My mother wrote to me a few weeks ago to make sure I knew that she had never, ever, once, thought of killing me.
It was one of those surreal moments where I sat there and thought, “If I were non-autistic, non-disabled, I doubt she’d have felt the need to reassure me of something that should have been a given. And I think a non-disabled person would have been puzzled to get such a message out of the blue. I wish I was more puzzled as to why.”
And I quickly reassured her that I knew that, and had never even considered the possibility that she wanted me dead. She’s my mother. Most mothers don’t want to kill their daughters. I cannot imagine her, or my father, wanting to kill me. This is not something that enters my thoughts.
Yes, our family had a number of very rocky years for a whole lot of reasons that I won’t get into for the privacy of everyone involved, especially since all of us by now have turned over a new leaf in our various ways. And not all of those reasons even had to do with the makeup of our family, they had to do with circumstances. But killing each other? Not even close.
Certainly, my parents were not entirely up to dealing with what society had in store for a child like me. It’s not like parents get instruction manuals for “What happens when you have a child that psychiatry wants to lock up and throw away the key.” But they fought for what they believed was right at the time, with what knowledge was available to them.
They did this even when there were threats of taking me away from them and making me a ward of the state, and even when a particular institution decided to blame my mother for my so-called “childhood schizophrenia”. (This is what they called it when my parents tried to point out I’d been autistic pretty much forever — at the time, my proctologist was the only person who would openly state the truth, possibly because he found a bunch of professionals’ heads up my ass during that exam.) This time period did not make for particularly happy times for any of us, financially or emotionally, but a few staff were the only people who ever wanted me dead for it.
And yet I’m still occasionally getting emails meant to reassure me that I’m actually wanted in the world and that they never wanted me dead, never wanted me not to have been born.
What on earth kind of message makes parents believe they actually have to reassure their own children that really, seriously, they never even once considered killing us, and that really, seriously, we were wanted?
I can only guess it’s some toxic mix of the constant stream of murders and the messages that the press and various autism charities send out about the supposed frequency and normalcy of such thoughts. This isn’t support. Anything that makes my parents, and doubtless others, question such fundamental things about their relationship to their own children, and seriously believe I might think they’d had these thoughts, is not in any way support.
And, to my parents if they end up reading this: Really, seriously, I’ve never thought that you would have wanted to kill me. That just doesn’t cross my mind when I think about you. I’m aware that you love me. Thank you for reassuring me, but please be aware that you didn’t, and don’t, have to. Nobody and nothing should ever have made you feel like you had to reassure me of those particular things. Nobody should have put you in this position.