Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Babyfly dreaming

I was going to write – had actually written nearly 400 words – about how I may have been lying to myself for the last sixteen years or so about wishing that I'd had kids of my own. The lie being ‘I always wanted my own children but circumstance prevented me’.

Circumstance coupled with my own fear certainly didn’t encourage, but it was my own decision all along not to become pregnant whilst in a long-term relationship and I decided just before my 40th birthday to end my fertility with a tubal ligation. So did I ‘always want my own children’? Perhaps. Maybe. Possibly… Or not?

My younger adult years – ten of them actually – included being a step-parent to two young girls. I was devoted to them and loved them but left their father as suicidal depression overtook me. The result of years of emotional and some physical abuse. I knew that there was no rightness in conceiving with him and I think my body agreed.

As my thirties began I followed my heart and found art, a need to learn and a desperation to experience life beyond the wrong career and the wrong partner. Going to college, then university and somehow living a piece of youth I’d missed, was amazing and affecting. The last year of my degree course was marred by nagging pain and odd discomforts; MS was diagnosed shortly after my graduation ceremony. The decision to be sterilised followed about two and a half years later.

The thinking went: I have no current partner, but I still want to have sex; I will use condoms of course… It will take time to build a relationship, I am nearly 40 and I don’t want an accidental pregnancy.

I never wanted to bring children into the world if they weren’t fully wanted and to be welcomed; the main reason for not adding to my ex-husband’s family.

There seemed no real choice. I was single, fit and doing well after great effort to control the MS symptoms and a big commitment to improving my health. There is good evidence that relapse is more common after childbirth. Any future from where I was then meant that my own health had to come first. And so, no more fertility.

But what of the girl of fourteen wishing for The Waltons? I mean literally; that by the time I was in my twenties I would have born several children with more to follow? 'Night Jim-Bob!

My desire to give birth to and nurture a complete tribe was deep and passionate. It didn't really abate until the passing of time showed how unreal it was; I didn't have a boyfriend, let alone anyone with whom to procreate so generously. And I never did.

No boyfriends in my teens and when I met the man who became my first husband, at the age of 22, he landed an untried and untested model; bendy, energetic, innocent and willing. His two beautiful children seemed so available, their mother having died two years before we all met. So, two down, several more to go?

No. No more. Just the sense of duty and obligation that goes with an old-fashioned view of what partnership might be. I did as seemed 'right' and put up with my new losses. Lost independence, lost virginity and by the eighth year, lost hope. I was better off out of that, The Waltons having long since faded into sepia memory. It took two more years to leave and I left everything including the two girls so lovely and loved... That is my regret.

Not the lack of birth children, but the loss of the ones I loved. At the time I was broken, caught between that obligation, the fact of a marriage made in a church and vows to stay no matter what. I knew no way of leaving that included telling such young people what was going on; 'your dad raped me' doesn't really work. Nor does 'he's a complete narcissist'. He did, he was and I left loving him deeply in spite of the scars. But thank goodness I did, I wouldn't have lived much longer if I'd stayed.

I don't regret the decision to be sterilised, nor do I now want children. They would be mid-teens by now and frankly I wouldn't want to have to deal with that! I don't want teenagers, nor actually any more twenty-somethings. A second marriage brought more of other people's children with whom I have constructive and loving relationships and none of the guilt of having been their birth parent!

A relative recently mentioned that they were sad not to have, or hope to have grandchildren. But they have a child, a grown-up, functional adult who is loving and creative. That ought to be enough I think. Grandchildren are just a fact of others procreative activity, no one has a right to them; especially in these modern times. And, so many grandparents are carers and childminders, it might be a blessing.

Learning to make something of what one has and to value a life which is not extended through genetic sharing is quite hard, especially having hankered after seven children! But if I regret leaving some young people in the lurch, I know that they are loved and capable of love. And the younger generation for whom I represent an older, perhaps wiser and occasionally cool resource seem happy enough with me as I am. I like that.

And frankly, bengal cats are enough!


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Alien invasion? Yes please!

New Year, new look blog, new ideas and some sense of purpose in posting. Yippee! Something that has been playing in my mind for a while relates to one of the concepts mentioned in theTen Traits of Asperger's (women, girls) which I mention from time to time. The one about not fitting in, not feeling as though one belongs on this planet...

As a teenager and young woman, I frequently fantasized about aliens landing and taking me into their spaceship. There, rather than do horrendous experiments or try to inseminate me, they would actually improve me. Using my genetic code as the basis for some lovely sciency rebuilding from a cellular level, they would take all my bits and improve them to the best they could be, according to my chromosomes. I was big on genetic inheritance! So, banished would be the asthma and allergies, which came from my father and instead I might have my mum's stoicism and physical constitution. It was a fervent wish and a frequent fantasy.

Now in my fifties, with diagnosed Multiple Sclerosis, managed hypertension and flat feet, some of that has come true: I don't get asthma any more! Hours of my life were spent in mental anguish; alone in my bedroom because I had no idea whatsoever of how to go out and be more sociable or how to get hold of that elusive but expected accessory, a boyfriend. At School I was not really a 'loner', but asthma excluded me from many sports, which in turn meant exclusion from the groups of 'fit and popular' types; while interest led me to a small group who were rather nerdy and insular. They didn't do well with boys at first, then improved as I continued to lag behind. If those aliens could have mended me, perhaps I wouldn't have been so lonely for so long?

I really didn't fit in. It's too easy to say that all teenagers are disaffected, or spend time being lonely and confused, of course they do, it's part of normal development. Looking back though, it was all of those years. It varied, there were some social occasions, but so few I can still recount them in detail. Some relief was finding said nerdy friends wanting to go the the local weekly folk club, when we were all seventeen. That was fun, we all passed for eighteen easily, so drank pints of mild ale and sang along to hairy folk bands. Apart from that though? I was no party animal. Clearly alien myself, I needed rescuing!

Standing in the garden at night, looking up at the stars, I would send out my heartfelt wishes in telepathic form - sometimes even empathic, once I knew that word - in the hope that an advanced society on the wing, scooting across the cosmos, would alight and immediately 'know' me as friend. Then, without pain or making me forget what happened, they would transport me into their craft and use sundry molecular machinery in my remaking. It was a lovely fantasy. Sometimes even now, I wonder if those evolved and lovely beings are about somewhere, taking notes of all the requests from disaffected teens, or Aspie women around the globe. Wouldn't it be nice if they decided to drop by? I bet they'd like cake...!

Monday, 7 January 2013

2013, unlucky for some?

Ah, welcome to a New Year earthlings. You celebrate a brand new opportunity to make dashing promises, to break hopefully into resolute good deeds and make hay while the sun shines endlessly in California and the Sahara Desert. But this earth doesn’t turn like the pages of a calendar! Nor are there any dates written into the cosmos.

On December 21st the Earth stood farthest away from the sun and an annual point of change took place, as the days began to lengthen again towards the coming seasons of Spring and Summer. This has been going on a lot longer than humans have been able to make calendars. So, as some individuals rue the number thirteen this year, others are grateful that we are all still here to celebrate anything at all, thanks to the laziness of the Mayans in not providing us with a longer calendar. Five thousand years wasn't enough for some!

Notwithstanding, it's the next few decades we all have to contend with, (your version of a) god willing. Or maybe, mankind willing, since we seem to have the casting vote in how to manage our own continuity as a species. Stirring and serious stuff Deb, now what?

You (thank you for reading!) may be wondering what the jolly heck I'm on about. I began writing this last evening soon after I and my husband had just watched the film Bruce Almighty, starring Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Aniston with her hair. It was great fun and carried a simple message to do with kindness and responsibility. This is what I wish a lot, though the calendar date plays little part in the efficacy of those wishes. All the New Year resolutions in the whole world won't make one jot of difference to how we end up unless we are all willing to behave more kindly, speak more truthfully and take more personal responsibility on a daily basis.

God has little to do with any of this I feel sure, as 'free will' is basically what humans live by. It is what defines us because we can change the world. Every day of our lives we make changes away from a place where natural processes happened at a pace snails could deal with, to one where instant messaging is no longer telepathic, if it ever was. Our instant, wasteful world is becoming the new nature.

No, thirteen isn't an unlucky number: unlucky is the soul that permits this kind of intrusive thinking, I reckon. We have choice which is a privilege in the mammalian world. We need to exercise it more in favour of life; far less with regard to 'luck' and excessively in the direction of kindliness. Truth is something we each grapple with because it is so conditional and personal; but it need not be frightening! Inconvenient maybe, but not something to avoid through fear. Our whole strange, disorganised, damp and colourful world could benefit greatly from individual humans waking up to their own truth. I think that would be a great day to add to the Calendar :)

Here is a nice picture of some cakes, they are free of wheat, low in fat (no added saturates) and have half the amount of sugar usual for sponge cakes. They were darned yummy. Yes, I will post the recipe, dreckly. That means when I get round to it! Happy New Year all x
Picture of gluten free cupcakes that are yummy

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Women Who Think Like Me!

Anyone seen the film production of 'Fiddler on the Roof'? The actor Topol leads, playing Tevye, the patriarch - known as Papa - of a Jewish family living through the Pogroms in Russia during the reign of Tsar Nicolas II.

It is a musical, with a truly beautiful score. It's also a warm and colourful picture of family love and loyalty in the most testing of times. If you have, you may know what I'm going on about as this post continues, if you haven't then find a way to watch it. The joys of the music, Topol's fantastic dancing and a story that uplifts, hurts, warms and challenges the heart are well worth seeing.
Topol as Tevye, 'Papa' in Fiddler on the Roof

So, that's the review, here's why I mention it: Tevye has a constant dialogue with God, which is sometimes depicted as him speaking aloud to camera, or as a voice-over when his thoughts become important for us to hear. His constant reference throughout the film, is to one view of a situation over another. He says 'on the other hand...', then talks this through and again 'on the other hand', a different viewpoint. Always trying to do his best by God, his family and himself. I love it, I do this too.

Here is a clip from the movie, it is Tevye's personal discourse following the news that his daughter Tseitel wants to marry a tailor - not the perfect match Papa had imagined... But on the other hand...!

On the one hand, I have recently - about three months ago - found myself to have some of the traits of Asperger's Syndrome. In particular a woman with these traits, which is how come it has taken until my early 50's to find out. Women on the Spectrum can be hard to spot unless you know what you are looking for. I'm going to repeat a link, unashamedly, to Samantha Craft's Wordpress blog where she has listed ten traits of Asperger's in women. The list is the result of her research and reading, it is written from a personal viewpoint, but continues to serve hundreds in providing information very necessary to many worried and often deeply unhappy women. These are women, who seem to think like me. It was like reading my own history, giving me an explanation for many difficulties I have experienced and squirmed about in life. So, on the other hand... I am only half-aspie. Or thereabouts.

Anyone interested in or wondering why or how I think this, you can do a quiz online here, called the Aspie Quiz. The final outcome will tell you whether you are mainly Aspie, or NT (neurotypical aka 'normal') and if you are in-between too. That's me, I'm an in-betweenie-Aspie. Both sorts of traits. The quiz itself is not frivolous, it is well designed and considered to be quite accurate, though of course not an official 'diagnosis'. Have a go, you might surprise yourself. And you get a pretty picture of your results, with a full explanation of what they are about.

Here is my last test, taken October 2012 with these scores:

Your Aspie score: 115 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 107 of 200
You seem to have both Aspie and neurotypical traits
I'm not going to explain all the headings, they do look weird but actually describe simple human behaviour.

So, half-Aspie and on the other hand, half Neurotypical. From the inside, it seems this is how come I can look people in the eye easily enough and have good facial recognition skills. Also, executive function that serves me well in terms of managing money, shopping lists and planning events for other people. Less so in terms of punctuality - see my previous post Executive Re-Style Please for how this affects me sometimes - the 'faff' factor has dogged me since childhood.

Very recently I have had two lots of feedback from people I regard as friends relating to my self-outing as an Aspie. On the one hand, it seemed that friend A. (who doesn't think like me) felt it provided an explanation for some stress I'd suffered as a result of a neighbour dispute at my home. In fact, this is not the case. Perfectly fully-functional completely neurotypical people also have horrendous neighbour problems sometimes. It can leave individuals scared, exhausted and depressed, as they feel unsafe in their own homes. Explaining this made for acceptance, I think mainly because the police accepted it too! I was taken seriously, the local community policeman was very keen to support me. A well spoken, obviously educated middle-aged woman. I come across as totally together... Ah, that's because I am! Both halves, totally together in my whole, newly refreshed with understanding.

Friend B. was sorry that I was now 'condemned to suffer' from being 'other'. My explanation was, and is straightforward: I've always been 'other', only now I know why. The relief in finding a relatively simple explanation for years of anxiety, self-doubt and irritation is enormous. We discussed the point, my view was accepted - that the advantages of this knowledge far outweigh the possible issues of disability - there was concession and a little understanding I think. But she doesn't think the way I do, so it was not easy to explain the positives.

You see, I am not 'condemned to suffer'. My recent life has been enhanced by self-knowledge plus enormous personal support from online contact with, get this: Women Who Think Like Me. I love that! There are other people I can talk to about the vagaries of existence, about important things, about space, science, art, health; especially health! Lots and lots of it! I love talking health! I am using too many exclamation marks! And I don't care.

I like real issues, deep subjects, people who trust me with their thoughts - the essence of friendship - so that some meaning is shared, rather than bare trivia. There is a lot of truth spoken among us. On the other hand, it is always kindly said. There are deeply personal issues raised, while on the other hand there is a great deal of humour.

 I love having found lots of Women Who Think Like Me.

There are plenty of online resources for people who think they may have Asperger's. For women only; affected by, partnered to or caring for anyone on the Spectrum, here is the facebook group called Everyday Asperger's  of which I am a member. It is a moderated, closed group for women only, which means it is a safe place to ask questions or share ideas.