Sometimes, I see something that makes me think back on my life. It makes me think back on who I am, what I do and who I choose to be. While researching on having a temper (which I admit, sometimes I do), I came across this article. Instantly, I was thrown into questioning a lot of who I am, and what I do.
For a long time. I’ve held the believe that I am a brat, and in many ways, so much is true. For the past few days though I’ve found myself deep in thought, and this article only deepens those thoughts.
One of the most notable observations I’ve found in myself, is that I respond favourably to Dominants who respect me. Not just in the way that one would (and should) respect a human being, but Dominants who allow me to be me, to think like I do, to take control like I do occasionally, and to generally exist. I do well with that, and in an odd way, that level of respect seems to bring out the submissive in me.
Growing up, I definitely had strict parents. Both of my parents had their own parental issues, whether it was an abusive father or a controlling mother. My father strived not to be like his Dad, and he went on to become a social worker in a children’s home. In many ways, I believe to some extent that was what made him, him.
Dad loved to use pshychology on us, he loves to make eye contact and give stares that struck the fear of all things holy into us. Maybe that’s why Wolfie’s ‘Dom stare’ works so well with me now, because he’s the only person I want to reverently respect anymore, the only person I want to please deep down.
Dad was good with his words, and it took many years for me not to be afraid of him. Dad rarely shouted and eventually I learned less to fear him and more to idolise him. He became who I wanted to be like, and over the years, I became like him – quietly confident, and witty.
My relationship with my mother was far more troubled. From a young age, she believed that I was autistic and anytime I drifted off into my own creative bubble, I was snapped back into reality while I played,
“What are you doing?” she’d snap as she took the toys off of me and dumped them back on the table, “play normally.”
As anyone with a boundless imagination will know, playsets are boring, and creating your own adventures really is playing normally.
Even at my granmother’s house, I wasn’t allowed to be me. The duck-shaped sharpener that I used to so love imagining on a beautiful large pond (that I’d imagined in mid-air, mind you) was often confiscated, and instead I’d be told to go and play with the cookery set, or to play dollies.
I hated playing dollies. It was so… gender-specific.
On a sidenote here, I’m not really keyed in to all of the new gender labels, but I have always identified as a bit of a tomboy, so needless to say, dollies really weren’t for me. Action Man was far, far more my thing.
At school, I had what is known in Asian nations as a “tiger mom”, an exceptionally strict mother who expects her children to exceed at school and get good grades. I’d often find myself doing extra homework during our half-terms, even studying subjects that we hadn’t studied yet. If there weren’t textbooks, Mum would devide quizzes or crosswords with words that we should know. Either way, we needed to be learning.
Socially, I was only known as my brother’s sister. He was the cooler one, the better one, the funnier one, and in a sense, I knew it. I slunk to the back, accepting and too afraid to try and be anything else.
When it came to friends, there were strict rules and regulations that friends had to adhere to. They had to help me tidy my room before they left (those who didn’t weren’t allowed to visit anymore) and if we played in the street then we weren’t allowed to cross the road. Crossing the road resulted in a weekend’s grounding.
Fear was also prevalent in our home, and I remember being threatened with a beating when I tried to write to an Agony Aunt about not having any friends, namely because of the so many rules that they were subjected to,
“If you ever do that again,” my mother hissed, “I’ll beat you so fucking hard you won’t be able to sit down for a month”. I never did try again after that. I was too afraid to speak up.
When it came to relationships, my first boyfriend was closely chaperoned. On our first date, my mother was not more than 25 metres away (we went swimming) at all times. On our second date, my family took great delight in embarrassing me. Our third date happened alone in a hospital, but only because he had leukaemia.
When I started dating Wolfie, we frequently found that we didn’t have time to ourselves. When I cooked a 3-course dinner to celebrate having been together for three years, we suddenly found ourselves crushed up against the side of the annexe kitchen when my Dad barged in to load the dishwasher, a condition I was forced to accept for having my own ‘living room/kitchen.
Over time, Wolfie began to encourange a different side to me, a different way of being. Wolfie encouraged me to try new things and to explore the world, safely, and legally.
I’d turned eighteen, so Wolfie took me clubbing. We’d drink and dance and laugh and I began to find myself, I found my style in black and silver – a tomboy like me really could be sophisticated!
I had friends, real friends, adult friends. Friends who I could laugh with and accepted me. Friends who didn’t come to my house, we’d go out to pubs or bars and hang out together instead. We never got drunk to a stupor because it wasn’t about the alcohol – it was about relaxing.
“What do you think?” The doctor asked me that fateful morning.
“I don’t think I have autism” I began, looking the doctor directly in the eyes, “I have a boyfriend, I have friends, I like to go clubbing..”
My mother welled up and stormed out of the room,
“She’s a fucking adult now, she can do whatever she wants” were her parting words.
“I don’t think you have autism, either” the doctor said. “look at you! You make eye contact, you smile, you use pitch and tone. You’re very clearly a bright, confident, capable young lady!”
I walked out of the practice with my head held high. I really was a bright and capable young lady. I had my whole future and my whole life ahead of me. That was when I heard the car pull up behind me.
“You do realise you just shat all over me?!” my mother screamed, “you have one month to get a fucking job, or you’re out!”
I spent the next two years in utter turmoil. Sometimes I was at home, more often than not, I wasn’t. My relationship with my parents was so rocky and Wolfie got the blame. He was bad for me they insisted, lazy, controlling and rude. Any time I spoke up, I was told that I had an attitude problem and my belongings were taken and threatened with damage. It got to the point that I feared so much for my safety that I bought a small, cheap “burner” phone, which I hid in a pair of socks in my drawer.
My mother tried every tool she could find to get me to leave him. 4-page letters under my pillow detailing how I’d changed, how much they cared for me and how you always ‘hurt the ones you love’. When that failed, she resorted to calling him ‘it’.
“What time is It coming down tonight?” “Are you seeing It later?”
I sighed, I’d had enough of this petty, childish behaviour.
Before too long, I switched off to my mother’s ways. I was a respectful, polite lady, I knew it and I was sure of it. I was also recognised and respected as being assertive and a leader, a go-getter of sorts. I didn’t need Mum to make the decisions for me.
When Wolfie and I finally got a home to call our own, social services were heavily involved on my part. I’d never believed that I, from what I’d always been told was a loving family, was being given priority housing because of psychological abuse and the threat of assault. It took a lot of reassuring hugs from my social worker to help me come around.
Sadly, my mother’s controlling ways have never and may never change. When I requested a copy of my medical notes for my Personal Independence Payment appeal, I saw a note from 2017:
Call from patient’s mother. Possible autism. Claims just trying to help.
There is no and never has been any suspected possible autism. Not since about 2000, the last time anyone really took her seriously. I am, however and by my own admission, a Highly Sensitive Person. Both have noise and texture intolerances and social anxiety issues, but that’s about where the similarities end.
Yesterday I saw my mother and it bought all of those memories back. Some things won’t change, and to be honest, her attitude towards me spurred up a whole slew of posts that I wanted to write, that I could write, about why telling people to hurry up is rude and counterproductive and why telling angry people to calm down never works. She is my mother and I love her, but I have to love her at arm’s length.
“Have you got your shoes and socks on yet?” she asked me.
“No, it’s 12:10” I sighed, dashing around the kitchen in my slippers, “we agreed 12:30.”
“Hurry up, then!” she said, half jovially. I know she wanted to sound upbeat, but the sentiment was the same and I was angry. Her schedule is more important than mine. Always.
So much of this lack of respect (and perhaps the above mentioned post) has had me thinking back about who I am, and what I really am. I suppose in many ways, then for me, being told what to do is a sure-fire way to get the hackles up. It alarms me, and all I’ve ever wanted and needed was to be able to choose to cooperate, without the fear of being beaten to a pulp.
Perhaps the slightly funny part in all of this is that I, who my family always thought would live out my days single, unlovable and requiring ongoing support, am now happily married, living independently in a loving, fulfilling relationship and running two blogs. My brother on the other hand, who everyone thought would reach great potential, is still single, turns thirty next month, and is still living at home with a lodger filling my space who to isn’t allowed the full use of the space that he rents, because of the conditions that he is under, as written by my mother. Even if I can be incredibly feisty, tempestuous and difficult to manage sometimes, I think I’ve done alright for myself.