Hello Aspierations Friends,
I don't know if anyone out there noticed I haven't been blogging recently but it has been on my mind quite a bit lately. It certainly isn't that I haven't had anything I wanted to say.
I've been caught between going in a couple different directions. The first direction, the easy way so to speak is to share with you some of the recent positive events that have been in happening in my life and in life here at home. I could share with you my family news, something that my husband John does regularly in his blog at the Life and Times of John Krejcha. (In all actuality, if you want to follow our family news in somewhat of a daily diary format, his blog is the place to go.)
The more difficult direction is to share some of the challenges and adversities I've been experiencing the past month. Let's just say without going into details yet that I've been having a lot of struggles physically, emotionally and financially and right now in my life, I am at somewhat of a crossroads. I want to choose the right path.
Being that my blog is called "Aspierations", I've always wanted it to have a positive and uplifting feel to it but I want it to be genuine. I want to have the opportunity to encourage, uplift, empower and perhaps even inspire others on the autism spectrum and the families who love and support them. In the back of my mind, I've always worried that if I talk too much negative or spend a blog post or two just venting that I will have defeated the purpose of my ultimate mission.
So then the follow-up to that becomes, if I am not true to myself and cannot express when I'm feeling down or challenged, then what good is Aspierations anyway? Come as you are... Let Your Light Shine...
Work through the adversity. Wade through the muck. Keep the faith, become stronger, set yourself free by being able to truly let others see you as who you are.
Be a Survivor...
Speaking of which... I think I now know which way this blog post was meant to go. Hang on to your hats, buckle your seatbelts and if you don't like uncomfortable topics, check out my previous blog with Ryan's 4th birthday pictures. He's such a cutie and bound to bring a smile to your face!
Be a Survivor....
So here goes....
In April I blogged every day and then in May I took a break. It was originally supposed to be just a day or two rest from blogging but then one day turned into another and before I knew it, the month was over. Now here we are almost in the middle of June.
I can give you all sorts of reasons why I didn't blog (illness, business, family issues... all of which are true) but after a lot of contemplation, soul-searching, self-lectures and tears, I think I'm beginning to get why I've given myself a leave of absence. I'll call it an unexcused leave of absence...
In early May of 2010, I "celebrated" (definitely NOT the right choice of word but I'll leave the sarcasm for now) the 20th anniversary of the night that I was raped and lost my virginity.
You don't know how hard that is to leave on the screen. Truth be told, I have my doubts as to if this blog will ever be published but if you are reading it, then you know that I had the guts and faith (and yes, probably a bit of naivety too) to be able to put this out into the blogosphere.
Usually every year at around that date in early May, I begin having nightmares and bouts of insomnia. I know in my heart I'm a survivor but I beat myself up again and again and replay over and over the details that led up to the incident, the rape itself and the nightmare that followed.
I was 22 years old at the time. I had been in a long-term relationship for over 4 1/2 years with the first true love of my life. (Out of respect for him and his family, I won't mention his name here.) He grew up in a Catholic family and believed in abstinence before marriage. I totally respected him and his feelings and was willing to wait. He was worth it. In my heart, I truly believed we were soulmates and I was someday going to marry him.
He was an awesome guy, funny, motivated, honest, loyal, athletic, trustworthy, strong, bright and family-oriented. For the first time in my life, someone "got" me... well, as much as was possible at the time. (The way we met was very unconventional, not particularly safe and not the way I would encourage Aspie girls to go out looking for guys or Aspie guys to go out out looking for girls! I was "cruising the strip" and met him at a stoplight. I was 17 1/2 and had recently graduated from high school. He was 19 1/2 and in college. He was 6'3", I was 5'9 1/2". The fact I thought it was okay to think it was a "safe" thing to do to meet strangers on the strip at a stoplight makes me happy I have boys and not girls. I don't regret the night in any way shape or form but looking back, I was so so so naive safety-wise. I guess I liked to call it risk-taking and since the risk paid off, it positive reinforced my behavior. Fortunately that night all was right in the world. An angel was definitely watching out for me.)
Young love, first love, so many new experiences. I realize (especially now knowing that I grew up on the autism spectrum undiagnosed) that I had to have been incredibly overwhelming as a girlfriend, although hopefully I had some redeeming qualities as well other than my love for plain food. It was by the grace of God that we even met but I believe it was for a reason and that at that point in our lives, we both needed someone on our path. The fact that we were together for over 4 1/2 years is a testimony to his patience, courage and fortitude. I really liked his family too. They were quirky like me and all had good hearts. Although I won't play doctor, I strongly suspect that his oldest brother and father are somewhere on the autism spectrum and who knows... maybe he might be there himself. We did both like plain hamburgers and hot dogs and not like vegetables that looked like trees. Guess what? Not eating vegetables didn't stunt our growth either. ;-)
Of course, I'll admit, I unfortunately tried to push the issue of marriage on more than one occasion. I had so much baggage and so little relationship experience that I didn't understand what was socially appropriate. I could see and feel my baggage and insecurities and lack of social grace coming to the surface many times in an inappropriate way but I didn't know how to process it because I didn't get it. I tried to communiciate with him but I must have been incredibly overwhelming and overpowering. Not really having any female friends or other close friends I could "talk with", he was my only support network and sounding board and unfortunately, I didn't know when to just be quiet, give space and develop a healthy relationship. Also, I was a gal, he was a guy. (I cringe when I think about how clingy I probably was. I must have been such a difficult girlfriend. One of those, if I could turn back time moments...) I guess what I was looking for was a sense of security during a time I was unfortunately feeling very vulnerable and insecure. With all my relationship "experience" and awkward social graces at the time, I know this came off much stronger than I intended and much much more emotional.
Through my Aspie eyes, lots of reading and reflecting and the experience of an additional 20 years of life, I can now look back and see that I scared the heck out of him and put on way too much pressure. If he indeed also was somewhere on the spectrum himself (or at least related) then that adds even a further layer of fear of complexity. I also had some deeply rooted childhood emotional issues that he knew nothing about and that I certainly hadn't been able to appropriately process at the time. I did know that I didn't want to lose the one relationship in my life that I knew in my heart was right and yet it seemed in retrospect that I did everything (unintentionally) I could to smother it, sabotage it and push away, perhaps because of insecurity, confusion and a lack of social grace.
That being said, in May 1990, I was starting to get into a better place with myself and I was learning to give my boyfriend his space. I was becoming more confident and secure and coming into my own. I was performing well in my job at the time and was on track for a promotion and a raise within a month. I had longings to become an entrepreneur on the side and train for the Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour. I had just lost about 25 pounds and was on track to losing that final 20. I had more body self-confidence than I had ever had. My bowling was going well. After leaving Cal Poly a couple years prior due to a whole hostload of crazy reasons I won't get into details with in this blog, including a stalker (seriously), a run-in with a professor who had sexually harrassed me (jerk), a car accident and the fact that I was socially inept during most of my college days, I made the decision to go back to school part-time and was feeling confident. I was even taking a First Aid class and although that probably is a "so what" to most of you, I had never been able to stick my face on a dummy to give CPR... not in high school health class, not at UCSC, not at Cal Poly. (I now know that was a sensory issue and related to my autism. Ahhh if I only had the benefit of some of this knowledge back then...)
I was starting to dream again... and I had hopes and plans for a bright future ahead...
And then came the night of the rape....
I seriously don't know if I can post this. I started writing at about 8:30 a.m and it's been almost 90 minutes. Now given the fact I can type about 120 WPM, there has been a lot of dragging feet going on here.
Okay... deep breath.... here goes....
And then came the night of the rape...
You don't want to hear the details. Really, you don't. If my parents, husband, kids or friends ever read this blog, they wouldn't want to know the details either. Quite frankly, I wouldn't want them to know and I've protected others from knowing. I've been able to desensitize myself over the years by telling it in my head as a story, by pretending I'm an actor in a movie, by pretending I'm writing fiction, by changing the details to make it less horrific. I've done a pretty good job of separating myself from that for the vast majority of each year.
Then that stupid anniversary date rolls around and BAM, the nightmares, the daymares, the sub-conscious and all that crap comes to the forefront. Usually it just lasts a couple days. This year, the 20th anniversary, it lasted about... well... a month. Not a good month... Very little sleep.
So maybe if I purge some of that here I can get it out of my head once and for all! (Yeah, right. Good try! But if it's just a little bit therapeutic even in the short term, then why not?) Yes, I do realize I could and probably should "talk to someone" but I've tried that many times before and have never found a counselor that could get me other than in the pocketbook.
Where was I? Still with me? Would you tell me if you were? :-) It's okay, feel free to lurk. I realized shortly after I started blogging at Aspierations that most of the people in my life that I had friendship, acquaintance with or relation to from my past (i.e. over say 15 years ago) would probably never post here, even though I have set it up so people can be anonymous, post anonymously, set up an anonymous way to follow or be clever and use pseudonyms.
I figured there might be a few that came here once or twice out of curiousity, found out that the quirky gal they thought they "knew" way back when was on the autism spectrum, perhaps had an "aha" moment (so that's why she was so shy, quiet and "different") and then headed back to their lives, perhaps coming back once in awhile to peek and see how much I was willing to disclose to the world.
Ironically if you were to meet me in person, you'd probably describe me as very quiet and amiable unless you were one of the very few who I felt comfortable opening up to. My writing personality is extroverted. I am introverted unless putting on my "mask" or with people I feel safe with. Yes, at 42 years old I'm still working on my social skills. I'm sure that all the writing I do here wouldn't be considered socially appropriate by most, but what the heck? It's not like those people really give a darn about me anyway. :-) I guess now instead of scaring others away in person, I have the ability to send them away with my long, drawn out writing. So that being said, just in case there is anyone still with me, thanks!! I'm going to continue on in just a few moments because I feel like I still need to tell some of my stories to the world just in case there is someone else out there that may someday need to read or hear it.
Those of you with tween, teenage or early 20 something daughters who are or who might be on the spectrum... even if they come across as very gifted or high functioning and appear like they'd "know better"... please, please watch over them, educate them, empower them and help them understand the social dangers out there. Talk with them. Don't assume that because they're bright, that they're wise. So many times I should have "known better" but found myself in very wrong or awkward social situations with boys, men, teachers, professors and people I should have been able to trust. My naivety in early childhood became a pattern that left me susceptible to all sorts of bad and potentially unsafe situations. Things that happened to me... well, I justified, excused, accepted, thought I deserved or thought were how the world worked. I thought I knew better but I didn't know anything at all. Book smarts and street smarts.... totally different animals.
Anyway, I am off digressing. Call me the tangent queen. This is because right now I am trying to avoid talking about the rape and what it did to my life 20 years ago. It would be so easy to hit the delete key. It would be so easy to not share. If you're with me at this point, you're witnessing me trying to be free with my thoughts without editing. I'm SO good at the edit key... it can change a story altogether, can't it?
Maybe there is one person out there that this will impact. I feel God's voice inside of me encouraging me to continue. Ever heard that song, "Calling All Angels" by Train? "I won't give up, if you don't give up...." Google it if you're so inclined... While you're at it, check out "Drops of Jupiter" too. It kind of fits in with my "I feel like I'm from another planet theme" from an earlier blog.
Okay... it's now 10:46 a.m. and I need to make a decision to move forward or delete. I have a lot of work to do today. I need to put on my professional hat, my Mommy hat, my wife hat, my daughter hat and all those other hats I wear. I can't believe I just lost two hours in this blog.
So... a little over 20 years ago I was raped. Not only did it take away my virginity, but I let it take away my hope and it changed my life in ways I could have never imagined. How could I marry a man that I had promised abstinence to until marriage? Logically, I could no longer keep that promise. How would he see me? Would he still love me? Was there a possibility he could ever be in love with me? Would he have accepted me? (Remember, I was 22 and probably socially much younger, new to relationships and winging this Aspie thing on my own, not knowing what it was that made my puzzle piece not fit.) I never gave him a true chance to be a stand-up guy. There was no way in my mind I was ever going to be good enough for love after the rape and the last thing I was going to do was bring the person I cared about down with me when he had his whole life ahead of him filled with promise and ambition.
The days and weeks afterward are a whirlwind to me of bad bad bad decisions, pain, emotional anguish, fear, loneliness, suicidal thoughts, fear, night-terrors, trepidation, self-blame and self-loathing. In my head, I had nowhere to go, nowhere to turn. I was so ashamed. I told a few people but I knew no one could relate and I didn't want the people I loved to feel pain on behalf of me so mainly I kept it inside. I told my boyfriend and although in retrospect I wanted nothing more than to be picked up, held, taken care of and made to feel secure, I felt inside like damaged goods, tainted, not worthy, not loyal. I probably became a real witch, I don't know. I do know I was a wreck and afraid to be touched. I wanted to end it all but I didn't want the bastard that took away my virginity to "win". I totally turned inward and created a mask of what I wanted others to see, shared what I wanted to share, retold what I wanted to tell, disclosed what I felt safe in doing so. I really don't think I realized I was doing this at the time. I guess it was self-preservation for keeping me from not only the pain of the rape but of knowing that the one romantic relationship I had in my life up to that point that I felt was right had to come to an end. To my boyfriend's credit, I remember him being nothing but kind but understandably hurt and confused and not knowing how to process what happened either. Actually, I'm not really sure what he thought. Maybe we talked about it? I'm probably blocking it out. Maybe I'm painting a kinder picture to myself to ease the pain.
On one hand, here was a man so good, so strong, so deserving of a woman that he could spend the rest of his life with... and on the other, here was me, damaged goods, mistake-maker, naive, insecure, confused, mad (at the rapist), mad (at the world) and MAD (at myself). I realized that my true love deserved way better than me and so I gave up and became a quitter.
The only fair thing that I thought I should do is break-up since I was no longer in my heart, head or body worthy or deserving of our relationship. Sadly, I couldn't even do that right and someday I wish I could apologize. I was so confused, so sad, so disgusted and embarrassed with myself after the rape. I thought the only way to break up would be to push push push push away. How did I do that? By saying I wanted an engagement commitment ... Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it??? How totally unfair. How totally selfish to try to force someone so young to commit. I'm so sorry...
As I said earlier, I made a lot of really really bad choices and decisions in the days and weeks following the rape because I believed I was damaged goods, broken, unworthy, tainted, a sinner, didn't belong in the world and a huge loser. (That was on my GOOD days...)
I knew he wasn't ready for marriage at the time so I took the coward's way out and put it upon him to make a commitment to me or we would need to move on. I feel so bad, so sad as I write this because it brings back such sad painful memories. I've never forgiven myself. I needed some sense of security especially after the rape and yet, I needed to be alone and away in a new lifestyle of self-loathing and self-destruction which would continue for about a year afterwards. At one point (or many) I went back to try and tell him and to see if we could reconcile but he was already with someone and in my heart of hearts, I realized that was probably the best for him anyway. Goodness knows he deserved someone stable and loving after the end of our break-up.
I wish I could have just told the truth and said that I didn't think I could ever be worthy in his eyes after the rape. I wish I would have gone to counseling. I wish, I wish, I wish... I often wonder if we could have worked it out if I had just been able to process my feelings and emotions, understand what I was going through and get help. All I know is that he deserved better than the way it ended. Although he may never read this, I am truly, humbly, from the bottom of my heart sorry for all that happened, all my mistakes, all my pushing, all my confusion, all my mixed signals, all the unfairness. You deserved better.
Fortunately, for him, he ended up shortly later finding a woman to fall in love with and I am so happy that he found happiness because he did deserve it. They married just 2 weeks after John and I did. Ironically, our own dating anniversary was the week inbetween my marriage (7/18) and his (8/1) on July 25th. I always think of him on that date, pray for him, wish him well and remember the great times and the amazement of falling in love for the first time. Hopefully he remembers something positive of our relationship as well. (I often wonder about that and wish there was some way to know.) My Dad ran into him awhile back and told me he has all daughters. I have sons. I guess it was God's plan all along that things happened the way they did.
I regret we weren't able to remain in touch but I wouldn't want to put him in a position where he was uncomfortable. I have the greatest admiration and respect and wouldn't want him to think I was trying to impose or do anything improper. I am sure he loves his wife and kids just like I love my husband and kids. I do miss our connection and maybe someday we can be friends again or at the very least, I can apologize and thank him for being the first true love of my life, for "getting me" as much as anyone possibly could back then and for being my friend and helping me through some pivotal moments in my life like when I met my birthparents / birthfamily for the first time and when I switched colleges. True friends in my life have been very few so when I lose one, there's an empty place inside. The door is always open. Maybe someday I'll hear a knock.
You know, after the rape, not only did my relationship break up but I made some other very poor life decisions as well. I left my job (the one where I was supposed to get a raise and promotion within a month). I again left college (while I was getting As and just about to get through CPR for the first time in my life). I quit my diet (somehow thinking it had some part in my rape...) and gained a lot of weight... a problem I would continue to sabotage myself with until this day. I hooked up in a totally dysfunctional way with a guy who was totally wrong for me, pushed away any hopes of happiness or functional relationships with anyone, made lots of mistakes with men and I lost total respect for my body. I alienated myself from everyone I previously cared about. I kept almost everything of importance inside and put on my daily mask to the outside world. I HATED myself and contemplated suicide many times.
And yet.... I survived....
That's the key here. I am a Survivor. I screwed up, I was a victim, I sinned, I made mistakes. I beat myself up over everything and blamed myself. I went through a very tough time. I didn't know then what I know now. I take responsibility for my choices.
So here I am 20 years later. Flash Forward. I have been married almost 18 years to a fine man who is an amazing father, who keeps our house organized (as much as it can be with 3 additional spectrum residents) and who truly loves his kids. Although we have our challenges and communication issues, we also have our connections. What a blessing he has been. I have two beautiful boys with amazing hearts and so much to offer the world. I have my own business which is unfortunately really struggling but it is something I founded and is my own. I live in a safe neighborhood with great schools and caring teachers. I'm attending church regularly and am working on my spirituality. I have two amazing parents who raised me that are both having health issues (God bless) but who are both still here and wonderful people. Even on the days I'm depressed and trying to work through the darkness, I realize that I have a lot of blessings and a lot to be thankful for even if sometimes I still have those days I feel I don't "deserve" it and want to go on a self-sabotaging streak once again.
Whatever adversities I had to go through to get me to where I am today... they were part of my path. I can think about the what ifs from the past... but I have a present and future to live and although I've given myself some leeway here to think about things rather painful, it's time to get going on my journey again. I am a Survivor. I am meant for better things than to let the buttheads of the world bring me down....
I think the last month, I've stalled in my journey and haven't done as much as I would have liked with Aspierations or my life. Admittedly, I've felt very guilty about this. I need to forgive myself and move forward. I am great at forgiving others, horrible at forgiving myself. You'd think that if God can forgive me, I should be able to but some days, I just feel like wearing my burdens and baggage on my shoulders.
Well, this blog was long. I'm not sure it made the points I wanted to but it is now going to be out in the world. I am once again naked (figuratively, of course) and vulnerable. If I had any repeat visitors before, perhaps this will be the blog that puts an end to that!
Truly though, if I am to reach my Aspierations and let my light shine, I need to come as I am, where I am. If that means today I need a therapeutic blog rambling on about 20 years ago to try and understand what might be going on in my life today, so that I can move myself forward then so be it... It is who I am and that's okay.
It's okay for you to be you as well. Maybe you'll be wiser than me and blog anonymously. After all of this, I know it may seem like I disclose a lot but trust me, there is more I can never share here. When you're doing something under your own name, there are still a lot of secrets and skeletons in the closet that need to be held back. I have my family to protect and think about and I don't want to hurt those few in my life I truly love or have loved.
So for now, rather than shut the door and not look back, I'll remember that our history helps determine who we are in the present and future. I'll be keeping the door open... letting my light shine!
Best wishes to all those who made it to the end of this post... you know where to find me. :-)