Tuesday, 27 November 2012
For anyone in my part of the world, Lockerbie is a name synonymous with horror and pain. It was probably the first really significant event in my life which had a personal impact, and looking back on my behaviour linked to it, I can see the early Aspie warning signs.
I vividly remember the news report on the television, my mother wailing as she realised that the plane had landed on my Aunt & Uncle's house, killing them and their daughter, and at a stroke orphaning their two sons. My mum was distraught as she had been close to her cousin when they were children, my dad was comforting her as she cried.
Me? I was just annoyed that this had ruined my birthday. Sure I was upset, but mainly because I was feeling sorry for myself as this would now be what this day was be about.
Flash forward 4 years. On the morning of my birthday as I was getting my cake, my dad got a phonecall giving him the tragic news that his younger brother had committed suicide. He was devastated, and completely fell apart. I've never seen him as vulnerable as he was in that moment.
Me? I just flipped out that my uncle couldn't choose any other fucking day to do this. Looking back at it, its clear that all of this affected me badly, but I can't say it was through grief. It was anger, self-pity, and selfishness that people kept ruining my day by dying.
I know it sounds like I was just a horrifically selfish teenager, and no doubt that is true, but no matter how self-centered someone is, surely an element of grief is normal for the deaths of 4 family members.
Anyway, my solution for how to deal with these 2 family tragedies was to decide never to celebrate my birthday on that day again, but to pick a neutral day in May when nothing ever happens. I did this for about 10 years, and refused to acknowledge birthday greetings from my family.
Amazingly, my family went with it. They actually put up with this madness! And I am grateful for that, but came the day when none of it seemed to have any meaning any more, and I decided to take my day back. Ans since then I've been growing older properly.
But I wonder sometimes whether my rage and frustration about this, my inability to explain my rage to people, my lack of understanding of how important and painful all of this was could have - and maybe should have - been interpreted by someone as ASD symptoms. I guess I'll never know, but it was from about then that I realised that I really thought differently to everyone else.
As a sad post-script to this story, my 2 cousins orphaned at Lockerbie have both since died. One stepped in front of a train, the other overdosed on drugs. An entire branch of a family wiped out because of this incident.