was going to die any minute. Me not getting my priorities right, I was pissed off because I was worried about missing school. We spent a few days with Gran and Auntie Chris and her family, and said goodbye to Dad, who was in hospital by this time.

That was when I experienced death for the first time, the realisation that people you love won’t be around forever. For days, I couldn’t believe he’d gone. It must have been worse for Mum – just being surrounded by reminders of him everywhere, the ties he would never wear again, the CDs he would never play again, the empty space next to her in bed. No wonder she went crazy. My memories of the time are patchy, but I do recall going to a friend’s house the day after, presumably because Mum was too worn out with grief to pay much attention to us.

Why do I write about this so much? This was the event that pushed me over the edge. It’s not the only time a death in the family pushed me over the edge; my maternal gran’s death in 2005 was one of the things that led to me trying to kill myself. I acted up in school. I could never handle change, but this massive change had hit me, soon to be followed by another one when Mum decided she couldn’t stand living in Brighton anymore, and the bottom had dropped out of my world. Little things got to me, and still do. The Lion King still makes me and Jack cry (and if you’re a kid who’s lost a parent, watch it – it is a fantastic film for bereaved kids to see and it came out at the right time for us), as does Home Alone 2, the last film we saw at the cinema with Dad. The funeral was hell – I’m glad Jack and I went, as it gave us the chance to say goodbye, but seeing Gran collapse and have to be carried out of the chapel by two men, and the coffin going into the incinerator, and grown men and women crying – it was too much to take in.

We didn’t want to scatter the ashes, so Mum went alone one day while we were at school and threw them in the sea. Seeing my maternal gran’s ashes freaked me out enough, seeing what looked like something you’d scatter on your driveway and realising it used to be a person – I could not have handled that at nine years old.

The other massive change that came as a result of Dad’s death was what it did to Mum. She and Dad were always close; they never argued. They loved each other to pieces. Dad dying broke her. We went on holiday to Menorca in 1994 and she spent most of it in bed with stress-induced migraines, while Jack and I amused ourselves in the swimming pool. In April of that year, Mum used some of the money Dad had left us to take us to Australia to see Auntie Debby, Mum’s older sister, and her family. We spent nearly a month there. When it was time to return to England, Mum broke down at the airport. I was still getting accustomed to seeing her cry. Adults crying confused me. I thought it was something only kids did. I couldn’t get my head around why she was ill all the time. Seeing someone you’ve known all your life acting out of character throws you.

I talked before about strong emotions in Mister Psycho, and how for a lot of people with Aspergers, everything is intense. We love intensely and hate intensely. We see black and white, not grey. When we love someone, we put them on a pedestal and act like the sun shines out of their arse, and are surprised and disappointed when they show any kind of flaw. We cannot always find the words or means to deal with strong emotions. Maybe that was why Dad’s death broke me. He’d been a massive part of my life for nine years, and now he was gone, and the despair manifested itself through behaving badly at school, crying all the time, running out of class, skiving, hyperventilating, being unable to interact with large groups of people, and Mum didn’t know what the hell to do with me, and the rest is history.

March 22, 2014

Diary Of A Wimp

(On Wednesday) I sent you a hundred letters in one day
I bet your friends had a good laugh at them
(On Thursday) Stood there before you all puppy-eyed
It’s my curse for falling in love

On TV Tropes, there’s much discussion of a certain character archetype, the Yandere (it’s an anime thing – the Western equivalent would be ‘bunny boiler’). The poster girl for this trope is Yuno Gasai (pictured), the main female character in the manga Mirai Nikki, who is obsessed with the hero, Yukiteru – and I mean, obsessed. If ‘Yukki’ so much as smiles at her, she explodes in an ecstasy of delight. She’s willing to kill for him, and anyone who poses the slightest threat, who so much as smiles as ‘Yukki’, has just painted a big target on their back. OK, so I was never that extreme, but I can empathise; I too have obsessed over men who did not love me back. The first one was R, my best friend in high school; the second was P, a boy in my year who I’d been friends with for a while; and the third, the most damaging, was a man I referred to as ‘Itachi’, a while back, who I met through the Rock Soc at university. It didn’t help that my obsession with him got serious a few months before my overdose and subsequent breakdown. Bizarrely, I’ve seen some men say that they want a girlfriend like this.

Let me tell you this: obsessive behaviour is not pretty. If you want a Yandere girlfriend, you are living in a fools’ paradise. Even if you’re so self-obsessed that the idea of a woman obsessing over you gives you wood, a woman like that will only make you miserable. I told my last boyfriend that he should be glad I didn’t feel about him the way I felt about certain men, because that was obsession, not love. I’ve never had a restraining order taken out against me, and it’s never gotten into such drastic territory, but it has caused friction, and in one case, turned the man against me. R and P remained friends with me, although I don’t see much of them now, but Itachi hated me.

I don’t know if it’s daddy issues or something, but I have a habit of fixating on certain men and getting obsessed with them. I have learned to recognise the warning signs:

– I google them a lot.

– They are constantly in my thoughts and dreams, and on my lips. I write songs about them. I drive my mates nuts with talk about them.

– I am terrified of making them angry. I make every effort to keep on their right side, because I’m scared of ‘losing’ them.

– If they have girlfriends, as was the case with P and Itachi, I make an effort to befriend said girlfriends, to get over my own jealousy. When I found out Itachi had a girlfriend, just as I was planning to ask him out, I went off to the toilets and cried.

– I get involved in the same stuff as I do in order to spend more time with them. In clubs, I hang around them like a bad smell. I dance with them. I try and sit near them. This is all stuff I did with Itachi, and he knew exactly what I was doing. A friend of his warned me, and I genuinely did try to stop acting like a lost puppy, but it was too late.

– I wander past their houses.

– If I text or message them and they don’t reply, I get panicky.

Do I have a type? Perhaps. The men in question have all been intelligent, tall-ish, outgoing (Itachi and R more than P), had fairly stable home lives in comparison to mine (although Itachi’s parents are divorced), and had the same sense of humour as me, as well as similar interests. Itachi and R even looked quite similar once Itachi got his hair cut, although Itachi is bigger and hairier. Each time, I felt a weird sort of connection with them. In Itachi’s case, I carved his initials into my arm. When he told me on MSN that he didn’t want anything to do with me, I cried for ages. I didn’t know what I’d done wrong and why he hated me so much. A year or so later, a friend of his took great pleasure in telling me that he didn’t like coming out with Rock Soc because of me always ‘following him around’. My obsessive love turned to hate. After the fall-out, when I returned to Manchester, every time I saw him, I’d have panic attacks. I’d feel sick and my hands would shake. I don’t know why – it’s not as if the guy raped me or anything. Perhaps it was because every time I saw him, I was confronted with the results of my horrible obsessive behaviour. I swore to myself that I would never fixate on a man like this again. Admittedly, I did worry that I might be getting like this with Space, and it’s a tendency I want to curb, though luckily it’s not happened, and when I hung out with the band on Thursday, they were as friendly as ever.

In an excellent article in the Times Magazine from April 2012, about girls on the autistic spectrum, a woman said of her young daughter, “I see kind little girls make friends with her and she’s so obsessive in her friendships, she literally wants to crawl under their skin. Eventually, she always loses them all because they can’t handle her intensity.” This is me with those three men. It goes back to the extremity of emotions: when we take an interest in something, we go all out. We love and hate in black and white. I went from wanting to do anything for Itachi to wishing him dead. Luckily, I don’t feel this way about most of my friends, though there are a couple I do tend to put on a pedestal, but I don’t fixate on them.

Love is beautiful. Love is powerful and strong and can move mountains, but love is not obsession and obsession is not love. It is merely a twisted reflection of love.

March 18, 2014

i’m going on a break for a bit.

Filed under: Uncategorized — kankurette @ 10:05 pm

Since I’m going to be busy over the next few days, I’m not going to be posting much, but things will return to normal next week. I’m not going to have a lot of time between work and gigs, and some of the posts are going to need a fair bit of time to write as they deal with difficult subjects.

Thanks for all the kind comments and feedback. I appreciate it a hell of a lot.

March 17, 2014

Everybody In The Madhouse

If you’re cool, I hope you’re lucky
I hope your life is fulfilled
If you’re bad, I hope you rot in Hell
Or get run over by a train

Ah, primary school. Stanford Junior in Brighton, to be exact. Some of the best years of my life, and one of the worst (my annus horribilis, 1993). Most of the people I knew, it seems, are still living in Brighton. Helen, who was my best mate back then, is married (and I cried when I found out – not out of jealousy but out of joy, because she’s had a hard life and I’m just relieved she’s happy). Many others have kids. It seems so long ago, but I can still remember it as clear as day.

Primary school wasn’t as bad as high school for bullying, though I do remember an older boy threatening me with a knife in Year 3, and another boy stealing my hat, and other kids certainly thought I was weird. I remember breaking out into song one time in class and the other kids would not let it go, and I wished the ground would swallow me. Helen was picked on a lot by other girls in our class, and there was only so much I could do. She was probably the only real friend I had, although there were others I got on with. A group of us would walk to and from school, and for some reason, on the way back, they’d walk through the infant school and I didn’t want to for some reason, and Kate, the group leader, would lie to me about things happening, and I believed her. She claimed she was doing it to prepare me for the future, to help me. Somehow, I doubt that.

One of my proudest moments was writing the script for our class play for assembly, ‘Pandora’s Box’, when we were doing Greek myths. Primary school was where I discovered a love of writing and history, and later on, languages. We learned French in Year 6, presumably because of being on the coast. This bit me in the arse somewhat in high school, as I was way ahead of most of the class and ended up being bored. We did shows at the Dome – I remember doing one where I was dressed up as a male evacuee. My memories of primary school are fractured. Dressing up as a policeman to sing ‘A Policeman’s Lot’ when we were doing the Victorians. Mrs Cairns, my teacher in Year 5/6, writing a little poem for me in my leaving book. Reading Chalet School books. Jack giving me a thumbs-up from the stage when his class were doing a play. A trip to the museum, where I failed to copy a David Hockney painting. Playing short tennis in the playground and coming home to Dad cooking pasta with tomato sauce. Playing girls’ football and being rubbish at it. Trying to make one of the teachers laugh, as part of an activity day where different teachers hosted different activities. Walking out of assembly in front of everyone else. Writing a story about a character who ate too much chocolate and vomited copiously. Dad winning a jar of pickled beetroot in a raffle and Mum refusing to let him bring it in the house because of the smell. Those were the days. I only have to hear Blur’s ‘End Of A Century’ again and I’m in the classroom on the final day of primary school, before we all went off to the Big School and started to grow up.

It was in primary school that my symptoms started to really come out, and luckily, there was support. After Dad died, I saw a counsellor at school and it helped somewhat, though I still had crying fits and an abject fear of anything unusual happening. I talked more about it here. The other major change that occurred during primary school was my mum meeting J, my future stepdad (not to be confused with Richard, the current one, although I did meet Richard when I was a kid). If I recall correctly, she found him through a Lonely Hearts page in a newspaper. She’d been dating various guys, but J was The One. When Mum told us she and J were getting married, I cried a lot and accused her of wanting to replace Dad; it was only two years after his death. Jack, ironically considering how much he and J ended up hating each other, was fine with it. I liked him at first – I compared him a lot to Gerald, the heroine’s mum’s boyfriend in Goggle-Eyes by Anne Fine – and made myself adjust to the fact that I was living in a new town and going to a high school where I wouldn’t know anyone. Had I stayed in Brighton, I would have gone to Varndean, but instead, I found myself at an induction day at Christleton High School, before seven years of hell began.

March 16, 2014

Numb The Doubt

I’m not here to impress
I just want you to confess
I’m not here to confide
I just want to watch you die

I should probably slap a disclaimer on this post. Here goes: I’m not endorsing drug use. I’m not saying, “Wow, drugs are awesome and everyone on the spectrum should do them.” I’m just talking about my own experiences here. If you’re anti-drugs, you might not want to read this.

I used to be very, very anti-drugs as a kid. When I found out that my best friend from primary school had done Ecstasy, I yelled at her down the phone and told her she was stupid and that she could die. I’d seen a film on Leah Betts when I was in Year 7 and cried my eyes out, swearing I’d never touch Ecstasy. I look back and cringe now. Luckily, my friend forgave me. However, it all changed when I got older and became more curious as to what I was missing out on. Most of what I knew about drugs came from music magazines.  It was the same mentality that drove me to try to hook up with men in clubs. Friends of mine were starting to do drugs, and I felt left out. I do not like feeling left out. I felt, perhaps rather stupidly, that doing drugs would make me more ‘normal’. I was still getting over the idea I’d internalised from high school that I was an uncool, goody-two-shoes freak. I had something to prove.

It wasn’t until I got to university that I did anything stronger than weed. I refuse to touch acid, heroin or crack, but I have taken speed, MDMA, mushrooms and cocaine, sniffed amyl nitrate, and smoked weed. Most of the people I hung out with in Sixth Form smoked it at parties, and I had my first spliff when I was about 16 or so. It’s never really had that much of an effect on me, except on a few occasions, such as when I smoked some very strong grass in Germany and had a fit of the giggles all night. During my first two years at uni, I occasionally did mushrooms (they were legal back then, and you could buy them in Doctor Hermans). I’m not going to lie: the first time I did them, it was great. I saw people turning into trees, and I remember giggling a lot. Another time, I took them at a Nightwish gig and thought I was on a pirate ship. Sometimes I wonder if they contributed to the depression, but then it runs in my mother’s family, so knowing my luck, it was likely I was going to end up that way anyway. Coke, I didn’t particularly like; it hurt my nose. I did enjoy MDMA, though I only did it a few times. I didn’t want to get addicted because I didn’t want the novelty to wear off. I’m not going to go into detail as to the effect it had on me, except to say that my boyfriend at the time was pleasantly surprised. However, that was a long time ago, and it was something I got out of my system. Again: it wasn’t a regular habit, it was just something I occasionally did at parties and nights out. It’s also not something I could afford to do now, for the sake of my mental health.

Nowadays, the only drug I take regularly is Venlafaxine. I barely go out, due to a combination of tiredness, working in the evenings and not having many people to go out with, and I think the last time I did anything besides weed was at least six years ago. I doubt I’d ever do any drugs again, save for having the odd spliff. It would be too risky for me and I’d worry about the effect of my mental health. Whether you decide to do them or not, it’s your choice. I know at least one person on the autistic spectrum who does drugs; I also know some who prefer not to. Everyone’s experience with Aspergers is different; some people will be more negatively affected by drugs than others. If you are going to do them, I’d give you three pointers:

1. Go on Erowid and read up on whatever you plan to take. It’s a fantastic site for educating yourself about the effects of various drugs. When I was going to take mushrooms for the first time, I read up on the best circumstances in which to take them, possible effects etc. I made sure I was in a good mood, so that they wouldn’t enhance any negative emotions, made sure not to take them. Bluelight and Drugs Forum are also worth looking into, especially if you’re planning on taking a ‘legal high’ or a relatively unknown drug.

2. Get them off people you know and trust. Emphasis on trust. Whenever I’ve done anything stronger than weed, it has been given to me by a trusted friend. I have been offered drugs in the streets by random dealers a couple of times, but refused to buy them because I didn’t know what I was getting. For all I knew, they could have been pushing aspirin or tablets cut with something dodgy.

3. Make sure you’re with people you know and/or somewhere familiar. As I said on the festivals post, I’d personally advise against doing them at music festivals, especially if they’re as massive as Glastonbury, if you’re on your own and/or you’re nervous in crowds. If you’re nervous in unfamiliar surroundings, it could negatively impact you, and if things go wrong, it helps to have someone there to look after you. When I did shrooms for the first time, I was with Paul and Jilly, a couple of friends of mine, at a metal night in Chester, and other times I’ve been with friends or people from the Rock Soc at Manchester University. I was lucky and nothing went horribly wrong, but it was good to have a safety net.

March 15, 2014

Bastard Me Bastard You

TW: sexual assault / rape

Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if I could make you mine?
To own and dress you up, control you all the time

Before I go any further, I feel I need to write this disclaimer: I do not hate men. My father, my brother, stepdad, stepbrother, uncles and some of my cousins are men, I have male friends, and there are plenty of decent men out there. I’m not going to write off an entire sex. But I am nervous around large groups of men, I worry about getting involved with men, and some of the worst bullying I suffered was at the hands of men. A lot of it was sexual in nature. I’d have all kinds of disgusting comments shouted at me in the yard, and one time a bunch of kids tried to get me to feel myself up in a park, and there was talk of me giving one of the guys a handjob. I freaked and ran home. Another time, a guy shoved his hand up my skirt as I was walking up some steps. I was told that I didn’t need a bra as I had nothing to put in it; my developing tits were hidden under my baggy school sweater. In Year 7, a crude caricature of me was passed around English class. One guy had a song about fucking me in the arse to the tune of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ There was a running gag that I liked using sausages as dildos because I said ‘yes’ when asked if I liked sausages. Me being innocent and literal-minded, I had no idea they weren’t talking about food. This went on all through high school. Even when the guys in my year who picked on me had left, it didn’t end, because there were the guys in my brother’s year. I had a reputation by then. Word got around at Christleton High School.

When I was a teenager, I had a nasty incident with a guy in a club. Some would call what happened to me rape, although under British law, it was sexual assault as he didn’t use his penis. He used his hand. Because I had a bit of a complex about being a virgin, and because I worried so much about fitting in and that ‘everyone else’ was having sex and that I wouldn’t be a normal person unless I got laid, I would go out clubbing in the hope that I could pull some guy for a quick fuck in the toilet. It happened once, in the Krazyhouse in Liverpool; another time, I came very close to it, but couldn’t go through with it in the end. I can’t remember when this incident happened, but I was in Sixth Form and I was out with R, my best mate, and I got a bit friendly with a guy he knew and let him shove his fingers up me. We went outside and sat in an alcove over the road, and I wanted to go back into the club, but he wouldn’t let me and I had to wrench myself free. When we got back into the club, he started fingering me again and I told him to stop, as he was hurting me, but he kept on doing it and only stopped after R told him to leave me alone.  I never went to the police or anything. It didn’t occur to me. I doubt they would have believed me anyway. After that, I was a bit more careful. At uni, in second year, I lived in a dodgy area of Fallowfield and one night, as I was walking home down Moseley Road, a man slowed down his car next to me. I don’t think I’ve ever run so fast in my life, not even on Sports Day.

Some people with Aspergers are easily taken advantage of. With me, I’m the opposite. I used to be taken in by men who hit on me, but now I’m hyper-paranoid around most men. I am genuinely surprised when a man finds me attractive and isn’t taking the piss. When a man hits on me, I assume he’s doing it for a laugh or a dare. After all, who’d want to fuck a fat woman with messy hair and bad skin? Years of being told you’re ugly and treated like a freak and a sexless creature and the school joke can do bad things to your head. You internalise all the things people say about you and believe that you are so hideous that no-one could possibly want you unless they were desperate. I’m not fishing for compliments. I genuinely do believe this.

This leads me onto catcalling and street harassment. Not only beautiful women have to deal with it, sadly. We ugly women do too. I don’t take catcalls as compliments. I know the men catcalling me don’t mean it and that if I do take their word for it and give them my number, they’ll laugh in my face. I really doubt any of the men who catcall me are chubby chasers, as a friend of a friend claimed. If so, there must be a hell of a lot of chubby chasers in Manchester, is all I can say. I used to hate walking into town in Chester, because I hated being beeped at. I don’t get why men do this, if I’m honest. Do they genuinely believe that I find their behaviour a turn-on, that I’m going to fall in love with them if they beep and jeer at me? Of course they don’t. It just makes me feel humiliated and small. I don’t project confidence when I walk. I walk with my head down. I have a general fear of strangers coming up to me as it is: when beggars ask me for change, and I get it a lot in Manchester, I freak. One time, I screamed in fear when a small group of them came up to me, and another time, I jerked my body away, resulting in a sarcastic ‘that’s nice’. I even slashed my arm up in front of one beggar because I felt ashamed of not giving him money, and because earlier, I’d thought he was going to rape me. I must have been feeling ultra paranoid that day. Ah, paranoia, my old friend.

I get nervous around large groups of men because it reminds me of the Chester days, basically. I can get lost in my own head when I’m walking to work or wherever, and being shouted at disturbs the feeling. It makes me scared and self-conscious and nervous. It doesn’t make me feel empowered or sexy.

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