Level 1 – Stage 3: The Unforgiven

The shattered reflection of my human condition.

Because I’m really tired of trying to hide from it. Every time I log in to this website I find the words to put down, but somewhere between the thought and the strike of the keyboard they become watered versions of the emotion that gave brought them forth. Drained of all substance that gave them form.

I am not autistic. I have autism. Over the last year a phrase I’ve read on various websites and many reddit posts. Many times over the course of my life I’ve considered that I have an abnormal or “a-typical” perspective on things. Until recently I had never really considered the spectrum. Now I’m understanding that “the affliction doesn’t define me” but at the same time knowing “I am the way I am because of the affliction.” After taking some time to try and understand it better; a look back at these previous years actually start to make sense.

A collection of regret and resentment have lingered throughout the years, never understood, never dealt with. I’m an angry person. I’m not violent. I’m not abusive. I’m often cold and bitter and carry around that lifetimes supply of resentment. I never really thought about it before. but the symptoms were always there. I told myself time and again that the boy that grew up to be me had moved on and there was nothing left of him. That was a lie. He has always been there. Suffering unseen.

When you know you’re different and don’t know why, but have a catalog of memories of being shown that there was something wrong with you because of it, the effects may have a more lasting impression on you than you may realize.

Growing up in school I was the perennial outcast. Judged. Not fitting in. Never having a place. For thirteen years. Different. Memories are interesting. Part of me says I tried to put them all behind me. The other part knows I was too scared to confront it. I know there are a lot of people out there who have suffered through far more than I may have in school. I used this thought to camouflage the pain. If somebody had it worse than I did, mine wasn’t so bad. That wasn’t true. Nobody should ever be made to feel the pain they go through is OK. It’s not.

I didn’t act the way they thought I should act. I didn’t speak how they thought I should speak. I was different. I can’t tell you how many memories of that time I have forgotten. Yet, at the same time how many I’ll likely never forget. It’s harder to go unnoticed in a smaller school because you become the sole target.

Kids can be cruel. Kids can be remorseless. It’ never ceased to amaze me how others could go out of their way just to inflict physical and/or emotional pain. The endless number of finger flicks to the head. The massive array of new insults and names to be called. Never actually trying to take the soccer ball, but aiming to kick you in the shins. Deep inside, when you want to give up, and I wanted to give up more than I can recall, you can find reasons to keep forward or places to escape.

For those that have been through it it’s hard to understand at the time why it happens. You’re different. Often that can be it. Not why you’re different. Not why it matter’s that you are different. You just want to hide from them. I think the irony in all this is that in all the years I’ve looked back on it, I never could find it possible to forgive them. But it’s never been about hiding from others. It’s never been about forgiving others. It’s been about hiding from myself. It’s been about forgiving myself. It’s not that I was wrong in the situation, but I didn’t do what was right. For the better part of 13 years, I suffered through it. I didn’t find help.

They will never know me now.  I’m glad to have known that version of me, without him I wouldn’t be here.  I just wish I had taken the time to heal him when it mattered the most. Knowing who you were may be a memory, but seeing who have become, can be redemption.

This is in no way saying that all the memories were bad.  There is good and bad to damn near every thing.  I can remember faces of so many people and it’s not just because social media.  I remember the people that I graduated with then.  Some of it is a hazy dream of a memory. I can remember the crushes, the sixth grade girlfriend. I can tell you the name of all my elementary teachers. I can remember teachers that I can say still impact me in a positive way and the ones that I have since left all respect for. I still have every yearbook from every grade from kindergarten to senior graduation. They are keepsakes now.  They sit on a shelf so my kids can see daddy’s school years.  But they will never know the full truth of that experience.

I remember these things and I give credit to all of it for being some of the blocks in the foundation of the man I have become. But it’s only part my the story.

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