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© 2023 by inTune Pathways 

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As I stood at my Grandfather's grave

July 20, 2019

Trigger warning:

Suicide, self harm, mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction.

As I stood at the foot of my Grandfather’s grave

Saying my final goodbyes yesterday afternoon,

A woman approached me.

I had never seen her before in my life.

She said:

“I am so shocked that you turned out so well. I lived in your neighbourhood and you caused your Mother SO MUCH TROUBLE.”

I put my hands up to my cheeks and asked

“Who are you?”..

I don’t remember anything after that.

In the moment, I think I felt shock.

Since then,

I’ve not been able to stop processing it.

With sadness, shame, humiliation and, 


I did cause my Mother a lot of trouble.

It’s true.

I kicked over her pot plants,

Smashed a plate on her floor.

Smashed a window,

Swore at her.

I was violent.

I was often dropped off outside in a police van.

I was in and out of juvenile court for malicious damage,


I was out of control.

I caused trouble.

So much trouble.

I own it. 

Boy do I.

In amongst that time there was shame

Self hatred

Self loathing

Self harm

Repeated suicide attempts

That began in primary school.

Handwritten apologies and goodbye letters.

Living with the knowledge that within my family

No matter how they treated me,

Everybody thought I was a little bit mad.


Not right.

My mother had to collect me from the psychiatric unit at 16.

Emaciated. Starving.

I couldn’t remember who I was, where I was or how I got there.

I was a drug and alcohol addict.

In alcoholics and narcotics anonymous by my early 20s.

But not before homelessness and a teenage pregnancy at 18.

I did many geographicals;

Ran from myself until I realised I’d taken myself with me.

I knew.

I knew I caused trouble.

I felt worthless.



And I caused so much trouble.

But why?

Why did I cause so much trouble?

Why don’t we, as a society ask this of children?

Do we really

REALLY believe that children behave in these ways because they want to?

And is this really

REALLY where it ends?

Are children REALLY

REALLY either good or bad?

I didn’t need anyone to give me a hard time

A shake up

A kick up the arse.

I was already giving myself a hard time.

More than anyone could ever have imagined.

I mean..

I wanted to die.


Give others a hard time

When they


A hard time.

Extreme anxiety.

Is what I lived with.

I couldn’t do the things I knew I could do because I was so afraid.

Afraid of failing.

Afraid of not being good enough.

Afraid of there being something very, very wrong with me.

I needed help.

And nobody could help me.

Because nobody knew what I needed.

I didn’t know what I needed.

I didn’t know.

I didn’t know I was autistic.

I didn’t know I was living with chronic anxiety

Debilitating demand avoidance.

I just fought.

Fought for my life.

Fists up, in front of my face, living from a space of defence


Everything I did

Was wrong.

Everything I said

Was wrong.

Everything about me

Was wrong.

Because our world didn’t know

What it knows now..

What it’s still working furiously away at understanding.

The violence, the screaming, the meltdowns.

The drinking, the drugging, the absconding..

This behaviour

Is an expression.

It is a physical manifestation

Of an internalised experience.

One hell of a mess.

And who I am now,

Was underneath all of that

The entire time.

I felt.

I felt and thought so, so deeply.

And that was my greatest pain.

So I learnt to shut it off.

And within many circles, 

In many environments,

In many relationships,

I have worn many labels.

Selfish, self centred

Self seeking, egocentric

Mad, queer, psycho


Thinks she’s better than us

(When I wasn’t able to communicate at all).


We must start asking WHY

Our children are behaving this way.

Behaviour is a byproduct

When we lack the understanding

The language

The skills

The self acceptance

The self love.

Behaviour is a series of acts

Of desperation







I caused my Mother, my entire family,

So much trouble.

And I live with this every time I am in their presence.

I feel it; my difference.

The damage I caused.

There are no happy stories about my teen years.

For anybody.

My mother did all she could.

Panicked, desperate, isolated, a single parent.

Booked me in for counselling,

Walked me around the block whilst I was in the midst of a psychological breakdown.

She did all she could.

Nobody knew.

Nobody knew what to do.

I then went on to parent

Still not knowing what we already didn’t know

Parenting for 16 years

Not knowing

Until I did know

What I know now

About autism.


I am not alone.

Diagnosed at 33.

7 years I’ve known who I am.

For 7 years I’ve been getting to know myself.

Making amends.



I haven’t turned out well;

I’ve always been this person underneath.

And diagnosis freed me.
Kristy Forbes
inTune Pathways
Art: We Heart It


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