May 5, 2008

  • Mother's Day


    Waynes World-Bohemian Rhapsody
    It's 20 years this year.
    Every year around this time I remember.  I remember dragging through my classes, so ill I could barely sit up straight, scraping through finals.
    It was one of those magical years.  I don't believe in love at first sight, or soul mates, probably because I'm aspie.  But I think that was the closest I ever came to actually being in love.  I didn't know it at the time, because it takes too long for me to process these things.  But I knew the second I saw him our destinies were tied, and I'm not even that kind of believer.
    I had come back from Phoenix in bad shape.  I had survived hanging around a real drug lord, survived near liver failure when I got back home, and now I was back in college, first day of classes.  Even though I still felt exhausted and achy, I was enthusiastic to get back into the mind grind, and Learn Everything.  Because that's always been my ultimate goal, to learn as much as possible while I have the time.  I have no idea why, it's just a drive I was born with.
    Then the teacher walked into the room and I felt my future and totally caved.  I put my head down on the desk and didn't want to lift it back up.  I was so unprepared for this it was all I could do to make eye contact at all, or respond verbally.  And I was on the front row.  Dang it.  What was it about him?  Somewhere inside him, he had answers to *me*.  I knew I would eventually get those answers.
    I have run into other aspies who say they can feel people.  At the time, I was still struggling with disentangling myself from the things I didn't understand, and hadn't yet learned the dynamics of verbalizing my own feelings.  I had come rather fresh from a vision warning me to never cut my feelings off again, and man did I feel things, very strongly, like winds whipping up and blowing my mind around.  It was really hard to tell what was me and what wasn't.
    I spent the semester working hard for a grade I was having difficulties with.  The language of math doesn't come intuitively for me, although I can skate around theory with my eyes shut.  I was still having a hard time relating symbols to words, and this guy opened the most wonderful door for me.  He taught the class how to express math in words.  To this day, although I can proudly say I was one of the very top ever entrants on a math exam in nursing school, I have to convert a math problem into English before I'm able to construct a math sentence and solve it.  I totally get math until I see it on paper and have to construct it.  Then it's a foreign language and I have to navigate around a bunch of barriers.  I'm jealous that some aspies are savant in mathematics, but I guess any little autistic kid on tv can write out some big fancy equation, eh?  It may be correct, but it has no meaning for 99% of the viewing audience.  If someone said it in English, I'd actually be able to discuss the theory with you, but again, it has no meaning for 99% of the viewing audience.
    Later on, after this story ends, I discovered I'm actually *very* good at functions, matrices, slopes, and relativity.  I think it would be cool to name a chicken f(x), or "F of X".  And truth be told, f(x) is how I came to understand the dynamics of communication and make my leap into a more savant verbalization capability.  I was also able to plug it into my sociology degree.  To see any person or group as an irreversible function helped me understand how we affect each other as humans.  And to notice that every sentence in a conversation was also an irreversible function that turned into part of the next function and so on helped me figure out how conversations build and interact.  I know that's really weird, but in my mind, I almost had to see communication mapped out.
    But this story happened before I got all that, sadly.
    After the semester was over, some of us became friends with the teacher, and we hung out.  We had mild arguments over the validity of sociology actually being a science, which was fun and challenging.  I got a taste for topology problems, little did my teacher realize while he worked on his PhD, and later in my life plunged headlong into cosmology and quantum theory in my spare time in part because of that exposure.  But in the meantime, it was all new and sorta confusing and something to do while time passed.  I had no other friends, and I was trying to ignore how ill I really was becoming.
    Another semester went by, holidays went by, and then things got a little tense.  I have never analyzed why, and my memory is pretty full of holes.  We all had our own baggage, and daily challenges to meet, and I suppose some sort of sadness had built up separately inside us.  I was probably overly withdrawn because of autism and continual pain I didn't want or know how to talk about, although I had finally gone to a doctor and found out things were worse than I imagined.  I kept trying to 'pass'.  Sociologists use that term when people hide something about their personalities and try to pass for normal.  I very desperately wanted to be normal.  I didn't want to have this terrible illness, I didn't want to be so confused, and I tried very hard to pretend none of it was in my way.
    I guess it was February or March when the affair started.  I'd never really had one before, and being aspie, you can imagine how naive I was.  And I'm sure I didn't act right, because I didn't know how to act.  All I knew was that I liked this guy a whole lot, maybe even loved him, can honestly say I adored him, and I was happy to have a friend.  I can look back now and see he was miserable, homesick, pressured by college and other people in his life, and very lonely.  Not exactly ideal for rainbows.  But that all rolled off my back as I struggled through my own classes and my own stuff, because he really did try to be sweet to me in a confusing sort of way.  I may have mistaken what I thought was one thing for something I had built up in my mind to distract myself from everything else with, I don't know.  I can only imagine how disappointing I may have been to him, as well, although I remember he was far more forgiving about things like that than many people I've met.
    I made the horrible mistake of getting pregnant.  Who'd a thunk?  Yes, I had just started birth control, but we all know NOW the first month doesn't count.  I spent the next two semesters haunted by a flux of feelings whooshing around in me, while my poor body just lost control and I slunk around classes hiding my severe vertigo and the crumbling feeling that I was dying.  I was so dumb.  Why didn't I go to a doctor?  Because I was afraid.  The baby was like Schroedinger's cat.  If I confirmed it, it would be a baby.  If I ignored it, it didn't have to be.
    I had nothing against babies, but I already had a child and a very scary ex-husband I was hiding from.  It was clear I wouldn't be invited in to a new family with this child.  I had very little income and could barely keep it together to keep walking upright in public.  I never dreamed of confiding in my own family, after all those years of condemnation from my mom just for being myself.  My mother was on edge, my sister was raising a baby with cystic fibrosis, my brother was hanging out with a metal band, and my dad was on the road trucking.  I had no other friend to turn to.  I wobbled through Mother's Day (my little girl was 5 that year) feeling too sick to care.
    If I had been able to verbalize the way I can now, I would have simply done the little social dance- I'm really sick, I'm scared, I don't think I can do this alone, etc.  I might have gotten some actual support and found a way to solve all my problems.  But at the time it made sense that this guy very sweetly but firmly believed, without much being said, that we simply couldn't have a baby show up.  Fine, I was much too ill to protest.
    So I crawled from class to class, hoping not to faint, teachers asking me if I was ok, some so concerned that they insisted I go see a doctor.  I didn't tell any of them the abortion was planned immediately following finals, and that I would be escorted by another teacher to make sure it was done.  I didn't think beyond that at all.  I just thought that would fix how sick I felt, although a little voice in my head kept pulling on me and trying to say otherwise.
    I guess this was a really big deal.  The teacher's brother showed up for moral support (his more than mine, I'm sure), and to make sure I got to the clinic.  I don't think either one of them would have taken me there at all if they'd known how ill I was, so I certainly hold no grudges for that.  But I did think it was a little strange this guy got a compliment from the receptionist for showing up with me, because that apparently was unheard of.  What a great guy, giving me all this moral support...  Good for him.  I think.  Maybe.  I don't know.
    I sold my class ring so I could afford the drugs to knock me out.  I already hurt so bad I didn't think I could take any more pain.  I was told that I could tell them to stop at any time if I changed my mind, and drifted blissfully off to sleep.
    I didn't know at the time that I am one of those unique individuals that can come completely awake during full anesthesia and talk coherently to people.  I never connected my out of body experiences as a child to my autism until I was in my 40's.  So you can imagine how surprised the doctor and nurse were when I came fully awake and spoke to them.  I did that during heart surgery 8 years ago, too, after my heart was stopped and restarted.  I was told it gave the surgeon quite a jolt, because I suddenly laughed and said There it is, you found it! just as he had located the irritating nerve bundle and got ready to burn it.  I could see the monitors, and I could see inside me.
    Yes, I came fully awake on 3 different drugs that should have kept me from moving or speaking at all, and I said I changed my mind, I want to keep my baby.
    Guess what I got.  "Shut up, bitch, and lay still!"  I don't suppose they thought I'd remember that, but I remember the nurse looking rather shocked at me after she said that.  I DID feel the rest of the scraping and cried all the way through it, not for the pain, but because I was a prisoner, and they had lied to me, and because it took all those drugs to break me free enough of fear to finally be honest with myself.  Every cell in my body knew this was wrong, that bad people were invading my body and destroying something precious.  Every cell in my body wanted to fight and kick and scream, but I was so drugged I could only lay there and cry.
    I never told anyone any of that until I reached my 40's.  The math teacher never knew the horrors I faced and the way I was treated, because I never told him.  I finally told Scott, and he couldn't believe I had kept all that inside for so long.
    That was not the end.  Something was wrong, really really wrong.  Removing the baby didn't make everything better.  Everything got *worse*.  I bled far longer than I was supposed to.  I had inexplicable pain.  I got my first migraines after that procedure, very nasty migraines that curled my stomach and turned me green.  And I want to proclaim to the ~world~ that I aced all my algebra tests that summer IN PEN on my first try under this ongoing duress.  All my other math classes had been prep.  I saw my victory over anguish in that class.  No matter how ill I became, I could do the math.  Take *that*.
    But he had gone.  He went back to another teaching post somewhere else.  I wasn't dragging his life down or holding him back.  I had made the sacrifice so he could go on.  I tried so hard to make something noble of it.
    I was told when I went back for a followup checkup that they almost hadn't done the procedure because my blood pressure was too low.  They also told me I had an STD, no wonder I'd felt so sick.  I hadn't told them what my 'real' doctor had said, so they didn't know how sick I really was.
    I spent the next fall weeping through all my classes.  It was so bad that one of my teachers asked me to drop his class and try it another time.  I told him I was sad, I was just crying, and I wasn't bothering anyone, so he let me stay, tears running down my face through every lecture, every test.  It was social psychology, one of the toughest sociology classes ever invented aside from statistics.  I aced it, and not because I cried.
    I had an outstanding fall semester.  I aced everything right and left.  When I reached the day in December that the child would have been due, I finally stopped crying.
    My mourning has never really been over, though.  Every Mother's Day I go through the blues.  Every year about this time I think about how grown up that child would be now and the decisions people make out of fear or ignorance.  If I could go back now with the skills and knowledge I have and do it over again, how would I have handled it?
    But I'm not the sort of person that goes over the past with a fine toothed comb.  Things were the way they were.  My math guy and I were both lost and ignorant.  We were both lonely and learning.  And it never really was about making a child go away together, although it turned into that.  I do feel that no matter what happened, if I had stood up for instinct coursing through my body, I would have loved that child in so many more ways than my mother loved me.  I feel like I should have risked it.  I should have been in a hospital, actually, and was foolish not have checked into one.  I read in the newspaper shortly after my abortion, another woman died at that clinic during an abortion.  Bled to death.  I wonder how close I might have come to really dying and never knew it.
    So now it's been 20 years.  I keep wondering why I look back on all this, why don't I let it go.  The day I had the abortion, Bohemian Rhapsody was playing on the radio.  In that song, I heard my child telling me to go ahead and let go.  I saw the path laid out.  It's possible things could have gone like that.  It's possible I could have died in childbirth or after, as sick as I was, so I can't say what would have become of the child.  So, as many women do, I let my child go.  I can't debate whether this is good or bad, but I cry every time I hear Bohemian Rhapsody.  To me that feels like a very personal human wish to have never been born.  But I wish I had taken the chance.  I wish I had gone to a hospital and not worried about what anyone else thought.  I might have wound up with a smart little guy on my hands.
    That math teacher was the big turning point in my aspie life.  If I had never met him, I would never have fallen in love with the math and gone on to my big plunge into theory.  Because I loved a mathematician, I have also loved Hawking, many other scientists, and now Kaku, and I dream of the next big discovery.  What will they figure out next?  For twenty years I have kept myself going through really tough pain and illness with a drive to Learn Everything, and the key that opened the biggest door was that teacher.  Maybe what I felt that first day I saw him was the door opening to the rest of my life, but I didn't understand back then how to really talk and be friends.  I wish I had.
    It's the heart afraid of breaking
    that never learns to dance
    It's the dream afraid of waking
    that never takes the chance
    It's the one who won't be taken
    who cannot seem to give
    and the soul afraid of dying
    that never learns to live
    And once again, I had a vision just before it all ended.  It was very late one night, and my daughter was in bed.  I was still sick and heartbroken and so tired of crying.  I asked "How can I never have my heart broken again?  It hurts so bad.  How can it ever heal?"  And everything stopped.  Time slipped sideways, as if all the clocks had stopped ticking, and the world was frozen in stillness.  And in the very stillness, deep in the dark, I heard a very soft Voice that said "You did this to yourself."  And I knew then it really was my fault, I had broken my own heart far worse than anyone else could ever have been able to break it, and I cried again.  And I saw in a vision a beautiful heart of lead crystal, perfect and elegant, bathed in a beautiful light, and I saw myself shatter it apart into a couple of big chunks.  I was so distraught and panicked, and thought "How can Anyone ever fix my broken heart?  Because I don't know how!" and I wept very hard, knowing I could never live for long like that.  Then I saw a Hand use a hammer to smash my heart to bits, and kept smashing and smashing until it was ground to a pile of lead crystal dust.  My heart was a pile of dust, and I was very shocked to see it like that.  Then another Hand showed up, and both Hands scooped up the dust and squeezed it very very hard, until all the crystal melted back together, at first very hot and glowing like fire, and then cooling.  And there was a heart again.  It was still lead crystal, but in another form.  The dust had been so perfectly ground down and melted back together that it formed a solid heart of dust, as hard as steel.  It was no longer transparent or elegant, but it was still pretty, because if you looked close, each piece of dust could reflect on its own.  I was shown that my heart could never again be broken, it would be impossible to shatter dust that was so bound together at a molecular level.  It was like my heart had been turned into a diamond.  I picked it up and immediately felt better, and with a sudden gasp of breath was back in regular time.
    Ever since then I have taken responsibility for my own heart.  No one else can break it like I did, but I don't stand there and let them try, either, because that would be foolish of me.  I think it's easy to blame other people for pain we feel when the biggest pain comes from something we said or did ourselves.  Our hearts are our own to take care of.  We speak of giving our hearts to others, or someone breaking our hearts, but I wonder if the reality is us putting the burden of our hearts onto other people.  I don't think I could carry someone else's heart for them, it might break at my every little turn, and I would be ignorant how to stop making mistakes that hurt them.
    I think it's better to be honest.  If I had been skilled enough with communication and juggling my feelings as an aspie to be able to be honest with myself and my math teacher, I might never have cried like that.  And since so many of us don't understand these things until we are much older, I doubt he knew any better, either.

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