OR: I don’t know how to fix the mess that is my relationship with my mother.
When asked to describe my relationship with my mother in the last 10 years, I will probably choose denial. My mother is denying so much about me, to the point that I stopped trying to tell her things about me being different from what i was expected to be. You see, if I was straight girl without mental health issues and a history of domestic abuse, there probably would‘t be any problem in our relationship.
The problem is, I am not that person.
I came out of the closet as bisexual to my family and mother, by mistake, at 2008. I was 19. No one will admit they remember it. It was quite a big deal for me, but it all ended with my mother telling me I am too young to know. I shut my mouth. I knew she was wrong, but I didn’t want to “make a scene” and “be dramatic”. I was and am autistic, and my almost daily meltdowns were perceived as me causing drama and searching attention. even when I begged people to leave me alone, while they were shouting at me for crying after banging by head on something. So I shut up. I was grateful that I had a roof over my head. Other queer people were kicked out of their home. I was trying to be happy with what I had. I knew that my family will never kick me out of the house for being queer or get pregnant. I was lucky.
In 2012, weeks after my first pride parade, my mother found out about me going to it. I accidently had my picture taken with a politician (I didn’t knew who he was when the picture was taken). I had no idea anyone will find about this. She was angry at me. She could’t understand why I would go to such event. She was angry when my sister sew me a bisexual flag. No one except handful of bisexuals in Israel knew about this flag or it’s meaning back then. about a year after my first pride parade I left on her desk a pentathlete of a support group for parents of LGBT people. “Why would we even need such thing?” she said and handed the pentathlete “It is not relevant to us”.
Several months after I left my parent’s house and started to live with my partner, I came to visit. I was pressured to try on some clothes that were passed to my family (It is a common practice in our community, to pass around clothes in good condition). My mother came inside my old room, where I went to change. “Why are you wearing boxer briefs? Don’t you have your own underwear?” Trying to explain that I moved to using men’s underwear because it was more comfortable didn’t work. I said nothing about this being also about my gender. My mother was still very displeased with my horrible choice in underwear. And with the fact I didn’t shave my legs. Explaining her that this is also about my gender seemed useless. If she was already displeased about my choice in clothes that no one can see, I knew that talking about me being trans will just cause family drama. I was fed up with drama so I shut my mouth.
It was not like my sexuality or gender were a secret, even when I lived at home. Mother kept talking to me later about trans issues that are “just something she read on some blog”. Her semi liberal yet hateful remarks brought the point home loud and clear, even for me. Me being bi and trans* was a bad thing in her eyes. when I tried to say something about being bi, there was always denial or her saying that it was my teenage way to find attention. I was just provoking people. The problem was that at 2012 I was legally adult for already six years. I was working on my first degree. I was not a teenager anymore.
Between 2012 and 2016 I lived double life at my parents house. I was the admin of a forum for bisexuals in Hebraw. I organized meetups, and even had a girlfriend (and was in polyamorous relationship), without telling anything about it to my family. I went to protests against transphobia. I helped to organize a pride parade and an event about bisexuality. I even spoke on the radio. I had a huge polyamorous drama that ruined a marriage and was overall bad to everyone involved. I was also suffering from depression, constant anxiety and C-PTSD. I lost interest in life. I hid it as well. I hid it because when I was 18, and drew sad drawings, my mother became angry with me for drawing sad stuff, because “it reflects yout inner world.” Her words, not mine. so I hid my drawings as well. Everything was secret, because I knew that if I will tell anything, all I will get is anger at me, shouting and denial. I hoarded things to take to my future house, and waited till I could leave. I couldn’t work and study at the same time, and I was grateful to have food on my plate and roof above my head. My parents helped paying for my studies. Asking for honest relationship with my mother just seemed like too much to ask. I am in debt for the fact that my family grew me, gave me food and paid for my education. Wanting to be able to talk about my life and my problems with my mother seemed like too much to ask.
I was already ashamed by not finishing my previous academic studies, from which I was kicked out under the saying that I have schizophrenia (both wrong and ablist). My family lied to other relatives that I have finished the studies. Like they lied about me having a driving licence, even though I failed all my 14 attempts. They paid for the lessons. After I almost fell asleep during a driving lesson I stopped trying, because I knew that it won’t be safe if I fell asleep uncontrollably while driving.
When came my autism diagnosis. It included a meeting between a professional and my mother. The professional asked to interview another family member after that. My mother gave them a data that “was contradictory to what the professional heard from me or observe about me in our prior meetings”. The interview with my grandmother (my primary caretaker in my childhood) gave them the information they needed. I was diagnosed as autistic at the age of 25.
My diagnosis finally broke the relationship that we had. I could live with the fact that my mother was biphobic and transphobic. I could deal with her denying things she thought were me being rebellious. I could rationalize the shame and pain she must have felt with me failing to be normative. But I could not wrap my head around her denial of my autism. Especially since she always seemed to value so much professional opinions and rational thinking.
She was one of the first people to whom I broke the news about me being autistic. I asked her to tell the family, because she was very nice and accepting in that phone call. I hoped we could find ways to talk about the fears both of us had about it. It took me two long years till I accepted the fact that I am autistic and that doesn’t make me less. My mother is still not over it.
I made a mistake when I asked her to break the news to my family. I didn’t expect her to tell them that the diagnosis was wrong. That the whole autism thing is crap. I wasn’t able to pretend I am not autistic. Not anymore. For the first time in my life I had an answer of why everything was so hard, what were screaming and headbanging spells I couldn’t stopped no matter how hard I tried. My autism diagnosis forced me to pause and take a long and hard look on my life and the denial I was in about my own hardships. I felt a relief that my reality was true after all. My whole life I felt pressure to be socially adapt and good at body language. I just couldn’t do it, and I blamed myself for being lazy and not trying hard enough to read other’s mind, like it seemed to me. I knew now that I actually was not “misunderstanding things on propose”, like I was sure I did. Like everyone around me was sure I did, and I had no choice but to believe them, or at least pretend to do so.
I could live with the fact that me being queer was a shame for my family. It was a fact of life. I could not live with the fact that everyone acted around me like I am not autistic, and the whole thing was about wanting attention. So I did my best and asked the therapist whom I worked with at time to talk to my mother about me being autistic. I thought this will work.
I was wrong. My mom denied to every symptom and every criteria I met in the DSM-IV. The therapist was shocked by her behavior. I was not surprised. I tried talking to my mother several other times about the fact. Including the weird talk about why my therapy is about my depression and not, like what my mom expected, to make the autism symptoms less visible. My mother didn’t use the word Autism, but clearly talked about autism symptoms like stimming (stereotypical movements) and eye contact. So I did what I always did, and shut up about my autism as well. After I left the house it was easier not to talk about it anyway. I gave up. My mother was paying for the therapy back then, and I was regretful for that. I thought she will eventually come around. Four years passed since my diagnosis. Nothing changed in her attitude.
Since then I moved once. I finished my master’s degree. The women who was my girlfriend, and a close friend after that, died from her own post trauma. I started receiving medical cannabis. I live with 2 partners whom I love very much. I have a part time job. I receive help in form of a person that comes to support me for 4 hours a week (thanks to my autism diagnosis). I have chronic pain and use a cane. I am doing baby steps in queer activism again, which I left because of how poor my mental health became. All my mother knows about is the degree, the moving and the job.
One day my mother might find this text. But in the meanwhile, I can’t talk to her about the stuff I write here. The idea of having a honest talk that will not end in her shouting at me and her being ashamed of me seems impossible.
I feel like this is too much to ask from her. It must be very hard for her, to have an offspring who is like me. A queer and autistic and polyamorous offspring is shameful. It must be hard for her to be seen near me, acting like my autistic self. I know it because she demands me to take off my headphones if we are in a noisy place. She tries to stop me from stimmimg when we meet. She still says transphobic and bipobic things.
I love her. Yet she showed me more then once that being open with her about me being not straight and autistic is not a thing she wants. Because, and I guess here, most parents wouldn’t like to have children like me. Failures like me. The problem is, I am a real person. I am open about being autistic and queer and polyamorous in my job, with my friends and my aid. I am open about those things because I am tired of living double life (I have so much privilege that allows that as well). I even talked about my gender and medical cannabis with my father, who accepted me, even if he couldn’t understand. My problems with my mother are very mild compared to what other people face. I know it is unrealistic of me to want her to accept me and love me for who I am, like with my friends and lovers. But I still want it so much.
Both of us can’t get what we want. I will never be normal, she might never accept that I am the hot mess I am. I don’t know what to do apart from forcing myself to accept her the way she is.