Well, I've been on EP for a few days now and commented on a bunch of stories, so I figure it's time to post my own...
It's quite long, but I hope it's easier to read this than it was to write. Digging up some of the memories here has been quite painful.
My first childhood memory is falling off a tricycle and gashing my knee open at nursery school. I still have the scar to prove it. How does this relate to Asperger's? Well, I seem to remember being angry or hurt and riding very fast because of it. I also remember being alone in that part of the playground at the time and not playing with the other kids.
My next memory is from grade school. I was very scared, running away from a bully and his friend. They eventually caught me and took turns hitting me. Of course, I tried to play with other kids too but nobody wanted anything to do with me. This started a nasty behaviour pattern that has dogged me for most of my life – trying too hard to be friends and being a “pleaser”.
One day I got home from school and asked my mom why all the kids hated me. She said: "Oh nonsense, nobody hates you", and her tone was so offended, hurt even, that I just dropped it and went to my room and cried. I went through primary school being bullied and ostracised. My mother was (still is) a compulsive liar and I quickly learned to lie to avoid trouble. The problem was that being an aspie, I was seldom convincing. Despite this, I got by well enough while I lived with my mother.
I remember once being sent for some type of psychological testing, but I was never told why, despite asking. It seemed to be more of an IQ type test anyway, being tested with putting shapes in order, etc. Maybe they didn't know about Asperger's yet, being a developing country in the 1980's.
When I was twelve, after much pressure from my father and step-mother, I moved in with them, my older brother and her son (my half-brother). They moved me to his school and for some reason, most of the bullying seemed to stop. My half-brother was one of the popular kids but I was just left alone and ignored most of the time. The transition period was very difficult. I struggled with homework and my step-mother was soon onto me lying. She would tell my father about my latest lie/s when he got home and that's when the beatings started. They escalated to a point where my step mother would repeatedly slap me across the face and my father would punch me in the head, shoulders, etc.
I'm not looking for sympathy here. I dealt with this part of my life long ago. I'm just trying to give some background to my story.
I carried on, scraping through school with just enough to actually pass each year. Despite this, no-one thought to send me for any further tests to actually find out why. I'd been so emotionally and physically broken down by then, that even I believed I was just lazy and naughty, despite the fact that I nearly ended up in tears every time I tried to do my homework.
When I was 14, my step-mother found a piece of paper that my father had tried to flush down the toilet. It was a letter from his mistress, and it wasn't long after that that my father, brother and I moved into a small unit. Things seemed to improve quite a lot once we were out of the “poisoned marriage” situation and life became almost normal, except for the 3-4 nights a week that we stayed over with his mistress. Her house was on the other side of a very large city so we spent about 3 hours each day in traffic, which meant waking up at 5am to get to school on time.
Six months after I finished school, my father and I moved to a small coastal city, and I lived with him there until his mistress (OK, I guess by then they were de-facto partners) moved in with us. Both of them wanted me out of the house and they put a lot of pressure on me to find a job and move out. I took the first job I could find and that was in a small town 120km away.
It was hell. I was 19, in a new town with no family or friends, and I was crashing at my boss' house (for about 4-6 hours a night) until I found a place of my own. I worked 16 hour days for the first three weeks and my boss was a real class-act. A first rate *****. After 2 weeks of this I was exhausted and lonely. Walking home from work one night at about 8pm (having worked from 6am), I walked into a bar where I bumped into one of the older guys I worked with. He was sitting with a small group of people and I found a seat between 2 women. A little into the evening, The woman on my left asked me a question and we then spent the rest of the night talking.
It was amazing! For the first time in my entire life, it felt like someone understood me. She is a lot older than me and I chased her for six months before we finally got involved. We were married 2 years later, even though she had to explain all the “rules” to me and ask me to propose.
I will forever be grateful to this woman for being the mother I never had. The one who taught me to love myself, simply by loving me and accepting me for who I am. Of course, being “married to your mother” creates problems of its own, but it was what I needed at the time. Despite this, we're still together, and though it's been difficult at times, we're still in love and happy 11 years after we met.
Going into the workplace was not much different from school. I was alone and isolated, and never quite “fit-in” and it only got worse going from a white-collar industry to the blue-collar industry where I am today.
A few months ago, I saw a TV program (one of those drama serials), where one of the characters was strongly autistic, and I found that I identified with him in quite a few ways. You know, the stimming, the desire for order and routine, the large collections of useless information and the memory for useless facts. A few days later, I Googled “autistm test” and found Simon Baron Cohen's AQ Test. I took it and got 36/50. It said there was a strong chance I had Asperger's syndrome. Having never heard of it before, I Googled “Asperger's syndrome” and started reading other peoples accounts of it. I felt like I could have written many of the stories myself!
At first it seemed like a fairly insignificant discovery, but since I've been on EP and seen how many other Aspies there are here, I feel a kinship I've never felt before. It's amazing to suddenly have a reason why I've been so “different” all my life.
I know I'll never again feel as alone as I've felt in the past.