Sometimes, I dream of running away.
And then I remember that I would not be able to travel more than a few blocks without a panic attack setting in, and be forced to find either return home, tail between my legs, or find some other means of shelter, perhaps a public bathroom cubicle with a door that can lock.
So I stay in my room, and instead dream of not being conscious, which in itself is counteractive, as dreaming itself is a conscious act.
My mother is not a kind woman.
In fact, for someone like myself, who is highly sensitive and scatterbrained, I cannot think of anyone under the sun more unsuited to being my parent.
She screams at me. She screamed at me today. If you have Asperger’s, having someone screaming at you is a full-frontal assault, both emotionally and sonically excruciating. I curl up and cannot take it. I curl up, and wish I was dead. And still she goes on screaming.
Often, I am in the wrong. I can’t keep our apartment clean, and that is a fact. I am messy. I try to be neat and tidy, but sooner or later it all becomes disorganized again, and then I get screamed at for being the most disgusting slob to ever walk the land.
I daydream. Often my physical surroundings are often nothing more than interesting wallpaper. I live inside my head. I am introverted. So my mother screams at me for not socialising. I am sensitive. So she screams at me for using my sensitivity as an excuse for not wanting to deal with any that is unpleasant and stressful, like getting a job and interacting with people. I am empathetic. So she screams at me for refusing to eat meat, and is horribly scornful when I tell her I can’t put flesh, most likely from an animal who died in agony, into my mouth and swallow it. She tells me that she loves her two other nice and sensible children, and that I am deadweight, a burden; the sight of my face is abhorrent to her; that sometimes she doesn’t want to come home just so she doesn’t have to deal with me.
My siblings watch on, cold and unsympathetic. They are tired of my emotional outbursts, and tired of mother’s screaming. They are tired of having an older sister like me, useless and housebound, and perhaps that is the guilt talking, and perhaps that is not. My sister barely speaks to me anymore. She is getting a job soon, an after school job, to help my mother with the finances. And look at me. I am lucky not to be out on the street, as my mother likes to remind me. One of these days, she says, I’ll throw you out, and shut the door in your face, and it doesn’t matter how much you cry or beg, I won’t let you come back. You’re nineteen almost, you’re an adult. You’ll be on your own. I’m not working all these long hours just to feed and keep someone so inept and abnormal, who seems to float through life as though she were lost in her head.
All I ask is for a room of my own, where I can be alone, and read, and write, and work. I always work, even when I am miserable. Writing, and working, is all I have, and I know, given enough time and practice, I can get very good at it. I’m just not enough good enough yet, not by a long shot. I’m too young, too inexperienced. Any career in the Arts takes practice, long years of strenuous and constant effort. I don’t ask for much. Just a room. I can live on rice and beans, I don’t want any new clothes, just enough food to live on and pen and paper and a room of my own where I can live and write and not be disturbed. I wouldn’t mind if the room was small and cramped. As long as there is enough space for a desk and a chair, it would be fine.
It’s as if all everyone sees are the horrible parts of me: how awkward I am, how defective, disabled, strange. No-one seems to see the sensitivity, the empathy, the creativity, the imagination, the soul behind the stuttering mask. And because no-one around me seems to see my gifts–least of all my own mother, who laughed scornfully when I once made the mistake of telling her I would be a successful writer one day, before proceeding to tell me, her voice hard as a hammer knocking against my skull, that very few people succeed at writing–I begin to doubt whether they really exist. Once, my mother told me that I thought I was so “special”, her lips curled back in a sneer, that I needed solitude and to be undisturbed by people like some princess, and that, well, it was a big world out there, filled with talented people, and I was nothing in comparison. Go comfort yourself with that, she told me. When you have nothing to eat and no roof over your head, we’ll see whether you continue these dreams and delusions. If you can’t work and earn money, the world won’t care about you. Society has needs, and you need to fulfill one of them to survive. Who needs books? You don’t need books to survive. I never read. It’s too much reading that got you into this mess in the first place. You got lost in fantasy worlds, disconnected from reality, and now look at you. You’re a coward, you just want to escape into your imagination, where everything is fine and good, and ignore your duties and responsibilities.
Again, my siblings watched from the sidelines—there are no spare rooms for them to escape from the sideshow into, after all—and again, they remained silent. I think they hate me, too, for being who I am. I think they’re irritated with me.
I cried and screamed when she yelled at me today. It was my fault. I forgot the keys. I forgot where I placed them. I am always losing things, and I don’t know why. My mind doesn’t co-operate with the concept of physical location, doesn’t pay attention to my surroundings. I couldn’t open the door to let my siblings come in from school, which is a task allocated to me because my mother is afraid they will lose the key while at school. They were stuck outside until my mother came back early from work so they could be let in and do their homework at their desks.
She was boiling with rage. I could feel it through the front door, smoldering gushes of it. I was so scared. I hid in the bathroom. She came inside the house and banged on the bathroom door until it felt like my skull would break, screeching for me to come out. I didn’t want to. The screaming would be louder then, without the door acting as a physical barrier. But I did, because I knew she would get angrier if I didn’t. I I didn’t even have time to get fully-dressed; I was changing when the key cracked in the lock, signaling my mother’s return, and then I was running, half-dressed, wearing nothing but a long singlet. To come out, half-naked, and have her scream at me, felt so humiliating I think I could have died.
Now she is gone, back to work, to the grocery store, to do what I cannot help her to do. She left me to my tears, and my rocking, and my crying, in a cold fury. It is her anger that hurts me the most. I sense emotions as if they were physical rather than psychological, so her anger felt as though someone was repeatedly pummeling me in the stomach until I was coughing up blood. But my mother is right about one thing: I am a burden. More than a burden. And to place all your hopes on success in the Arts is a risky move. Besides, I am not disciplined enough, not talented enough—she is right, she is right. That was what my brain told me, as I rocked on the floor a few minutes ago. I don’t know if it is true. I don’t think it’s true. But I don’t know.
Loneliness set in soon afterwards. My family does not treat me like one of them. Half the time my sister doubts everything I say because she is convinced that I am crazy and delusional, insane. I am a tolerated pet whose unruliness is no longer amusing. I can’t turn to anyone for help: not my father, not the Government; I don’t have any friends in real life, who I can call and ask for help. After dropping out of university, any educational institutes could not care if I lived or died. I once called a Helpline number, desperate, and the man on the other end of the phone was clearly bored and rattled off a series of generic questions, and I couldn’t stand it so eventually I hung up on him, and then felt bad for being rude. Later that evening, I was scolded for using up the remaining credit on my phone.
Only through this blog have I met other like-minded people. Some of you might think, seeing as I can be quite wise and mature for my age, that I cope well, but the truth is, I don’t. I am stuck: I want to be financially independent, yet cannot due to my psychology. Thus all I can do is suffer in my family’s home, and suffer in silence, and be grateful for it, because at least I have a roof over my head and most nights go to bed without feeling too hungry. These days, I feel guilty even eating any food in the house. It’s the energy that radiates from my mother whenever I eat. Like I am a beggar from the street come to sit at her table, and steal her food, food for which I did nothing to work for to get. Some nights I go to bed hungry just so I don’t have to stay in the kitchen around her, and have her eyes on me as I eat.
I’m not sure what to do. I don’t know why it is that the outside world hurts me so. It’s the noise, it’s the sounds, the lights, the people—but it’s also the energy. Out in the noisy city streets, there is a lot of bad energy, and it gusts against my skin like skittering sparks from a flame. It’s too rough, too cruel, no kindness, no love. It makes me want to shrink down and down, into a mouse, and scurry away into a tiny cubbyhole inside a wall, where I can have my own miniature doll-sized bed and drawers, a tiny firefly coaxed into acting as a lamp, a niche where I can store nuts and berries, a wardrobe holding clothes stitched using spidersilk, and miniscule books on little shelves, their pages patterned with rows and rows of miniscule writing. There, in that quiet, tiny space, I would be safe, and happy, and not be hurt by anyone or anything.
And so it goes. When reality becomes too painful, I disappear into my mind, a turtle retracting back into its shell. It heals me. It lets me escape. I write, and I imagine, and am happy, if only briefly, and I hold tight to the hope that one day, my books will be published, and they will exist long after I am dead, to provide comfort and joy to others who need to escape or to forget, or who are sad and suffering. That is the power of fantasy, of literature, of Art. The world does need books, no matter what my mother says. And I will write them. No matter what it takes, or how long it takes, I will. As long as I can still breathe and think and communicate, there is hope.