Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Remembering a Traumatic Moment

It was 34 years ago today that I went through a very traumatic experience.

I was 16 years old and very naive at the time. I was interested in this older girl; things weren't working out between me and girls my age at the time. She was 17 and about to graduate from high school; I had pretty much given up on her. The guy who was competing with me for her affections was a bodybuilder; he had to be 21 at the time.

On that day, it was cloudy and unusually cool for May in St. Louis, MO.  I rode five miles to her house on my bicycle; I had not yet had my driver's license (which I waited until I was 17 to get, about the same time the following year). I was deathly afraid to go near her front door; I didn't want a confrontation with her family. It was late in the afternoon; I had been expelled from the high school I attended with her the month before for conduct unbecoming a student. It was about fifteen minutes after I arrived that this big, muscle-bound guy drove up in a late 1960s or early 1970s model Oldsmobile Cutlass coupe. I introduced myself to him and extended my hand in friendship. What he did next was very disturbing. He grabbed me by the sweatshirt I was wearing, lifted me and my bicycle off the ground, and began yelling obscenities in my face. He called me some demeaning names, and when he was finished with his vile tirade, he threw me and my bicycle to the ground. He said that if he even heard I came near her, he would kill me (as in sending me to an early grave). I was distraught as I rode home, crying much of the way. I tried reasoning with her by phone from a friend's house, but she was totally unreasonable. Even while I was interested in her, I saw the danger of her being involved in a relationship with such a deceitful, hateful, vile body builder. To this day, I have never really forgiven her for allowing him to inflict major emotional trauma on me.

In the 34 years since that day, I have been in a long-term relationship for eight and a half years with a developmentally disabled woman four and a half years my junior; her disability kept her from finishing high school. When I met her 22 months and two days after the aforementioned experience, I was 18 and she was about to turn 14. Because of the rejection I dealt with from girls my age or older, plus the fact there were fewer girls than guys my age in the community I lived in, I had no choice but to "rob the cradle". I had also become very suspicious of the intentions of girls my age or older; they were never honest about their relationship status to me. We were engaged by the end of the decade, and I planned to spend the rest of my life with her. She was also from a family with a two-generation history of emotional, mental and physical abuse; she had controlling parents. I had to break up with her due in part to her parents' divorce. I have not been involved in a romantic relationship since September 1993.

I have dealt with the trauma of that cloudy day in May 1983 ever since; despite the fact that the pain of that day has subsided over the years, it's still a reminder. The toughest lesson I learned from that day is that many of the so-called "fairer gender" in my own generation would not accept me the way I am; in other words, they won't accept me at face value. 

I have since been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (look that one up in your Google search). It is a high-functioning disorder on the autism spectrum characterized by a failure to correctly interpret social cues and nuances. The disabling effects of general autism are generally absent. This has, to me, been a root cause of my inability to form mature, romantic relationships with those of the opposite gender, especially in my own generation, as well as getting frequently stood up on dates.

When I write my captions, I write about the kind of world I wish I could live in: a world in which I am accepted unconditionally., especially by the "Fairer gender". Unfortunately, a hateful, deceitful world is the one I live in now; I don't expect unconditional acceptance of folks perceived of as "different"...not in my lifetime, anyway.

Before I wrap this up, how many of you have been in abusive relationships or have been in similar situations than the one I've been through? Please tell about your experience.