First of all, I would like to thank Annarosemeeds for the inspiration her post “Thanks, But If You Really Knew Me” on her blog “Rose With Thorns” for the inspiration behind what I am writing about today. If you haven’t read it already, then you should because she really hits the nail on the head as far as I’m concerned. No matter who we are, how famous we’ve become or what we’ve done, everybody craves a good word or positive affirmation. The same can be said for people who have Asperger’s Syndrome. They too want that positive nod or compliment and be accepted, some to the point where it becomes an obsession. For many, a small compliment can raise their spirits sky high, unfortunately, the opposite can have devastating effects as well.
I, like many people with Asperger’s, (although I have never been formally diagnosed) have a great tendency to take what is said to heart because we tend to wear our hearts on our sleeve most of the time. The positive or negative comment has a major swing factor on our self esteem. However, the negative seems to be longer lasting. Speaking from my experience, if I get a compliment that soars my self esteem, a negative one will immediately crash it. On the other hand, if I that self esteem is in the toilet thanks to some negative comment, one or even several positive ones won’t elevate it to a dizzy height. In fact, it’s a major achievement just to get it back to ground level. Therefore, too many insults or negative comments will have the Asperger’s sufferer thinking that they are totally worthless and the consequences from those feelings can be fatal.
Throughout much of my life, my self esteem always stood more on the negative side of the line. A conspiracy of bullying children, patronising adults, bad teachers and mis- intentioned relatives all played their part in these feelings. I could have had all A’s and B’s but one D on my report card, my mother would focus on the D, even if that D was in a minor subject like Art. My inconsistent sports play had the same effect. Playing baseball one day, I had a hit in all five times at the bat; but peers would rather tell me that I sucked because I made an error in the field. The same would be true in many circles of my life and so by the time I reached adolescence, I began to believe that I wasn’t good at anything. I hated myself through most of my teen years and even cursed God for creating me that way. I thought I found my salvation when I was 18 because I thought joining the marines was going to solve all my problems by stripping me down and building up into something better. When it, didn’t I cursed myself for believing the bullshit and wasting four years of my life. When I got out, the problem hit me in a different way. I wanted to put the military behind and the best way I could do that was to be as unmilitary as possible. I grew my hair long and wore Native American moccasin boots and got my ear pierced. Unfortunately, they were all the wrong things to do in intolerant 80s Regan America and I suffered persecution; as a result and my self esteem plummeted on account of that intolerance. I only found salvation when I came to live in the UK and even then, there have been lots of struggles with self esteem.
Since then, my self esteem has been on a roller coaster. It still rises at the positive and sinks at the negative and though it’s a struggle, I accept what is said without taking it to heart. Much of this I owe to my counsellor from 2003-05 who made me see things in an alternative light. However, the Asperger’s will never go away and it is often a battle to keep my self esteem from sinking as it is for many who have it.
Before I go, I must link what is written to “He Was Weird” because after all, the main objective of Peaceful Rampage is to sell the book. I just hope the words contained in this and all posts will influence you to buy it. You see, Mark’s self esteem is shattered within a week of moving to Ramsgate and it only gets to a satisfactory level for one week during the second summer. Even then, it is demolished almost immediately. But the story can be used as a warning to someone whose self esteem is driven so low that they feel that there is no point in living and the only way to raise it again is to self terminate after taking as many of those responsible with them.
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