My blog entry below is in response to a video made by one of the vloggers i watch. It was a video about body image and beauty standards.
To be brutally honest, i have never felt beautiful. Or welcome on this earth. Today, i do feel more confident in myself, but i still struggle on all levels. I have never worked either, and have survived my whole adult life on government benefits.
I am Autistic, and now suffer with chronic lymphedema in both legs, plus a large lymphedema tumor on my left inside thigh that now makes it hard for me to walk. I used to drive, and drove for 22 years, but had to give that up due to my legs.
When i was born, pretty much from the get-go, from childhood on, because i was always very different than the others in my family, and everyone around me, my family alternately teased and taunted me, bullied and scolded me, and they did all they could to make me afraid to stand up for myself and be myself. I was criticized all the time, and left out of some of my family activities. My dad came down very hard on me and i grew up to both fear and hate him. My three brothers were always turned off by me as well. In addition, one of my sisters has always been harsh with me too. I got this all through school too. I never had boyfriends, and never had many friends, period.
In 5th grade, we lived in the country and i went to a rural grammar school where i got bullied more. Suddenly, both my siblings and schoolkids were calling me an animal and a dog, and teasing me about my large nose. They would routinely call me weird and a retard. They would also call me fat and ugly even though i was very skinny then. I grew up to feel like i would never make it in life. Professionals and my family and schoolteachers would routinely tell me that i’d never learn how to drive or get married or have a meaningful job. They all said i would live at home with my mom and dad, and then when they died, that i’d go to a home.
If i can be honest, again, i honestly have felt like killing myself several times throughout my life. Growing up, i tried to run away from home several times….twice in the 7th and 8th grade, and four times in my Sophomore year of high school.
I just turned 55 years old yesterday, and the reason i am still alive, is my faith, and the kind few i have met along my half century journey who have believed in me. Plus, i do have love and support from my mom and two of my sisters. But to this day, all of my other siblings and my nieces and nephews all shun and ignore and have me blocked out of their lives. My father passed away in early 2000, so he is no longer here to hurt and reject me like he used to…..
The way i have coped? As a child, i would turn inward to my safe inner world and draw detailed pictures of houses, people, and roads, and i would make imaginary friends out of them. I began to write and keep journals in 7th grade. In my neighborhood, i made friends with mostly ppl who were older than me who were kinder to me. I also turned to food, and i now weigh 340 pounds.
I also had hairy arms growing up. I used to keep them shaved so ppl wouldn’t tease me about that either. I was not always fat. I slowly began to gain weight in my Sophomore year of high school. If i can say one thing about myself that i love, it would be my hair. I still have nice hair, and always have liked my hair.
Back to my story. I barely graduated high school because it was so hard for me on every level, hard, and never had the opportunity to go onto college, because again, i was told, and i still believed them, that i would fail. Autism is a very complex neurological disorder that many, to this day still believe is something that is wrong and bad and that we need to be changed, cured, fixed, etc. Many ppl mistakenly think Autism is a behavior issue, and so many of us struggle needlessly because of that.
I have lived on government benefits since 1981. Not because i am lazy and don’t want to work. Because i never found a way to be able to work successfully at a job where there are so many things that can cause sensory overload…noises, people, too much coming at me all at once, because my brain is wired differently and i can only process and deal with so much, and have always had a really hard time when ppl don’t like me and are harsh with me.
I thank God for the internet, though, because i have found a huge forum of other Autistic people like myself, and through this, i have learned to love myself. Through Facebook, i have been fortunate to be able to meet hundreds of other Autistic adults, and i am now involved in advocacy and activism work for the Autistic/Disabled communities. Since being on Facebook, i have been able to be educated, that being different, being disabled, does not make me less-than, and it does not mean i am doomed. I am trying to get my life story about growing up Autistic in a hostile environment where i was misunderstood and misjudged and cast off, published, so others can read my story and hopefully learn from what i went through. I also cope by watching YouTube vlogs, music videos and travel videos on YouTube too.
I keep going, because i have always been too afraid i would go to hell if i did take my own life. So, i keep going, praying, hoping, that i will still get the help and way out i need.
I have a YouTube channel of what i go through on a daily basis because of the type of neighborhood i have had to live in for the past 23 years. Warning, in many of the videos i am yelling and screaming…..having meltdowns because of the sensory overload i was in when i filmed those videos. I lose my words when i’m upset. I process life much more differently and deeply, and always have due to being Autistic.
I’m sorry this was long. I am thinking of deleting it….but maybe not. But….yeah…..this is my story. Sorry it is such a book. Please don’t hate me for this being so long.