Video: My Experiences with Emotional Pain or Abuse from a Church or Religion

Hi everyone! I wanted to share this video I made recently for my Spiritual Agnostic YouTube vlog channel, in the hopes that perhaps others who have experienced similar things or even much worse, might find some comfort and strength in knowing they aren’t alone and that it is possible to heal and move on from things like this. In no way did I make this video to be mean or vengeful, but just to express my own process of growth and learning through these experiences.

High-functioning autism and the struggle with feminine identity

John Collier's painting "Lady Godiva"

John Collier’s painting “Lady Godiva”

*Disclaimer – I want to make sure I state that this blog post was inspired by my own experiences. Not every person with Asperger’s Syndrome or high-functioning autism may feel the same way or experience the same issues, although from what I have read, these issues are not uncommon among females with autism.*

I have had a long, complex relationship with my own femininity. Growing up, I never noticed a huge difference between myself and other girls until I hit middle school. In elementary school I was just a “normal” little girl who was into books, Barbies and ponies. I did have some sensory and social issues, but they weren’t huge red flags back then and were easy to ignore. When I got to sixth grade it seemed like the whole world suddenly changed. Girls became obsessed with makeup, hair and clothing. They also read fashion and relationship magazines so they could learn to draw attention from the guys they liked. I was still into books, Nickelodeon, Disney movies and playing outside. I really couldn’t care less about my looks or guys. I didn’t care all that much about making friends either.

It was at this age I first experienced real bullying. I was made fun of because I didn’t start shaving as soon as the other girls did. I was picked on because I didn’t dress in style, wear makeup or have a “cool” hairstyle. I was picked on because I still liked many of the same things I liked as a little kid. I was called a lesbian or ‘butch” because I was a tomboy who was socially clueless in many ways and had no interest in guys yet. Middle school was hell for me in many ways. I was lucky to have a few friends who were outsiders in their own way, but I often felt very much alone. I was constantly told that I was unfeminine, so I started to believe it and wonder what was wrong with me.

Things got a bit better when I reached about 16 or 17. By then I had learned to “fake it” to fit in better. I still didn’t wear makeup or jewelry but I did try to look enough like everyone else to fly under the radar. I started wearing jeans and cute little t-shirts like everyone else (even though I really don’t like the feel of jeans). I adopted a hairstyle that was simple but not “weird”. However, flying under the radar didn’t always work and I started having different issues. As I matured, some guys started to find me attractive and hit on me. This made me want to run & hide. I was uncomfortable being an object of physical appreciation. I didn’t want to be called names like before, but I didn’t want to be seen as a sexual object either.

During this time I actually started to find it easier to relate to guys than girls…as long as the guys didn’t see me as more than a platonic friend. I did start to develop real feelings for certain guys around 17 but was still terribly shy and uncomfortable with the whole ‘dating’ thing. I never really dated until a couple years later when I met my husband, who I got to know online before we ever met in person. Even when we met in person we were friends for a while before we started anything romantic.

As an adult I have developed a better relationship with my femininity, but I still face judgment sometimes. When I got engaged I received real disdain from some women because I didn’t wear my engagement ring all the time (sensory issues). I often feel bored or left out when women talk endlessly about shopping, parties, clothes, weight, guys or gossip. I still don’t care that much about looks. My hairstyle is wash and dry, my clothes are simple and comfy and I haven’t worn makeup since my wedding day. Occasionally I still get a comment about how much I am “like a man” or something along those lines.

Because of these experiences, I somewhat look forward to growing older even though most women seem to dread it. I have hope that as we all age, looks and other superficial things will start to matter less and less to my peers. I don’t want to be invisible anymore like I once did, but I still don’t want to be judged by appearances. When others think of me I hope they think of intelligence and kindness. I hope they think of someone who is creative and passionate. To me, those qualities are what make someone a “real” woman anyway.

Stop the Bullying! Please!

Stop Bullying!

“Stop Bullying” mixed media ACEO art.

I hate bullying. I hated it when I was a kid and I still hate it as an adult. Over my short lifetime of 31 years, I have been bullied for many reasons, among them:

  • Physical looks (been called ugly, fat, big butt, butch, lesbian, etc)
  • Personal interests and personality (been called a nerd, geek, dork, retard, stupid, immature, crybaby, goody goody, weirdo, etc)
  • Social issues and awkwardness (probably due to my Asperger’s)
  • Being too liberal
  • Being too conservative
  • Being a Christian and believing in God
  • Not being the “right” kind of Christian or “Christian enough”
  • Being a woman who speaks her mind and is intelligent (which apparently means you are a “bitch” or are not feminine enough)

Of course, I know there is some argument about what constitutes actual bullying, but I consider bullying to be anything said or done to intentionally hurt another person or to just be plain mean.

Unfortunately, I have also been on the other side of bullying, especially when I was younger. I have called other people names, talked about them behind their back and stood by silently while others tormented a particular person. I am not proud to admit that, but it is the truth. One thing that has shocked me as I have gotten older though is how much bullying still occurs in the adult world. It happens at work, it happens in social circles, it happens in politics, it happens in tabloids and media, it even happens in churches! And of course we all know it happens on Facebook and other social media sites frequently – especially between family members.

So what can we do about the bullying plague? How do we raise kids who won’t bully when even adults act that way at 40 and 50 years old? The only true solution I can see is to change ourselves. If I stop bullying and you stop bullying and then others stop bullying…hopefully someday the problem will be eradicated…or at least greatly reduced. So think twice before you call someone a name or mock them cruelly. Maybe keep your mouth closed when you are tempted to cut someone down behind their back or spread a rumor. Stand up for someone who is being torn down for no real reason. Keep debates and arguments about the actual subject at hand and don’t start personally attacking someone just because their opinion is different than yours. If deep inside you know that you are purposefully being mean or hurting someone…just stop it. It really is that simple.

Having communication problems doesn’t mean that we don’t have feelings!

Last night I had an interesting dream about someone I hadn’t thought about in a long, long time. In this dream, I was once again being antagonized by a boy I knew many years ago in my early teen years. This boy really hurt my feelings more than he will probably ever know. Although he was around me a lot and even hung out some with the same friends I did, he made it clear almost from the start that he did not like me. Now, I will have to be fair and say that at least he wasn’t like the girl bullies I knew who were passive aggressive and exceptionally cruel at times. Instead, he was very upfront about his feelings concerning me. What hurt was how misunderstood he made me feel.

You see, I didn’t know at the time that I had Asperger’s Syndrome (a type of autism), so I had no clue that I was neurologically different than most people, nor did I understand that I was very ignorant of social norms and such. This boy took a dislike to me because I was “weird” and would say so right out loud in front of everyone. He would also explain how it didn’t matter what anyone said or did to me because I had no feelings and nobody would ever hurt me. To him, this justified any ill treatment of me. He thought since I didn’t cry or get visibly angry or show other strong emotions that I felt nothing. But he was wrong. Very wrong.

I felt it all very deeply, I just didn’t know how to respond or react. I often wanted to dispute his feelings and make him see who I really was, but I didn’t know how. I wasn’t sure how to put my feelings and emotions into words. I could easily discuss practical or logical matters and personal interests, but when it came to putting my feelings into words and sharing them I was often mute.

I still have those problems to this day. Often, by the time I do figure out my feelings and how to express them, it is long after an event or discussion has ended, so I feel that I should just keep them to myself because I don’t want to dredge it all back up or I just honestly think the people involved really don’t care to hear what I have to say. Sometimes I do try to talk to someone long after something occurs in an effort just to try to help them understand me better, but often those conversations turn into them thinking I am just immature and unforgiving. They don’t understand that I don’t want to discuss a situation until I feel confident that I can understand and express my feelings. They also often misread or misinterpret what I say and feel, making me feel like the bad guy, which makes me less likely to keep trying.

So in case you were wondering what my point is, please keep in mind that some people may not outwardly show strong feelings and emotions, they may not even know how to decipher their emotions right away…but it doesn’t mean they do not have them just as strongly as you do. And know that many people with problems like mine are walking around undiagnosed (especially the women) and may not get a diagnosis for a long, long time. They may have no idea why they react the way they do either. So please just be careful when throwing around labels like “weird”, “immature”, “selfish”, “unfeeling”, “uncaring”, etc. You may not know it, but you could be very, very wrong and deeply hurting a gentle, caring human being who just has a few communication problems that make life far more confusing.