“Love Child”, “Bastard”, & Asperger’s

I have a thing. A seriously pet peeve. A household rule. No one is to use the word “bastard” around me unless they are using it literally – to refer to someone born out of wedlock. Why? Well, I got reminded of that today.

I was driving home from town. Tired. Drained. And discovering that all the radio stations I had marked on my car radio were missing, as they had the car totally disconnected from power while they worked on it. And as I searched for my favorite stations, a song came on that I had not heard in decades. But, my goddess, it brought back so many memories. Not happy ones.

The song was from 1968, it was #1 for weeks, knocking the Beatles off the chart. “Love Child” by Diana Ross. You can hear it, too. It was playing often for years afterward. Here’s some of the lyrics:

Love child
Never meant to be
Love Child
Born in poverty
Love Child
Never meant to be
Love Child
Take a look at me

My father left he never even married mom
I shared the guilt my mama knew
So afraid that others knew I had no name…

We’ll only end up hatin’
The child we may be creatin’

Love Child
Never meant to be
Love Child
Scorned by Society
Love Child
Always second best
Love Child
Different from the rest

I knew the way it felt to always live in doubt
To be without the simple things
So afraid my friends would see the guilt in me

But no child of mine will be bearing
The name of shame I’ve been wearing…

Love Child
Never quite as good
Afraid, ashamed
Misunderstood

Today, I hear Terra & Rhiannon talking about songs that are the soundtracks of their lives. It was no different when I was growing up, just harder to capture the songs – I had a little tape recorder, and would hold it up to the radio when they played a song that resonated with me.

“Love Child” was one of those songs, for obvious reasons. Adopted. My birth mother a young woman, having already had a child at 16, now having another, another bastard. And it shouldn’t have really mattered, should it? But it did. And this song, played on the radio a lot when I was quite young, impacted me heavily.

It didn’t help when, in elementary school, maybe fifth grade or so, we did a project on genealogy, and I stupidly asked what I should do, because I didn’t know my ancestors. Word got out. From them on, I was taunted with it. I was a “bastard” and I wasn’t allowed to forget it.

That was a different day & age. It mattered. It doesn’t really anymore. Now, you have single women having babies intentionally, kids with two mothers, two fathers, step families, etc.

But it mattered then.

My mother could never figure out why I didn’t “fight back” when the bullies were at me, which was constantly, one thing or another.  Here’s a quote from Straight Talk About Asperger’s (you really should read the whole page if you haven’t.)

…They want to “fit in” so badly that they betray their own nature, but fail even in that betrayal, and subsequently fail to recognize that failure as well. They try to be normal, but they can’t….One might wonder why some with Asperger want so much to “fit in”. It is so that a person with Asperger is seen by most normal people as “different”, even though many of those normal people will violently deny this when confronted (“There’s nothing wrong with you!”). And some normal people naturally follow the line, “This person is different from what I am used to/This person therefore annoys me/Therefore I have to make this person suffer/As hard as I can/As long as I can/And I get away with it easily as this person cannot defend oneself/Otherwise I would not dare bully this person as I am an extreme coward and cry for my female parent while defecating in my trousers whenever someone so much as points a finger at me in response to my bullying”. As a result, persons with Asperger tend to be the target of extreme continuous torture in almost every social environment they are or become part of. They are the natural focus of the inferior’s hatred. Yes, it says “torture”, and not “abuse” or even “teasing”, as one sometimes sees, as those disgusting euphemisms do not even begin to describe reality. It is in the light of this life-long suffering that one must see the attempts of some misguided Aspergers to “fit in”. They think the torture will end if they learn to act normal. But it will not and they can not.

Love child. Never meant to be. That was me. “My father left, he never even married mom”. Never quite as good. Afraid. Ashamed.

It didn’t matter that I was adopted. I didn’t “fit” with my very loving, trying so hard, adoptive family. Never connected with them. And now I know it wasn’t their fault. I was autistic, having Asperger’s, which is a nice way of saying high functioning autism. But back then, autism wasn’t talked about, or very well known, and when you said autistic, it was the severe end of the autism spectrum.

And they wondered why I didn’t want to go to school.

I remember my mother telling me over and over how she was called a “beanpole” and other not nice things when she was growing up.That I just needed to stand up to the bullies. But being autistic, I was unable to form a response. (somewhere there’s a quote about that but can’t find it at the moment).

I did develop a “coping mechanism.” I smiled. When under any stress, I smiled. It took two years of drama class for me to be able to defeat that, as it was so ingrained in me by high school that every time I stepped on stage, no matter the subject matter of the play, I… smiled.

I also shredded my lip with my fingernails habitually. I still occasionally do. I try to wear a long pendant with a smooth stone on it, so when I get that stressed feeling, I divert my hand there, or to whatever pen or pencil or whatever is close to hand. You could also consider that autistic “stim” behaviour, but I’m not going into that now.

Anyway. Don’t use the word bastard around me, please. Try to understand. Every time I hear it, I hear the echoes of childhood taunts. I can’t help it.

As a post script to this post, I just subjected Rhiannon to listening to this song. Loud. While I sang it. With goosebumps on my arms and my god, so much anger inside. So much.

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3 thoughts on ““Love Child”, “Bastard”, & Asperger’s

  1. Sorry that I didn’t know this. I do not remember the song at all. There are more ways to have a love child then biologically. You are my love child. I have always felt there was something there that I couldn’t seem to get through to understand and know you the way I wanted to. I felt like you didn’t really want me as your mother. Now I understand why. All this was there in you mind and I didn’t know, and you were just a little child and didn’t know how to tell me.
    I have always sensed that something was there bothering you, but i couldn’t seem to get through to you and now I know no matter how much I love you can’t make all this go away.
    I hope talking about it will make it easier and the knowledge about this sort of condition can help us both.
    We will continue this later. I need to have more time to digest that you were so miserable. I tried I really did. It wasn’t that I didn’t know, I just couldn’t understand what it was.
    mom

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  2. I know you tried. And I tried. But having Asperger’s, one of the problems is not having the words to express emotions, not being able to verbalize it.

    I feel like I’ve opened a huge can of worms, inside.

    I’ve told you many times that I don’t remember most of my life. Not like other people. You’ve said you thought I blocked it out as it was so painful.

    And you are right, apparently. Were it not for that song triggering memories, I wouldn’t have even thought of it. A psychologist would say that I internalized the song and it’s emotions.

    I’m not sure this is a can of worms I really wanted open. But maybe it’s good, processing it all. I really didn’t know I was so angry still, about this issue of being a bastard, though Terra and I have bumped heads on it more than once. Maybe this will help her understand me a little bit, too. As much as anyone neurotypical can understand someone with Aspergers, which is really, not too much. And vice versa.

    It’s just a different way of thinking.

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  3. And the damned song has been playing non-stop in my head since I heard it on the radio yesterday. I know every word, although “my” version is slightly altered as there were some words I couldn’t make when I was young, so guessed at. No internet then to make looking up lyrics so easy!

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