Shelley is a very good, long-term friend of mine. She has agreed to share her story in installments. I’m afraid that with this blog launch I didn’t plan very well, so you’ll have to wait a few weeks for the next one. Please check in with my FB page, Neurotypical is Overrated, for updates and I’ll let you know when the next installment will be “live.”
Many people agree that you don’t start having a recollection of memories until you are normally of school age. I had memories as early as infancy. They’re foggy at best. Basically shadows and outlines. Her words to me were garbled. I couldn’t really understand them, and I didn’t quite feel like I knew who she was. Yet there was familiarity there.
My parents married on Christmas Day, 1974. They lasted until April of 1979. My mom was an Army wife. My dad was a mechanical Sergeant in the Army. By February of 1977, they were in marriage counseling. They had specifically talked to the counselor about how maybe having children would help their relationship. When the therapist told them that wasn’t a good idea, they came back after a couple visits with the news of the pregnancy. That was also the end of the therapy.
My parents lived in Temple, Texas at the time of our birth. My dad was still enlisted and stationed on the Army base there. My mother was an Army wife. When she was four months along, she was informed that she was having twins. My dad was excited because he really wanted four children. My mom delivered us on December 1st, 1977 at Scott and White Memorial Hospital. She was supposed to have us in the hospital on the Army base, but it was filled to capacity. So she had to go the civilian route.
We would be a complicated birth. High risk, since we were twins. My mom found out a couple weeks into November that she would have to deliver early. We were due the 15th. She had been having symptoms of Toxemia. (Now known as Pre-eclampsia) So they said she had to deliver two weeks earlier than her due date. We stayed at the base until we were six weeks old. We did our very first road trip all the way to Oregon, where we lived with my grandparents for a little while.
We eventually moved into an apartment, and by the time we were nearly one, we lived in our house on Thompson street. By the time we were 16 months old, my dad left. So there my mom was, alone with two small toddlers and no one to help her with them. There were many times we felt her resentment towards us. We had so many quirks that reminded her of our dad, that she just couldn’t handle it.
The first time I realized that my family was different was when I was four. Saturday mornings were a blessing and a curse for us. On one hand, we got to watch our normal Saturday morning cartoons. On the other hand, we had to finish in its entirety the list of chores bestowed upon us.
It wasn’t the typical chores of just cleaning up. It was literally vacuuming, dusting, (every nook and cranny) loading the dishwasher, (many times it was incorrect) and tidying our toy shelf. In reality it was a bookcase about five feet tall with five shelves. Tidying it wasn’t completely abnormal per se, but the way it had to be tidied up. Books on the top shelf, balls and outside toys on the next, dolls on the next and so on. It had to be a specific way and as a four year old, organization wasn’t a strong suit. We were made to do it over and over again until it was correct to my mother’s standards.
Laundry had to be folded a certain way and the dishes in the dishwasher had to be loaded to a specific standard…one that we could never remember. If we didn’t load it the right way, we were woken up in the middle of the night to do it again. Once we were woken up, we were faced with the rage of an alcoholic parent with severe OCD. That was hard to comprehend as a toddler…we did the work, why isn’t it good enough? Why aren’t we good enough? Little did we know that it was just the tip of the iceberg.