Complex PTSD and Autism Parents

Content Warning: This post is about self harm.

I’m sad. So, so deeply sad. I can’t cry. I feel like I should, or at least there is this sensation of heaviness in my chest, behind my eyes and in my hands. I also feel a blockage, like a barrier making it impossible.

I’m trapped. I’m in a vacuum without the air necessary to cry and move forward. I can’t go backwards either, because my memories are haunting me. My current life is haunting me. I can’t cry or process my experiences, and my childhood is mixing with my kid’s life on some weird level that I can’t grasp. I know that what happened to me isn’t the same as what is happening to my kid, but emotionally it’s mixing and I’m reliving events.

This is what complex PTSD is like. I know that what happened to me isn’t the same as what is happening to my kid. I’m not hallucinating, I’m perfectly aware. But the emotional mix up, and the impossibility of processing – these things are too strong. I’m just reliving my childhood all over, again and again. There’s no respite, it’s haunting me in my sleep and when I’m awake. It’s not just one or a couple of events, it’s like the underlying confusion and fear that permeated everything is haunting me.

I feel a need to cut myself. It’s probably around fifteen years since I did so. I’ve resisted it for such a long time, but the urges don’t go away. You may think that it’s great that I can resist it, but I’m not resisting it in order to care for myself. I’m resisting it because my body isn’t mine. I’m resisting it because healthcare owns me and I’m their object. If a nurse would come here to draw some blood and see the wounds from self harm, they would have to report me to social care and child protection. My kid could be taken away from me, or I could be forced to go through “treatments” that would harm me even more.

Because no, the actual support I need doesn’t exist. It’s not for people like me. I’m one of those adult autistic people that some parents to autistic people with visibly high support needs claim isn’t really autistic. I’m that autistic adult being invalidated for not being disabled enough to be allowed to call myself autistic or disabled. I’m the autistic adult that the autism parents think shouldn’t take up space.

I’m the autistic and multiply disabled and chronically ill parent who desperately needs more support. Instead of support, I’m reliving ableist, sexist trauma and I can’t even self harm to cope, because I need to mask to prevent my autistic child from being harmed.

I have to mask. I have to protect my kid from the harm I suffered. I have to be the autism parents’ punching bag.

I’m your object. I’m just a thing.

Please just let me cut myself. I need the respite.

Don’t worry, I won’t cut myself. I’m too traumatized to claim my body.

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To Ask for Accessibility

Sometimes I wonder if you know what it’s like to be the disabled person who tries to point out ableism and lack of accessibility and support in schools, healthcare and other areas.

You know, you, abled person, or person acting from an abled perspective. Do you understand what I’m exposing myself to when I point out your ableism?

Even when I point it out really friendly, politely and try my best to explain and make it as easy as possible for you to understand and do something to correct the lack of accessibility and support?

Because you know, you abled-perspective-acting person, are usually not happy about it. You’re not even respectful. Most of the times, you actually humiliate me. Do you understand that?

You belittle me and call me all sorts of humiliating things. Your responses usually tell me that I’m being unreasonable, incompetent and most of all not worthy your respect. Do you know that?

I know that this how you exercise power. Instead of taking the chance you were just given to do better, you decide that accessibility, support, respect, dignity and not doing harm isn’t something that people like me are worthy of. You choose to continue to oppress.

I see you. I see what you are doing. It’s harmful like hell. You succeed. Congratualtions. You are an oppressor.

The Wrong Side of Life (My Autistic Greyness)

It’s June, and like most years I’m intensely reminded of my own childhood. I don’t know why, maybe because summer as a kid was something so very different than summer as an adult. It’s different on a sensory level that I really can’t explain.

Anyway, today, I’m more than ever trying to grasp a specific experience that I’ve had for as long as I can remember, but still have no word to describe. A sense of despair and greyness, but not gray as in calm and peaceful like when I wrap myself in a soft, gray hoodie. More like gray as experiencing grief and the deep, wordless knowledge that something is horribly wrong. Like a filter on life that made it harsh, painful and with sharp edges that hurt me while making everything unclear and impossible to grasp.

I remember experiencing this clearly as a four-year-old in preschool. Being on the verge of crying and so close to starting to scream uncontrollably, but most of the times not doing it because I was caught in my own body. I remember it as life, especially in preschool and later in school, being too much of everything, and my fuel never enough. I was trapped in a sense of mental starvation, where my cognitive and emotional expenses always were bigger than what I had to cover it with.

Don’t get me wrong, I was hyperactive and adults called me a very energetic child, but that doesn’t contradict what I’m trying to share with you.

I remember experiencing life as the wrong side of a beautiful, colorful fabric with a pattern. Like if I had turned the fabric – life – with the wrong side up and just saw a clumpsy, ugly, harsh and ultimately wrong side with messy threads and a distorted pattern.

I still get this feeling a lot when I’m around other ppl than partner and kid. The overwhelming sensations of pushing myself to the maximum of my abilities on order to just have a conversation and be around other people. I still don’t know what to call it, maybe desperation. Maybe this is what disability is like when it’s a feeling. I don’t know.

What I do know is that this is a very real experience. What I do know is that no, this isn’t a state that I have to accept as my everyday life, because no, not all people go through life feeling like they are on the verge of a meltdown just by being around other people. Today, I think that this is the embodiment of lack of acceptance, support, accessibility and appreciation.

This is how I experience being autistic and not having the information I need to process a situation. This is how I experience the social demands to mask. This is how I experience not being allowed to communicate in a way that’s less demanding to me. This is how I experience lack of predictability. This is how I experience not getting any validation on my experience of the world and how I process information. This is how I experience sensory overload.

This is how I experience being autistic in a world that doesn’t recognize it.

Wish

I wish you could see the beauty of being autistic.

I wish you could see beyond the “problem” of me needing predictability, and instead see me.

I wish you could see the beauty in me thriving.

I wish you wanted me to thrive instead of pretending to be normal.

I wish you could see the mesmerizing world I can experience when I’m interested in something.

I wish you would seek to understand my autistic experiences, instead of deeming them less human.

I wish you could believe that there is more than one way to be a real person.

Respecting Boundaries Isn’t Currency (Trauma Journal)

Letter o my teenage self

Warning: This post contains actual descriptions of an abusive parent’s actions and should only be read if you think you can handle that.

Dear me,

You have the right to boundaries. All kinds of boundaries. You have the right to emotional boundaries, just like physical.

You are easily overwhelmed, because you’re autistic. You have the right to protect yourself from being overwhelmed, but your mom isn’t respecting your need to not get too much of her emotions.

It’s not okay to act like she does. It’s not okay that she demands to be allowed to disrespect your boundaries and needs. It’s not okay that she will only parent you as long as she is allowed to cross your boundaries. Carrying her emotions isn’t your responsibility.

It’s not okay that she demands emotional intimacy that you neither can or want to have with her. It’s not okay that she tells you that nobody can be like you are. You are a human being with valid human experiences.

It’s not okay that she only helps you if she can emotionally violate you in different ways. It’s not good parenting to refuse to respect you as you are. It’s not good parenting to cause you so much pain and harm. It’s not good parenting to manipulate and gaslight you into thinking that you are misunderstanding yourself and your needs, when it’s all about her not understanding what it’s like to be autistic.

It wasn’t okay to abandon you in public places when you got overwhelmed. It wasn’t okay that she was mad at you when you couldn’t find your way home by yourself after she took the car and left you in a mall during a meltdown. It wasn’t okay when she shut you out on the porch when you were five years old and had a meltdown.

It isn’t okay when she refuses to help you unless you carry her emotions. It isn’t okay that she’s treating your boundaries as something she can buy her way out of respecting.