Ableism kills

I found myself rather sad last night. Not that the feeling has gone away.

If there’s any truth to the saw of ‘the lesson replays itself until you learn it’, I can definitively say I’ve learnt my lesson.

It’s a human need to interact with others, to socialize, to be an integral part of a group. To belong, to have acceptance.

But when you’re autistic or ADHD or often another form of neurodivergent, you may easily live your life without something allistics and other types of neurotypical people take for granted. Simple social acceptance. A group to belong in.

I highly doubt I’m the only autistic/ADHDer who’s lived a life like mine.

I’m late diagnosed, so in elementary school, I didn’t understand why people didn’t like me. In high-school, the bullying in school and the abuse at home just made me want to crawl into a hole and never come out again. I ended up in an abusive relationship where I was pressured into sex far too young because being in the back seat of my boyfriend’s car (whether I actually wanted to be or not, I didn’t) was safer than anywhere else I could go. It’s one of the reasons it’s imperative to talk frankly with ND kids about our differences, we’re heavily at risk of every kind of abuse.

NT = Neurotypical ND = Neurodivergent

Because we’re sadly still human. We desperately just want to feel like we belong somewhere. That some people on this cursed planet actually want us around.

The things we’re capable of doing to ourselves in the mistaken hope that we’ll eventually find acceptance is pretty awful, to be honest. Humans are social creatures and when you’re prevented from being social… it hurts and harms in so many ways.

I had a brief period of acceptance in university for around 2 years. I joined the SCA and found a lot of other weirdos like me. I had a ttrpg group. I had a coven to practice with. I had people who acted (and were) pleased to see me. I’m no longer in the SCA because of what it’s become, so that time period didn’t last long.

I lost my coven and ttrpg groups when we all graduated over the course of a few years, moved away, and I’ve never found a group to practice my faith or my enjoyment of ttrpg with again. Solitary is lonely. Several of us are still in touch, in a haphazard fashion… but me loathing Facebook makes it harder for me to stay in touch with uni friends.

2 years out of 46. That’s a pretty terrible ratio no matter how you slice it.

It’s common these days in publishing to need to be good at social media to get anywhere. Or so that’s what everyone says. After my experience being harassed off social media, excluded from groups both professional and social repeatedly, I can say I don’t think they mean the advice for people like me.

Social media gave me a voice I’d never had before. It was nice. But it’s always my ‘voice’, my ‘me’, that people end up getting sick of, complaining about, and eventually excluding me over. It’s not like I misrepresent myself. I’m out as autistic/ADHD/mentally ill everywhere online. I’m too… worn out… I guess, to try to hide everything from everyone anymore. There are things I choose not to talk about, due to stigma, but everything I share online is authentic.

I can say with complete honesty that I’ve tried so many times to make friends, to find a group of people who would give a shit if I died. I’ve finally reached the point where I accept that I can’t have that. I can’t have a thing humans need to thrive because of ableism.

Because the intense, lifelong experience and pain of loneliness is better than the painful exclusions, the bullying, the ableism… it gets to the point where we just don’t have it in us to keep trying. I don’t have it in me anymore. I’m scraped clean. This latest exclusion has been not only horrifically painful for me, but it’s also rock-bottom. I can’t do it anymore. Excluding people and freezing them out is a form of bullying, y’know. In this case, it’s a form of cyberbullying.

So many autistic and ADHD folks have similar experiences. We try, and try, and give it far too many ‘last tries’ before we just… realize, I guess, that it’s just a grossly repetitive pattern and we stop trying.

I trusted a friend that the groups they were in were largely made of decent people who were accepting of differences. I don’t blame my friend, they’re a wonderful person and perhaps those groups were accepting of them (friend is ND too). So I tried again. I thought I was accepted too. But in hindsight, I can see I was barely tolerated. Y’know, it would be super helpful to be able to read social context in the moment. But that’s one of the reasons autistic and ADHD people are disabled. Many of us can’t pick up on social clues and we often completely miss social context.

It’s not that we’re trying to be the sand in the oyster. I actually tried to be as unobtrusive as possible in that group while still having a presence there. It didn’t change the fact that people complained about the way I ‘talk’. That is so, so ableist.

I didn’t complain about the many, many times I was hurt, harmed, or insulted in that group. I just did the professional thing and quietly blocked anyone I didn’t want to see.

But people didn’t have the decency to extend to me the same courtesy. Being ND is hard enough without gleeking ill-nurtured ableist coxcombs being utterly nasty. And trust me, if you’ve complained about the way any non-allistic talks/types, or if you’ve penalized one of us for it, (as long as it’s not obviously harmful IE racist, misogynistic etc.) that’s exactly what you are.

Years of supporting others, and of being as professional as I know how to be (I’ve worked fortune 500 corporate, I know how to act professionally even with people I don’t like). I extended them the same professional courtesy I’d hope people would extend to me… all of it gone in a flash with no warning. The reason given was the way I talk (communicate via text). The words used were both inaccurate (I’m an editor and that word was used incorrectly) and deeply insulting. Please understand that judging how a disabled person communicates, and complaining about it, is deeply, wretchedly ableist. I lost people I thought of as friendly acquaintances, professional contacts, and just… other weirdos who do this writing thing. I lost a place I mistakenly thought was a place where I was welcome. People I’d spoken to or read almost every day for years gone. I also lost any opportunities that being part of that group would’ve offered. And no, I can’t reach out to people in the group because I don’t know who or how many were complaining about me. I have a few guesses. Probably pretty accurate ones given my training in psychological forensics (it’s not all dead bodies, y’know). But I don’t have facts.

Those who I term ‘baby NDs’ or ‘unhatched autistics/ADHDers’ are people who may or may not know they’re ND, but who still cling to neurotypical social expectations and behaviors like some sort of ropy, gooey Turner and Hooch-esque slime trail.

I can’t blame them really, I clung to the same concepts for far too long myself. We’re raised, whether we’re NT or ND, to feel that following the social ‘norms’ will work for us.

Except it doesn’t work for autistics and ADHDers. The unhatched often (and full disclosure, I’ve been guilty of it myself… in my 20s when I didn’t know better) harm other ND people (including their own children) in their mistaken belief that if they just try hard enough, if they mask enough, if they entertain enough, if they get rid of the disabled person who talks funny… if they… if they… if they…

Trying to change the unchangeable and masking (autistic masking) has never done me an ounce of long-term good. All its done is break my heart, over and over again. I developed the habit of masking to survive. I used to be so good at masking that people didn’t believe me when I told them I’m autistic/ADHD/mentally ill.

I probably missed a good career as an actor. It’s what I did every second of every day and I paid the cost for it.

I’m not sure if it’s the fact I’ve been a SAHM for 15 years, the pandemic and the required quarantine my immunocompromised family still lives under so we don’t die, or whatever having covid did to my brain, but I can’t mask hardly at all anymore. I can manage it for brief interactions like buying groceries, but even that is just… utterly exhausting.

It’s nigh impossible for me to mask online. I have a social media persona, everyone does. I’m a little more outspoken online than I am in real life. I’ve always communicated better in writing so you’d really think it wouldn’t be an issue for me to find spaces where people like me are accepted, would you?

Except, online groups and social media have turned out to be just as cruel to me as people tend to be IRL.

Any sort of change, but especially unexpected change, is incredibly difficult for autistics. That’s got to be one of the world’s most understated facts.

I don’t know if I can even describe it. It’s similar to the feeling of overwhelm, it has some similarities to how someone feels when everything they’re comfortable with is suddenly gone.

It wrecks our routine, our reality, (routine is so, so, so necessary for many autists). That feels like your world shakes like an 8.0 earthquake and has its resulting destruction.

It’s a bit like how it feels to be gaslit, the questioning of everything you’ve done, said, experienced because obviously, you hadn’t picked up on some social thing that someone else felt was important enough to hurt someone (badly) over.

I’m not entirely sure if this thing autistics/ADHDers do when something goes wrong is innate or a trauma response from a world that makes it very clear we aren’t wanted.

But we tend to replay memories, which are often crystal clear for many of us due to how autistic memory works, trying to figure out what exactly we did wrong and when, so that we don’t do it again.

It’s an exhausting morass of circling, intrusive thoughts and please trust me when I say you don’t want to experience it. It’s certainly not a voluntary process. Things others can brush off as no big deal will often scar an autistic person for life.

I’m still involuntarily replaying memories of when I was 4 years old, for fuck’s sake, so can you imagine what it must be like in our brains?

That “professional” group was the last group I had. Apparently, it’s a time of endings. Because I can’t make myself find new groups to repeat the process with. I’m done. Social media will take a much lower rung on my personal ladder going forward. I’ll be in my own discord group, on Twitter until the wheels come off, and one other platform I haven’t figured out yet. At least I won’t be kicked out of my own group. If you’re interested in writing, reading, editing, art, stories, mental health, autism, ADHD, or are simply another lonely ND person, my group is safe space for NDs, feel free to check it out. As I write, it’s small and not very active because it’s new, but I hope it will become more over time.

Over the past 2 years I’ve thought I’d found welcome… or at least mildly concussed acceptance in 3 groups. They’re all gone now. I left one voluntarily when the mods proved to be disgustingly ableist. One imploded thanks to the behavior of one of those mods and someone who acted about as unprofessional as you can get. And this last one where I was unceremoniously ejected because an ableist twatwaffle complained about the way I talk/type. Or more than one, who knows. I certainly don’t.

Please be kind to people different from you.

If you ever have a problem with someone you know is ND, put on your grownup pants and communicate the problem. I guarantee most of us are appalled when we miss a social cue. And we will miss them. Usually, our brains are literally not wired to pick up on social context well. It’s the most affected portion for me on my diagnosis papers. Social skills/awareness ranked pretty close to zero for me.

No wonder I’ve always preferred dead people to live ones. (Forensic bioanthropologist, not serial killer.) Dead people haven’t ever hurt me. I can’t say the same about living ones.

Allistics love to accuse autistics of ‘not using our words’. But from where I sit… it’s incredibly obvious that the autistics/ADHDers/mentally ill aren’t the problem here. Allistics need to communicate better.

It’s also ableism. Pure and simple. And ableism kills people. How? Most autistic people die around age 36. The leading causes of death are heart attack from the stress of living in an ableist world, and suicide, because we never fit in. No matter how hard we try.

If you enjoy my writing, we’re a family of 4 immunocompromised/autistic/ADHD folks, two are kids, any tips/help is deeply appreciated. We live far under the poverty line.

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Today is my mother’s birthday.

To my knowledge, she’s still alive. This is the first year I’m deliberately not calling her though.

I just can’t.

I know it’ll turn into another go-round on the emotional abuse-mobile, and I don’t have it in me to do that. The things she said and did after the election still scream so loudly to me. It made it quite clear that she’d never really accepted who I am, so, no, thanks. Not calling.

You see, it’s always about how much I’ve hurt HER. How much pain SHE’S in.

Fine, I’m actually an excellent listener, I’m more than willing to listen to someone else’s pain and problems. That’s what friends/family do, until they realize that all they are to the person is a toilet, a dumping ground for this other person’s negative emotions (with my mother, that’s a never ending supply.)

It’s always been that way too.

Even as a kid it was me cleaning up the mess (sometimes literally when she’d drunk so much she was puking).

It was me teaching my sister about menstruation, cause mom was gone.

I took my sister to planned parenthood the first time when I knew she was gonna have sex with her boyfriend. Mom wasn’t around.

I’ve forgiven my mother far, far more than anyone in their right mind ever should have. Because… she’s my mom. This last time, I thought… maybe, since she’s largely stopped drinking, maybe I can actually have a mom now?

Sucks to admit that.

It makes me tear up too, and I HATE that.

But is it so wrong to want a mother? Someone who puts their kids needs first (for the most part) like I do with my own kids?

When my former best friend tried to kill herself, I called my mom, in tears, just needing her to listen. I was losing my home at the time too, and I just needed her to listen. It took her three minutes to interrupt and start venting about her problems and how much it hurt her to hear me talk about suicide. Three minutes. I timed it.

I guess… since I’m alive there must have been a time when mom did put my needs first. But I was 8 or 9 when she started drinking heavily, and I honestly don’t remember that time.

I don’t have a lot of good memories of my mother. I envy people who do. I envy people who WANT to call their mom on her birthday and wish her a good one. I wonder what it must be like, to know deep in your bones that your mother both accepts and loves you more than she loves a book of made up lies written by misogynistic men (the bible, in case you’re wondering). Or more than she loves her booze. I don’t know what that feels like, and I don’t suppose I ever will.

I have a case of guilt, in regards to so many people who would give ANYTHING for another moment with their mom. Cause I don’t want one with mine. Not my real mom. Yeah, if she ever bothered to do the work needed to stop being a gas-lighting, emotional abuser… maybe I’d consider it. But she won’t. She hasn’t yet… why would she now?

The mom of my wishing imagination? Yeah, I’d like to take that one to lunch, talk over all sorts of things and get a warm, accepting hug from. But that person only exists in my imagination.

To my imaginary mom, happy birthday.



Holidays are hard for me. Especially Christmas. They are for a lot of survivors.

I go through the motions of the holidays for my kids, because it’s expected, and the joy on their little faces makes the work and the pain worth it. (I do enjoy some things about it, but, by and large, I’d skip it, just get a bunch of new books or movies, grown up snacks and hunker down ’til it passed, or I’d write my way through it.)

I guess a little background is in order.

Back when I was a kid, I lived in a very ‘Brady bunch on the surface’ type of family with my mom, dad, (brother lived elsewhere), and little sister. We seemed like the perfect family. We went to church every Sunday and some Wednesday evenings, we took part in the community (as much as they let us, long story, we’re mixed race, wrong side of the tracks… ‘nother time). Dinner was ready on time, every night, we sat around the table together… you know, the illusion of normalcy.

Both my parents came from abusive backgrounds, and as an adult, I can see they were probably doing the best they could with what they had, maybe better. They tried, I think. For a while.

Unfortunately… mom’s way of trying involved drinking when no one was looking, smoking like a chimney, and maxing the credit cards to give mounds of presents to us kids (when I say mounds, I mean, you literally couldn’t see the tree because of all the gifts) to give us a ‘happy Christmas morning’.

The gifts we didn’t immediately play with were returned because we didn’t like them enough and well… she’d maxed the cards to get them, (we weren’t even close to middle class) so if we didn’t like them, no need to keep them.

She used to wake us up at 4am just to prove that Santa had come and given us such munificence. I don’t remember enjoying most xmas mornings because I was so sleepy, and later–when I knew what the scent was–the reek of alcohol on her breath. At 4am. (I have no issue with adults drinking responsibly, binge drinking as frequently as my mom did isn’t responsible.)

We’d have a few hours to play with our gifts while mom went to bed, then she’d be up and stuffing us into itchy clothes and dragging us to church (which, to be completely honest I hated every second of, always. Too many lies for my autistic brain and no one to help me understand why the lies existed.)

Then dragging us home, drinking while she made dinner (socially acceptable to drink on the holidays ya’know) and stuffing us into handmade (mom was a seamstress) period reproduction gowns to greet the extended family for Christmas Dinner.

Something she cursed through making every year and sobbed into her wine after everyone had left. Most of my extended family wouldn’t know the meaning of kindness if it smacked them over the head, especially the women. The guys are a bit better, but they’re all from abusive homes, and that old maxim of ‘abuse begets abuse’ was accurate at the time. (I’ve been through years of therapy to deal, learn, et cetera, and I’m hopefully not a terrible parent.) It was always catty comments and tear downs aimed at my mom. (Woman wasn’t perfect, but she was still trying, then.)

Something people rarely understand about autistic people is that we (most of us) SEE everything. We HEAR everything. Even if it doesn’t seem like we’ve heard or seen, trust me, we have. Most of us have memories like a steel vault, too (I can remember the color of every one of those gowns, and how they itched, I remember the arguments… )

So I saw it all. I heard it all and gods I wish I didn’t remember it. Some things no child should ever have to see or hear.

Dad would go off to his current affair after dinner while mom got us to bed, then she’d sit with her music and her wine and cry.

Or they’d argue.

My sister is too young to remember, how they argued and fought, and to this day she blames my mom for their divorce. I don’t, nor did my brother when he still lived, they were better apart than together, by far. If they were together on any holiday, they’d argue.

Next morning, we’d be shuffled together for Christmas dinner at my mom’s family, as guests, and I’d have to sit on my creepy FAR too touchy-feely step grandfather’s lap while he passed out gifts until I was old enough that he picked one of my younger girl-cousins…

Step grandfather was a five-star chef when he wasn’t drinking, could still cook well even sloshed, so at least the food was good.

Then it was all over but the fallout.

Every year it got worse.

You know… I forgave my parents a long time ago for doing the best they could with what they had. They did better than their parents did by them. Part of therapy is often forgiveness. Though that forgiveness is for YOU and YOU alone. You don’t owe anyone a place in your life. Not even blood.

Yet… the things I just can’t get over are the crap my mother still does to this day. Look, I’m well aware that as an abused child, you tend to be emotionally stunted in some ways, slower to learn/grow/feel. Mom was abused, no doubt about it, but she’s also been an adult for decades (I mean, I’m 40, she was in her 20’s when I was born.) Yet, to this day, it’s All About Her. (Updated Dec 9, 2017. I no longer have contact with my mother. I can’t, she went too far the last time.)

I try to think of anything that hasn’t been about her, for my entire life, and I honestly can’t come up with a blessed thing. I couldn’t be in my Aunt’s wedding and wear a princess dress (gods, I wanted that so badly) because mom was mad at her sister. Mom didn’t come to my University graduation because she was fighting with her Mother (my grandmother and an Aunt I didn’t know well came, my dad came… I was the first person in my family to go to University, much less graduate.) There hasn’t been a single thing in my life that’s been ‘about me’ that she’s had anything to do with.

Maybe when I was a baby and she took care of me? I mean, I’m here, so she didn’t drown me in the bath or leave me anywhere but a bar, and that was just one time. I was 7 the first time I took my sister out of the room to get away from an argument.

Maybe younger than 7, I don’t know for certain.

This whole shit-storm about the election, and more importantly the fallout with my mother has made it crystal clear that she doesn’t care about ‘me’ (not the idea of me, which she looooooves, but, you know… the real me… The non-binary, kinky, pansexual, polyamorous, pagan, open-minded me). (My dad is another story, but I don’t have a lot of bad memories of him, mostly cause he wasn’t around much ’til after the divorce. I don’t have a lot to do with him either, for which I’m grateful, but we do still speak.)

She messaged me this morning because I’ve been too busy (and disinterested TBH) to send her my new address.

She wasn’t polite, she was vituperative, and ended the conversation with ‘Fine, I’ll send my grandchildren their Christmas cards.

I just wonder, does she think a piece of printed paper is going to change the fact that they’ve rarely seen her face because she doesn’t bother to come see them? I’d let her. I want nothing to do with her for myself, but if my kids want to know her and she behaves, fine.

In her mind, did the plethora of gifts (many returned) make up for the fact that ‘happy families’ will always be a myth to me except in my little family (and that my husband and I work hard to maintain for ourselves and our children?)

Does her self-justification (she still hasn’t asked, never will, why I was so hurt by the results of the election) make it right that the perception of reality was (still is) so much more important than the reality of our lives?

The older I get, the more I just don’t understand how that woman thinks.

I dread this time of year, every year. It’s hard, physically, having fibromyalgia and the sheer amount of work that goes into playing Santa each year (kids are still young enough to believe) is nuts. The emotional burden of it though is what hurts the most.

I dread the advent of Christmas music starting as early as November first, I don’t even hate Christmas music, there are some songs I genuinely enjoy, but it’s the reminder.

This year, there were Christmas decorations next to the Canada Day (July 1st) decorations.

I get it, it’s the most wonderful time of the year for most people.

For people like me, though (and there are so many survivors of abuse/war) it’s a hard time of year to get through.

Which is okay. It really is.

We can get through as best we can, do what we can manage to do, and it’s really, truly, okay. IT’S ENOUGH.

If we have to avoid stores to avoid seeing the decorations, and not listen to the radio because we feel like we’re going to gag on the xmas carols. That’s okay.

If we can’t bear to go to a holiday dinner, or if we have to duck out early, or hell, if you have to cope by having a glass of wine or three (as long as you aren’t driving) do it.

If you want to eat special chocolate or smoke a little (and it’s legal) do that too.

If you need to curl up in a ball, bury yourself in a book or write your way through the holidays, that’s okay too.

It really is.

Cause you know what?



So did I, and for that, we’re big damned heroes.

Grab what sharp, bright moments of happiness you can out of this season, cling to them and share them if you can. Even if the only bright moment of happiness you can see is that it’s almost over.

I’d hug every one of you if I could, but know that I hold a spot in my heart for every survivor out there.

We got this.

…and if you’re still going through it. Hang on, survive, reach out for help if you can. There’s a lot of life beyond abuse, much of it heart-wrenchingly gorgeous, and so worth it.