Dancing in the Grey – Life with my Asperger’s
© Rory Matier 2015
The views within these chapters are mine and may not necessarily resonate with others on the spectrum – however bear in mind the quote by Dr. Stephen Shore .. “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”
The design of the jester was my creation to display the confusion with the grey world in which l find l live.
[17th February 2019]
Chapter 2 – Ep 3
Normal to Special Overnight … or so it seemed
Just To Sleep
It was just so strange, that day when l awoke,
My head was full of tingling sensations and thoughts,
And it was quite painful l can tell you, no joke,
Brain over spilling and making me overwrought!
The obvious suggestion was that l was losing the plot,
Or maybe it was the headache from hell,
Perhaps way too little sleep, whichever or what,
It was making my head expand and swell!
This myriad of colourful and descriptive possibility,
Stayed with me all, and l mean all day long,
To the point of distraction and irritability,
Convincing me that there was indeed something wrong!
Looking into my mind with some dedicated patience,
Was l finally able to make sense of it all?
For they were the memories, reflections and moments,
Of my life appearing like writings on the wall!
Later that night as l laid my head down to rest,
And try l did to slip into a peaceful slumber,
Was l roused yet again by this mental mess,
With the realisation that l should not encumber,
And although these murmurings from within my head,
Were mine alone to keep,
Should l rise yet again from my bed,
And pen them down in order to just sleep!
That is when this journey back in time really began,
And since then have l written them down each and every time,
The reflective memories and moments of this man,
In a quirky poetical form of rhyme!#
© Rory Matier 2010
Normal to Special Overnight … or so it seemed
It is suggested that if you want to write successfully, then you need to write about what you know. To a certain extent this is true, it certainly helps to have a fixed idea in your head, and if you were writing a piece of fiction, you will have a plot, research can and does assist you in your quest – but principally you will know where you are going with the concept and then you will make it work. I never deliberately sat down to write a book about Aspergers, when l started this project l had only received my diagnosis a few years before, so l was in a world of confused thoughts, my brain was beginning to overheat whilst my mind was overloading.
The book came about due to an incident which happened to me one day in mid 2010, and even at that point l was still not aware that a book was shaping. In the mid 1990’s, l had had a thought of writing a book simply entitled ‘Me’, but brushed it aside because l was not really quite sure why l wanted to write about me. After all at that time, l was not truly sure who l was, so how could l contemplate writing a book on that?
However l digress, in June 2010, l woke up one morning and my head was spinning, l felt like that child in the Exorcist – words were tumbling around inside my skull, thousands of words, there were so many that l could not think straight. At the time l just thought l was about to break again, that stress was taking its toll on me once more! I sat down in front of my pc, and basically started to type, and l must have done that for almost two hours in a trance like state without a break – when l did stop typing and commenced the reading of my labours l noticed that in fact l was writing in rhyming poetry. Everything was concerning my Aspergers, my thoughts, emotions, concerns and angers.
Don’t ask me for an explanation of my actions; to this day l can not award a satisfactory response to that question. I am well read, have loved books since l was in my early teens and have read my way through thousands of books over the years. I had played with rhyming poetry in the 90’s as a form of doodling naughty and bawdy stuff and as luck would have it managed to secure a freelance job, but l had never specifically written for hours upon hours in poetical lyric! And yet here l was writing ‘poems’? It was absurd even to my logical mind! It was literally everything l wrote poem or not was in rhyme!! it was unsettling!
This phase lasted for roughly six months, literally from June through to around December of that year; l would write and write and write some day’s l produced six pieces, whilst others l made fifteen or so occur. They were not traditional rhyming verses, they were longer, with no graces, perhaps no etiquette, but why should they have style, it was not like l was intending to write them. For the full year l continued to write down my thoughts, although l was not as prolific as l was in the second half of 2010. Today in 2015 l occasionally write some pieces, but only when l am in the mood, and in the last two years, l have only written six poems and those were for my partner. From the time l started in 2010 to late 2012, l penned well over 1500 of these rhymes.
In 2011 l started to look at all of my ‘poetry’ and realised that a strong pattern was emerging, l had written about my childhood and my emotions from then, about moments of anger and of stress. I came to see that l was very confused about the Aspergers and the misdiagnosis of stress in my early years and of the darkness that had invaded my thinking of not just then, but as l was growing up. The more l looked, the more l spotted anomalies, and the more of those l saw – the more l knew that perhaps in order for me to reach an acceptance of who l was, then l had to pen them all down in a logical and methodical manner and maybe then l would understand what was going on. So by around August of that year, l knew that l would be writing a book on my newly founded disorder – Aspergers. Not a book that was to be viewed by others, but a diary if you wish for my own reference.
However, how the book idea came into fruition, was via friends of mine who suggested that l wrote for a broader audience and maybe if published it might aid other forty something new Aspies like me?
And so from 2011, l started to write ‘Yesterdays’ Adult, Tomorrows’ Child’ which was discarded in 2013 as a title and replaced with the one it holds now. I can not deny how so very hard it has been to finish this manuscript, for l am a completionist and sadly also a bit of a perfectionist, so am never really happy with the version. But now l possess the attitude that if l want to progress with other writing projects, this needs to finalise, so l can move on. This is its title, it has content, this is the final rewrite, these are the very last edits and changes, l am damned if l do and l am damned if l don’t, so this is it.…
In 2010, l was in a very different world to the one l know today, l was in a dark place, the writing of the original manuscript reflected that sadly very well. The rewrite that followed was only marginally lighter, but in 2013 my life was starting to change for the better. I met someone who not only showed me how to live again, but got to know me inside out and l am still with her today. Each and every day that passes into a week and each of the weeks that make for a month, we get stronger and stronger as a couple. She is a Neuro and l am an Aspie, a combination that sometimes never works, but we work and we work very well for we balance each other out.
Back then however, life was not so straight forward, l lived in a forty foot caravan with my two dogs in Lincolnshire on the fens. I was not in a healthy relationship; l was a single bachelor having survived a brutal separation from my partner the previous year. I was jobless and on benefits because of a breakdown. My once successful business was on the brink of closure, and l was ‘again’ quite suicidal, had it not been for my two dogs’ and my love for them l most likely would not be typing today. In addition to that l was dealing with the diagnosis of Aspergers from 2008.
I had not received any further support on how to cope with it, how to deal with my emotions. Making life even harder was that my landlords at the time treated me like l was an absolute imbecile, and worked me like l was a slave there for their personal needs and requirements. So it was little wonder that the original work was filled with so much morbidity and confusion, my stresses were going through the roof on a daily basis, l ate badly, l slept little and insomnia was at an all time high, my brain was spinning out of control.
Despite everything l knew back then, the book could only be about Aspergers as l saw this as being the prime instigator behind everything going on. My life had been turned inside out with this information. Before that, life had just been confusing and awkward, but now l had something to get my teeth into. When l received that diagnosis, l had gone from being sort of normal to not so normal almost overnight, and as much relief as it awarded me, it also floored me. It explained so much to me, but l was not prepared for the years of uncertainty that followed. Perhaps if l had been with my current partner, instead of my last partner and my ex wife l would not have fallen into the mess l fell into, but life is always full of ifs and buts isn’t it? Hindsight and foresight are wonderful things, but useless unless at least an ounce of knowledge is present, l had nothing. I did the legwork alone, sure l had a computer and l had an Internet connection, and l could research. But it did not matter because as far as l could work out, l was of no use to anyone any more anyway, so who cared if l was Aspergic, Neuro or a green and yellow spotted alien?
But what is this… Aspergers … l hear you ask?
Excellent question, it would be easier for me to explain the colour blue to an ant, than it is to fully explain the ASD – Autistic Spectrum Disorder to someone not in the know. In short, although more awareness is now around in simple terms it is a disorder sometimes referred to as the puzzle of a lifetime.
“Life is incredibly easy … it’s just people that complicate it!’
It is easier for me to describe my personality to the reader than it is Aspergers, but hopefully by the time you finish reading all of the chapters you will have a fuller understanding of the disorder and not just the ‘medical outlook’ of it all.
I am not really that different to everyone else, although l do have some quirks, but who doesn’t? Astrologically l am a Taurean, and of course this brings its own traits into play with me – such as stubbornness, being a plodder and laid back, casual, reliable and dependable, down to earth, sensual, an eye for detail, frugal with finances, patient, independent and doggedly persistent, self indulgent although my partner would say of me ‘without moderation’ – and some of these can be seen in those with Aspergers. The Taurean is reputed to be lazy, materialistic and possessive but l would disagree about those with me. Our life experience and development moulds us into the people we become, you can maintain or change your personality, and it does all come down to you in the long run.
But what else can mould or shape us into the people we are of our today’s? Life takes an onus of responsibility in this task: schooling and education, the learning curves, work and career paths, relationships, friendships, our politics, beliefs, opinions, cultures, fashion and music, religions and philosophies. From youngsters we are moulded additionally by our parents with their own outlook on life as they see it. Their perspective on the world in which we live is fundamental to starting our upwards journey into discovery. Lest we not forget intrinsic details such as genetics, long before visibly our parents started their moulding of perfection on us to be viable human beings, they were caught up in the thrashing sighs of emotion and conception and it was here that they started our life history. We can look at the astrological aspect, and the cosmopolitan or urbanisation of society, we can accept peer pressures and as just stated we have to acknowledge genetical structuring.
Like you l was created by two different personalities, unlike many however l genetically inherited a series of genes that would evolve as l grew and matured into the man l am today from the youngster l was yesterday. Invisible to the eye in many ways, yet an internal struggle within was always present, and whilst back then l would not specifically see it as a setback, it would award me the title of slow, socially reticent and awkward. Others would see me as aloof or distant, wanting to fit in, but not quite succeeding. Popular to a degree, quiet and a daydreamer, sort of lights on syndrome, but nobody home. I was a book worm, and in many a respects a geek as l grew up, and painfully shy around the fairer sex.
My Mother would attribute these differences to our lifestyle, my Father and his career pursuits, and just generally growing up. As a young man, my personality and my life skills changed again, shaping was a continuum in my maturing years, but as l got older, l would sometimes be referred to as a know it all, geek, nerd, boffin, eccentric, egotistical, quirky, friendly but not overly social, funny, comical , intelligent, an observer, a deep thinker and a brain boxer. Numbers and words would start to talk to me, not specifically the former, but the latter. Literature, writing, reading these became passions, obsessions, learning curves. Words became my arsenal in a world that seemed hell bent upon manipulating and bullying me. Older still, and the awarding titles came to sound like a broken record, established within set routines and patterns, good with figures, problem spotting and solving, elitist, perfectionist, stickler and socially backward.
Numbers then started holding conversations with me and l would speak back to them, and start to see riddles without answers, and answers without questions. I became a mask wearer to cope with certain situations; l was seen as repetitive, mundane, passionate, detached and clinical, exclusive, obsessive, rebellious, and disruptive but apparently still very much an outsider to society. And yet, still let us be honest, many people are like this.
Then one day in 2007, something happened, it was quite an ordinary event in the eyes of those who awarded me some new information, for they believed that l was completely and utterly aware of their observation of my personality. Their son was in my eyes different to others around him, it turned out he was Aspergic and had ADHD to boot, which was something l had not heard of. His parents likened me to their son, and when they mentioned Autism, l freaked, were they saying that l was like Dustin Hoffman’s’ ‘Rainman’ , Raymond?? And in that moment l had again said something inappropriate yet, they were used to hearing such moments with their own son, and were forgiving, my partner at the time was not, she saw it as an insult to their son, yet his parents simply said ‘Ah yes Rory, you see you are as we believe, Aspergic’.
From that moment l had in my eyes travelled from normal to special overnight or so it seemed, yet the journeys which then lay before me in the forms of self identification and rediscovery had only just begun. For my travels into the puzzle of a lifetime were to awaken my phoenix. And rise from the ashes l did, a period of several years in truth, l was able to look back into my entire life, my struggles, confusions, misunderstanding, inappropriateness, awkwardness, discomfort and a whole myriad of meanderings around my psyche. Finally through my research and comprehensions, was l able to understand who l was, who l was meant to be and more importantly be content with the person l am today.
Chapter 3 – Episode 4 – Soon