What’s in a purse.. Or any object really, that somehow follows a person from decade to decade, from innocence to innocence lost..
Hello, yes I know it’s been a long while. These thoughts, many thoughts, long overdue as I have been treading a void of the darkest dark in a place ‘past autistic burnout’ for too long to remember when it started, to the point of mutism. Inability to formulate thoughts into words be them spoken or written. Mine is a brain that does not turn off. Ever. On solid days, the endless trains rolling upstairs somehow jive, make sensible pictures and render the Sarah with vision and focus. In these darkest of days, exhausted days, days knowing that I have to get ‘at the least’ accomplished, all systems aside from the needed ones stay in shutdown mode. Just. Cannot. Process. The energy does not exist. The tide pushing against every effort day over day, month over month, year over year has led me to push away and push away from even the seemingly easiest of communications. Have stopped trying to be heard in any form, have avoided social media of all kinds, even emojis are just too much…
Diagnosis at age 46…. Just… wow…A lifetime of moments, of tears, of confusion, of doubts and wondering ‘where’s my home planet’ brought into focus – yes. Finding some clarity, some self acceptance, does nothing to diminish the painful sadness, each moment a stepping stone in the path leading to the ‘now’. Again and again I find, understandable to me in my gloriously beautiful, malleable, gullible, accepting, diversive, nothing is simple webbed think tank of a brain – that I am lost in translation even to those whose aim is centered in finding a way to help. It’s exasperated what bit of ‘function’ I have as all systems have demanded dormancy to recharge.
Does not help that I ended 2018 overdrawn as my paycheck from week prior to Christmas bounced. Then, the replacement check bounced. After nearly 6 years of tedious devotion to this employer I stood up for myself – I quit. Long past are the days when I had standard tasks to accomplish, a ‘schedule’ to follow – because one at a time, those clients found themselves ‘screwed’ in other areas – mainly with their webwork – and dropped the company as a whole. I understand it left the owner speechless, as I suppose many are left speechless on the rare occasion that I have stood up for myself. Truly believed I would sit here day after day ‘in waiting’ to be needed to do whatever ‘bidding’, because basically that is what I have done for the past 18 months or so. Basically that is what I have always done, regardless of what or even when – a lifelong combined condition of that which is me, never knowing another’s ‘true intent’, with a deep desire to be helpful or to please, with the hidden hope of ‘counting’, of gaining inclusion, of (finally) measuring up.
The inability to create and keep a routine, having to recreate each day daily work to fill my billing sheet, went on for far too long. So I started 2019 unemployed. Have had another unending headache ever since. CHANGE. Stress. Panic. SADNESS.
Working to find a way, with what I am and what I have – 46 year old aspien single mother of two, all of us traumatized from the path thus far each with our own challenges – always short on resources, been living paycheck to paycheck since my firstborn was conceived, but to be fair based only on my efforts since she was 11 months old (she’s 15 tomorrow!), no core connections/supports left (disenfranchised, lost one by one), totally overlooked, not understood, or forgotten time and again by the social services help sought…at a loss now… alone.
Recently, I found myself at the least reading posts in one particular group that I have an affinity towards – geared towards late diagnosis Aspies/Autistics. We are the ‘lost ones’ in that we are a generation missed at the onset of our autistic traits – since Asperger’s was not even ‘established’ until many of us were already in our 20’s.
It’s validating, liberating to read from others, that the behaviors and life designed by a game we did not have the rulebook for, are indeed not so odd. Too many of us have estranged core family relations, and many for the majority of our lives. Many of us have too many days (weeks, months and years) where the processing overload from aiming to meet demands of family, work, daily life and the combination of unpredictable upheavals each adds leaves us clinging by the threads of a used tissue to get through the day, and we all fight for every drop of energy we can get just to take care of the day’s basics. We are tired from the series of struggles that life has been so far – relieved we can understand why the struggles happened, but somehow – well, for myself anyway – this self understanding and acceptance stops short as the cumulative, compounding impact and associated collateral losses and damages have yet to be fully understood let alone helped or healed, outside of the massive webbed picture within my own mind. It’s a breath of joyous fresh air to read how others also can’t stand tight clothing, tags and omg – thong undies! How others are just so worn from years of trying to blend, to be ‘acceptable’, to maintain the common world agenda of work, family, house, picket fence and 2.5 kids, coming up short (for myself anyway) in all areas because none get the attention and energy they need to thrive. Many are in long term burnout, and also many find that it is harder to pull from it the older one gets.
Yes, I see all the connections – more and more each day. In order to repair things for my children, I rather have no choice to go beyond the sense memory portal, and actually dust those picture slides off to put them into perspective.
About those thongs now! I stumbled across a post a few days ago written by a woman asking about thong underwear, I had the biggest ‘spit my coffee’ moment in eons. Thong underwear – but really, why indeed! I have never been able to wear thongs (I don’t like normal, tagless panties of any kind if you must know. Or tags. Or clothes that fit) even back in my stripper days – and I said that, too. This started a conversation betwix a few of us, to which I decided it was time to dust off my dancing memories for some sharing fun… and then those pieces started to connect to the current bigger picture, the butterfly effect shuffled everything forward again from point ‘A’ to the now as I snuggled in the darkest of dark places away from the world.
It’s more than stories – these memories. It’s my ‘lost decade’ and then some. My end from ‘routines, known expectations, known responses’ began at 18. Prior to that, I lived in a world of controlled fear. Rigid rules at home. Socially awkward, not many friends (one friend at a time, for most of my youth), not much for popular social stuff but very interested in writing and reading, in finding a way to save the animals and the misunderstood underdogs of the world. I had bouts of depression from 12 onward, issues with food began after our trip to England (at 13 years old) where we saw a slaughterhouse. That hit my soul with profound sadness so I stopped eating meats and became obsessed with maintaining my weight at 115 pounds, with not having any touching between my thighs, and with doing 45 minutes of aerobics daily. Shy, kept to myself mostly, always available to help a peer with homework if asked though. Always looking for a way to help, to make a good difference. I had structure though, knew what I was doing on an hourly basis.
In those days, all my oddities and deficits were attributed to the hit and run I lived through, 1976 at 4 years old. I can see the separation of the aspieness and the limitations from the accident, now when I look at it.
Purse Tales: Part One
I have not thought of my stripper days in eons, other than in random humored mental passing, until I saw that post about thongs. I was a nightmare of a stripper, truly. I have no natural coordination, amplified by scoliosis and being flat footed, so it was not something that I set out to do, rather it just happened. Means of survival. Attempt to live in spite of having no place in the world. Every time I see the episode of ‘That 70’s Show’ where Kitty catches her hair on fire doing a strip tease for Red… I remember the awkwardness I had.
Super Bowl Sunday, January 28, 1994 – I boarded a plane out of Atlanta, with my three cats crated and checked, set for sunny northern California. Twenty-one, feeling totally lost, misunderstood, without a viable ‘place in the world’, and on the verge of wanting to die but not die, needing to just not be ‘here’ anymore.
This set of feelings was not unfamiliar to me, I had had it prior at 18. It was January 1991 when I left college the first time to find my place in the world outside of the one that I knew – one that scared and confused me – let me be somewhere besides where I was – which was not working. Nothing worked for me after I graduated high school, not really. The summer prior to starting college was okay, but the day I got up to start college, a headache began. For nine months, that headache did not stop. I saw the doctors, they could not explain it, but the headache would not end. Commuting to classes daily, doing my best to figure out ‘college life’ and meet the expectations set upon me for ‘doing my best’ by my parents, never actually believing I was measuring up because I was not – I broke. I ran away from my parents house, and within a few weeks got into the car with the cats and hit the highway. I ran to Colorado, where I worked in a sandwich shop in Denver for a while, and when something odd happened with the owner’s son, I loaded up and drove back to ‘reality’. I recognize it as autistic meltdown and burnout now. The headache that would not stop – full processor malfunctioning. Overload. Overwhelm of massive proportions.
January 1994 marked the end of almost 3 years of going to college away from home, 3 years of consecutive quarters – once I landed there, I did not want to leave. A serious minded, focused student I was – in psychology and theater. Sometime the fall prior, I had a detrimentally bad conversation with my parents, who disagreed with my line of study and did not support or understand me or my thinking. Not that I was surprised, I had not and still do not have a ‘bond’ or ‘connection’ with them. I am the black sheep, was back then and assuredly am still.
For several months, I contemplated what to do. I felt completely trapped – if I stayed, I was going to want to die. I was not understood, I was lost and not finding any place that I particularly ‘fit’ other than with my thespian peers and within a small faction in the psychology department – with one professor in particular who inspired and motivated my onward march. If I stayed and was forced to change studies, I did not want to go on. Over the following months, I came up with the plan to disappear. With the help of my one friend, a plan formed.. And I went, leaving the truck parked at the end of my parents driveway, locked with the keys in it, prior to hitting the road in her vehicle to the airport in Atlanta. All roads ended where I had last been as far as anyone was concerned. I did not feel I had support to turn to, and I did not want to die exactly – so let’s find a ‘new world’.
I worked at a privately owned hotel for a while. I would inspect the rooms following housekeeping and then mark them as ‘ready’ in the system. The pattern came easy, and I had no issues with the work. Ahh, but I had more experience and education than my supervisor, and was fired after about 90 days on the job. Upon returning to the apartment I shared with two college guys, I learned that I was without a place to live, too. The one roommate was on notice from his parents, if I did not move out then he would not get the following quarter’s tuition and expenses paid for by Dad.
The ‘other roommate’ was the one that was my ‘friend’, the one that had convinced me that California had all the answers. He helped me find a one bedroom I could pseudo afford with what I had saved, but I still needed work to maintain the rent and feed the cats and myself. No furniture, a sleeping pallet on the floor. One pot, one fork, spoon, knife, plate, bowl… ate a lot of Ramen back then.
That’s what led me to ‘City Limits’ and stepping on a stage for the 1st time… in my ½” black heels, black silk Victoria’s Secret style nightgown, with my little black purse in tow (what I carried my cigarettes and tips in, I was NOT wearing money on my leg no way no how!). A purse from my youth, given to me by my mother at 16 during days of being ‘wine princess of the Rheinland Pfalz’. A purse that had held a lipstick and house key, as I stood in pretty dresses alongside the other princesses ‘elected’ for the wine season (this is a story for another day altogether).
Thus came ‘Gabrielle’… one of three dancers without breast augmentation, and the only one that wore nightgowns instead of ‘costumes’, carried a purse, and preferred to dance barefoot than wear heels. I did not make out well on the daily – If I broke 100 bucks, that was a ‘good shift’ for me. In spite of watching (in hidden awe, I admit) the other dancers getting ready, full of confidence, wearing what ‘sold’, and knowing what to say to the fellas as they sat with them, getting table dance after table dance, I didn’t really figure it out. It was a juice bar, so no alcohol was sold, and patrons that appeared intoxicated were not allowed inside. The ‘conversations’ had to be stimulating enough to get a guy to buy expensive ‘ladies drinks’ off which we got ½ the cost (5 bucks each) or buy a table dance of which we kept it all. After the ‘getting to know you’ topics are covered, I really just do not know what to say – never have. Small talk? Ok… That must be what earned one dancer 500 bucks and a dozen long stemmed roses from her one ‘regular’ on her birthday.
I bought 2” heels, which killed me but I wore them anyway, and did my best. One fella offered to pay for me to get a boob job, to which I said ‘no thank you’, I was NOT changing myself. I did not know why but I did not want to do it ‘that way’, if I was going to succeed it was going to be the Sarah way. One patron had a fascination with my feet, and would pay extra for me to dance barefoot. He wanted to pour wine on my feet and lick my toes! No, that did not ever come to pass.
Some misunderstanding with another dancer brought about my exodus from ‘City Limits’ on Auburn Blvd. I honestly do not recall what it was – I did nothing, was not a thief, did not know how to pull a ‘con’ or take a client from another dancer, watched them do that to each other but I was more prone to sit alone in the dressing room between sets than try to ‘get out there’ unless I had a request to sit with someone as I came off the stage. That propelled me around the corner to a place called ‘Tex’s Saloon’ – another calibur of strip clubs altogether. Full bar, topless with pasties only, two poles – a jukebox during the day, a deejay in the evenings. The ‘good ol’ boys’ crowd, California-fied.
The dancers there were a bit more ‘real’, laid back, not so snobbish or difficult to say ‘hello’ to each day. They did not give me grief about my choice of attire, or my shoes, or my music – but when you are allowed to drink, things do change. Allowed to drink – we were. Though I never did get the hang of climbing the pole, the turning upside down scared me and still does – that big stage was great! I could spin and spin and spin some more! I could dance barefoot and no one gave me grief. I could chat with the patrons because socializing while drunk with drunks is much easier, the score does not matter as much, the awkwardness less noticeable. It was a more casual environment, guys came with dates to play pool and carry on. That’s how I relaxed, I wasn’t running a con or giving them lines while sipping an overpriced ginger ale. I could play a game of pool and have a drink or two, and somewhat relax and blend.
On one such occasion I met a couple, Ken and Barbie all around, young with everything going for them. We had quite the night one night, drinking and dancing, the lady watching my performances and practically coming out of her own top. They came onto me, to which I did not know what to say or do. To this point, my ‘lovelife’ had consisted of one highschool sweetheart, and two different heartbreaks during ‘college days, part one’ both that suffered my aspien meltdowns as I fought and failed to navigate those dear college days. Where relationships and sex were concerned, I did not know the rules. I did not know the game. I did not know, and I still do not know, to be honest. I was beautiful, enough so that professional photographers asked to work with me (two there in California – including one that used my legs as the cover of the Sacramento Bee for an article about strip clubs), and as long as I was the silent doll on the shelf, as long as I was seen and not heard, many sought after me.
As for that couple, they wanted a threesome. I had never done anything like that, but was talked into it. We went to that apartment of mine, with no bed, and continued drinking. We messed around, all was good I guess – until she went to shove one of her fake boobs into my face and I freaked out. I cried. I asked them to leave. Total 180. I apologized and apologized, the guy was confused thought we here having a great time… but I shut down. No. Stop touching me. Too much.
The deejay was a male model moonlighting for extra money. He rocked the place regularly, with the tunes he picked and his magnetism. All the dancers wanted to go out with him but he never took their bait. One night, after a couple months of banter, he picked me. Instead of taking home the taxi, driven by the same person I always had, I let him take me home. I do not remember what happened after the kissing. I have never remembered it – other than the next morning finding him gone and myself having had sex that I absolutely did not recall in any way. Hurting. Bleeding from the butt.
I had a difficult time going back to work. I did, for a minute. Then I got on the phone with some people ‘back home’ in Alabama, gamer friends (this was back in the days of the MUDD worlds). Convinced it was the right thing, I got on another airplane with my cats, and landed in Birmingham, AL, where I started working at Sammy’s – until the deejay there took me aside, about a month into the gig, and told me he suspected that I was pregnant. Turned out he was correct, and that meant no more dancing (at least not at that club). Still not in communication with my ‘family’ and not even considering them as a source of support or advice, I meandered back to my old college town in south Alabama. I tried to find a way to give that baby a ‘good home’ with parents that could and would do right by him/her. I was just turning 22 at the time. Over a couple weeks time, I made the decision to go to Atlanta to have an abortion. Someone whom had been in classes with me back when I was a ‘good girl’, paid for the procedure and provided the transportation.
It was not a good day.
There were picketers to get through, and after the procedure was finished, the staff walked/pushed me through the door where I collapsed, caught on either side by the two friends who had driven me. Slept the whole way back. Found out the next day that there was a single woman at the hospital interested in my baby….
To be continued…
It’s Just Me…
Written March 2011, this is up to the time that I became engaged to the ex husband whom I was in contemplation about how to severe ties from yet again at the time that I wrote it. For perspective, essentially age 4 – age 28.
|Little girl, younger brother out for the day,
Here’s the ball sister, wanna play?
Oh wait, it fell in the road,
A little drunk, the woman drove…
Little girl, lays broken, good as dead,
Whatever is wrong with her head…
Doctors work, Parents pray….
Perhaps she will walk again one day?
Little girl, can you crawl, can you move, can you talk?
Open your eyes now, What is your name, please walk!
Will things be ok,Will she will ever be the same…?
Little girl grows, little girl crawls,
One day she again learns to stand tall.
However hard, she tries to play, she tries to laugh, she tries to stay…
With the kids, oh so cruel, do not know what she went through.
Will you play with me anyway?
Will you be my friend?
No, oh no, we will not pretend – Too weird, cannot run, ‘No, you cannot have fun, we will not play, you have no friends to play with today’.
Little girl, now big girl, it is time to read, to write your words and make good scores.
No matter, be good, do better than best,
You cannot fail, you cannot rest.
Big girl, please, take the lead for me, handle the house, your brother, please!
Good grief, don’t forget to clean.
Never mind…never mind the turbulent ship, the in—fighting and discord, the tantrums and fits.
Don’t forget to read, to write your words,
And don’t forget to make good scores.
Big girl turns young woman ~
Alone she stands, wondering who will be her man?
Will you dance, will you sing,
Will you hold me close, I need you, please~
I’ve just been terribly misunderstood along the way….
I learned to crawl and walk again,
I read the books, and wrote the words,
I did my best to make good scores,
But you don’t want me?
“I’m sorry, not now~
We danced, we sang, times were fun,
Thanks for the kisses, I’ve got to run”~
|Long drive, long night, when she passed away,
The mother of her heart, why could she not stay~
The pain so great, the trials so long, she said,
‘Please help me, move this along’ ~
Young woman, wept, as she held her hand,
Slipping Helen pills was not her plan~
Ease her to heaven, where Granddaddy waits,
To be together, forever, she knew her place~
Long drive, long night, no friends to call~
What just happened cannot bear at all.
I love you, please, I want you to stay~
Can’t we play this game another day?
The walls so dark, the halls so dim,
Loneliness slowly creeping in,
To claim more of this soul alone,
Take it, take me, take me home!
The pills, the drinks, the men, the nights,
That’s all it takes to feel so bright~
To sing, to dance, to have a laugh,
Have a chance at a one night romance~
They call her ‘beauty’, she spins on the floor,
Got some pills, pop some more~
Fall deep to darkness, its warmth inviting,
A place to slumber, so large the price is~
When you lack connection to anyone, anyplace or anything,
And you feel that you have a song to sing,
But who’s there to hear it by the morning light,
To hold her, touch her, treat her right~
The darkness grows bigger for this little girl,
Grown woman now, she does not know the score anymore~
She has been battling against the current for so long,
Her hopes, dreams and best chances gone….gone,
Where did they go?
Why can’t she soar?
Above the pain enduring to find there’s something left, something more~
This is the girl, the lost girl.. one of the photos taken by the professional photographer I met in GA in the 90’s. 23-24 yrs old. The only photo of all the photos taken that I actually still have.