Team Player I Was Not

“Pick a partner or pick your team players” were some of the worst words for me to hear at school.
Instant anxiety and dread. Sometimes I lucked out and had a close friend in a class to partner up with. But in gym class…it didn’t matter if I had close friends..a whole different story. I wasn’t useless in gym. I could move..and had some physical capabilities but what I didn’t have was the kind of brain to easily and quickly understand game directions or see the point in a lot of games. If I didn’t see the point of brain did not save those files so I wasn’t the person you wanted on your team. I get it. I wouldn’t of picked me either for my team.

Still sucked. As a kid your main goal is to just feel like you fit in and you were someone people wanted on their team. So I hated gym class the most. Every part of it. From the awkwardness of a changing and shower room to the competitive anything. The only thing about gym that sparked my interest was in the individual kind of
physical testing that was done because I felt competitive with myself to see if I could do better then the year before. That’s how my brain worked. I had to try to adapt and accommodate how the majority thought and pretend I was cool with it. Constantly. Oh but don’t be a baby..suck it uncomfortable things because you might find you like it. I beat myself up so much for not being like everyone else and being able to just handle simple things and simple directions. I didn’t need the added shunning of friends.

There was only one instance in my entire childhood where I felt a coach understood me and the way I thought and was patient with me. A summer softball team. The year prior I had a coach from HELL who on a regular singled me out as someone who wasn’t capable of things. It was horrible to be singled out that way. I hated that summer so much. But the next year I had the best coach (for me) ever. My last year. He must have realized I struggled and he made a point to lift me up and encourage what I was good at. It made all the difference in the world to have someone take the time to explain how things worked instead of expecting me to just know. It changed how I felt about the sport in one last summer season of playing on a team. And it’s why I think the best teachers are the kind that know when to hold your hand and when to let go.
I did well that last year. I also enjoyed it for the first time in my life and finally understood “the point” of it. I know that’s hard for people to understand..but how could I explain something I didn’t understand myself? If I knew then what I know now…all the endless moments of feeling so badly about myself and feeling dumb..just wouldn’t have happened. If I could of explained that my mind worked differently and processed things differently…so many horrible moments could have been avoided. If I could of explained why I didn’t care about a dumb game and I was really just there because I wanted so badly to feel a part of something and as an escape from my home life…and that I truly had a hard time understanding all the rules to a game..but as a shy, withdrawn kid dealing with much more than just autism..dealing with straight up abuse at home..there was no explaining. Everything was kept a secret in order to fit in. Or try to. It was always about trying to but never accomplishing that fitting in part.

If it were not for that coach..all of it would of been a waste of time. The only good from it was I did succeed at getting out of the home I grew up in and was doing something normal. Which was gold to me. I just wish I would have enjoyed it. And I wish I would of understood myself and others did to. There was a lot of assuming I didn’t care. Or I was lazy. I was the biggest people pleaser I knew…but somehow got the reputation that I was lazy and didn’t care with some. Imagine that. To try so hard but be told you weren’t making an effort when it’s all you thought about and tried to figure out.

A lot of those moments. And here I am. A little scarred up from it but understanding better that without what I know now…things happened the way they do before you know better. Now I look towards helping the next generation to be understood. Now I can change that and right that by looking into what it is about me that made me different…so I can help people understand my grand daughter and daughters. All is not lost. And I don’t stay in the past. I just visit it and try to understand it. Just don’t stay there in that place…all you have to do to keep moving forward.

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