Autism, Sex, and Gender — Eclectic Autistic

The post: Autism, Sex, and Gender over on Eclectic Autistic is well worth your time. This snippet leapt out at me in particular because it is EXACTLY what my brain does.

At one point, Lexi said, “If somebody says, ‘What do you want?’, my brain suddenly goes into this passing mode where I attempt to figure out what you want me to want.” This, too, was painfully familiar.

via Autism, Sex, and Gender — Eclectic Autistic

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One year free — A short tale of oblivious survival, and a well placed ⚠️ TRIGGER WARNING ⚠️

Before I begin. In this post I will be detailing things that many will find disturbing. If you don’t want to read that sort of thing then don’t read it. I see no reason for me to overly sugar coat things, lord knows when they happened to me they were anything but sugar coated. But if it helps someone to recognise abuse in their own life and deal with it appropriately, or if it helps a victim to know someone has gone through something similar, then I will have done what I aimed to do. Because when the vast majority of these things happened to me, I didn’t see them for what they were. I didn’t recognise the abuse or assault as anything other than a horrible experience I had to go through. I have little to no emotional attachment to these instances. I think this is in-part a coping mechanism and in-part autistic detachment and being completely unaware of personal danger. Either way I remember events vividly.

So here is the TRIGGER WARNING. Further from this point there will be mention of bullying, psychological manipulation, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and sexual assault. Mostly this post is with regard to my ex, however it is important to me to explain HOW I was so easily captured and held in my own personal hell. Because it terrifies me to think that my daughter or son could end up in the same situation. What is needed is more awareness of just how dangerous it is for autistic people with no danger perception. For this reason, I have decided to share my experience.

When I met my ex, I thought I had finally found safety and security. Someone I could trust. Someone who would give as much as he took. Someone who would build a future with me and not in spite of me.

However, that’s not how life went… at all. As it turns out, I had picked a narcissistic, psychologically, emotionally and sexually abusive, master manipulator.

As a side note here: I hesitated before typing “sexually” in the list of abusive tendencies above. I’m not sure why, because he was most definitely sexually abusive, though I feel the need to make distinction between violent rape and manipulated coercively insistent rape. He was in absolute the second type, though in the same way that — closer to the end — he began to edge toward more physically abusive tendencies, this may also have changed his sexually abusive tendencies had things been allowed to progress.

I thought I had picked the perfect guy right at the beginning. I suppose we all do, don’t we? I mean, he was well presented, clean (as in not dirty, I’m not talking about drugs here – though at the time I didn’t recognise morphine reliance like I do now… more on this later.) He had a car, a beautiful and well cared for dog and seemed to be an all round nice guy. We were dating for about 2 weeks before he moved in, six months later we were engaged, 8 months later we were married and 2 years later my daughter was born. And that was the point where the scale tipped and the downward spiral picked up speed.

(EDIT) Now… a little edit here…

Something I was thinking about this morning on the “Dating” issue. Visiting the other’s home is NOT a date. It’s a visit. A date is taking the effort to spend quality time with each other somewhere that is not at home. The cinema; going for a meal; visiting a museum; going for a walk; picnic in the park; stargazing; window shopping for no reason other than to walk, talk and hold hands; going for a cuppa at a cafe etc etc…

Coming round to the house is NOT a date.

So actually. He only took me on one date. The rest of the time he invited himself over and spent time at my house (which as I had known him before we went out didn’t seem too bad, but I was pretty blind to him back then.)

Anyway. Back to the post (END OF EDIT)

I used to think that was where the spiral began, but in hindsight, now, I realise that the spiral began right at the start, before we were even engaged. He would control what I ate, what I wore, where I went and with whom. He inserted himself into EVERYTHING I did so that I was never without him — even to the point of staying at my place of work ALL DAY LONG. It’s only now that I realise how disturbing that was. At the time I was utterly oblivious. People commented about how sweet it was that we were always together and I simply took that as fact. It was sweet that we were always together, end of story. I didn’t see it for what it was. I didn’t see that he was controlling who I spoke to or what I did during my beaks because I had to go sit with him, often in silence while he read a book. I didn’t see that. As an autistic and a diligent rule follower, I just did as I was told, no questions asked.

Looking back I sometimes wonder how I missed it. But then, I have become conditioned by life experience just to accept and move on, no matter what. Because I can’t stop and dwell on things. I just can’t. I NEED that forward motion to keep me sane.

When it came to his initial manipulation and control grab, I was utterly oblivious because it was so gentle, so subtle, so soft and quiet in comparison to my past experiences, that I just didn’t see it at all. And by the time I became wise to him, it was far too late and I was trapped.

But then, people have been manipulating me ever since I was a young child. Right down to a girl I used to play with, who used to get me into her bed and pretend to have sex with me. There was above clothes touching and lots of rubbing involved and I distinctly remember being very uncomfortable. Both with the closeness and with how hot it was under the blanket. With her breath on my face and her leg between mines and I remember wanting it to stop but knowing if I didn’t do it, she would not play with me. So I just let her. I was 9 maybe at this point. She was 13 or 14. That continued until I was 12 (and she was 16/17.) — it’s only recently I have come to realise just exactly what that was. And I mean recently as in when I was going through a period of introspection during my ASD diagnosis process in 2016. It’s shocking how many of these instances I discovered in my life at that point. Hell, my first actual penetrative sexual experience was a case of “this is what’s happening. Deal with it.” And yeah, that happened.

The instances of things like this throughout my life are countless. I have been bullied and beat down by people in every place I have been. My view of the world and perception of things make me an outrageously easy target. Couple that with a desperate fear of confrontation and you end up with the bullies’ perfect victim. I’ve had whole classes gang up and try to beat me up in school, sometimes my own class and other times the class above me. I was bullied in swim team by people I thought were friends. I was bullied by classmates at uni (the first time round) and then I was also bullied by the lecturer. That one was hard to stomach. She used to put me on horses with vices and instruct me to ride them in a way which would cause me to be thrown off or end up with a bloody nose when the horse threw its head up and back while jumping, and to this day I have absolutely no idea why she hated me. Why any of them hated me. Not a clue. So yeah. Life has been full of DO this or I won’t play with you. DO this or leave the group. DO this or I’ll spread rumours about you. DO this or I’ll hurt you. And I would just do what was required. It’s how I have learned to get through life. Give what is required and hope for the best. Or give more than is asked for and hope they leave you alone for longer — it never works out that way.

And that ever present obliviousness to danger threatens my safety all the time. Here’s an example of that in action. I once started speaking to a guy on Yahoo chat. You remember Yahoo chat? If you do you will remember how dodgy it was. Well this guy talked to me for a bit. Then he asked my phone number and I gave it to him and he would call me pretty frequently for “a chat” which usually he turned into phone sex. I was due to go back up to Aberdeen to stay with a friend who was on my course at uni (she had a stud farm, more on that in a minute) and he mentioned he lived there and why didn’t I just move in with him. And so I did. That was about 2 weeks of being used for sex before I figured out how to extract myself from the situation. Can you imagine how much worse that could have been? At the time I was completely oblivious. Again, it’s only hindsight that has allowed me to accept that, that situation was one I would be terrified for one of my children to be in.

There have been instances that have been far more blatant and so detrimental to my world that I physically couldn’t cope after they happened. I recognised them as horrible events but missed what they actually were, only realising them fully in hindsight years later. Here’s a couple of examples:

The first was while I was living at a friend’s farm. I was living like a slave, my bed was a duvet on a flagstone floor in a room with only a curtain for a door. While simultaneously working on the stud (they bred horses) working in Burger King, working night shift in a nursing home and doing uni work. The friend and her husband were on holiday and their son abandoned me after a long night shift that had followed directly on from an 8hr day shift at Burger King, which came straight after a night shift at the nursing home the night before. At that point I had been awake for… about 69hrs. I was left for 3 hours, exhausted, starving and alone at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere because he wanted to make me suffer for accidentally getting on the wrong bus and causing him to have to drive a little further then normal to collect me. When he did eventually come for me he yelled at me. Screamed at me that I was worthless and several other things and I couldn’t cope any more. I grabbed a few things, walked the three miles to the nearest bus stop and just waited for the next but to take me back to Aberdeen, then for a train to take me Edinburgh then Livingston. I managed to get home to my room in my mum’s house before I completely broke.

The second was after a sexual assault by the violent husband of the same friend I was living with at the farm. I was 19 at the time. I didn’t mention that before, that he was violent. I was living there because he didn’t lift his hand to her when I was there. She used to say to me “I’m so glad you stay here because he doesn’t lift his hand when you are around.” Talk about pressure. He threatened violence frequently, he used to yell and scream all the time and brandish objects (for example, pitchforks or shovels) as though he would hit us with them, but when I was there he didn’t follow through with the violence. After a week or so following the event with the son listed above, I had returned and things went mostly back to normal. Well. As normal as you could call it I guess. The night I was assaulted was the same as any other. He usually spent several hours each night watching very loud television in the kitchen until midnight/1am. So I was never asleep until after he went upstairs to bed. On this particular night I had gone into the kitchen to fetch a glass of water but as I passed his chair, he said my name and I paused. “Well… let’s see you then,” he said. I must have looked at him funny because he then gestured that I should spin round. Panic had already set in by this point. Not because I worried he might do something, but because I didn’t know what he wanted. And this is where any normal person would have told him where to go and made tracks from the room. But I didn’t see the real danger here, my sole concern was that I didn’t understand what he meant. So I did turn around, panic making my heart race as I turned for him, all the while fretting over the unknown root and reason of the request. Then he moved forward. He slid his hand up the inside of my thigh and up my shorts leg, and he touched me. I was frozen in panic at this point, and that’s where it becomes hazy. I vividly remember the feel of his rough hand climbing my leg, the feel of my shorts shifting as he slid his hand into them, but further than that it’s the feel of my heart thumping in my chest, my senses dulling and shutting down, and I have no idea how long he touched me for. What I do remember clearly was when he tried to pull me down with his other hand and I took a step back from him. I told him no. But what still haunts me to this day is the tone that that simple word came out of my mouth in. Very clearly and definitely provocative. The way someone would say no to tease a lover by making them wait just a little longer. That tone. I have analysed this so many times in my head and never yet been able to fully understand why it came out like that. Maybe it was that into pressure fear response, maybe it was the hope that if I seemed like I might be interested at a later date, he would be less likely to rape me; though I am not sure I even thought about this — I think this possibility has come about in retrospection as opposed to what I thought at the time. Maybe it was me just frantically trying to grasp what was happening and trying to make out like it was all a joke. I still don’t know. I left the room pretty sharpish at that point. He didn’t follow me. He did come and stand outside my curtain for several very long minutes before he eventually went to bed. And while he did not rape me, and he did not attempt to touch me again in the remaining time I stayed at the farm, he did stand on the other side of my curtain every single night. A few of those he even pulled the curtain back and stood there watching me. I always pretended to be asleep. I am not sure how I thought that would save me if he decided to do anything more than look at me, but that’s what I did. I was desperate to escape but with no money (it all went to them for keep) and no help (I was too frightened to call mum. Because , and I know this is absurd. But the whole thing felt like my fault and I was ashamed) so I was trapped. I lasted 4 weeks before I completely shattered. At that point, I did reach out to mum, who came to my rescue and I went home for good.

I mean these are only a few of many many examples and are just snippets that give you a tiny glimpse of just how vulnerable I am. No danger perception, a literal brain, honest to a fault, a strong aversion to confrontation and an into pressure fear response create really bad situations really quickly, and I have lived through COUNTLESS from early childhood right through to the present.

So when my ex came along with his gently gently approach to manipulation, I didn’t ever suspect a thing until it was too late.

In the beginning there would be things like him insisting I dressed a particular way. An example would be for a wedding and reception we were to attend. He wanted me to wear my governess kilt (that I had made to show my Clydesdale) and a white blouse when it was 23 degrees in the middle of June.

In fact… here’s a picture of EXACTLY what he wanted me to wear:

Now… I didn’t see what he was doing here but my mum sure did. When my mum took me out and bought me a lovely summery dress to wear so I could dance at the reception, he claimed illness shortly after the ceremony and we didn’t go to the reception at all.

It is only in having lived with him for so long that I now realise there was nothing at all wrong with him. He didn’t have a miraculous recovery after being visited but the doctor, he just didn’t want to go to the reception now that I wasn’t wearing what I was told. He faked the “excruciating pain” from the start.

He would do this frequently. Usually when he couldn’t be bothered doing something I wanted or needed to do. It took me a long LONG time to realise the significance of the timings of his spontaneous bouts of extreme pain. And it’s not like I could just go ahead and keep the commitments I had made because he “really needed” me close to him “for comfort” — his actual words.

An AWFUL example of this is when I was nursing my Gran through her last days with my mum (this was 4 years ago.) He had taken to lying about all over the couch downstairs, moaning loudly and generally making a scene because he “was so very sore.” It was suggested he go home to mums house with the kids so he could rest. Over the next day or so I stayed at Gran’s with mum as Gran progressed through her final days, until that is, he called me on the phone to tell me he couldn’t cope and that he needed me with him. I asked my brother to check on him until I could get there. By the time I arrived he was writhing about in pain and I had to call the doctor. A few hours later my Gran died. It wasn’t until very recently that I found out that when my brother arrived to check on him, he had been cooking in the kitchen. Singing and dancing with my son bouncing up and down on his hip. NOT A THING WRONG WITH HIM — quite literally 20 minutes before I arrived to tend to him. Because of his need to keep me at his beck and call, I missed my gran.

All of these instances — where he would terrify me by shaking, gasping and moaning, seemingly in extreme pain until the doctor had agreed to come to him in the house (where more often than not the symptoms of pain would immediately disappear until the doctor arrived) and then he would be completely normal after the doctor left (which would include eating crisps and chocolate) — all of them, were manufactured to control me and my actions. To control when I could sleep which would control me the following day. Because if he had an episode the night before he would claim complete incapacity the following 24/48hrs and by this point I would be too tired to argue or attempt the planned events on my own.

He used to make jokes about me. A lot. I mean. My family also does this, and while it upsets me, I have tolerated it from my own family because they are my own family. He would use making fun of me to get a laugh out of my family and make him seem like part of the group. Or he would take a joke they made at my expense and amplify it with jokes of his own. This, oddly enough IS something I recognised immediately, however I let it go for fear that if I brought it up it would cause bad feeling and confrontation which are things I struggle to cope with.

Jokes and jibes soon changed to gaslighting during the later stages of my pregnancy with my first child.

He would proclaim facts that were blatant lies and then insist that I had forgotten, or even that I had told him or done these things and that I had forgotten, or he would blame my “baby brain.” He would deny saying things he had said, even if I had a witness or some form of proof that he had in fact voiced those particular words. He would flat out deny it and say I was losing my mind. He would talk a good talk and he would talk it often, but his actions would be the opposite of his words. He would Lie and make snide comments and jokes at my expense, he would encourage the notion that my memory was flawed even if I knew for certain that something HAD in fact happened, and he would do these things every so often at first. Once my 2nd child came along the gaslighting ramped up and instead of these things being a few times a week, they became a several times a week to a few times a day, until it reached the point where I couldn’t tell what happened or didn’t happen any more. While he was doing all of this, he would randomly throw in grand gestures and high praise of my actions and achievements (many gained in spite of his attempts to halt my progress through claiming illness and needing my time rather than me using some spare time to progress or work on myself) and this would throw a curveball into the loop. It would have me thinking “oh, he can’t be all that bad.” — Oh yes the fuck he fucking can 😒

Other things he would do is mess with my routine. Now as an ASD person, I NEED routine. I NEED it. Without it I am all at sea with no boat, no paddle and lead shoes. G knew this. He knew I was highly routine driven even before I was diagnosed and he would go out of his way to keep me from maintaining a stable routine. When I was attending the local college he would show up 15-30 mins early to pick me up, and demand that I left immediately as I was causing him pain by making him wait. Or he would show up 5-10mins late, or not at all and expect me to make my own way home (usually when I had heavy equipment I needed to carry) He would also disturb sleeping and waking times by loudly playing films in the bedroom or making very loud noises downstairs, or his personal favourite — claiming illness so I would HAVE to get up and deal with him.

Now there will be a further note on his drug addiction in a few moments, however I feel it should also be mentioned here that he has always been addicted to morphine. He used to tell me (before we were even engaged) that his doctors trusted him to regulate his own dose because he was so trustworthy with the medication. Me — being the literal person I am and expecting to be told the truth (because I tell the truth) — believed him and thought nothing of it. He would frequently take double the dose he was prescribed even before he was moved from Severadol to Fentanyl. Now if you haven’t heard of Fentanyl I’ll be pretty surprised. Fentanyl is the 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin… let me say that again FIFTY TIMES MORE POTENT THAN HEROIN. He would frequently claim that I had not given him his medication or that I was withholding it from him to cause him pain. He would also steal and hide stashes of it and then deny his actions even when I found the empty packets and boxes. Anyway, more on the drug addiction in a few.

He would try to separate me from family and friends. He made every excuse possible not to visit my mum and when we did he would usually want to leave earlier than planned. He would constantly claim illness so that I couldn’t stay at the stables/field with my horses. If I was invited anywhere, he would make illness an excuse for needing me to cancel or decline my invite. He would frequently shout at me for using social media (my only link to anyone outside the home) he HATED me having anyone other than him to talk to. He would say I only wanted to spend time with my fake friends and not with him. Particularly two of my author friends who I talked to several times a week. He would make viscous comment if I spent any time on social media at all and even if I was spending time on my writing. What he expected was for me to sit beside him, say nothing and just be there at his beck and call.

He would even try to tell my close friend — the only one I was ever able to spend time with as she was also my classmate at college — that I misunderstood a lot of things, made mistakes all the time, got things wrong. Essentially trying to convince her I was flawed. At one point he also told her that he was pleased that she came to the house because — and I quote “You keep her happy to stay at home.” That is the reason my one friend was tolerated. Because in his head, it kept me where he wanted me.

One of his main control methods was through the phone. He would call or text me repeatedly. Often just to complain about how much pain he was in and how he needed me to come home (if I was at college.) He could call when he knew I was in a lecture. He even repeatedly called me when I was in with the CPN for counselling sessions because of how low the abuse had dragged me and how high my anxiety and Agoraphobia had become.

He would spend all of the money available to the family on himself. Even if it meant bills went unpaid because he NEEDED a new game, or wanted a new tool or something. In fact for Mother’s Day and my birthday he bought himself £150 worth of video games. On Mother’s Day he screamed at me for being inconsiderate (because I waited until evening and then asked him if he was going to wish me happy Mother’s Day) apparently I shouldn’t have expected him to remember because he is ill and sore. I got the same treatment on my birthday. When it came to Father’s Day and his own birthday, a grand fanfare was expected to be made. This also translated to christmas. I would have to try and organise gifts for the kids and my ex but would receive nothing in return other than comments about how he was so ill and he really wanted to get me something but he was so very ill so couldn’t be expected to make the effort. Now I am not saying that I needed something. What I am saying is that he could at least have attempted to pretend to make an effort for once. But that would have made it about someone other than him. And it’s always all about him.

No matter what went wrong from day to day, he always made it into my fault. He never used the words “it’s your fault,” he was far more subtle than that. It was more often “you’d better fix it,” “you’d better tell them,” “you’d better find it,” “you’d better call them,” “you’d better change that,” in the or else tone, knowing I couldn’t do anything about outside factors but demanding I fix them anyway. Or he would scream at me that I had done something intentionally that he didn’t like specifically to upset him for example: Buying off brand cereal that he would refuse to eat. Now there is context to this so bear with me. My son was eating a lot of Rice Crispies, I bought Tesco brand Rice Crispies because we were always short on money as he would use every spare penny to buy things for himself (as in video games and expensive sweeties) and he decided to use this as an excuse to scream and bawl at me that I shouldn’t have bought them because “You know I can’t take those ones. I won’t eat them, they are rubbish. You shouldn’t have bought them. You know I can’t have them!” There was nothing wrong with the item, he just wanted the Kellogg’s brand and no other, but he insisted that the other item (which contained exactly the same ingredients and quantities) would make him ill and I had bought it knowing I would make him ill. He did this in front of my only close friend who was helping me unpack the messages at the time, and at a separate occasion in front of my mum, though he didn’t yell at me in front of mum, he just had a childish strop. He did yell at me frequently in front of my friend. More context to this: he was not and had not been eating cereal for 4 months prior to me buying the cheaper brand. I bought them for my son, not for him as he was not eating cereal at that point. But he saw an excuse to scream at me and he grabbed it every single time.

He frequently ate ridiculously large meals, his most common one being homemade steak pie. Even when he was not feeling well he would eat this, no matter how much pain he was in. One of the days that I refused to give him any more painkillers (he had used 15 the previous 24hr period, when he was only prescribed 3 a day at the time) I made him the dinner he always asked for and when I took the meal to him he accepted it and complained I had given him no ketchup. He didn’t ask nicely for the ketchup, it was “Where’s my ketchup?!” I said I had forgotten, his reply was “I have to have ketchup. I always have it,” after me as I went back downstairs for the ketchup (he was in his bed because at this point he spent his whole day lounging about in bed playing video games or watching tv) When I returned with the ketchup he screamed at me and refused the meal saying I was trying to make him ill and send him to hospital… “you know I can’t eat a big meal like that when I’m this sore. Why would you try to make me even more sick?! I don’t want that, I can’t eat that,” so I lifted the plate and took it away again.

As he fell deeper into Fentanyl addiction, he would frequently use up all of his medication and then blame me for not ordering more soon enough. He would insist I call the doctors surgery immediately and demand that they release an emergency prescription because he needed medication immediately. He old not do this for himself, he would make me do it. If the doctors surgery did not release a prescription on time or with the correct items on it in the correct quantities (that he wanted) I would get screamed at and he would demand that I call up the doctors to put in a formal complaint. Again, this is something he wouldn’t do for himself, he made me do it. If I didn’t do it he got mad at me. There are occasions where my Mum and or my close friend have been present for these outbursts.

The longer the addiction went on, the worse the abuse became. He would go from days and days of giving me the silent treatment, to screaming at me non stop for hours, to nit picking and trying to provoke an argument out of me through constant snide comments and snippy remarks. He would sneak about and take more Fentanyl than he was allowed. When I took control of the Fentanyl and gave him it as specific times he would try to trick me into thinking he had missed doses. When that didn’t work he tried constant guilt trips and when that didn’t work he resorted to hunting until he found where I kept the box or the doses for that day and he would steal them. When I discovered he was doing this I started locking up the box of medication. He would try to steal my keys and he would break the lock on the box where I kept the medication. Eventually I had to hide the locked box in places he shouldn’t have been able to get to: in the cupboard behind the big and very heavy couch; down the back of the bookcase, in the shed behind the lawnmower. He found and used all of them every single time. At one point I began taking them out the house with me and taking them to college, leaving only one dose at home. This is where the verbal and psychological abuse began to get physical. He would pick up and throw things across the room, punch walls and block me from walking away from him. One of the mornings he blocked me in the toilet. Screaming at me that I had to give him the morphine or else. When I tried to leave he grabbed me and twisted my arm then screamed in my face that if I didn’t give him the Fentanyl that he would tear the house apart until he found it. My friend arrived at the house ready for a lift to college and this is when he backed off. Shortly after this he was given 4 boxes of Fentanyl (a whole month’s supply) by his GP. He was prescribed 3 a day and an extra one if needed. So lets say 4. He used 90 in just under 9 days. NINETY. He was so deeply overdosed he had that heroin addict slack jaw thing, the grey skin, the slits for eyes and deeply slurred speech. He was off his face for days and it was terrifying. This is pretty much when I had my 2nd break down over the whole thing.

What followed was 4 months (until I left) of personal blame, guilt and abuse because he had to stop using the Fentanyl.

Parallel to his drug addiction, ran a separate thread of abuse specifically geared toward physical contact… or shall we be more specific here — sexual contact. And this is where the spousal rape topic comes up.

Yeah, thats a thing you know.

Spousal sexual abuse.

You don’t hear about it much, but it’s a thing, and I suspect it’s far more prevalent than people would let on.

I remember once talking to mum, either just before I fled the relationship or not long after it, and we were talking about how he would want to be physical and have complete disregard for how much pain it would cause me (explanation of this in a moment) and I remember her saying something along the lines of that what he was doing was wrong but not quite the “big R” though close enough. The thing I remember most was how desperately I wanted to say, ‘but he does, mum. He does rape me.’ Because that is exactly what he was doing, and had been doing since my daughter was born six years previous. Again. I will reiterate that he was not the violent rape category. He was in the manipulated and coercively insistent rape category.

“I know you don’t want to but I just want you so badly.”

“I just need you too do this.”

“I knew you didn’t want to, but I did.”

Actual words from his mouth.

Never mind that I was in extreme pain and would bleed for a week afterwards because of him.

Ok… so here is the aforementioned explanation.

I mean generally there are reasons for pain during sex, injury and infection being the top two. For me it’s extensive scarring. When I was pregnant with my daughter, they failed to diagnose gestational diabetes. Because of this she was ENORMOUS. She weighed 10lbs 2oz and it was widely noted that she was light for her size. When I was in labour with her she got stuck. They tried to shift her with the suction cup and then with Keilland’s forceps after the ventouse cup broke — yes I did just say broke. It was quite literally a foot-on-the-bed-and-haul-her-out job. No one realised that I had already begun to haemorrhage, but when she did finally arrive, she brought with her an episiotomy, 3 pints of blood, several grazes, a grade 2 tear and two grade 3 tears, one of which runs from the outside of my body right up inside almost to my cervix. It’s a LONG freaking scar. And THIS scar is what causes me so many problems where sex in involved. If time and attention is paid in advance, then I am just fine, there is little to no pain at all. If not, then it’s like being violently fisted with broken glass. And I have already mentioned the bleeding and week long pain. It didn’t matter to him though. Because I was his possession and therefore required to provide his every desire. And he certainly didn’t desire my comfort, only his own gratification. He used guilt tripping, gaslighting and manipulation to get what he wanted when he wanted it.

This all came to a volatile head on New Year 2017.

My close friend was spending new year with us and we (her and I) had been enjoying a nice night until he decided I needed to come to bed. When I did he decided he wanted sex as things were very volatile (well, his treatment of me was volatile, I was subdued) and he wanted to “start the new year off right.” That’s right. His idea of making a fresh start was having sex… Uh… nope. On this occasion I refused him. Apart from the fact that by this point I couldn’t stand to be near him due to the appalling treatment I’d been going through, I was also deeply put off by his lack of personal hygiene.

Again this needs a little explanation. When I started trying to avoid his touch, he declared that in order to keep clean, I was required to bath him, because apparently, he now couldn’t do it on his own. He required me to wash him. This was simply a control tactic to force me to touch him and I also avoided this. Because I didn’t wash him, he went unwashed. His stench was disgusting. In fact, when I eventually did flee and managed to take my items (with help from my mum and brother) from his house, they were reeking of his smell. I had to wash and disinfect everything to try and get the smell away. Several Items I just had to throw away.

Anyway… I digress. Back to New Year 2017…

He had taken offence to the fact that I had refused him and proceeded to scream and bawl at me because he was fed up with me not wanting to be touched. I was to hurry up and get over myself because he wanted sex. If I didn’t want him any more then he would just leave and go live with his mother — this is the first time that he used this approach to try and frighten me into submission (he began to use it more frequently in the run up to our separation though it changed from him leaving to the house being his and I would have to get out) I told him things needed to change and that he had until new year 2018. Now. I still don’t know how I at this point had the confidence to say that to him, but I managed to get it out. Though in hindsight, perhaps this was what he wanted all along, because it then gave him the ability to make lots of noise about improvements he would make (and then not make them at all, but it gave him more time to manipulate me further and hopefully pin me down.)

This truly was the beginning of the final nail in the coffin, however I had given him a year and because I am a rule follower and I don’t go back on my word, I was determined to see that year through until around April, when he was becoming increasingly abusive. I then decided that I needed to at least complete college otherwise I would lose my qualification. As it happened he began to use the get intimate or leave argument more frequently just as I finished my college course. On one occasion he flat out screamed at me in front of my son (who had only just turned 4) telling me that I should get out and he would keep the kids but I was to get out.

At this point I when to the homeless help run by the council. I was also forwarded to woman’s aid who when I told them my story — which is far deeper and more varied than the few examples that I have listed here — they offered to take the children and I immediately and place us in a hostel

It’s funny. Part of why I stayed so long was due to not believing that anyone would believe that I was in an abusive relationship. I mean. He never hit me. But he forced me to exist in my own personal hell for years, to doubt my own sanity, to panic every time I received a text or a phone call or a letter from a bill not paid or the bank saying we were overdrawn. Because everything was my fault. EVERYTHING. But when they confirmed to me that I was in fact suffering horrendous abuse, it was like the floodgates were lifted and I suddenly had the ability to move forward where previously I had been chained to the floor beneath the waves.

I knew however that neither I nor the kids would cope in a hostel. Although they still have not been formally diagnosed, they are very clearly on the spectrum and would never have coped with such a shift in their world. Instead when I left, I headed for my hometown — where I grew up and where my mum and brother still live.

IT IS BY FAR THE BEST DECISION I HAVE MADE IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

It’s now been a year since I fled that toxic and abusive environment with my children. We now have our own home and are settled in our new, far safer, far calmer and far happier lives. I am not going to pretend that things Weill be simple and happy forevermore. Nothing ever is. But at least I am in control of my own life and my children can grow up in a calm, safe and supportive environment. I have an amazing, loving and supportive family and a fantastic support network for the kids at school.

4th July — Independence Day — took on a whole new meaning for me, and every year on this date I will be thankful that I had the courage to leave. Because if I hadn’t, who knows the state I would be in now.

Below are a list of resources and helplines.

If you or anyone you know is affected by any of the issues I have spoken about, please, please, please do not stay silent. Tell someone. Seek help and advice. You are not and never will be alone, even though abusers would like you to think so. You are absolutely not.

General resources and support for Women

The National Domestic Violence Helpline

Woman’s Aid

Samaritans

Victim Support

Hidden Hurt

Living Without Abuse

For Men

Mankind

Men’s Advice Line

For Children

Childline

Action For Children

For LGBT+

Galop

Respect Phone Line

Stonewall

A note on life with High Functioning Anxiety

Hi there 👋

Welcome to my little corner of the internet… well… one of my little corners anyway 😁

You may have hopped over here from my other blog Thistleyroses or you may have just happened across this blog by chance, who knows. But however you ended up here, welcome. Make yourself comfortable and stay a while.

I was watching a few videos on The Mighty‘s site about Anxiety and this one hit ridiculously close to home.

This is what I deal with every single moment of every day. Half the time brought on by Agoraphobic Anxiety triggers also perhaps something similar to PTSD, and half the time brought on by Autistic Anxiety triggers.

It feels like there is a continuous high current of electricity in my skin, the constant thrum of a terrified hummingbird’s wings in my chest, like there’s too little air and I’m trying desperately to suck it through a straw.

I smile — a LOT.

I dance — obsessively.

I exercise — obsessively.

I write — obsessively.

I pace — obsessively.

I crochet, draw, craft, walk, sing — obsessively.

I bounce up and down on the spot, bite the skin on my hands — HARD but outwardly it just looks like I am bringing my hand up to my face. I pull my hair, scrape my nails into my scalp so hard that it bleeds. I bite my tongue and my cheeks I dig my nails into my skin where you can’t see.

But all this and more goes unnoticed. Because outwardly I appear calm and happy. Because I have an into pressure fear response. Because I have to try to cope until I can’t anymore.

People just don’t get it because they don’t see. And it’s not that we consciously go out of our way to hide it, these are just some of the things that we do to try to get by. But the problem with being able to appear as though we can cope, is that no one believes we struggle as much as we do. And eventually, that lack of belief becomes annoyance toward us and sometimes anger which compounds our problems.

And when the Anxiety gets to that point if no return for us. When it has built up and up and up and reached the tipping point where there is nothing left to hold you together — you break into thousands of tiny pieces and no one understands why.

Some of us end up hospitalised when we shatter, some of us manage to cling on desperately but develop ugly side effects of doing so. Most recently for me, that’s Anorexia. I starved myself for 8 months before I finally admitted what was going on. By that point I had gone from an over 20st rough size 24 (through compulsive comfort eating) to a size 16 at 13st. I still struggle with the whole eating thing, but I am at least managing it, whereas I wasn’t before. I doubt I will ever be rid of the Anorexic grip on my anxiety, but as long as I am open about it and let someone know when I am really struggling, I can keep myself safe.

In my adult life I have shattered a total of five times so far. I had gone on to list these five instances, however the post became something far deeper than just a note about struggling on as someone with high functioning anxiety. So I have decided to make that into it’s own post which will follow. I can’t tell you how many times people have commented that they would love be as calm and confident as me and that hurts, because I am the exact opposite, they just can’t see it. Not at all.

The point of all this really is to promote awareness of how debilitating hidden Anxiety can be.

Until next time…

Take care folks xx

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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Until recently I have been using my Thistleyroses blog for everything. Author posts, Autism posts, Anxiety posts, Graphic Design posts, Photography posts etc etc etc… However more recently I have wanted to write down many things to do with daily life and I don’t feel they are quite appropriate to my original blog. Not that they aren’t appropriate, that’s not exactly what I mean, but I feel that they deserve their own space rather than a tiny corner in my other blog. For this reason I will be moving all of my “A Little to the Left of Normal” posts from my other blog, to this one. My goal with this blog is to explain life as I see it and to promote mental health and autistic awareness.

It’s my hope that someone somewhere will find this blog helpful and supportive in some way, but otherwise it’s an exercise in catharsis.