Don’t get me wrong, my mum was a lovely person, and very helpful. But I often felt like she was holding me hostage. It was very subtle and quite possibly a neurotypical person wouldn’t really notice that or coped with it better. I felt she was constantly worrying about me and wanted me to prove her that she had nothing to worry about. I couldn’t escape from that behaviour as I’d then had no one to bond with in my family.
How I remember my dad, before he had his breakdown, was that he always thought that I was cool. My mum instead was worrying that I wasn’t ‘like other kids’. Sometimes it was about something really small. I remember, when I was maybe 10, we bumped into my cousin and auntie in town. The cousin was exactly the same age as me and she started jumping up and down when she saw us while I just smiled. I wasn’t ignoring them, I spoke with them and found it a pleasant few minutes before they had to walk away. And when they did my mum was like ‘like you’re not like her? Why you’re not like other kids?’ She was going on and on about it for at least 30 minutes.
When I was already an adult mum was worrying that my boyfriend wasn’t taking me seriously. There were some serious issues there with him and his family and, when I tried to explain them, she was like ‘leave him then and find somebody else’. And maybe she was right, in a neurotypical way, but that wasn’t how I saw the situation. It was not what I wanted to do. What I wanted to do, I think, was to work out why it wasn’t working. It may be a strange motivation but I guess that’s how I think. Possibly, if mum didn’t disturb me, I moved on quicker. At times I almost felt like I was staying in that relationship to show mum that she has to get on with the fact that my love life is not what she would like it to be. Strange, isn’t it?
I felt like I was enough of a good girl already, if you compare me with my brother, and mum shouldn’t have any additional expectations. Yet, she seemed to look at things differently: my brother didn’t want to fulfill any of her hopes so I had to do that with everything. I really felt like I couldn’t use my own brain to work out issues and had to consider what she would like every time.
After being constantly asked why I’m not like other children things changed when I was a teenager and the teacher told mum that I’m extremely good at maths. She suddenly put all her hopes in there and started praising me in front of others when I didn’t feel like being praised. That continued till just a few years ago (possibly sign of dementia?). I remember, the most ridiculous thing ever, we went to Paris together and on our way back she started talking with a man who was her neighbour on the plane. She told him that I have ‘a very good job’ without giving any details. Omg, seriously, I thought I was going to punch her! I was at the time working in a small care home for people with learning disabilities, was paid 50p above minimum salary, had to deal with screaming and physical aggression daily and she referred to it as ‘a very good job’?
The fact that she changed her attitude to me from telling me to be like other kids to praising me like if I was perfect only because I was so good at maths really upset me. It looked like if I wasn’t good at maths I would not be good enough for anything. While, when I was good at maths nothing else mattered – she even told me once that I’m so intelligent that I don’t need any social skills. I don’t know where she got that from and if she believed it. Although certainly not autistic, I doubt my mum was neurotypical. I think she had ADD, obviously not diagnosed as those things were not even talked about when she was a child. She was a social creature, much more than me, always enjoying a chat, but her social imagination was like 10 times worse than mine. Seriously, she couldn’t predict the consequences of her actions in simplest situations. I mean, she knew that calling someone names would upset and offend them, but that was probably it. She seriously didn’t know anything more than that.
I think, however, that was why I didn’t realise she was getting dementia. She was always like that, I thought. I mean, ok, it got a bit worse lately, but then she’s getting older, isn’t she? And her memory was still good. The only thing that I really noticed was different was that she seemed to fit everything into patterns she already knew. It wasn’t about her not being able to adjust, she really couldn’t even imagine that things were different than when she was younger. I found that a bit concerning, but then, her memory was still good… there was no point talking to my brother either. He was too busy focusing on how to get money for the next can of beer to think about such things as his mum developing dementia.
In a way I feel like I’m relieved. Finally I can make my own decisions now. I don’t have to worry about what my mum will say, whether she will worry. She would worry a lot if I broke up with John for good. It felt a lot like taking her opinion into consideration was clouding my judgment. Not that I want to break up with John for good. What I really want is to assess what is best for me and take it from there.