I used to detest her. The snide remarks, the mockery, the diva-esque trantrums, the mean bullying and blatant entitlement. My hatred was fanned and stoked and kept smoldering by my ‘Mentor’ – she was my colonial master and I her subaltern – though I lived under the utter delusion that I was beloved of her. I had no idea.

Two females who loathed each other. Rivalry? Competition? Whatever it was and still is, I was an innocent caught in the trenches between, made to choose one or the other. I chose the one with soft persuasion, declarations of love, and gentle indoctrination.

Until, to my utter innermost horror, I heard the words, “… paid companion” flung at me in a seething whorl of tears and recrimination because, in that moment and instance, I made a cogent attempt to draw personal boundaries and stand up for what I wanted to do rather than acquiesce to the demands of Mentor. In that moment, the core that was my imagined closeness with this person shattered into smithereens. However, I lost that battle – I succumbed to the emotional blackmail, as I had done for almost all my life up to that point. Old habits are hard to break. I felt guilt at wanting my own way, yet, I felt dirty and sullied at the same time for allowing Self to be dragged through the hell of Other.

Now, years after I finally managed to pull away, the bottomless abyss still yawns at me in my dreams, in my subconscious, and seeping upwards, the slimy black tentacles reach into my consciousness.

Who is the more formidable enemy now? I would not like to be near either one. However, now I know better. The whispers of evil and manipulation are far more ominous and sinister than the screaming, kicking and barging Wagnerian operatic diva. The latter is more to be pitied than feared or detested – from afar, that is.

Is it impairment then? Yes. I did not possess the necessary skills to interpret that particular Theory of Mind. Still, I am glad to have extricated myself, and grateful for the ability to analyse, ruminate, pause and hopefully exercise sufficient Self-ness to protect my existence henceforth. At least, from these two, and their ilk.

It isn’t easy when the rules are fluid and keep changing. Nobody is immune to failure. The autistic mind is all the more vulnerable to such shifting sands, more easily devoured by skillful exploitation, that is all.

Teach your children well. Though it is very difficult to teach when the battle takes place among those you call your own. And even more impossible to learn when parental favour leans heavily towards one Theory of Mind over the other of contrary parallel existence.

I am keeping my senses better focused today, in this confusing confluence of sensory bafflement and pain, with sharp stabs to my taste buds. Spicy vermicelli and piquant super salty salad helps.


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