The Hidden Village of Aspergers

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 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 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.

March 8, 2014

Blow Your Cover

From A to B, you pressured me
I’m everything that you want me to be
But all I ever wanted was your carnal knowledge

One thing people at school used to make fun of me for was being a virgin. Even back in Year 7, when I was only twelve, people would take the piss out of me for not having had sex yet. One girl suggested I do ‘Like A Virgin’ for the school karaoke contest. When I turned seventeen, I was desperate to lose my virginity. I felt I had to fit in by having sex with people and that if I didn’t have sex, I wasn’t normal. Please understand – this is only in my own head, and I mean no disrespect to asexuals, or people who lost their virginity late. Some people I know didn’t lose theirs until they were in their twenties. I just had this idea that sex was the be-all and end-all, not helped by all the girls’ magazines I read with articles about sexual positions. I felt I had to have it in order to become normal.

I was seventeen when I lost my virginity. It was in the women’s toilets on the second floor of the Krazyhouse in Liverpool, with a random man I’d just met called Dave. I asked him if he wanted to have sex with me, he said yes, and the next thing I knew, I was straddling him on a toilet. It lasted about fifteen minutes and wasn’t that great, to be honest. It was also unprotected. Luckily, my best mate at the time, R – more on him later – took me to get the morning after pill the next day. My mum later found the booklet and after I confessed it was mine, she went mad and took me to an STD clinic to get tested. Luckily, I had nothing wrong with me.

I don’t know exactly how it happened, but one night I was over at R’s house – his parents were away – and we ended up going to his bedroom, and I stripped off and he lay on top of me. A week or so later, he came round to my house and I gave him a blow job. Eventually we settled into a pattern where we’d go up to my room and put music on and I’d give him head, and then on my 18th birthday, we had full sex for the first time. It hurt. The second time I had sex with him, I cried because the pain was so intense. About the fourth or fifth time, though, it was great. He taught me a lot and he is, to paraphrase Kurt Cobain, the best fuck I ever had. Thus began my first sexual relationship, although it was entirely casual. I was in love with R, but he didn’t love me back. He was also the first man I ever obsessed over, with two more to come.

R always used protection; I wasn’t his first, and he knew I was scared of getting pregnant. We carried on for six months, with me going home with him after school on Fridays, or him coming over to mine. For some reason, he was worried about my parents finding out. Sure enough, I had to go to the toilet and my mum came in, and as R and I had been having sex, I put a dressing gown on. Mum later asked me why I’d been wearing a dressing gown in the afternoon and what I was doing with R, and I broke down and told her. She didn’t hit the roof, but she did warn me to be careful and not to get too attached. Getting too attached was my greatest flaw. In November 2002, R said he didn’t want to have sex with me anymore. I cried and called him a fucking bastard, but we did eventually make up and stayed friends after that.

I had four sexual relationships after that, as well as a one-night stand in 2003 with a guy who lived in my halls. Firstly with Pete, a guy I’d met in a club through my mate Paul, and a rebound after R and I split; then with Owen, who I met at a house party during my first year at uni, for two weeks; then a casual relationship with a guy called Danny, who I met through Rock Soc; and then my first serious relationship, with J, which lasted three years. There wasn’t much sex. Depression can do things to your sex drive. I still beat myself up for not being a ‘proper’ queer because I didn’t have sex with the woman I was going out with back in 2005. I was on Sertraline and it killed my sex drive, and that was one of the reasons why we split.

I’m going through a fallow period now. I haven’t had sex since 2008 and I still get those old pangs when I read about my friends’ sex lives. I feel like a freak and that I’m missing out and that I’m not ‘normal’ if I’m not having sex, which is stupid. I’ve considered dating random people off the internet, but the shyness and lack of confidence holds me back. I like sex, not gonna lie, and it bothers me that some people seem to see me as a weird sexless creature. I’m not. Funnily enough, I always believed I’d be a virgin forever, as no-one would want to fuck me, but I was wrong there.

By the way, the lyrics above apply more to me than R. He never pressured me into doing anything I didn’t want to – he did want me to do anal, but I refused because I was scared of the pain. He was a considerate lover. Now he’s married to a beautiful Iranian woman and living in Newcastle. I bear no grudges; he was a great friend to me as a well as a sexual partner, and he helped me a lot through school. He was the Ino Yamanaka to my Sakura Haruno, to use a Naruto analogy.

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