I handed the ‘Life Writing’ assignment in to my professor. It was entitled “The Fictional Story of My Life”.
He gave it a high grade, but asked me, “Why fictional?”
I told him, “because important factors have been left out.” I didn’t say what. Like not understanding how ‘social interaction’ worked. Or, like being repeatedly abused by a sexual predator.
“You should write the truth,” he told me. His name was Roy Miki, it was to be his last class before retiring from a long and illustrious career at Simon Fraser University. He knew all about hard truths. As a young Canadian of Japanese ethnicity he and his family had been interned during the Second World War. He had since fearlessly examined and written his own truths.
At that time I had in mind five books which I wanted to write. My life story was not one of them. But Miki’s words haunted me and I found I could not work on anything else. So, almost reluctantly, I began to recall and piece together my teen years.
“Focus upon an event or period of time that was pivotal, and write around it,” Miki advised.
So I did. I wrote about the summer I auditioned for a part as the lead actress in a National Film Board production. About the boys I loved and the numerous times I made an Aspie faux pas.
And about the humour and sometimes the horror of situations that arose as a result of not understanding the underlying messages in conversations or events, inferences that everyone else seemed to pick up on automatically.
The resulting book is not a fictional version, but the truth, or at least as much of it as I felt people could endure. As much as I could remember. As much as I could bear!
Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen is a book that is not so much about what Asperger’s is, but instead one which intends to illustrate the naiveté and social disconnection characteristic of Asperger’s.
I wanted to express how the realization that one is excluded from socially contextual understanding leads to strong feelings of rejection. And how this sense of isolation then denies a person those meaningful ties which would otherwise develop to allow a teen to have a sense of security within her immediate community: family, friends, peers and lovers. A social shelter without which, she is isolated and vulnerable.
And I wanted to express how, as a teenager, when I recognized this abandonment, and the full force of my emotional aloneness in the world, I found myself to be unforgiving.