Fitting in versus standing out.

by Emma Dalmayne

As a child I remember feeling so very different to the other girls. They weren't interested in insects and animal hospitals. They ran screaming from my pet snail Molly whom I painted red with white spots.

I would try all day to fit in at school but was bullied constantly. I was the butt of most jokes and gravitated to the other misfits present in my school year. One no one would play with as she smelled of urine and another who now I think back was probably also on the spectrum.

When I got home I'd open my dressing up box and put on pink princess clothes firmly believing that I had been dropped off accidentally in this hostile world and my fairy family would reclaim me soon. They never did.

I took in pigeons with broken wings stray cats and a hedgehog covered in ticks which I happily pulled out with tweezers and named Flossy. I would whisper to these animal friends that when I left I would take them with me. Sadly my mother was abusive to me and my father did not believe me when I told him. I was left feeling I fitted in no where at all at the age of six.

They never came back for me.

At age thirteen I was bullied by a gang of girls to the point of taking an overdose of paracetamol washed down with detox.

I took it then watched a film with my mother, then went to bed believing it was for the last time.

Again , thankfully this time they didn't come for me.

I returned to the same school that the bullies attended and completely rebelled, I'd walk into class and teachers would take one look at me and ask me to leave. So I did,at age thirteen.

I grew older and relised girls have something boys gravitate to, at last I was popular and felt like I fitted in. Boys loved my abandoned manner and eccentric personality, my ability to laugh when others would cry. The thing was I was being taken advantage of and should have cried but thought they ‘loved’ me so would believe anything giggling along like a love struck cretin.

At the age of fourteen I fell pregnant. It slowed me down completely and two months after my fifteenth birthday i gave birth to someone who loved me as much as I loved him ,my eldest son.

I still didn't feel at that time I fit anywhere and drifted having another three children along the way.

One of my partners was extremely violent and I stayed for a year and a half enduring beatings while pregnant . Everything bullies in the past had told me reverberated with every punch and head butt I was given. It WAS my fault and I definitely deserved to be sat on the kitchen side being told to repeat it over and over. I definitely did deserve getting pins shoved into my thighs while being told I was an idiot. I eventually got away by calling the police from a phone box as I had been allowed out to to go to the shop. In a domestic violence refuge at age seventeen now a mother of two I healed and began to see that I hadn't deserved any of what I had sat and taken . Yes I'd wail like a banshee when I was distressed and yes I would argue back and not know boundaries but no one deserves that treatment.

I moved out of London to the countryside, and was very happy for a time re connecting with wild rabbits, hedgehogs and frogs happily jumping in the nearby streams.

. At the school gates the mothers would gossip and once again I was the odd one out. I was a good mimic and could do the ‘alright babe, how's the old man?’

Yet knowing damn well I didn't care how they were, I just wanted to get away as talking for long periods of time made me fatigued and left me irritable.

Meltdowns would still leave me running for the nearest green areas as I was and am most at peace crying in a tree.

I eventually after now being a mother of four wonderful but extremely different and diverse children met my now ex partner. We had two children together, a son and daughter and at age four my wonderful little son was diagnosed as having autism. This led to me realising that I was on the spectrum and subsequently getting diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome.

It also led to me discovering my elder children also have autism and two more being acknowledged as on the spectrum. When you live with autism as an autistic adult you don't see hysterical fear of escalators , an inability to sleep with a pillow without corners or hiding under pianos barking like a dog as unusual. You accept them as they are as after all , I was quirky as a child and I naturally have moulded to my children's behaviours.

Alone now as things again didn't work out , I finally feel like I fit.

If I don’t feel like talking for long periods I make my apologies and walk away.

If I feel an overload of sensory stimulation coming on which I had before mistaken as a migraine I leave where I am and get home to a dark room as soon as possible. If the attacks already well underway it can last for up to twelve hours.

I advocate for autistic rights and raise awareness for the abuse of autistic children with dangerous treatments.

I have discovered other autist adults and find them just as funny and quirky as a I am.

I write, and believe that finally after years of attempting to fit in I finally stand out.

And I believe I have found my fairy folk.

Social ART