My childhood and adolescent phases is one thing I haven't written about in any sort of focused manner yet. My memories are scattered for various reasons I will attempt to explain as we go.
I have to start at the beginning. I was raised in a series of odd situations in what you might as well describe as a religious home. My childhood has always been difficult for me to understand. I feel that no one gave me proper attention to notice any of my traits. My dad (who I now strongly suspect is on the spectrum) tells me that as a young child, I did not want to be touched, hugged, or held, and I was very active. He says that he has spent a lifetime trying to reach me.
I was diagnosed ADHD around 5 or 6 and put on ritalin. One of my only memories of my mother is the day of my 9th birthday, when I was given a remote control car I'd been asking for. I was intensely interested in these, though I didn't own any I would say that I was extremely fixated on them. That must have been just a month before she died (november, 1993). This memory is almost toxic to me. I hated myself, that unreachable child, for what I later began to view as materialistic fixation. I have this image of my mother in the hospital bed, with the wrapped gift sitting on her lap. I absolutely LOATHED that me, in the shadow of her death. This may have been what lead me to such strong interest in death itself. I felt filthy and completely inhuman once I began to really think back and try to understand my childhood. This attitude was the first start of the self dissection that has lead to my current endeavor of researching the autism spectrum as potentially applicable to these various past selves.
One other notable memory of her is the time I figured out there was no santa clause, and how my mom cried and how upset I was at being misled.
One school memory I do have from earlier childhood was when we had first begun reading in school. I would read the same book over and over (cave boy) literally to meet and exceed the reading quotas for school and for the award program where you earned star stickers that added up to a pizza award.
My dad decided to get remarried almost immediately and two older step brothers appeared in my life, who I basically watched destroy their own lives with drug & alcohol use/violence/all manner of delinquentism. The moral of the story of this section-- I was largley ignored amidst the hell they seemed to be creating, and it went completely unnoticed that I had been encouraged to participate in inhalant usage, which is gasoline huffing, which I did with the oldest brother. the memory of this experience is fucking terrifying. Also endured a few episodes of sexual and physical abuse because of them. I realize that I was bullied by both siblings, as well as the step parent, constantly. I never had any idea how to tell someone what had happened. I believe I was 10-12 during this phase.
So from the outside looking in, you would have thought my experience amounted the the best anti-drug/delinquentism training I could have experienced. In reality, I just felt extremely fucked up by the ordeal, and came out with the feeling that my entire world rejected me and that I had not one remaining parent who cared at all about me.
Thinking back, I'm sure that if I hadn't been abused the outcome would have probably been different. I wouldn't have rebelled as heavily during school and had more energy to apply my abilities. I kind of checked-out schoolwise.
I also probably would have been less defiant toward the therapists they sent me to. I'd been in various types of therapy and to different psychologists throughout childhood as a result of the ADHD diagnosis and supposedly also to provide me a resource of coping with the loss of the parent. I can't really recall anything productive coming from any of the therapy. The last one I worked with was the first one to do cognitive therapy and I felt that it was useful and stimulated my mind. I'm still baffled that throughout all this therapy no one ever thought to consider my social and emotional incapabilities. They just thought I was bipolar or traumatized. I had been labeled with different forms of mood disorders, from depression, to OCD, attachment disorder, and the like.
What I do recall about the me that survived all this is not very much. I recall being isolated. I think I was simply severely unaware of how eccentric I appeared to everyone. I'm now aware that I dressed in clothes far too big for me, and my hair was never orderly. I stayed away from other kids whenever possible. I really did not like being at school, or being told how to do things, so I did my own version of any task that I could. I have memories of this attitude as early as preschool and kindergarten while my mother was still alive.
I think art was my least favorite activity since I always thought what I made was far below the neatness that the other children produced. I'm not sure why this bothered me. I suppose it was because I felt adults were lying to me when telling me that what I made was good.
I remember always wanting to earn the Physical Education achievements. I think they were called the presidential award or something. And I remember that I could never meet the requirements.
I am told I got bad grades in almost everything. Homework was somewhere between "extremely difficult" and "impossible" for me, for reasons of attention and pure amotivation. I recall always avoiding it or doing it with the absolute minimum seriousness possible, and in spite of thatm always doing from quite well to nearly perfect on tests in things I enjoyed. This remained the case at every stage of school.
I always had around 1 friend at a time, probably another loner or outcast of some sort. Thinking back I find it odd how at all times there was 1 friend or less. For whatever reason any friend I had left my life or simply stopped being my friend, and I don't think I took a big notice of it when that particular thing happened.
I was also very suggestible. At one point I had a friend who I realize now was more just a bully, who told me a great activity was carving letters in your flesh with razor blades. I participated in this. The letters were of initials of various girls this fellow and I decided we had crushes on. this was probably age 10 or 11, 4th or 5th grade. I know it had to have been after the night I cut my wrist with a boyscout pocket knife-- which also didn't seem to alarm the parental unit to the degree one would expect in reaction to a 9 or 10 year old attempting suicide but just too naively to be successful.
I remember being in trouble for the results of things others encouraged me to do. At one point I wrote "up yours" as an answer to a test question I didn't know and was sent to disciplinary office. I also was frequently scolded for eating food from the floor or parts of other kids' food they had spit on and given to me.
Later on in the approach to adolescence, I recall requesting to stay inside to play with rubiks cube and other logic puzzles, cryptogram books, and optical illusion/math/brain teaser books. That was my big obsession. I was learning, and solving rubiks cube around age 11 or 12, and I was very good at it. I usually solved it within a matter of minutes. I was actually older than most of my schoolmates due to a late year birthday, I went in the year behind me age-wise.
I also remember a time when I was taken away to do a "special" test, this was probably that same time period- and I must have been mad because I was having to miss a subject I liked, so I purposefully went through it as fast as I could, and doing the answers flippantly, as revenge for this wrong. If they had just told me why it was being done, I am sure I would have taken it seriously. Only afterwards was I told that it was being done for placement in a few additional advanced versions of some of the classes. This infuriated me even more and I think I demanded to be given another try.
In the beginning of adolescence, I was very much without friends. I never even tried in the odd middle school years. My activity of choice was making up algebraic equations and working out the solutions. I also developed a fascination enabled by internet access, as I was alone at home every afternoon after school during this time period (in the interim of the end of the first step mother's reign, she had just left one summer while we were out of state on a vacation).
On into adolescence I still remained separate. I took a direction of declaring myself different by various methods. An activity I had carried over from childhood school was using a paper clip (you could bend one till it broke in two and use the jagged point resulting) to make holes in pencils. In adolescence I got the idea to connect these pencils together in craft fashion into necklaces I would wear. I also developed an extreme idiosyncratic impulsivity. I was enormously disruptive and obnoxious in many classes, especially the early morning church classes that I was forced to attend. To cope with this in regular school I immersed myself in the process of writing instead of vocalizing the amusements I observed in everyday speech.
I also enjoyed wearing one black shoe, and one white shoe. I liked doing things to tell the social systems I wasn't interested in them in any fashion. I spent my time playing footbag by myself. Sometimes various groups of other loner-like kids would want to play it with me or learn some moves from me. I spent a lot of time reading about the subject online, and I had several very high quality footbags.
I also was a member of the musical programs at high school. I enjoyed being musical and I think this is the closest to social involvement that I got in pre-adult life. I was in the different vocal groups, both in classes and extra-curricularly. Same for instrumental, I played in both symphonic band and as part of the smaller brass sections that played with the orchestra in competitions.
My dad had gotten remarried again pretty fast after the last wife left him, and I really did not like it. The new step parent made everything worse for my high school years along with putting up with the religious pressure and ridiculous public school system. I had been trying very hard up to that point to still conform to all expectations of me, but it simply exploded into chaos.
After 2 years in high school I started to fall apart in terms of motivation as I began to find myself in more challenging uninteresting subjects, and from mounting pressure of the social environment and authority structures. I began to feel extremely troubled and just did not want to be part of it anymore. That's probably why I dropped out to become homeschooled. I think that my therapists saw it as a bipolar event, but really I just couldn't take anymore bullshit. Eventually I completed a correspondence diploma finishing in sync with my actual graduating class after the 2 years of not being in school. During that time I'd discovered and experimented with lucid dreaming, becoming exremely absorbed in studying it and practicing all the techniques. The whole time was extremely stifling to me as I was never encouraged about any of my interests, and frequently told I needed to spend my energy on schoolwork so I could someday make a decent living.
I had also gotten in to involvement with some kids who were viewed as anarchistic by the general authority structure, hanging out with them because I felt accepted and encouraged. I think I mainly did it because of that, and because it let me avoid the home environment that I hated by that point. What amounted to a very simple and completely benign experimention with cannabis was escalated to the point of my being forced to participate in a narc-out program where I was forced to help detectives take down one of my best friends in their pursuit of choking the drug dealers out in our small suburb. I was forced (by my father) to participate in it. I was threatened with prosecution for possession which I think only worked due to heavy intimidation tactics. I wish I would have known how to just tell him, and them, to do whatever they wanted to me, that I would not do it. I have a lifelong regret for letting them do that to my friend instead of me.
Under pressure to apply to college, I took my ACT and got a 31 (out of 36- considered a very high score), and applied to several schools. Among those I was accepted, I got informed by my dad that he would only pay out of the college savings he had for me to attend the one of his choice, which of course was the official university of his jesus cult. At that point in my life as a matter of fact I'd finally started to question the doctrines and cultural details that had been more or less brainwashed into me from birth, and it could not have been more infuriating for him to treat me like that after everything, with my serious considerations of completely abandoning this religion I'd begun to question. But, I put up with it long enough as my ticket out of there and into my only opportunity to rebuild my life and my identity, though I was not yet "aware" of this angle of looking at it.
I almost cannot blame anyone for not noticing the social/emotional ineptitude components. They were heavily masked at these stages of development. I was idiosyncratic, impulsive, and avoided failure in social encounters by engineering my own unique failures on purpose.
Thinking back though, I can't pinpoint one attempt from anyone to really actually care about me in a respectful fashion. I was pushed through life from the "tough love" standpoint by those who were supposed to care about me. I was never encouraged about my interests, instead belittled and told the things I loved would never make a living and that I needed to spend all my energy on schoolwork and serving god.
I was just too untouchable for any attempt at outreach from a peer, I suppose. Everything began to change when I met the first person who had ever properly accepted me. Though it was awkward on the first few meetings, it seemed we were a perfect fit for each other. She offered me much needed guidance, acceptance, encouragement, and genuine human respect and companionship. These are things that I feel are a parent's duty to provide for their child, unconditionally. It was never provided to child/adolescent me whatsoever, and I certainly lacked any sort of intuition to attempt social/emotional interaction as it is expected by normal people. I had to learn it all from scratch, and that learning began at the beginning of 2004 when I met the woman I'd marry.
I'm still often wondering exactly what it is I'm offering in return for this relational generosity. I constantly fuck up and fail to communicate properly. I can't yet offer emotional repair or even start to know when and how to try. Whatever happens though I still love my wife, and I know she will never abandon me.