Meltdowns

I’m sorry for my long absence. In the first little bit of the year, I’ve had an extremely rough time.
I’ve had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. I cut off all contact with my dad. I can’t explain in a single blog post why that was necessary; I’d have to tell you my entire life story. After a lot of thought and analysis, I realized that I simply can’t be mentally and emotionally healthy while having a relationship with him. Since then, I’ve been mostly recovering and trying to keep up my schoolwork as well as I can. I’ve had little energy for anything else, thus the lack of activity here.

I started this post a few days after the first meltdown. I couldn’t finish it then, so I’m coming back to it now.


Meltdown 1

Boyfriend and I come home after a terrible visit with my dad. After being picked apart, disrespected, mocked, invalidated, and made to feel like a worthless mess, I stand up and demand to be taken home. My dad drives us home in silence while I internalize all of the messages I’ve received, both explicitly and implicitly, that I’m a useless and ungrateful failure.

We get home.

I sit down, in silence.

Then I start telling boyfriend what I think. I’m a failure. I’ll never amount to anything. I’m not really autistic, I’m just a lazy girl who doesn’t want to be responsible. I’m a liar and a fake, and I’ve been fooling us both all along. You deserve someone better, and you should leave me before I ruin your life. We’re going to be poor because I’m useless. None of the things I’m feeling are real.

He counters. Calmly, he uses logic to refute my statements. You couldn’t possibly fool me so completely – you’d have to be a genius at acting. We’re not going to be poor, because I can work and you’re going to college and you’re good at what you do. Besides, we don’t need a lot of money. You’re amazing and you’re exactly what I want and need. You really are autistic, and your thoughts and feelings are real. I can see it. There’s no way you could pretend to be autistic this well. You’re a good person, and we’re going to have a good and happy life.

I sob uncontrollably. Sobs that feel like being turned inside out.

He holds me with firm, even pressure. I begin to quiet. But I’m still very conflicted. I ask again. Am I a failure? Am I really autistic? He answers all the questions I can think of, with his calm and patient logic. He tells me how much he loves me and that he thinks I’m amazing.

I feel a bit lighter. I squeak and bounce. This feels good. I do it more. I squeak and bounce and flap around the house. Then, I sit in my office chair with my knees up to my chest and rock back and forth. “I’m a (my name) ball”, I say. Then I say it again, and again. I sing it in various tunes for a time, while rocking and twirling my hair. Boyfriend encourages my stimming.

I start to want to talk about what happened again. I want to process it. I try to ask boyfriend what he is thinking, but the words won’t come out. They’re in my head, neatly ordered in their sentence, but when I try to speak them, all that comes out is “think think”. I can’t make my voice do the inflection that indicates a question. I pull up a google doc, and write that I can’t talk and need to type instead. He asks if he should type as well, and I type that it’s okay if he just talks. We carry on a conversation like that for quite awhile, trying to make sense of what happened and trying to regain my grip over my own reality. It’s hard, and I have to fight for it, but I begin to be able to think rationally again.

Eventually, I just start talking. I don’t really think about it; it just happens. My boyfriend asked me something, and a word popped out of my mouth. I’m not totally okay yet, but I’m beginning to feel like me again. I keep stimming all night and end up calm enough to sleep.

 

Meltdown 2

Only days after the first meltdown, boyfriend and I are awoken at 8 in the morning by an unceremonious knock at the door. It’s Friday, and our day off. Boyfriend scrambles out of bed to get the door, and we find out that our landlord decided to install all new windows in our apartment that day. Yes, without sufficient notice and in the middle of winter.

At first I start panicking. I hyperventilate and pace around the apartment while waiting for the workers to arrive and begin the installation.

They arrive, and I run into the office to hide. I feel numb at this point, and sink into myself.

Then the noises start. I don’t know or care what they’re doing; all I’m aware of are the painful noises bursting into my head and invading my consciousness. The cold slowly creeps in, and soon our entire apartment is freezing.

They begin working on the office window. I run to the bedroom, only to find a gaping hole and searing bright light.

I try to go back to the living room, but it’s not safe either. It’s filled with strange men and pounding noises and vicious light. Our furniture is moved and the room is unfamiliar. There is no safe place.

I freeze in the hallway. I am a scared animal with nowhere to run.

My eyes dart everywhere, avoiding the light and looking for a place to hide. I feel the workers looking at me, and am dimly aware that they probably think I’m crazy. But I can’t look at them, or even acknowledge them.

I realize then that our kitchen has no windows.

I dart through the hostile living room to get to the kitchen. I might’ve nearly run into someone, but I’m not sure. I couldn’t process what was going on around me.

In the kitchen, I sit in a ball on the floor with my knees pulled tightly to my chest. I plug my ears, close my eyes, put my head down, and rock back and forth. After a little while, my boyfriend finds me and brings me a blanket (which I promptly put over my head) and ear plugs. He sits down with me. We stay like that for awhile, I don’t know how long.

Finally, the job is done and the workers are leaving. I’m cold, disoriented, angry, and sad. I begin to realize I’m hungry too. My boyfriend and I decide that the best thing to do was to get our environment back to normal, and then eat our normal breakfast. We did, and then we were mostly okay.

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6 thoughts on “Meltdowns

  1. So recognisable. I’m glad you’re recovering. And I really liked the “I’m a (my name) ball” thing! It’s often how I feel as well, especially when I’m all squished up.

    • Thanks, I appreciate that.

      Yeah, there was something about just squishing myself up and repeating the phrase that was really calming. The stimming really let me push the emotions I was dealing with to the background, where I could process them without getting so overwhelmed. Stimming is a really great thing.

  2. Came home from a late shift at work, pretty tired, planning to go to bed very soon. Clicking through a few blogs, finding a username that looked interesting, opening webblog.
    Next thing I know I am breahting heavily while trying to read the latest blogpost, feeling overwhelmed with a horrible kind of familiarity.
    Nearly three years ago I broke off contact with my father as well. It was a long, painful process, which I could not have done without my girlfriend who kept pulling me in the right direction.
    It hated it. This feeling of disrespect. Being treated as inferior. Being summoned to have “talks” only to realize it is a method of control.
    Mental note to myself: I should write a blogpost about that in the near future, this is getting out of hand for a comment.But I got to admit the “I am a [name] ball”-part picked me right back up. If not for my knee issues I could have started bouncing through the apartment even at 1.15am.
    Right, 1.15am. I should turn off my computer. I guess what I am saying is: I could relate to this post very well and I know how you feel. If those window-guys would have shown up at my apartment unannounced I probably just would have shut the door and waited for them to leave in silence.

    • I am sorry. I’m sorry that you (or anyone) experienced anything remotely like what I did. I’m an only child, and people have often asked me if I wish I’d had a sibling, but I don’t; It would have been cruel to wish to share that childhood with anybody. I’m also sorry that I’m a bit late in replying – talking to people isn’t my strong point, and sometimes I need to build myself up to it.

      I’m glad your girlfriend was able to help you do what you needed to. I know that, had I not met my boyfriend, I’d still be in the same place I always was. I understand what you mean by the “talks” too – every so often (seemed to be about yearly), my dad would decide there was a very big problem to which only he knew the solution, and that we’d need to have a series of talks to fix it. He’d always reassure me that he wouldn’t attack me, and every time he would betray the pitiful trust I had for him. The talks were, as you say, just another method of control.

      I wish I’d had the courage to simply shut the door and wait for the window guys to leave. But if I’ve been taught anything, it’s to be passive.

      I’ve a question for you, if you don’t mind answering: How is it after 3 years? Is it easier? Are you happier, healthier, more yourself? I always found that, while his emotional abuse was horrible, the worst thing was how the abuse echoed in my head, drowning out my own thoughts. After 3 years, does that go away? Do you know, now, that it’s not your fault?

      I hope it is better, for your sake and mine. If you ever do write that blog post, please point me in its direction. I’d love to read it.

      • This time it is my turn to be sorry. Sorry for not replying. Every time I delay something like this for like one day I start delaying it further and further.
        I am afraid you question is not that easy to be answered. Am I happier? Most of the times yes. Am I more myself? Yes. Am I healtier? I think I am.
        Back when we left my parents’ house I felt much better only one day later. That however partly was because we went on vacation that day anyway. Yes I feel much better since then, but not always. There are phases when the memories are taking a bigger part in my life. Especially since my father still is not giving up his tries to get some contact to me. Even guilt-tripping me to go back to him.
        So yes it got much better for me, but not all the time. Partly because I still get postcards from him, partly because I am trying to stay in touch with the rest of my family. At least somewhat. But that is a whole different topic.
        Mentioned blogpost will be written at some point, I can inform you when I made it that far.
        If you want to know more details, feel free to contact me.
        All the best

        Ian

      • Don’t worry about the late reply. I know how it is – you see the message, and then take some time before answering. But something comes up or you forget and then a few days go by. Then you think about it again and feel bad about it, but so much time has gone by so how can you reply now? So you push it off a little further and feel worse. I do that all the time. So don’t feel bad about doing it to me – I understand.

        I’m glad that overall you’re doing better since going NC, and I hope you continue to get happier. I imagine it’s hard that your father is still pushing for contact. Mine hasn’t done anything so far, and it’s been almost 4 months. It’s probably because he can’t handle rejection, so he turns it around and rejects the other person instead. He always said he didn’t need anyone. One thing I found that helped deal with the guilt is writing it down. I wrote memories of the abuse, without any sugar-coating. It was painful, but when I saw it rendered in rational text, it was clear to me that I was right to leave and that I shouldn’t feel guilty. It was validating.

        Thanks for answering my questions. I wish you all the best. Be happy!

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