Growing up, I was confused and at a loss as to how friendships were built. The popular people seemed like magical beings and I, being painfully shy, and socially awkward, was always on the outside looking in. A very lonely child and adolescent I took my social queues from books and movies which is how I spent the bulk of my time. I was prickly, sullen and sarcastic, but very creative and curious. A truly anomalous being that delighted and frustrated my teachers I’m sure. It wasn’t until my 20s I developed meaningful relationships with peers. I was and am always attracted to people who are more socially adept than me. I happily let them have the spotlight as they entertain me and others.
Fast-forward to my 30s, I’m married with a 2-year-old son who doesn’t talk. People are starting to gently prod me about getting him accessed for autism. I balk at the notion. Sure he’s different, but he’s incredibly intelligent (he reads!) and he’s loving and social with his father and me.
Eventually, the diagnosis arrives and the usual feelings of fear and thoughts of “what did I do wrong?” overwhelm me.
After a week’s worth of tears, I did what I always do when faced with a problem – I researched and I learned. I devour information and arm myself for the challenge to come. This is how I approached my son’s diagnosis. What I didn’t expect as I read books like “Neurotribes” by Steve Silberman and “The Spark” by Kristine Barnett is to see characteristics and examples of divergent thinking described in the books within myself. This research leads me to what an Aspie girl struggles with as a teen and adult. The list of traits fit me to a ‘T’ and they go a long way to explain my current and past trials and tribulations.
Am I on the spectrum? Does it matter? I’m a grown woman who functions in society so is there any point in slapping myself with that label at this point? I don’t know. Perhaps not, but knowing the possibility exists explains my straightforward tactlessness that gets me in trouble on occasion. I don’t lie. I don’t exaggerate. I don’t see the point. I get absorbed in my creative projects and the world and all its people disappear. I’m terrible with small talk and perceived as a bitch. The reality is that I’m shy and can’t imagine why anyone would want me to approach them and prattle on and on about my life. Who am I to bother them? Occasionally, when I am drawn into a conversation, I’m like a National Geographic special as I compare human behavior to the animal kingdom – citing things like mating rituals of random obscure species. Animal behavior makes far more sense than human’s. Animals don’t deceive, humans do.
At the ripe old age of 37 with a loving husband and two beautiful children I try not to dwell on what others think of me too much or too often… but sometimes my “bad guy” status gets me down. I’m honest, loving and charitable to my friends, family, and community. I try to be who I want others to be. I don’t ask anything of anyone that I wouldn’t be willing to give myself. Sure I wish I had the charisma and social graces of someone like my musician husband, but the reality is I don’t, and at some point, I had to just be okay with this. I had to give myself a break so I could move forward and be the best me I can be.
In these struggles were born my series of Bitty Baddies. Bad guys weren’t always bad and how they got that way intrigues me. What about life twisted them? In some cases, they aren’t really bad at all. Their approach to life might go against current society’s norms, but that doesn’t make them villains. Maybe they’re just misunderstood… like me.
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Sanderson Sisters (HOCUS POCUS)
Medusa (GREEK MYTHOLOGY)
Night King (GAME OF THRONES)
Edgar Allan Poe (POET)
Ursula (THE LITTLE MERMAID)
Maleficent (SLEEPING BEAUTY)
Me (JODY PARMANN)
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