I have an appointment on Monday to get a replacement prosthetic eye. I’ve had this one for about 20 years, and while it seems to still be in decent enough shape, it’s time for a new one.
It got me thinking about when I was a teenager and it was time for a new prosthetic. My parents were divorced. I think I was living with my mother at the time, but it’s also possible I’d already moved in with Valerie and her mother at that point.
What I do remember is that my father put up a major stink about having to pay for the part of my prosthetic not covered by insurance. Enough that the lawyers had to get involved.
At that point, it was maybe two hundred dollars. I get that that was a lot of money in the mid-80s, but it’s a prosthetic. It’s a medical necessity, at least from the standpoint of not grossing out half the people I interact with.
It’s a reminder of how my parents treated me like a nuisance. I was the only one of my siblings whose conception was pre-planned, and I feel like I was seen as the biggest mistake.
When my parents divorced, I chose to go with my mother, who was staying in Berkley. My older brother chose to go with my father, who was moving away to live with his new wife and her two children. My mother initially got custody of my younger brother, but that was reversed later.
When my mother decided to also move away from Berkley, I panicked. I had a new girlfriend and a stable home (hers) for the first time in my life, and I didn’t want to leave.
I had a conversation with my father about this, asking if maybe he could maintain a double residence (he was a minister, the house was paid for by the church; my step-mother was also a minister, in a house likewise paid for by the church).
He refused, and told me he had a new family now and was going to focus on that.
I see myself as a nuisance because I’ve long been treated like a nuisance. Best to just start out with that perspective.
I have a memory from a small window of time: It was in Berkley, but we were all still living in the parsonage, before the divorce. I was at home alone; I don’t remember where everyone else was, but they had gone somewhere together.
I was trying to teach myself to speed-read because I have long been embarrassed by how long it takes me to read. I didn’t know until recently that my slow reading wasn’t a problem with my intelligence (as I was treated) but because of processing differences related to my neurodiversity.
Things that, had I known them, would have made my life different.
I was almost done reading an Agatha Christie book. I was really into Agatha Christie at that point in my life, with the goal of reading her entire opus (I think I got about a third of the way before losing interest).
Autistic rephrase: Agatha Christie was my special interest at that point in my life.
Anyway, I was maybe fifteen minutes from the end of the book, being on the verge of having my fastest reading time ever, when my family came home and my younger brother, a toddler or barely just not at that point, squealed in excitement and hopped on my lap.
I had a violent meltdown. I screamed at him. I screamed at my parents. I threw the book. I stormed off, probably to my room. I slammed doors.
It was completely unacceptable. I treated him like the nuisance I had long felt like I was. I’m deeply sorry for it, to this day.
The message I got from my parents was the same: I was the problem.
I was always the problem.
I was always the nuisance.
So it didn’t matter when I really was the problem. There was no attempt to find out why I’d exploded: All that mattered is that I had. Don’t address the underlying flames, just stomp them out when they burn other people.
Today, it doesn’t matter how many times other people say I’m not a nuisance, I don’t believe them. I know I’m a bother.
I don’t even know how to end this in a productive way, so I’ll just stop writing now.