Saturday, March 15, 2014
Aspie in the Narcissist Jungle
This may not be politically correct, but I keep meeting fellow Aspies [Asperger adult people] who grew up in dysfunctional households. Also many seem to be dealing with severely narcissistic parents who are highly neurotypical and who used the Aspie differences to lower the boom.
One thing I remember in the recesses of my memory is years ago, is that many years ago, they laid autism down at the feet of so called REFRIGERATOR mothers.
This idea has gone out of vogue for whatever reason, perhaps the parents of Aspies who were nice folks didn't like how that colored them, but what my theory about Asperger is it is multi-faceted disorder, maybe this applies to SOME, while others may be genetic cases or who faced other environmental causes. I have met Aspies with Aspie parents and other autistics, and the families seem close and where members match each other in outlook. Perhaps abuse can be a set up for SOME people who end up Aspie or perhaps there is even the correlation that Aspies are more likely to be abused due to the nature of the disorder if they happened to be born to a disordered parent.
My N mother used to brag that she could leave me alone in my crib for hours to play with light motes and that I would not cry even for hours. Why someone would brag about such a thing? It is odd. I have no memory of that time, but remember being frozen out. No friend said, "Wasn't it a bad idea to leave your baby alone that long?" Along with this, is along with other embarrassing stories to put me down, both parents who stressed my endless failings, would tell their friends how I "refused" to walk as a child and did not walk until I was nearly two years old. I have never heard of a child refusing to walk. This "story" would end with them telling their friends they had to give me a "butt whooping" just to get me off my "lazy ass" usually with some insults for the present time about how woefully deficient I was. One time around the age of 15 as they retold this story, I said, "If I had a kid that did not walk at that age, I'd take them to the doctor!"
I found out as an adult that motor skill problems are severe for Aspies and autistics, and well, even the gym teachers in elementary school sent home endless notes about my motor skill problems or lack of hand-eye coordination. These things impact me today as I have to "think" to do many physical things, and am what many would consider very clumsy.
Sometimes I get the idea that if I did not have two siblings very close in age, my autism and lonlieness would have been even more intense. My differences in this family were vilified. Aspergers did give me some gifts, while I was not a straight A student more along the 3.5 marker, as a youngster I did very well on school tests and tested with a high IQ. I was not an Aspie that was having incredible outbursts or flushing the toilet multiple times and flooding the bathroom or having tantrums. If anything I was more quiet and withdrawn. My Aspie meltdown were panic attacks that brought on tears but no screaming. My parents who lacked empathy would shove even crying, terrorized me onto roller coasters, sensory issues well, since they didn't have them, they supposedly didn't exist.
For Aspies the world is a very scary place. Therapists told me I had a high enough IQ to "cloak" and at least attempt to act somewhat normal to function in society but it's hard. Spin around and see your senses all get tangled up. That's Aspie land for you, a grocery store would put me on the edge of a melt-down. Aspies see the world very differently. This world to the Asperger brain can seem like a very dangerous place. Anxiety among Aspies and women with it can be very high.
For years I had panic attacks, too, which oddly seem to have gotten quite a bit better, but sometimes I think that is just old age and my adrenals wearing out. I wasn't a timid child, but was easily frightened and sometimes I wonder about the life-long effects of never having had anyone comfort me EVER. No one ever took me into their arms as a child and said, "Things will be alright.". I get some comfort from my husband now but often I wonder would my ability to self-soothe be better if I had one of those mothers who patted me on the head, or a parent I could have gone running and crying to, without being told "I'll give you something to cry about!".When I was a teen, I'd see even other young teens hugged by their mother, and my stomach would hurt painfully.
The scary thing about both my mother, and one where she simply had no understanding for me, is I do not think she has the ability to feel fear. The psychologists could have a field day with this one. Obviously I was around the woman enough to know that she never was afraid even of things normal women are. There was never any tears or gasps or emotions that denoted fear even during dangerous moments. Both parents laughed as a large tornado skipped along the edge of my grandmother's property. Car accidents, dangerous health conditions, my sister's asthma attacks, were all dealt with utmost stoicism and if they could hide something they did.
She actually supposedly had a heart attack at work necessitating an angioplasty, and worked the day through, saying nothing to no one nor to us kids. I found out from another relative. How does someone do that? Weird things like this added up. I failed to be a stoic like her that never felt fear. Even my father was this same way. They never seemed to feel "danger" or to have any concept of it. My parents lives were more far sheltered then my own, I'm the one who got jumped in the ghetto, saw a man rob people with a sawed off shot-gun while I hit behind a brick wall. I have thought about this total lack of fear and emotion in my parents, and today it kind of scares me. Obviously these two did not understand a highly anxious Aspie. They did not even relate to any feelings of fear, worry or distress. In my mother's case, I really do not think she felt fear at all, while my father, I heard mumblings about phobias for bridges, but definitely she trained him to be the stoic and to present as stone-cold as she was. To be an Aspie around that was a bad deal, a bad precedent is set up when a young Apsie has no role-model on how to cope with fear or emotions related to it.
Some of you have read about how bad my lungs got when I was young. The lungs went before I got fat. When I got these severe asthma attacks, I could not breathe and at times would throw up. One time I got a severe asthma attack the year I was living at home before I went no contact for a few years around the age of 20. Maybe I ate potatoes which I am severely allergic to and didn't know yet. Anyhow I was crying and gasping for breath sitting on the stairs, and my father got angry at me and told me to shut up. My inhaler finally kicked in to allow some functioning. I drove myself coughing to get a breathing treatment at a clinic closest to my house. Now I think this was dumb, I should have just called myself an ambulance, but this was the type of treatment. As a teen I had asthma attacks too but was told "you can't cope!" and didn't know what they were yet until the vistas of a university health system opened up at the age of 18. How many years did I hear "Nothing's wrong with you!" as my body and health imploded and even the ticking time bomb of untreated PCOS and thyroid disease were already on their way. There was never any comfort or care.
Being an Aspie around Narcs is no fun. Us Aspies love to analyze things and to go "deep" well with narcissists it is the complete opposite. The narcissistic personality is insulted and bothered by your musings. They do not want to hear about your favorite book or your ideas. If you are artistic or delving into the meaning of life they are bored and want you to shut up. In some essential ways, narcissists stay strangers, no one is home and the door is closed, sometimes they may paint a smiley face on the mail-box, but you aren't getting in. Shared ideas bore them. Everything is about appearances. Everything is superficial.
My mother stayed a stranger basically, even before I went NC, I looked at her list of friends on a social website, and while she has known them 40 years, I barely knew any of them. Shunted away is a limited phrase to explain my life. There were even cousins and others I never had heard of. When people don't talk to you about anything, you don't learn anything about them or anything else. My mother is friends with my sister's friends, and vice versa. My friends she hated and complained about, maybe because they loved and cared about me? I have met people in coffee shops and had them say more to me about their life in 2 hours then my mother ever did. With some of my recent studies, I have learned WITHHOLDING is a form of abuse. When someone does not talk to you and closes you out, kind of a silent treatment that only allows for necessary word, it is emotionally abusive. Years ago in my thirties when I lived in my old small town--60 miles from where she lived, my mother would hold parties she would invited both co-workers and some relatives too, and she would make sure NOT to invite me but I would find out about them. The rejection of my childhood continued into adulthood. Sometimes I ask why did I put up with things so long?
People with Aspergers can be vulnerable, while our talents can grow in a crucible of support, they can be repressed in an atmosphere of hate and disdain. Sadly this fear among the sharks never went away as I entered the work-world and realized there were more narcissists then there ever were Aspies. The landscape wasn't full of fellow studious absent minded professors but more types with knives behind their backs and tight grins on their face that were upset by anyone who didn't fit the norm. Aspies want to learn and explore while the narcissists want to "get over", and never shall the two meet. Young Aspies are often naïve, and it took me years to realize how some people really operate and that I had to be careful with my trust. I still have betrayals now but then they were never ending.
Aspie in the jungle, that is the Aspergers person in a Narcissistic dominated family. Betrayals are a given. Now with the insight of an adult, I realize how my mother made sure to destroy the relationship with my father. While he was abusive enough, my mother worked to make sure he never stood by my side either, but had me labeled as the cause of all the problems. While faint glimmers of respect for my intelligence would pop up on very rare occasion, she would stamp them down quick into dying embers that faded out. One of my friends has the theory that my father with computer genius was an Aspie too but I am not sure I buy this theory, he was too high functioning, too able to rise up the ranks, too high of status, too functional in the work-world and able to achieve but I'll admit this, he believed each and every one of her lies about me.
She would lie and tell him what a terrible daughter I had been or exaggerate things I said. He cared most about pleasing and appeasing her. I was way in the back of the room as a priority. Lies would abound. It seemed nothing I said would ever make a difference. Her talent at getting others to close me out and invalidate me was never ending and my Aspergers made it even easier for her. Now imagine this happening to a young Asperger girl, one who is already awkward, unsure of her self, and social cues and "rules". It was hell. This also means my mother always "won" while I lost in the arena of public and family opinion.
She would list my endless sins, and shortcomings and they would nod their heads. It was so bad, that she would even turn entire families of friends of the family against me, her body language denoting that I was despicable and her cross to bear. Is it any wonder that the daughter of our old family friends and next door neighbors happened to name their daughter after my golden child sister instead of me? Or that their son was in love with my sister for a time? Narcissists and some psychopaths can conduct people like orchestras and my mother did.
I would try to get people to notice I was alive, to "see" me outside the cruelties of my mother but it seemed almost impossible. Her definition of me came first to them. In high school I was almost erased a cipher, that meant nothing to no one. In college I ran to art to save me and around this time my parents were angry, "Why did that college change you?". They were angry that I was trying to find myself and become someone, they wanted me to be the ghost in the corner, the nobody. Rebellious "art" student or not, it was something I had to do to stay alive.
Life swears around appearances and namely status for malignant narcissists. Even if you are miserable, that pristine car and house come first. They are always to look good and never be defeated. One big rule is to never admit any vulnerability or weakness. Behind the scenes, the screaming and yelling may never end for the idea of perfect. Sharks have to look good, and sharks want status. An Aspie who may have motor difficulties or even problems with staying neat in this scenario is not going to have a great time. For narcissists, children are narcissistic supply, trophies to be taken off the shelf that are supposed to be quiet and with just enough achievements to brag about require too much car-pooling for. Aspies don't think like this, extreme notions of status, and social grand-standing escape us. It would take years for me to even realize how many human "social" games are played. Most of us just want to enjoy our interests and want to live not at the detriment or bringing down of others.
A child with Aspergers doesn't fit in that mix. They are considered an embarrassment. They are "weird" and "strange." Even if they are smart they are still considered a liability to the narcissistic mother. She will try to hide you away or ignore you. Your lavish fantasies will piss her off instead of being a source of joy or connection. Your talents or savant skills if you manage to acquire one, is just another place for jealousy. Your love of books means you are a "lazy bum with a nose in a book who never helps with the housework". Your stims will earn you a slap or two. Your passions, beliefs and ambitions she will seek to destroy and even in adulthood try to undermine.
A child with severe autism instead of higher functioning autism, I fear for them at the hands of a mother or father with narcissism. Witnessing websites, I have seen some cases where the narcissistic parent uses the autistic child for narcissistic supply as "super-mom" or in the quest for a "cure". Quests for "cures" for Autism and Aspergers I believe if taken to a certain point outside of helping an autistic or Aspie function better can be damaging. An Asperger child at the foot of narcissists faces the worse thing that can be done to a young child, they are not loved nor accepted for who they are, and this makes the challenges that much greater.
When I was 5 years old, I happened to overhear my mother talking to a friend, and this conversation would be replicated in different ways as the years passed by. She turned to this friend and said, "She is so strange, I don't understand her." Today the world of my narcissistic parents is strange, the jungle, the place I don't understand, never understood and never fit in. The place I think of as cold hell on earth. The place I finally left. Finding out about Aspergers in my thirties in my case, actually helped my self esteem, I was given understanding about who I was. Today as an adult, I can judge those I was raised by and what they lacked as they were so busy doing with me for most of my childhood. Gifts came with it, and I have an ability to love and care about other people and in having a heart. I'd much rather be an Aspie then a narcissist on that score alone.