You Do What? That’s Odd!
2 of 2
Earlier this week l had a telephone conversation with my Mother who issued a sort of warning of such and that was “To not become odd like your Father”, which l experienced a form of annoyance with, especially how it was delivered and with what it referenced. The conversation became a journal entry in my Dear Blog series : November 14th 2018 found in the link.
This 2 part post is the result of that conversation as well as the comments left on the Dear Blog entry by other bloggers combined with my own further thoughts on the matter.
At the time, it did annoy me somewhat but only in so far as the way it was delivered and what it was attached to, but also the reference to being odd, because of a certain trait. Now most of you should know that l have Asperger’s syndrome, and as such sit on the spectrum of autism. I was formerly diagnosed in 2008 and whilst at the time, no lies l was somewhat baffled l was relieved to finally find out l wasn’t nuts as many in my family had surmised, only different.
At my own concession for the first three years l became somewhat obssessed with Asperger’s in my trek to discovering not just more of this thing called autism, but more importantly it entailed a thoroughly deep digging into who l was and who l thought l was. The end results were enlightening, as l was able to rediscover who l was and with that new information, l could finally settle some scores with the devil and reinvent myself to be who l was meant to be. Ten years on, l am much happier with the outcome.
Now by reinvention, l don’t mean my real name is Bruce – l mean that for so many years without the diagnosis in my go to set of knowledge, l was misdiagnosed by the medical profession as well as subjected to some pretty unfair treatment by society, by friends and by my family. The latter convinced that l had serious mental problems and more than a few screws loose, because l wasn’t just different, in their eyes, l was very different. Mostly because of the way l thought, or that l was too curious, asked too many questions, and above everything else, because l was regarded as slow. I was considered very odd because of my behavioural traits.
“Odd or just viewed differently to another?”
So yes, l am likely to have a nervous reaction when l hear a member of family refer to something as odd and then include me in the same sentence!!
Strangely enough when l received the diagnosis in 2008, l was going through a lot of inner and outer commotion at the same time. I had split up from an extremely volatile relationship, my business was in tatters and l was also sadly deep in the throes of both depression and a breakdown. So whilst it was welcomed, it was just another can of worms that l had to deal with. I was practically homeless and l lived with two dogs and two cats and l had to find somewhere to live really quickly that would take all of us in. As it was l was forced to rehome my two cats which was really terrible, and my then two dogs [Scrappy and Dora] and l moved into a caravan out in the middle of bloody nowhere aka the Lincolnshire fens behind a private stables for horses.
That was my only choice, and because l had no intention of losing my two best friends in the whole world, there were not many options left for the three of us. My parents already divorced were calling me stupid, strange and odd for making that decision, and what l should have done was got rid of the dogs. But that wasn’t going to happen.
The caravan experience was in a few short words – horrible, daunting, cruel, harsh and brutal, and l know that for the three and half years l lived there it did do damage to me physically. I am only 55, but can look a good twenty years older at times, and when l lived there l did look like a man in his 70’s. It aged me terribly. In addition my landlords turned out to be the most vilest people l have ever met and they forced me into a form of slavery – it is true. But, and yet, what the caravan’s isolation did also allow for – was a ‘step off the planet’ form of living. Because of that, l was able to finally discover who l was and who l wasn’t. I learned to identify my boundaries and my limits.
However this style of living came at a cost, not just the slavery aspect but the fact that my parents abandoned me, gave up on me as odd and generally ostracised me from the family. I fast became the member of the family that no one discusses, the wacky uncle, the crazed loner and all sort of other unpleasant terms! I had become the elephant in the room as far as everyone was concerned.
You know it is still hard for me to think that when l left there in October 2012 which is only six years ago now – that l have come so very far from the person l was and had become. I was a fifty year old bachelor living in a caravan with two dogs, working as a stable hand with no love interest, no friends and practically no interaction with society. They are the hard facts, although during my solitary existence as a hermit l had found peace with myself. When l left there, at least l was much happier personality wise with me. Okay, l had become very cynical about things.
However my life did change for the better when l met Suze in 2013 and here we are nearly six years on, still a couple and apart from the usual stresses people face in life, happy with each other – even if at times we still find each other challenging!
Now, Suze doesn’t class me as odd, she might think that some of my behaviours at times are strange, but equally l find some of hers the same. If anything, she would say that Rory is different, but not in a bad way. She would say that l view the world differently, that l think differently and many a time l act differently to other people, but she would defend that with “and there is nothing wrong with that, at least he happy with the differences and so am l”
My Mother the other day insinuated that she considered my Father odd, and in the same breath she made the classic Mum error of including me in her summary of my Father. That both he and l were odd, although she considered him odder and she didn’t want me becoming like him!
Dad, was never formerly diagnosed with ASD, although from my own diagnosis and my research into understanding more about autism, the traits and the behaviours, l came to recognise by around 2010 that he was quite possibly somewhere on the spectrum of autism, and so too was his own Father. However you could never have a sensible conversation with him about autism, or for that matter anything slightly ‘different to the norm or his way of ‘normal’ thinking’, he considered me a retard [sorry to those who don’t like that word] for many years and more so when l was in the caravan. But this is the same man who was vain, narcisstic, sexist, chauvinistic, racist, a Victorian orientated traditionalist and the long damning list went on. He was of the belief that he was perfect and that everyone else was damaged. May sound quite brutal and harsh, but it is a realistic observation of him. Because of that and many of his other behaviours, l always considered him odd and terribly old fashioned. Antiquated to the extreme!
What l didn’t consider odd about him was the fact that he was a specialised collector in certain objects, topics and genres. If anything he was an astutely keen hobbyist. I couldn’t criticise him for that as l too as l had been growing up was very focused on the things that fascinated me.
When my family and l were all growing up in the same house, what l would say of Dad, was that some of his hobbies took favour over anything else going on. He was a keen cricketer and that always came first over everything, work, family, wife, family days out – some might consider that odd, although l tend to find that obssessive and perhaps even selfish. He was a stamp collector, a book collector, a Wisden collector he would collect anything and everything at times! He would frit away money meant for bills for the house with either his hobbies or his drinking, entertaining or gambling. This never pleased my Mother understandably, and more so when debt collectors came to the house demanding payment, only to find out that whilst my Father was swanning it at a stamp fair or something of that kin we didn’t have food for the week.
This caused untold arguments in the house, and my Father you may have read was a brutal man, and if he couldn’t get his own way or be allowed to buy something for his collections, he would lash out at whoever was in his path. which mostly were my Mother and myself. That behaviour of his apart from being totally unacceoptable was odd.
My Father was all about himself, his pleasures, his leisure, his hobbies, his time, it was always about him. My Father was a very selfish man. He never wanted kids, but would always love other people’s children, he hated being married, he hated having to do things around the house and more so if it ever interrupted his time with his hobbies. Is that perhaps odd? I would say more to the tune of compulsive and obssessive maybe.
So when my Mother this week referred to the fact that l was to not become like my Father in so far as his hobbies, l found that slur somewhat insultive. She then proceeded to pick fault with what he collected. Now bear in mind they had been divorced for the same amount of time this year as they had been married, notably thirty years. But when she was ‘attending’ to him in his end of days alongside my Sister she happened to notice the traits of a man who had been a bachelor for twenty years and living by himself, but also a man living by himself and the spectrum of autism.
A man unguarded, not managed, relatively wealthy and doing everything that a selfish man living alone might do and enjoy. So his collections had in her eyes taken over his life – he now had vast collections of books, stamps, military memorabilia, framed pictures, toy tigers, hundreds of music CD’s, film DVD’s, huge quantities of matches [yes he collected those as well] and as a keen photographer thousands of photos in hundreds of albums. Is that perhaps odd, considering his lifestyle? Well, maybe a little strange, but odd, considering everything else? Considering he had no love interest, or young children, was no longer working full time as he had retired. He enjoyed reading and writing as well, so there were files and files of his work everywhere. I still have some here l am slowly going through.
He had become obssessed with things, maybe he had become more of a hoarder on certain things and a specialised collector on others.
She said to me “Rory don’t become like your Father, he is odd, he was always odd, he became even odder with all these silly collections of his! He didn’t live his life, he just collected things – don’t become him!!”
My friends on the Dear Blog episode entry had a few comments on this, and they were all totally valid. But was my Father odd for collecting and having interests, or for the way he led his l;ife and more so towards the end of his days?
Suze could understand my Mother’s comments slightly, and basically said that the problem was my Mother never understood autism, because when she was married to my Father that wasn’t a known thing in the house. But she could also relate to how the collection side to the disorder if you wish dominated things – yes l too can relate to it. But equally l note, that both my Mother and Suze are not hobbyists, neither of them have hobbies now or have had hobbies when younger as they were very family orientated. I don’t know if this has any bearing on things?
I found my Mother’s comments to me insultive in consideration to relating me to my Father as l have always worked so very hard to NOT be like him, in so far as what l considered his ‘odd behaviour’ as both a Father and a husband to my Mother when they were together. I don’t find his wishing to collect as odd as a bachelor and not having to answer to anyone except him, but found them frustrating as his Son when at home with the family when they interrupted with more important things.
These days l don’t have any real collections of things, my DVD’s are now slowly going, but when l lived alone l had a 6000 strong collection. I don’t have that many books any more and certainly not those that are considered collections. All l have now is a small collection of teddy bears from throughout my life which l have rescued to the two l had before l was born, and nothing else.
I used to be a gamer, but as l have aged l have found that l am no longer interested in that as a hobby and now only spend perhaps a few hours per week on it. My main focus is my writing and of course my blog and blogging. That really is it. I still like photography and l have a camera but do not keep anything in an old fashioned album, as they are all in my PC.
But the more l dwell on my Mother and wonder if she was deliberately insulting me, or just being overly cautious, l also wonder at something else which l have mentioned a few times during these posts. Because l am in a healthy relationship and as such in my own eyes more balanced, does this perhaps place an importance on things?
Was my Mother just being insulting about my Father because he was a collector and l used to be, and she was saying don’t become a collector and become odd! Or was she saying don’t become more like your Father and become an even odder Aspergian? I don’t know in truth. My Dad, and l are two worlds apart and have been for some time, him more so than me.
Anyway, what do you think? Now that there is a bit more history to it all.
Is collecting odd in itself, or is collecting at that level just odd and more of a hoarding issue? Do you think serious collecting is a problem? Do you have any experience maybe of those on the spectrum collecting and their hobbies dominating their lives and as such … wrecking relationships? Is hobbying too selfish maybe? Is hard collecting healthy for us? What is considered odd or unusual or even damaging when it comes to our hobbies?