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.
“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.
I’ve not been able to stop processing it.
With sadness, shame, humiliation and,
I did cause my Mother a lot of trouble.
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
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.
My mother had to collect me from the psychiatric unit at 16.
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 caused trouble.
I felt worthless.
And I caused so much trouble.
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 wanted to die.
Give others a hard time
A hard time.
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
Everything I said
Everything about me
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..
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 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 NEVER ASK WHY.
We must start asking WHY
Our children are behaving this way.
Behaviour is a byproduct
When we lack the understanding
The self acceptance
The self love.
Behaviour is a series of acts
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.
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 what to do.
I then went on to parent
Still not knowing what we already didn’t know
Parenting for 16 years
Until I did know
What I know now
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.
I haven’t turned out well;
I’ve always been this person underneath.
And diagnosis freed me.
Art: We Heart It