This blog entry is about something really personal that I want to share about myself in reflection of my own Autistic naivety, and as an example of how someone who is intelligent on paper (book smart) can get caught up with an awful person when that intelligence doesn’t transfer to the social aspects of their life. Had I been diagnosed would this have happened? Maybe, but I doubt it. But it did happen, and I’m sharing it for the sake of being real, knowing that their are a lot of other late diagnosed Autistic women with, sadly, relatable stories. I’m putting a
⚠️ TRIGGER WARNING ⚠️
here for; abuse, miscarriage, suicidal ideation and self harm.
My first real relationship began when I was 23. When I met this man online I was in the midst of my first diagnosed depressive episode. It’s amazing to look back on things now with an Autistic lens and see how things evolved. Anyway, at the time I was working fulltime at my Grandparent’s vineyard, coming home on weekends and partying, then driving back to my grandparents’ place each Sunday afternoon. One Sunday I broke down in tears, it came out of nowhere apparently, because life was pretty good at that point. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I couldn’t leave my bedroom, I locked myself away and ploughed through novel after novel – anything to stop myself from being in my own head. I think, on reflection, I was pretty much burnt out at that point and that was the result. I was prescribed anti-depressants. I’m not sure what prompted me to join a dating site but a friend had mentioned it a few weeks earlier, maybe I was looking for an external distraction? And that’s when Phillip popped up on my screen. He sounded like a really nice guy from his profile and we just seemed to have everything in common. Talking to him made me feel better. He knew all the right things to say, and I was hooked. Life wasn’t so bad after all it seemed.
Looking back now the signs of what kind of person he was were there, I chose to ignore them because he made me feel good. We met two or three weeks after we started talking. By that stage he’d already told me he’d fallen in love with me – BIG red flag. He’d told me he was working up the coast before we met and was dropping in on the way home, my friends got emails from a woman he’d been seeing up there but Phillip had an explanation (lie) for everything. My friends knew he was off, and deep down so did I, again, I chose to ignore it. When we put our relationship status on Facebook a woman commented saying it was a lie and that his account was hacked, Phillip’s explanation? “She’s a stalker who wouldn’t leave me alone, just ignore her”. So I did, I blocked her. I blocked all the women who contacted me or my friends – I didn’t want to know. He loved me, right?
My family didn’t like him, but somehow within the space of 2 months I finished working at my grandparents place, and he moved into my room with me at my parents place. There was no discussion about this, he told me that’s what he was doing, I didn’t know what to say so I let it happen. I have guys who I consider my best friends, one of them that Phillip met he hated on sight. He told me this guy friend of mine was good looking and was a threat to him. I assured him it wasn’t the case. He felt threatened by him to the point when he was away seeing his family my guy friend asked to catch up, I said yep – it was a purely platonic friendship – and Phillip yelled down the phone to me if I dared go anywhere with this friend without him there we were finished. I didn’t go. He asked me to delete certain males from Facebook and I did.
Now, for the lie to end all lies. Phillip told me that he was infertile. I was ok with that at the time because I wasn’t ready to have kids. He’d shown me a ring he bought “for me”, it was too small so he took me to a jeweller to see about getting it resized, he wanted to marry me he told me, knew it from the day we met he said. By that stage I was starting to get over it; him, having someone in my space all the time, all the excuses about different females contacting him, and all the lies of his I was exposing. He’d lie for the sake of lying, it’s like he couldn’t help it, but he was manipulative. I was ready to end it, I didn’t know how.
And then I found out I was pregnant. For someone who was allegedly infertile he didn’t seem phased by it. My parents weren’t impressed, they didn’t like Phillip anyway, but it was my life they said, my responsibility.
This is where it’s going to become graphic; so I’ll put a TRIGGER WARNING reminder here.
The pregnancy was confirmed by my doctor. I was 5 weeks along. I started spotting blood the following week. The doctor told me it can be normal but just stop having sex. Which I was ok with, but I was guilt tripped into having it anyway – “it’ll be right, what kind of girlfriend doesn’t satisfy her boyfriend?“. I got a message from a friend saying Phillip had a dating profile and was chatting up a friend of hers, I went searching and there he was online. On multiple sites. He’d given me all his passwords so it wasn’t hard, I found emails to other women, full of lies about himself, he was even on the Ashley Madison website for affairs. The man, who was going to be the father of my child, was trying to find other women to satisfy him. We had a massive argument, it’s not cheating because I didn’t meet any of them he said whilst I’d read all of the things he’d promised them, we took separate cars to my friends place, where he said in front of my friends that if he threw me down the stairs it would solve both of his problems. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t tell anyone the issues we were having, I felt so ‘stuck‘ – in reflection, I wish I had spoken to my family about it.
I didn’t get the chance to tell him to leave, he’d amazingly got a job back in his hometown and packed up and left (6 hours away), he was going to get established down there and I was to move down there when he’d found us a house etc. He left and I broke it off with him on the phone.
Then the abuse restarted. “You’re not having my child, get an abortion now!“, “my parents will own you and you’ll never see my child“, “my Dad is a bikie, he knows people” etc. When that didn’t work, he’d change tact to crying on the phone to me that he loved me. Talk about Jekyll and Hyde.
I got an ultrasound and there was no heartbeat. The bleeding, whilst light, never stopped. On the 27th September 2010, I officially had a miscarriage. I would have been 10 weeks along. And on that day, I drove 6 hours to be with Phillip, because I thought that was the right thing to do, that we would/should support each other through it.
How wrong I was at every turn with that man. When I arrived at his parents house he was the only one home. He gave me a hug, told me we’d have another child, and that he didn’t want me to talk about it unless he wanted to talk about it. I stayed at his house in utter agony, physically and emotionally, but tried to push through it and help out around the house. One of the days he called me from work because he forgot his lunch and told me to bring it to him, I did but got lost on the way and had him screaming at me on the phone. He told me he was going out with friends camping on the weekend coming up, I quietly asked him if he could wait for another weekend all things considered, he raised his voice in response and his mother heard him and yelled at him to which he replied “She’s not my f**king girlfriend anymore I didn’t ask her to come here” to which his mother started in on him again, I burst into tears mortified and fled to his room, which he followed me to, sarcastically thanking me for causing trouble for him. Other things happened but eventually I was well enough to drive home, never to return again.
My mental health declined severely after this. The sound of a v8 engine (he drove a v8) would have me cowering in my room, I had panic attacks and couldn’t go to work, I couldn’t be around people. I self medicated with alcohol. I self harmed. I dared death to claim me, I didn’t care. Phillip would send the odd triggering message claiming he still loved me and he missed me, he was going to come see me, how sorry he was, how he’d been to a psychologist and he’d been told that his online dating profiles were just “back up plans” because he’d been cheated on before so it really wasn’t his fault. It went on for a few weeks, and he’d already gotten a new girlfriend in the meantime. He eventually left me alone once he stopped getting a response.
He has contacted me a couple of times over the years randomly via Facebook, wanting to catch up, telling me I’m the only woman he’s ever really loved etc. Lo and behold, every time I checked his profile when these messages were sent he had a different girlfriend – every time!
I wasn’t the only woman he did this to. The woman that was allegedly his “stalker”, he got her pregnant too then told her he got a job working on the oil rigs but he’d contact her when he got back into service, she miscarried at 10 weeks too. The woman he was seeing before he came to meet me originally? He’d met on the same dating site, he wasn’t up there for work at all but to meet her. My parents got an anonymous phone call from a woman who said “Phillip’s a bastard, your daughter is not alone in what’s she’s going through”, unfortunately the woman never called back so I don’t know who it was.
After this was when I was diagnosed as Bipolar with Borderline Personality Disorder traits. How wrong that psychiatrist was. That relationship lasted three months. THREE. I spent three months trying to destroy myself before I got help. And it wasn’t the right help I ended up getting but a misdiagnosis. 6 years on, whilst it doesn’t affect me to even close to the same degree, it certainly has had a profound impact on the way I view men I’m interested in romantically. When anything triggers a memory of the way I was treated by Phillip my fight/flight response kicks itself into high gear. Without knowing this history someone can do or say something innocently but it’ll trigger the feelings of unease enough for me to run before it’s begun. With the knowledge of Autism, and beauty of hindsight, I have to reprocess these events and forgive myself again for not knowing then what I know now.
But I will never understand the mentality of men (and I’m sure there are women like it too) like Phillip. People who can lie with a straight face. People who have a complete disregard for the well being of others over their own hedonistic ways. People who can put someone through so much trauma and not care at all. I have scars to remind me that not all people are good despite their pretty words. My skin healed, and so did I, but I’ll never forget. I can’t.