So, more on how my parents never cared about me because I decided I wasn’t done.

My parents also had almost no involvement in my dating life. I didn’t really start dating until I was eighteen years old. I had three sort of cutesy, puppy love relationships before that, though. My parents only found out about one of those, when I was in sixth grade. My mom used to go through my stuff and she found some silly little love note to this boy I liked. The punishment was severe. I wasn’t allowed to use the phone or see my friends outside of school for a month. She never asked me any questions about my relationship with this boy. She never asked if we kissed or held hands. If she had, she would have found out that we were both so shy that all we managed to do was pass notes to each other.

I never got “the talk” from my parents. Sex was never addressed in any capacity, I learned everything I knew about it from medical textbooks that my grandmother gave me when I was in the fourth and fifth grade. I didn’t get any kind of sex education in elementary, middle or high school either, so it was my responsibility to learn about that on my own. That initiative probably saved my life in a lot of ways, but of course left me ill prepared since all I knew were the clinical applications. Without those books though, I wouldn’t have known the mechanics of pregnancy or disease and how to protect myself from them. It’s a miracle that I never got sick or got pregnant without being aware of it. My parents never talked to me about dating either. I learned everything I knew about that from television and magazines. My friends didn’t even talk to me about dating. I have no idea if they were doing it when we were in high school or middle school. I don’t know if they were uninterested in it, not allowed, or just never brought it up with me specifically.

Continue reading “So, more on how my parents never cared about me because I decided I wasn’t done.”

Who Am I? (Animatrix Edit)

I don’t really know my parents. We’ve lived together for the vast majority of my life but I’m not even sure how many relatives are on either side of their families. I don’t know any members of my family on a close and intimate level and I feel like I never will. It’s too late and there’s been too much abuse. A few months ago I said something to my mother about being bullied in elementary and middle school. I illuded to the fact that my parents and teachers had no idea how bad it actually was and I said that in the current climate, for kids nowadays, it’s even worse. It’s not like when my mom was in school. She very curtly turned to me and told me that I had no idea what her childhood was like and what she went through in school. She’s right, I don’t. It never came up in conversation when I was a kid, and it doesn’t come up now. There are always the same well trotted stories of fun and the occasional fight but that’s all I know. And that’s only from my mom. My dad has never talked about his experience in primary school. He’s barely talked about high school and only briefly talked about college or the police academy. I don’t know what my parents were like before I met them, I don’t even know what they’re like now.

My parents don’t know me either. They never bothered to try. They stopped learning the names of my friends after middle school. I used to hang out with this group of four girls and they were my primary friend group until I got to high school. The group splintered a bit  because most of them went to high school together (I went to a different one in another borough) and saw each other a lot more outside of that. My wildly controlling mother didn’t let me really go over to all of their houses the way I wanted to and the way that was probably considered normal for kids our age. My mom used to go on and on about how she didn’t know the parents of my friends but she never tried to get to know them.

Continue reading “Who Am I? (Animatrix Edit)”

Have I mentioned that college was a nightmare? Because college was a nightmare.

I never graduated from college and that has always made me feel worthless. I’ve lied about it for years because I felt like if I didn’t, everybody I knew would decide that I’m not worth knowing anymore and that I’m not as smart as they thought I was. Obviously, that kind of thing doesn’t matter to me anymore, but it did for a very long time. I dropped out in part because I had no idea what I was doing. High school didn’t prepare me and even though my parents wanted me to go to college, they didn’t prepare me or seek out any resources to help me either.

I had to handle the whole thing alone and it was way too much for me. I had to find out what kind of financial support I needed and how much, and how to go about getting it. My parents didn’t even do me the courtesy of sitting down and explaining to me that they hadn’t saved a nickel and had never even thought about it. I was just thrown out to the financial aid wolves on my own. I was not the first person to go to college in my family, either. My father went, my aunts and uncles on both sides of my family went and nobody offered me any advice at all. I guess everybody just assumed that because I was a resourceful kid that always took care of myself, I’d never need any help.

I made a lot of mistakes academically as well as financially. I try not to beat myself up about that either because a lot of it was related to being undiagnosed in terms of my mental health issues, physical and developmental disabilities. The deck was stacked against me in so many ways and I had absolutely no idea. When it was clear that I wasn’t gonna graduate after five years between one college and one university, I dropped out. In retrospect, going in the first place is something that I deeply regret. I didn’t know myself well enough to decide at seventeen what I wanted to pay money that wasn’t mine to study. I still don’t know enough. I was way too immature and inexperienced to make decisions like that without a support system.

I think it’s ridiculous to expect all high school students, regardless of ability, to know what they want to spend upwards of forty thousand dollars a year and at least four years studying. Especially since a lot of kids don’t come from money or have supportive schools with SAT prep and classes on financial aid and things like that. On top of that there are tons of kids with undiagnosed learning and developmental disabilities as well as mental illnesses that may not know what kind of support they need or can ask for once they get to college. Largely because they weren’t provided with any while they were in high school, or before.

Once I got to junior college and then eventually a big university, I had no idea how anything worked and I paid for it dearly. I didn’t even connect the idea of going to college with choosing an eventual career. It was never framed that way to me, I didn’t know it was a step toward that. It was always framed as higher education, and I took that sentiment literally. I took it as simply the next step in academia. I get that for allistic kids it can be framed as this period of “figuring stuff out” and they can work out what that means, but for me that was such a generalized statement. I didn’t know it meant paying somebody to teach me a thing that I was gonna decide to do for the rest of the foreseeable future. I just thought it was gonna be higher quality, more direct academics. I didn’t have a plan aside from “oh, cool. I get to learn more stuff in a place where the people around me really wanna learn stuff.” I can’t even begin to tell you how wrong I was.

If it was up to me, everybody would benefit from my mistake by reading this as a teen and deciding that they need to take more time to decide. I wish more stories like mine made it out or were repeated. If I had read an experience like this, it would have set a whole bunch of cogs moving in my head that probably would have led to a very different future. I doubt I’d be in the place I am now if I had the kind of support I needed in basically every aspect of my life, but especially in this one. Perhaps if I’d read an account like this while I was struggling I would have felt less like a failure. Even with all the bullshit I went through initially, I think eventually I’ll go back to school. I do want a degree and I want a career but I’m not sure even now what I want to study or have that career in. I have a lot of other more important things to figure out first. And who knows, once I figure those things out I might change my mind.

In a perpetual state of figuring things out.

My gender and sexuality is a weird and confusing mess. I’ve spend a lot of time over the years laying in bed asking myself, am I really gay? Am I straight? Am I bisexual? Or queer? Should I even be using that word? What does it mean to be a girl? Am I a woman? How many genders are there, anyway?

In terms of my gender I wonder if things had kept going naturally and I was able to explore things and make my decisions safely maybe I’d have come to an easier decision. Or a decision at all. Right now, I’m not sure at all what I am. Okay, that’s not exactly true. I’ve started to identify myself an agender femme but I still accept people calling me a woman. I don’t feel comfortable standing up for myself or correcting people’s image of me or their use of pronouns for me. I don’t feel like I have access to that, I don’t feel like I have access to my own identity. Ain’t that a trip?

Continue reading “In a perpetual state of figuring things out.”

This is a rough one. (TW for child abuse)

I was trained from when I was a very small child to see myself as weird and undesirable. My parents constantly berated me for the way I walked, talked, stood, and carried myself in  general. They taught me very early on to live in fear of the world and to always watch how I behaved because if I didn’t, violent correction of my behavior would never be far away. My parents never beat me, exactly. My mother did hit me in the face once, when I was about four or five years old. I don’t remember why she did it all I know is I had done something wrong and she was “disciplining” me for it. I remember her reaction  very clearly, however. She immediately regretted it and promised not to hit me again. She didn’t but she regularly did other things that I would consider physical abuse. My father did those things as well.

I slouched a lot as a kid (I still do) and my mother punished me for it pretty regularly. She would yank at my shoulders in public and yell at me to stand up straight. I had a tummy when I was a kid (surprise, I still do) and my mom would yell at me about that also. She’d demand I “suck it in” aka hold my stomach muscles so it looked like I had a flatter middle. I don’t know why this mattered to her so much, other than she had a weird obsession with my weight and the shape of my body that didn’t really end until I moved out of the house for the first time. My mother never told me that I’d be undesirable or seen as ugly or worthless because of my weight but she did often tell me I’d get a hump in my back and that I’d be made fun of it I didn’t stand up straight.

Continue reading “This is a rough one. (TW for child abuse)”

Rumors & Reputations (Or how I found out I had dyscalculia)

Okay, so fun story. I learned about the existence of dyscalculia from an episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation. You can look it up, it’s called Rumors & Reputations. The important details are: known overachiever Liberty Van Zandt is having trouble with math and her teacher picks up on it and gives her literature about dyscalculia. He gives her a little pep talk about it and in true Degrassi fashion it goes left into weird drama but anyway, that aspect of the episode really impacted me. Also impactful? The fact that both characters were black. I’m not sure how it is now, but back then learning disorders were still coded heavily “a white thing”. It meant a lot for me to see a black girl that could have been me when I was that age, on a similar academic path, be made aware of this thing. For years after seeing that episode I told people that I was bad at math because of something, and that thing was dyscalculia. I barely knew anything about it then, just that it was a learning disorder that impacted your ability to do math, now I know so much more.

Generally when I talk about school, I talk about my experience at Stony Brook University which was fucked up and complicated in it’s own way but I need to go further back and start with my senior year of high school. It’s taken me years to realize that I got no college prep and no support or help at home. I went to a small, alternative high school that had some resources in terms of technology and the fact that it didn’t rely on standardized testing but there wasn’t enough information or support when it came to making informed choices for college and nobody was suggesting kids get tested for developmental or learning disorders. To be frank, I think that since my school was so small my teachers also favored certain students and personally helped them get funding together and choose the right schools. I was a ghost in high school. I wasn’t allowed to hang around after school so I didn’t get to participate much in extra curriculars or get one on one time with teachers. If they didn’t get to know me in the classroom or in the halls, I wasn’t known at all.

Continue reading “Rumors & Reputations (Or how I found out I had dyscalculia)”

Please and Thank You (You’re so rude)

I got into this a little bit in previous entries but I want to expand on the fact that my parents took most of my behavior personally. They assumed that every time I was unable to regulate the volume of my voice I was yelling at them out of anger. If a door or item slipped from my hand because of dyspraxia, I was slamming it down to show anger or to get attention. It was exhausting the amount of effort I had to put into paying close attention to my tone of voice, body language and my handling of heavy objects, not to mention the effort to ask someone to repeat themselves in a manner that my parents considered polite.

Continue reading “Please and Thank You (You’re so rude)”