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How Abuse and Gaslighting Affected My 'Spoons' as an Autistic Person

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I’m sure many of you are familiar with the spoon theory. Basically, everyone has a certain amount of spoons or usable hours. Some people are able to achieve a lot because they have the energy necessary for the task. Then, there are autistic people like me, or those with chronic illness or other disabilities that have far fewer spoons than the average human. Therefore, a little task might take a lot out of us.

I have had so very few spoons my entire life, and the spoons I had were cheap plastic ones, not actual silverware. So much of my energy my entire life has been wasted on just surviving. I grew up in a situation where I was forced to mask my autism at every moment. Any spoons I had went straight to that. Everything else, school, social interactions, whatever else I had to do was forced out of me when all I wanted to do was collapse. I honestly have no idea how I managed to make it through every single day. I know for sure that I am a very strong individual, albeit a very tired and overwhelmed one.

Just recently, I was in another living situation that required all of my energy just to make it through the day without wanting to kill myself. My now ex-spouse was a horribly abusive person. I had no idea that I was being abused, because they treated me better than my parents did, which isn’t saying much. I only started realizing the true extent of my mistreatment when a dear friend informed me that I didn’t deserve to be treated like this. I truly thought I deserved to be screamed at and made to feel worthless. I thought I had no social skills and that I was better off dead than having to make humans interact with me. It turns out my spouse was gaslighting me and in reality, they are the one with no social skills and no clue how to treat people.

After I realized I was being abused, the new issue was getting out. I had to save money for months, and those months took more out of me than I ever thought possible. My spouse was upset that I wanted to leave and they did things like pour water in my gas tank, causing my car to break down. I had to lock myself in my room 24/7 to make sure that they didn’t steal any of my belongings. I had to sneak out the bedroom window if I wanted to leave without a huge confrontation.

The last two months were the hardest months I have ever experienced. I had so many breakdowns and PTSD flashbacks of being locked in my room by my parents during an autistic meltdown. I went non-verbal more times in one week than I have my entire life. I was truly scared I wasn’t going to make it out of that house alive.

I have now officially escaped my prison. I am living in a safe environment for the first time in my life. I know I can walk in the door and not be abused for simply being myself. I have an amazing family of my own creation that is nurturing me far more than my birth parents or my spouse ever did. The best part are my brand new metaphorical spoons! No longer will I deal with plastic spoons that break so easily. I now have the energy to write, create, and start living a productive, happy life. I have a shiny new set of metal spoons and I am so excited to start using them.

Getty image by Agustin Vai.

Originally published: April 21, 2021
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