Daily writing prompt
What does freedom mean to you?

I’m probably autistic and, possibly also, ADHD. Though I have no formal diagnosis, I exhibit a lot of the traits of both these conditions. Which means I appear, at best, ‘arty’, at worst, fucking weird, to most people. I am socially inept, have no idea how to make friends and less idea how to keep them. But, being human, I need other people in my life. We are social animals, we rely on each other for support, regardless of what some I’ve heard a number of aggressive individualists insist upon.

All my life I’ve had to try and pretend to be like other people to fit in. I spent most of my childhood alone and friendless, on the outside, wondering how to get on the inside, and so I watched and learned. Very slowly.

In time, I learnt how to mimic popular people, and by the time I reached my thirties I was, to all intents and purposes, the charming, stylish, airhead wife of a high earning business-man. I suspected I wasn’t stupid, but I had failed everything bar English at school, so I made odd attempts to prove I had a working brain, and at 34 I began a law degree at the University of Hertfordshire.

Everything seemed to be going well, I enjoyed the course, I was good at it, I even made a few friends. Then my husband interviewed for, and accepted a job based in Glasgow (four hundred plus miles away), without telling me. When I didn’t want to move until I finished my degree (I had another two years) he told me I was selfish, evil, and our son would suffer because we’d have to get divorced. So I moved.

I gave our marriage another fifteen years, but left him eleven years ago because I could not get him to tell me the truth about anything. And he continued to insist that I was charmingly dim even though I had managed to get an MA in philosophy and an MLitt in Creative Writing by then. He screwed around, he made promises and then broke them, and he blamed me for all of it. I realise now I spent the thirty years we were married increasingly terrified to be myself. As our, now adult, son said a few years ago, ‘Dad can take the tiniest piece of information about you,’ that you had soup for lunch, say, ‘and turn it into a weapon against you.’

But all that’s in my past, and I have been able to forgive the cunt, because I’m now married to a man who actually loves me for the person I am. And, thanks to him I also have people in my life I can call friends. Most of whom have had a glimpse, at least, into the ‘real’ me, and not run away! I don’t have to hide behind a mask anymore. That’s freedom to me.

8 thoughts on “Unmasked

  1. Awwwww…..Eryl…..you have always been wonderful through my eyes – and definitely brainy smart.
    I’m glad you found the love of your life, and peace with yourself.
    I think a lot of women are good mimics – it’s a survival tactic.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always thought you had the most wonderful brain, Eryl. We’ve had so many fantastic conversations – it’s been a shame that it’s been several years since we last properly caught up. We will have to rectify this!
    I’m currently going through a realisation that it’s extraordinarily likely I have ADHD, although Autism doesn’t feature anywhere for me.
    Hope we get a chance to catch up soon x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are too kind 😊
      Remembering certain of your struggles, I can see you may have ADHD.
      I’m hoping to drop in on you during Spring Fling, though I realise you’ll probably be too busy to chat, it would be a start. X

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That would be so wonderful if you can make it along to Spring Fling! Even if I have to boot a few people out of the studio, I will make time to say hello to you, Eryl 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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