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Bartolome
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16 Oct 2012, 8:40 pm

I have an amazing memory. I remember extremely accurate details from long ago, when I was very young. Sometimes my memory is distorted, but it is so extensive that I tend to get more things right (and these are very small, minute details) than wrong. My family considers this one of my many strengths... I can remember conversations, stories, attitudes and conflicts.

For a long time, when I was in college (and for a big chunk of this, off my meds), I didn't think too much about my difficult life.
I was bullied from the beginning, being smaller than other kids and in love with the world of "Star Trek." I also had a lot of ticks and sensory behaviors that made me seem "weird." And my "weirdness" always overshadowed my depth and intelligence, especially at school.
I was made to repeat kindergarten because of my emotional immaturity in comparison to the other kids. I had a summer birthday, so I stayed 5 all year, while my friends celebrated their 6th birthdays during the school year. Soon, everybody was calling me "Baby Barry." Every rotten day (sorry, I am trying to use family-appropriate language here, being rather permissive about foul language myself). So what in the hell made my parents think that holding me back a year and making me repeat kindergarten would do anything other than emotionally damage me further? Even after I advanced to the later grade, I still was made to take learning support classes despite being a Straight-A student in everything but gym and math. The school for the longest time wouldn't allow me to participate in the gifted program, despite my intellect, my vocabulary, and my understanding of advanced ethical and philosophical concepts being very clearly light years beyond most of my peers.

I feel like I was held back my whole life and my parents let it happen. Like they let the education system, ignorant at that time to mental health issues, walk all over me. Now, I didn't think about this when I was in college, studying paleontology and primate behavior (a Pre-Med track available through the Anthropology Department of my college); but as an Intensive Case Manager for children on the Spectrum, including many young men similar to myself. So I am frequently in situations where I am confronted by the ghosts of my past. And it's getting to me.

I have so much anger and resentment about the way that the educational system mislabeled and sabotaged me, giving credence to the bullies who called me "retarded," legitimizing their cruelty.

I just sent my parents a rather confrontational email about this. I'm confident they'll see it as an honest inquiry, despite my (admission of) my anger and resentment at that decision, which was partly theirs. I told them that it's possible my memories are distorted and I want to hear their versions on the subject, but I was pretty blunt. It still hurts me, today, because I see kids struggling with some of the same things I struggled with when I was their age, except that they have the supports that I wished I had. And being one of those supports, despite all the good it does, doesn't make my pain go away.

Maybe it's my meds. I've been in a funk lately, very angry and regretful, and I had an acute depressive episode this weekend. I am going to see my doctor ASAP (he is also a therapist who helps me to process some of these things, and he is very good). But medicating myself into not thinking about it only suppresses it. I'm glad I finally asked my parents straight out why they did this and why they didn't think it would only make me more insecure and damage me further? I hope they respond rationally. They know I've been going through a hard time emotionally.

And I love my work. I can't imagine doing anything else. But it takes so much out of me emotionally, sometimes. Thing is, I have NEVER questioned if it is worth it. NEVER. And I believe I never will. But even that doesn't absolve the pain and the regret and the resentment.

Does anyone else feel like this about what happened to them in school in the days before there was any real awareness in education about our condition? Have you found ways to excise the negativity or does it follow you into adulthood the way mine has?



halfaspieguy
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16 Oct 2012, 10:54 pm

Yea, I did a youtube vid on this subject a couple of weeks ago. (Halfaspieguy is my channel) I'm upset about how my dad and some of my teachers treated me. (although some of them were great) I was all into photography at 12 years old and I'm disappointed with my dad for telling me crap like: "Taking pictures might be fun for a kid but you will have to do a real job when you grow up. You can't make a living taking pictures!" So I went into construction. But I'm most upset with the teachers in my life right now. I married a young mother 32 years ago who decided late in life that she wanted to be a teacher. I sent her through college and grad school, paid for everything our whole life so that she and her peers could start their own public charter school. It was the 21st year of our marriage when her yearly income passed mine. Now I have found out that she has been using the school to launder our money into a savings plan that they designed specifically to hide money from their spouses. (in case they got a divorce) All of our retirement savings disappeared and one of her teacher / partners told me: "She deserves that retirement because she went to college. You didn't go to college." I feel really stupid for trusting a group of women with our entire financial plan and then realizing that they felt entitled to grade me like a student who didn't finish school.

The only good news in all of this is that I recently got diagnosed as an Aspie. Asperger's explains so much about why I was so talented in my work but so blind to what was going on with the people around me. I thought I was seen as a good faithful husband who gave everything to take care of his family. I never realized that my wife's peers thought of me as an under-achiever who was not a suitable mate for a person of my wife's educational status. So you were wondering if there are aspies out here with lots of resentment. I guess I answered that question well enough for now. (I'm working on a documentary about this)



1000Knives
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17 Oct 2012, 7:26 am

I hated school so much I just stopped going. The state responded by back by sending me to court and threatening me with 18 months in residential. Then Big Brother won. In high school it was the worst, I got put in SPED with all the drug addict wannabe thug kids, and they told my mother it'd be better because the classes were smaller. I hate school, completely hate it. High school is a complete scam, too, I took my GED at 17 years old and found out it was the level of an 7-8th grade standardized test at most.



Bartolome
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17 Oct 2012, 1:01 pm

I actually left work early today, took an unexpected personal day, and explained to my supervisor, who frequently praises me as an extremely effective case manager with an extremely high level of empathy with my clients, that my empathy is a two edged sword, that there's a reason I relate really well to the ASD population, and then I said "Let's leave it at that. And this stays in your office, between us" (our boss is ex-military and not as sensitive to the personal issues of employees), and then said that I felt I needed to go home today. She was really nice about it and I told her that I really appreciated her discretion. I'm normally extremely guarded at work about my personal life and rarely take off because I'm afraid it would make me look like a "needy" employee.

I went home, and started calling various administrators and secretaries at the school district where I was educated (sorry for the clunky sentences, I am trying to avoid any direct references to particular districts and the agency which I work for, including geographical clues). I got a very prompt response with my request to meet with district personnel to review my full educational record before paying for it in its entirety to be released to me personally. I felt this was the best place to start my journey of self-discovery, and hopefully, of healing.

I intend to seek formal apologies from the persons responsible for mishandling my education, for excluding my from Gifted, and for holding me back. I feel I am owed that much. I know most of you probably think I am going to be disappointed, but I assure you, I am very experienced with both the educational and mental health systems, and with special ed in particular, having worked in it myself; I know how to get what I want when it comes to records.



Maerlyn138
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17 Oct 2012, 5:41 pm

Bartolome wrote:
I intend to seek formal apologies from the persons responsible for mishandling my education, for excluding my from Gifted, and for holding me back. I feel I am owed that much. I know most of you probably think I am going to be disappointed, but I assure you, I am very experienced with both the educational and mental health systems, and with special ed in particular, having worked in it myself; I know how to get what I want when it comes to records.


But, what do you expect to change when/if you get these apologies you are hoping for? You will still be the same person, you will still have had the same experiences. Trust me nothing will change. I mean, I guess an apology would be "nice" so that at least your suffering will be acknowledged, but you are going to be sorely disappointed my friend.


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Bartolome
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17 Oct 2012, 8:44 pm

They will be confronted with the man I am now and I will leave them with their conscience, knowing that the decisions they made so callously effected my self esteem so deeply that even today I cannot dispel the anger.

I was so angry today I left work (the first time I've ever had to do this in the middle of the day) and spent 8 hours writing (I am a writer, and nothing else was working, so I figured I'd try to process it that way), and I'm still angry.

I'm angry now too at my father for never knowing how to deal with my disability and for always being embarrassed of me and reinforcing all the trauma I went through at school the second I came home.

Acknowledgment is something. Acknowledgment is at least a goal.

I am a very angry man and if I do not find some way of healthily processing my feelings I believe I will explode. I feel like a time bomb. I have nothing positive to say, nothing positive to think.



Bartolome
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17 Oct 2012, 8:59 pm

At least now, at work, people generally recognize that 9/10 times I'm the smartest guy in the room. I have the respect I missed out on in childhood. I have a long list of accomplishments to my name. I just wish all that was enough.



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18 Oct 2012, 1:10 am

You will be coming at them from a position of professional success, essentially asking them, why did you label me and put me in a box, why didn't you do your job as teachers and builders?

It's a zen journey. I don't know if anyone can predict in advance what it will feel like to receive an acknowledgement.

Plus, you have the avenue of writing. You can start off nonspecific about geographic area and so forth, and then maybe experiment with medium steps of more specific, say a fictious town close to a real major city, that is, flashing the ace rather than playing it. I write, too, and it is a source of strength.



Bartolome
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18 Oct 2012, 6:25 am

I need to confront my father. In all that writing I did, he emerged as the villain of the piece. He was always embarrassed of me. He overcompensates with pride now that I am a successful adult; but it feels just like a lot of other things in my life, like a consolation prize. Too little, too late.



PK212
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18 Oct 2012, 6:44 am

Bartolome wrote:
I need to confront my father. In all that writing I did, he emerged as the villain of the piece. He was always embarrassed of me. He overcompensates with pride now that I am a successful adult; but it feels just like a lot of other things in my life, like a consolation prize. Too little, too late.


I think you should talk to him and tell him how you feel.

It's possible you may learn he wasn't embarrassed, just very scared. The responsibility of a child and the enormous emotional attachment can be overwhelming when one doesn't fully understand what is going on. His ignorance doesn't mean he didn't love you. Not excusing any pain he caused, just some thoughts that might help with the sting of it all.

I wish you the best of luck, I can see by your posts this anger is eating away at you. Also, please consider some of this could be depression. The depressed brain will put a negative spin on just about every thought you have. Just something to keep in mind.

Good luck when you talk to your father. I hope it will be the beginning of letting go of some painful memories.



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18 Oct 2012, 4:29 pm

halfaspieguy wrote:
. . . I sent her through college and grad school, paid for everything our whole life so that she and her peers could start their own public charter school. It was the 21st year of our marriage when her yearly income passed mine. Now I have found out that she has been using the school to launder our money into a savings plan that they designed specifically to hide money from their spouses. (in case they got a divorce) All of our retirement savings disappeared . . .

Wow, I'm sorry that happened to you. And it emphatically not very cool, nor very honest, for one spouse to drain off a couple's joint money for a private retirement account, especially under false pretenses.

Often, as I'm sure you know, whether a lawyer takes a case has less to do with the justice of it, than with whether there's a big potential pot of gold for the lawyer at the end, or whether you are paying in advance. If you could get with just one or two of the other injuried spouses, it would potentially make both for a stronger case and more likely a lawyer would take it. Now, please do tread in medium steps. Not everyone is ready to leave their spouse and that's just the fact of the matter, and that is their call to make afterall. But I've got to think there probably are respectful ways to approach them about the possibility of a joint lawsuit.



Bartolome
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20 Oct 2012, 6:45 pm

My father and I talked. The next day my depression lifted, slowly, during the course of my work day. I'm on kind of an emotional high right now, as could be expected after a period of depression.

I think, though, that I handled my seasonal affective episode like an adult for the most part and didn't have any crisis-level behavioral outbursts. I was able to keep it mostly contained. It's the best job I've ever done handling one of my own mental health crises and I deserve to acknowledge that.

My family- including my extended family, who surprised me by revealing that something similar to my early childhood experience is common to members of my family. Mine was particularly traumatic because of the Asperger's component. But I have a lot of cousins and uncles who went through a similar experience. I didn't know that before today.

My father apologized for the pain and trauma it caused. He still believes the school made the right decision (it wasn't really my parent's fault, some of my memories were distorted), because I "just wasn't ready." I told him that, no matter what his personal opinion, ever defending that decision to my face again would be a major boundary violation, and he agreed to respect that boundary. He also apologized for the way that he treated me as a child, when he had a very hard time understanding me.

Although I find the idea scientifically dubious, I have been considering trying to find a regression therapist. I will ask my therapist/psychiatrist at my earliest opportunity. In the mean time I am taking steps to be social and try and build and strengthen my connections with others.

My father and I have always had very few boundaries. I'm taking steps to establish boundaries with him now that I am an independent adult. I am also realizing that there's a lot that I inherited from my mother that I have overlooked in the past: my self discipline, my hard work ethic, and my empathy for others.

My dad's own childhood sucked. It was very painful for him. I think he genuinely wanted me to be happy but he had trouble expressing that desire in ways that were constructive or positive.

I can also rationalize that the American educational system fails and betrays a ton of young people every year; I'm not that different from other people, in that sense.

I think I learned a lot from this episode. Next year, around this time of year, when my depression seems to be recurrent, I plan on saving up my vacation days and visiting family in Virginia, New York and California.

I didn't lose my job this time. I didn't go to a mental hospital this time either. I feel stronger, and my conscience and values seem clearer to me now. I value that clarity and it is something that I have to work on not losing.

Impaired executive functioning is par for the course for my disability, but through my gifts, my intellect, I have been able to overcome many barriers, and consciously work on changing my plastic brain, neuron by neuron, teaching myself the executive functioning that comes more naturally to neurotypicals in times of stress.



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20 Oct 2012, 6:51 pm

I'm beginning to understand what people mean when they say that they "drink to forget". It's hard to remember being abused by a parent, especially when that parent has since died, and you'll never get so much as a "sorry" out of them.


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Bartolome
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20 Oct 2012, 7:36 pm

Fnord, I'm so, so sorry if I depressed you.



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20 Oct 2012, 11:29 pm

Bartolome wrote:
Fnord, I'm so, so sorry if I depressed you.

Kid, you couldn't depress me if you tried. I've survived too much to ever let someone do that to me again.


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BlueMax
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21 Oct 2012, 4:58 am

Fnord wrote:
I'm beginning to understand what people mean when they say that they "drink to forget". It's hard to remember being abused by a parent, especially when that parent has since died, and you'll never get so much as a "sorry" out of them.

Not sure what's worse... the abusive parent is dead so you'll never get an apology -- or that they're still alive and you know there's no way they'll ever acknowledge their actions or apologize for them. My mom played a big part in ruining my life and 20-30 years later she still denies any of her actions (and goes flippin' insane when pointing them out to her.) *sigh*