My nose stung and I cried, no one saw and I went and sat down on a brick wall. I knew my mother wasn’t there. If I was quiet and didn’t tell I would be left alone until the next time.
I had learned that at age four, and the boy who then bullied me knew it too.
I had one friend in nursery, a boy who never spoke. He would play only with me and had a Buck Rogers comic he carried everywhere. We would climb behind the confined space of the nursery and sit quietly not speaking, completely content in our own silence until the teachers would shatter it.
I had a little boyfriend too, whom I pursued relentlessly as he was completely different to the other boys. He had a glass eye from an accident with a drumstick that he would happily take out and show you.
As I got older between my coat being flushed down the toilet and a child taking a pooh in my shoe at the swimming baths, I came to realise something.
I would never ever fit in.
I tried. God knows I tried so so hard. Desperate to have friends, I would act like them and dress like them to blend in.
But I could and would come unstuck, as anyone who is fake will.
Each morning I would wake up and mentally plan out the responses I would give, the facial expressions and inflections on my tone for the topics and phrases I would coin and use.
Yet my hobbies and differences made me an outcast.
I couldn’t rave about boy bands as I was to busy imagining myself riding in ‘The Wishing Chair’ by Enid Blyton or trying to stay concealed as a smuggler quietly whispering of skullduggery in one of the Famous Five books.
I automatically would go to wooded areas where trees were my friends and sun dappled crevices my sanctuary.
My parents knew to look for me somewhere concealed if we were out visiting.
My father worked as an interior designer and he had wealthy clients. I lived on a council estate with my mother, as far away from Mallory Towers and Daryl Rivers as I could ever be.
I remember going with him to a job, a large barn conversion on a sprawling farm in an affluent area .The owners’ children were suspicious of me as I had a common accent and my clothes were not the same as their’s.
Yet again, I didn’t fit in.
I found a paddock full of horses and beckoned over a beautiful fully grown black horse.
I balanced on the fence and climbed onto his back and rode him round the paddock bareback until the hysterical shouts of the owners brought me round the reality.
“Get off! Immediately!” They ordered. I still can’t till this day work out what I had done wrong. I was ten and had never ridden before. I thought I’d done a good job.
The owners children jeered at me telling me how stupid I was and what had made me think I could ride that horse anyway? I turned to the girl who was my age and wearing a lovely flowery short dress and told her that I hadn’t thought I could, I just did.
Then I pushed her into a large thatch of nettles.
My father was horrified and ear bashed me the whole way home. I was hurt as he always seemed to understand me.
We would go for long nature rambles on Wimbledon Common. I would bury ‘treasure’ under the trees never remembering where it was to dig it up the next time. We would hunt for toads and newts under the logs and I would come home with pockets full of creepy crawlies, much to my mother’s horror. I had a wooden house in the garden my father built for me. I would rescue hurt pigeons, lame hedgehogs and housed a vicious long haired stray ginger Tom I named Chessy.
As the bullying at school intensified so did the rituals and obsessions I had at home.
As I flushed the toilet I would squirt down toilet duck to make bubbles. One square of toilet paper on top of the bubbles and one squirt of duck directly in the middle of the square.
Go to the bathroom to wash my hands and touch each tap six times.
I eventually found my niche with the weird and wonderful crowd. The kids that could not and would not ‘blend in’.
I tried again as I grew older.
I had children and knew enough to learn the lingo of the parents. I’d observe behaviour I could not mentally fathom. People I knew, mothers in the playground tearing each other to shreds then the next day friends again?
When I would question this I was told that I overreact and that people are allowed to argue and make up. They are allowed to wish the other dead and call her every name under the sun then be friends the next day. It’s what people do.
Is it? Not me. It’s incredible to me that people can argue time and time again then make up.
I have a cut off point where I cannot bring myself to care anymore, like an emotional shut down point that once activated can’t be undone. Something I would actually not wish to change that makes me, me.
I had and still do have a strange voice, it’s something I live with. It’s a mix of posh vs cockney with an accent that I’ve been asked through my life “Where do you come from? There’s something….”
I’ve since learned many autistics have an inflection to their voices and now it makes sense to the repetitive speech I had and still do find comfort in. I also script and speak aloud to myself…be it planning my day or the activity I’m then doing.
I look back after my diagnosis last May and wish I could go back in time.
I would tell my teenage self that just because a boy says he likes you it doesn’t mean he loves you, that just because he sleeps with you it doesn’t mean he will marry you.
I wish I could tell myself at thirteen to put the Dettox and paracetamol down.
Not to think that because twelve girls had gathered at my front door for two days baying for my blood for dating the local heart throb that everything was lost.
I want to tell her that she will have incredible children, that she like everyone will make mistakes. That she’s not a freak or a weirdo that her rituals, the habitual chewing of her mouth that had her at the doctors aged four being told she would chew through her cheek was not because she’s strange.
That she’s autistic, that she has a communication difference and yes she may feel like she’s in a film all the time playing a role with a script she’s not privy to.
That she’s outside everything…that she is part of nothing and has no one.
That she’s amazing and the stubbornness and bullheaded personality she has will one day be put to use as an autism advocate.
That she belongs to a neuro diverse community that she adores. That she’s very much inside it and that she has her children who make her….well that just it…