About 20 days after my first journal entry so many years ago, I wrote more. This was the day after I received my copy of Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome by Rudy Simone. Hooray for ordering books online!
So, I finished reading Aspergirls before 2pm today. Pretty much read it non-stop from the minute I picked it up yesterday, only pausing to sleep for the night (later than planned) and to referee the children.
Nobody’s ever written a book about me before. I don’t even know what to do with this. Some of the things in the book put into words feelings and events that I don’t think I could ever have explained on my own.
Reading Aspergirls, it felt as though Rudy Simone had followed me around my entire life while simultaneously rummaging around in my brain and recording my thoughts. It was both exhilarating and creepy. It was exciting while eliciting a fair amount of apprehension at the feeling of vulnerability it brought up.
Nobody had ever written a book about me before, as far as I knew. I’d read plenty of books purporting to be about women or wives; even girls when I was a child. Throughout my lifetime I’ve read hundreds of books, specifically about people, trying to understand other people as well as myself.
Yet, none of the non-fiction books I read had described me at all, not even a little bit. For just one example of many: I couldn’t manage getting through the first full chapter of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus because it was absolute dreck as far as I was concerned. All marriage books and other non-fiction books about women that I’ve read have been more of the same misrepresentation: containing completely inaccurate information for me.
My response to this lack of accurate representation was, at some point in my childhood, to stop clearly identifying as a girl. I also definitely didn’t identify as a boy and certainly don’t identify as a man now, but it was still confusing not to have any good, serious examples of females who were like myself in either fiction or non-fiction books. The obvious conclusion at which I arrived was that I must not be a “real girl.”
I related to several male characters on TV and in fictional books – most notably Spock and Data from Star Trek. If I wasn’t a girl then perhaps I was an alien or a robot? Many things about Sherlock Holmes also seemed vaguely familiar in myself, and at least he was human.
But for women, all I really had was Amelia Bedelia, who was presented as young/silly, yet was constantly being expected to know things that were baffling and confusing until clearly explained, after it was too late. I always felt sorry for her. I would’ve drawn poorly rendered pictures of those curtains too! Any sensible person would have!
Finally (when I was around 11 years old), in Isaac Asimov’s book I, Robot, I found a serious fictional female character with whom I could relate: Dr. Susan Calvin – the Robopsychologist who preferred working with robots over working with humans. Ah! Yes, that would be an ideal job, I decided. Except it wasn’t actually a job in reality.
I went through [Aspergirls] with a highlighter. [My husband] is going to read it and this way he can see exactly what parts I related to.
I think I’ve cried more today than I have in years… Maybe I do want to pursue a diagnosis so that my parents can be told and would actually believe me. I don’t think they would otherwise.
In all honesty, I cried more those days and that night when I read Aspergirls than I’ve probably ever cried since I was a toddler. Crying when not physically injured was not terribly acceptable in my parents’ home. So, I quickly learned to hold the tears in – something at which I’ve gotten so adept, that now I have difficulties crying even when I logically know I would benefit from doing so. The rituals I have to go through in order to successfully induce a session of crying are time-consuming, difficult, and not guaranteed to work.
Now, at this point in time, years after first reading a book about women like myself, I’m good with being female/mama/she/her. However, I still recoil automatically, just a bit, from the word “woman” when it’s applied to myself.
“Woman” is a word that, for most of my life, only really encompassed people who were not very much like I am. I still believe that I would be just as much myself if I had happened to be born into a male body because in the end I’m just me. Myself.
But I’m also someone who has at least one book written about her!
It’s amazing what just one accurate piece of representation can do to and for a person.