Lately I’ve been dealing with a lot of resentment and anger towards my mother. To explain why, let me share a specific incident that kind of illustrates why I am upset.
When I was 14/15, my mother worked with a guy named Danny who met me and developed a huge crush on me. He was in his late teens or early twenties, but was definitely an adult already. I DID NOT share his romantic interest and made that plain. I had absolutely no interest in dating him or getting to know him better. He bought me an expensive bracelet as a gift, which I immediately returned to him to make it clear I wasn’t interested.
Even with my mother knowing how I felt and that I was stressed out by the attention, she actually egged him on in spite of how I felt or what I wanted. She even gave him our home address and told him when I would be home. So, he ended up coming to my house while I was there alone and banged on the door and called my name for what felt like forever. He yelled about how he knew I was home because my mom had told him so. I never answered the door or responded to his calls. In fact, I hid in the closet because I was scared at the aggressiveness he was displaying.
I felt like I was being stalked, and worst of all, my own mother was encouraging it. This is just one small incident that portrays an issue with boundaries and respecting my privacy that was even more disturbing in other ways which perhaps I will share someday if and when I am ready to do so. I know it might sound odd, but I almost have a feeling like my mother WANTED to whore me out for some reason. I can’t even describe what that did to me psychologically.
Just like with my thoughts and feelings, my self image changes so wildly with my mood. A good example of this is my view of my looks and/or attractiveness. Most days I think I look average when I look in a mirror. I’m not delusional, thinking I am some kind of supermodel or show-stopping beauty, but I also don’t feel like I am a troll or a goblin.
Once in a while, when I am slightly or fully hypomanic, I look in the mirror and think I am beautiful. I will never be gorgeous in the artificial Hollywood kind of way, but when my mood is just right I can see a kind of classic or wholesome beauty in myself that I like.
But then there are days, like one I had recently, when I feel as if I am sitting in the rock bottom level of despair and gloom. On days like these, I may accidentally catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror (because I wouldn’t intentionally look), and upon viewing my reflection, I feel down to my very soul that I must be the ugliest thing in existence.
Bipolar and other mood disorders can skew our view of reality so much, sometimes I feel like I am living in different realities from day to day. Today isn’t too good, but it ain’t too bad either, so I guess average wins out again.
So today I decided to go see the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. Tuesdays are bargain day at our local theater so I figured it would be the best time to go if I bothered to see it. I didn’t want to drag my husband to the movie because he hated the Twilight series for having no plot…and the Fifty Shades series makes Twilight look downright complex. I skimmed through the first two books of the Fifty Shades series and made it about halfway through the last book, so I did have an idea of what I would be in for with the movie.
First off, let me say that some of the others who showed up for the movie kind of surprised me. As I expected, there were groups of women, a few couples and quite a few single women like me there (this is the first time I’ve gone to a theater all by myself and that was actually kind of liberating in a way). What surprised me were the few single men (because this is billed as such a “chick flick”) and the 70 & 80 year-old women who came, one of whom (an adorable little old lady) sat right beside me. For a moment I felt like I was seeing the movie with my grandmother and that kind of threw me off balance a bit!
Anyhow, as I watched the movie, it was pretty much what I expected, a somewhat tamed down version of the book. Although I do understand why many women don’t like this series and think it encourages stalking, unrealistic expectations and domestic abuse, I don’t feel quite that strongly about it because there is consent. Anastasia may seem stupid in many ways and definitely makes some questionable decisions, but she is a consenting adult. She has quite a few chances to walk away and doesn’t do so. I know she seems innocent (maybe too much so for living in today’s world) but she does know what she is getting into, especially once she is given that contract to study.
As for Mr. Grey, I can see some of why the character is appealing to some women. He is rich, good-looking, can be sweet at times and represents a sexual fantasy fairly common to both sexes (that of being dominated or dominating someone else). Those aren’t the things that bother me. He is undoubtedly somewhat stalkery and controlling…but again, Anastasia’s character chooses to allow that to have him in her life. What truly bothers me about Mr. Grey’s character is how he is so messed up from his own abusive history that he wants to actually hurt women. He wants to cause pain. To me, there is nothing sexy about that. I know that there are those who like the BDSM lifestyle and enjoy a certain amount of pain…but I doubt that most true BDSM practitioners would want to cause pain to someone who clearly does not enjoy it or go beyond their partner’s pain threshold. I can see why the BDSM community hates this portrayal of their sexual fetishes.
As the movie neared its end I was surprised to see women in the audience around me crying. I sat there and wondered why they were crying. Were they frustrated and annoyed like me because Anastasia wouldn’t just say the safe word or yell stop? Were some of them victims of abuse in the past and this triggered that as they saw Anastasia cry miserably in pain? Were they simply feeling sad that Grey’s character was so messed up emotionally? Did they feel for Anastasia’s character, who clearly felt humiliated and heartbroken because the man she loved carried so much pain that he had to make others feel that pain? After the credits started, I heard cries of “is that it?” and “what the heck?” from others in the theater. Guess they hadn’t read the books.
As I got in my car and drove home, the main feeling I had was that I am so THANKFUL to have a husband who is not emotionally or mentally messed up like that. I’m glad that my husband has never once wanted to hurt or humiliate me. In fact, if anything, he would do anything in his power to prevent me pain or to take it away when I am suffering. So thank you Mr. Grey. You made my husband look even more wonderful and made me deeply thankful for what I have. You made me realize how strong I am because I never would have put up with your crap in the first place (had I been Anastasia that would have been one short book!). In the end, I guess fantasies are ok and maybe fun to indulge in to an extent, but nothing beats a good reality!
*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.
This may surprise some people that know me, but I tend to tick people off. Not intentionally of course, but it still happens. I think it may be partly because I am honest and sometimes even blunt. I try to be politically correct and polite, but I am also someone who gets to the heart of the matter quickly and tends to see things with unusual or unpopular views. I try to never stoop down to personal attacks or name-calling, but I won’t hide who I am either. One thing has started bothering me though and that is the fact that sometimes I think the majority of the anger directed at me may be because I am female.
I hate to play the “sexism” card, but there are things that have happened repeatedly that make me wonder. For instance, some folks at our old church and a few extended family members have disagreed with me on different subjects, which is fine. However, they took the disagreements to a personal level that hurt. Some of them said some pretty awful things about me – some of them publicly. However, what made me think that their anger may be due to me being a woman is that my husband said the EXACT same things I said and sometimes even more controversial things but he didn’t get the same hate and anger I got. In fact, the most negative thing they would say to him is that they don’t understand why he doesn’t “control his wife”. Of course, my response to that is what do they expect my husband to do? Beat me until I shut up and agree with them? Sometimes that is how it came off.
Another thing that makes me think that my gender may be a culprit is that when I engage in an intellectual conversation with other people and a disagreement arises, I often start getting called names like “bitch”. Some have claimed that I must think I’m a queen and should quit trying to rule. Again, these are simply over differences of opinion. None of these labels or insults are thrown at my husband or other men having similar conversations (at least not that I’ve witnessed). When I passionately argue a viewpoint I am “too opinionated” and “mouthy”, however, my husband can say the exact same things and he is “smart” and “intellectual”. The kinder people just call me “naïve” or say that I “misunderstand”, but that is still a way of patronizing someone.
I’m not saying that I’m not opinionated (I am) or that I am always right (I like to think I am, but I know I’m not). All I am saying is that the double standard for intelligent thought for men and women is unfair. The personal attacks are hurtful and unnecessary for a simple difference of opinion. I will not “sit down and shut up” or “go to the kitchen where I belong”, but if you address me as an equal, I will listen and consider what you say. I only ask the same in return.