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.”
Chapter 3 – Ep 4
Other Mask Wearers like Me
Mornings, Mirrors and Me
There are many quotes in films, that although heard,
Are never much used let alone said,
Like ‘mornings and mirrors’ relatively absurd,
For it came from Romero’s Diary of the Dead,
But it stuck with me and l found and find it quite apt,
And have done ever since watching that festival of gore,
Quotes like this mean nothing, yet apparently become trapped,
In minds constantly searching for answers and more,
Most mornings now l awake from the night before,
Confused as to who, or what l am,
Days hold no real joy for me anymore,
I just arise as normal, and do what l can,
To get through and find some contentment,
For chronologically l am not that old a man,
Yet despite this, it stops me not from feeling ancient,
And crumbling, like an undiscovered ruin,
Lost in the sands of time, over grown and forgotten,
From the eyes of those who once dwelled there,
During happier times found in yesterdays’ illusions,
Like distant photographs of tomorrows’ tears,
I have always said to those who care to listen,
That if you are willing and able, you can read me like a book,
For despite my complexities l am not that deeply hidden,
But it will take more to understand than just a glancing look,
I have never kept a diary, but have archived all my thoughts,
Pockets of silent memories and reflections of times passed,
Vaulted in the dark recesses, moments of yesterday patiently caught,
Simply awaiting the time to awaken and be asked,
To come forth again and resurface at the request of this man,
Who now needs to pen down all that he has seen,
So that others may be able to read me like the book that l am,
And that his writings, dreams and prayers will show where he has been.
© Rory Matier 2010/14
Other Mask Wearers like Me
Looking back, 2007 was a hell of a year in truth, at the time of ‘recognition’ l was going through an acrimonious divorce with my ex wife, stupidly was in another relationship, living and renting an old farmers’ house that was partially derelict, and working my business which was just starting to feel the effects of the recession in the UK and my stress was particularly high that year with everything going on.
After the visit with friends and their observation of my ‘disorder’, l can not say that my naturally inquisitive mind was not intrigued. Fine, they were not saying l was Rain Man’s Raymond, so that was a good thing, but could this be the start to solving my life riddle? Was this the missing link to the chain of events l classed my life as? Would this explain my indifferences, my detachments, the way my logic always worked and analysed things? What was this Asperger’s thing all about? I had heard of Autism who had not, but was l an ‘Aspie’ as they classed it?
Google became one of my new friends in the week that followed, for it allowed me to access all sorts of literature online and so l was able to study, research, wash, rinse and repeat! In all my spare time when not working my business, l was chin deep in Internet searches, thousands of words filled my mind, my printer worked non stop! I took several of the online ‘Tests’ for the disorder that week, just to verify the knowledge, l answered all questions freely, did not pretend nor lie, was not embarrassed and answered truthfully. One test held 150 odd questions relating to social communications and behaviours, l scored very highly on that, something like 191/200., which even to me was quite astonishing, as other tests were bringing in high scores also. It was displaying to me that there was indeed a very high probability that l was indeed what my friends believed l had known myself to be all these years. One test from those days l have performed twice yearly ever since first discovering it. It became a sort of foundation stone for me. Sure l can understand those that say there is no way to validate the findings and that is a fair assessment.
But from 2007 – 2012, so six years, at two tests a year and my average score was still very high at 180. But during those same years l can honestly say that stress was unnaturally high and my living conditions were appalling by any standards. From 2013 to 2014, so four tests, but with a new partner even though we were not living together in the traditional sense of the word, and my average figure was already dropping, the more l found happiness and started to balance out. The more l became comfortable and accepting to who l was. Those new scores for that two year period were in fact 145, and l was very impressed with that. I recently took my test for this year, now that l am living with my partner and my score was 158/200. Okay, so again we reiterate that there is no way to validate the information, but l am a diagnosed Aspergian as is, l take the tests for my personal viewing and understanding. I no longer wear any masks, am in a loving and fulfilling relationship with a woman who understands not just me, but the disorder itself, trust me when l say that is validation enough.
In 2008 after months of researching this new ‘title’ awarded my personality, l took steps to receive an official diagnosis, which did not come from my Doctor’s, whom simply said if l believed l was Aspergic, more than likely l was. Which did not greatly assist me in my quest and continued to infuriate me, and l begun to fully understand the fact my friends had pointed out that receiving an official diagnosis would be difficult, they were not wrong. In fact my diagnosis came through a psychologist friend of mine with Aspergic children of her own, and it was in fact she who officialised my Aspergers.
But since then l have learned how incredibly hard it is for parents to receive a thorough diagnosis here in the UK for their own children, and many who suspect their kids have it, simply don’t bother. The same can be said for the adults l have met who are clearly Aspergic, they can not be bothered to follow up, and in some cases, lead overly frustrating lives. They suspect or even their partners suspect, but can not be bothered to take that suspicion further. Fear of alienation from others is also a big problem here, as so many view ASD as a form of mental retardation or slowness, so admitting you are on the spectrum can be seen as problematic for many. Awareness is a big problem here in the UK, but so too are the problems present in any form of mental health care. When you consider how hidden depression and breakdowns are, because people are afraid to discuss these things. That is the way of our judgemental and condemning society, what people do not understand or fear, they will simply shun and bury their heads deeper into the sands.
To say in those early days that l was not obsessed with the disorder would be a downright lie, l was. I had to read up about as much as l could, l had to understand what it was that had plagued my personality for all my years. I was bitterly angry at times as l had always been labelled a stress head, of nervous disposition, anxious and the label that annoyed and frustrated me the most – slow! I learned that my confusions were classed as grey areas and that yes it was true, l preferred the black and white in life. If people were direct with me, l could not fail to interpret them, if however they danced in the grey, stress and confusion walked hand in hand with me. But as it all began to dawn upon me, l suddenly realised that both my Father and from the slim memories of his Father, my Grandfather, that they too were and had also been Aspergic. Unanswered riddles of long ago were finding answers, but the more questions l answered, the more questions were raised. Whilst l could recognise certain traits in my Father, it was as said the slimmest memories of his Father, that made me ponder further as to how far this disorder stretched into my ancestry. Verifying for me that it had to be genetical, however my Grandfather is dead and my Father is so long in the tooth that he can not see any of this disorder present within his personality and if it is there, why should he worry about it all?
I quizzed my Father about it; he responded that it was only in me, and that if he had it, his doctor would have said something? Why? I asked of him, mine never did! Even to this day he continues to neither deny nor accept that he could possibly be Aspergic. It is not surprising l guess, for many years when l was growing up, he believed l was ‘slow’, he emphatically denies that he ever said that, but then he has selective memory these days, and seems to have blocked out what he chooses not to remember, very similar to my Mother in truth. If he has Aspergers then by his logic that would mean that if his son was considered slow in his eyes, then he too must be, and that is a flaw. My Father can not accept flaws.
My Mother read a book on the subject and could easily identify the traits within my Father, yet failed to see any traits within me, and again cast it down to my early life style and my Fathers’ constant career pursuits. My parents until recent years were extremely skilled in laying the blame of their children’s possible problems at the feet of the other parent. Neither of them could ever see any fault resting with their own skills as a parent, and as time has progressed they are both guilty of believing that their perception of how we developed or did not was not of their doing.
My Father when younger was an extremely ambitious man in his chosen careers and in many cases his chosen hobbies or obsessions. We moved around a lot, meaning that neither my Sister nor l could form solid foundations or stability for anything. He would often accuse my Mother of being too soft on us, too motherly, to stop mollycoddling us.
When l was younger, many a time all l wanted was peace and tranquillity, a quieter lifestyle would have been nice. If my parents could stop shouting and arguing all the time, that too would have helped me relax somewhat. But my Fathers’ career in the Royal Australian Air Force meant that he was never content with where he was, and always wanted more. Both were so wrapped up in who they were and more importantly how ‘right’ they were in their own beliefs, which meant they did not listen to me. So my remarks of ‘l don’t feel like l fit in’, in truth fell many a time on deaf ears and if per chance l was heard, l was met with the same answer all the time from my Father. “Then try harder to make new friends, or things take time, or infuriatingly ‘Rome was not built in a day my son’. It is ironic that l use that phrase so often these days, but little wonder as l heard it a thousand times in my youth.
As l matured from a youngster l would encounter certain emotions during my travels that l would struggle with and in some respects still do today. Grief has always been a tough cookie to handle, and l have had it a few times in my life. Friendship is another, l seriously do not understand the concept that well. People are in your life, but not all the time. If you are friends for a small period of time, then that is how it is meant to be, simples. I can detach from people very quickly, especially friends, and walk away never talking to them again. It is an art form that many people envy of me, yet l am unsure if perhaps they realise when they say this, if they truly know what they mean.
When l was younger, l was often accused of having no empathy, something my Mother constantly threw at my Father during heated arguments. ‘You do not care; you are unable to do so! You are not right in the head!” was something l remember her throwing at him sometimes daily. And yet l have heard my partners from the past throw this line at me also. Suggestions that l am too clinical, or that l possess an indifference to not just my own needs at times but to those of my partners. The ‘Indifference’ l do accept, as l have shown that towards friends and my family, it has led me into dangerous waters with those who are skilled manipulators and artful bullies, but has also carried me into plights concerning my own health and needs.
As l became older it was not just stress that plagued me, but some even further suggested that l suffered from many other conditions, l had physical and mental breakdowns through exhaustion. I learned to adapt to environmental conditions alright, but at great expense to my sanity. It was during my growing up years that l learned the art of donning masks to cope when running with the crowds. If l was to wear a mask l could be anyone, pretty much like an actor taking on board a different role. Sometimes l had to wear masks on top of others, just to cope and continue the pretence that l was a white sheep like the others and not some black sheep that was filled with anxiety, stress and confusions. It is not that l never fitted in, for l did, just not easily. I would people watch constantly and learned many coping mechanisms by watching how others worked it in. I became an actor working many roles, acquiring new life skills. But every time l filled in another role l weakened as it simply at times became too much to cope with and my stress levels would increase. I remember during days off from work, l would awake and it would take me up to an hour to actually recall who l was.
Peer pressures were the worst, l would struggle constantly to uphold them, some were easy, others were more difficult and took their toll on me during those very same days off, when l could relax and let out a long sigh of relief. Society expectations were l think in truth the hardest, relationships could be confusing, friendships were virtually impossible to comprehend. It is not the case that l have never had friends, for l have and still do, but l just find the whole concept of ‘friendship’ very straining, oft filled with confusions and to be honest quite tiring. Looking back, pretending to be full on Neurotypical was the most stressful time of my years. The more l tried to fit into society the more stressed l became, the less l tried, the more l was seen as an outsider, which left me constantly in a state of nervous tension on how best to proceed!
Don’t misunderstand me, l am making myself sound like a freak, it was not like that, externally, people would never see what was going on inside my head, l played my role well, occasionally l made slip ups at both my cost and peril, but words would always come to my rescue and l could joke or talk my way out of little misfortunes or accidents or those dreadful and comical inappropriate moments. It was just at times, l would catch me looking at myself from the outside, and it spooked me. I thought that perhaps there was something wrong with me. [Like my Father would have me believe – that l was not right, that l was handicapped mentally or something] But l could never let that emotion show, so l simply detached further from my own identity and kept up the pretence. And this feeling would sit with me right up until my mid forties, when suddenly out of an innocent moment two friends likened me to their own son. And then life started to finally make sense, l was able to relax again, but not for long – because once l had this new piece of information – l had to do what l was infamous for – research it, dig deep, understand, get to know everything l could about Aspergers Syndrome.
But what is it?
Aspergers Syndrome or disorder is a form of Autism and falls under Autistic Spectrum Disorders. It is not a disease, although at times has been referred to as the ‘Lonely Disease’, but is a disability which is lifelong, meaning in layman’s terms – you are born with it and it will travel with you to the grave.
It affects three main areas of social function:
Social Communications – Difficulty in expressing what they need and how they feel
Social Interaction – Difficulty in meeting new people and developing friendships and relationships
Social Imagination – Difficulty in understanding other peoples emotions
It is also known as a higher functioning disorder in comparison to the likes of classic Autism itself. Meaning that ‘Aspies’ [the shortened name applied to those with Aspergers] have fewer problems with speaking and overall general functioning abilities. They can be of average or above average intelligence, not normally afflicted with the learning disabilities notable in the presence of Autism, but can have or experience other more detailed ‘learning difficulties’. Such as dyslexia [not part of Autism], dyspraxia, ADHD [Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] or epilepsy, there are other problems that can be seen to hinder the learning of those with Aspergers however these are the main elements. Yet OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder], tourettes, stimming, other social phobias and dyscalculia can also be associated with this disorder.
ASD is a way of life for those who are aware they have the disorder but equally for the many who may never achieve a diagnosis, just knowing that they view the world differently to those around them. Some may be informed or even suggested that they sit on the spectrum, and may simply choose to ignore it or refute the claim. All Aspies share a 20% universal similarity to each other, but a wide margin sits in the remaining 80% and this can make for some very differing and unique profiles and personalities. Common traits are shared, and that is where certain similarities end.
These days many youngsters are being recognised early as falling under the spectrum and are offered the support they need to develop, however people of my age and indeed older, were not ‘spotted’ whilst young, and discovered the problems much later in life. I am now a diagnosed Aspergic, l also have problems with dyspraxia and occasionally dyslexia. Some would suggest that l have a smattering of Tourettes – my answer would be ‘bollocks‘, l just like to swear.
I have read quite a bit of literature on the subject in the last few years, in my search for answers to my problems, and something l have noticed is the almost complete lack of the negative side to the disorder. Eagerly the medical profession will inform parents to young recently diagnosed Aspies all of the positive angles to the syndrome, yet do not venture down the darker side. Which is strange in my eyes, for Hans Asperger himself originally wrote of these negativities in the disorder. Perhaps the clumsy and erratic behaviour can be forgiven, as well as the slower motor coordination, but would parents be thrilled to learn of the aging disorder or of the problems associated with aggression and violence and the potential destructive and possible sadistic presence? Or a lack of empathy and an overall insensitivity to peoples emotions and feelings?
Would they be concerned if it was suggested that also, somewhere in the future of their young Aspie of today that further personality disorders could arise, like paranoiac behaviour or schizophrenia? That depression, anxiety and stress walk hand in hand with this disorder, and that potentially their young Aspie of today might possibly develop a rather unusual interest in death and may also become prone to suicidal thoughts and actions? I have witnessed many of these negative personality types first hand from either myself or my Father and have coped with them in the form of self harm, attempted suicide or unwittingly applying mental cruelty onto those that l supposedly love.
Many non Aspies [known as Neurotypicals or NT’s] do not understand the screaming that many Aspies share when their minds and mental thoughts go into over drive or when in order to stop the thought processes, they must simply blank their minds into a numbness, just to try and think normally again. NT’s can not possibly imagine that there is a dark side to this disorder, which to some Aspies is loneliness itself or just when their senses explode, when confusions with a society that demands constantly can place a strain upon the logical mind.
Further suggestions would arise from some chains of thought and understanding that there may be a link towards future psychopathic behaviour due to our ability to not have or show emotions down to our supposed lack of empathy. Personally l disagree with this, but obviously l speak for myself and not all Aspies, my Father was a violent man capable of extreme aggression and at times showed very little emotion. Yet l on the other hand am a very emotional man, admittedly l can not always express these emotions verbally and learned to display them through the written word through the likes of my poetry.
I am incredibly sensitive to various things also, a form of over stimulation, but l do know how to show love and do try so very hard to be capable of expressing empathy where it is needed, but will additionally admit to at times, behaving and speaking in an inappropriate manner which may be received as insensitive. When l was younger l used to suffer from the most horrendous temper tantrums, this behaviour was still being displayed into my mid to later thirties, however these days l avoid these problems by the way l live my life, and believe to a certain degree that if you can avoid the over thoughts, over mind stimulations then you can manage your tempers. I am to many a very quiet man these days and only occasionally does anger flare in me.
Being a Taurean l am renowned for such bursts, being an Aspergian with a mind that can implode makes the task harder, but l am now more mellow. I believe this is down to both the aging process and my emotional control. Additionally l have learned over the years both pre diagnosis and post to curb many of my behavioral quirks.
It is suggested that we hold high intelligence, that we are capable of genius and that we may display behaviour similar to savants. I am none too sure if l am an intelligent man, it is suggested by many others that l am, yet oft do l feel as dumb as a box of rocks. l am not a genius but have a very vivid imagination and have been known to frequent the world of not only pretence in order to survive, but also become enveloped in the world of fantasy. As to savant, no l do not believe so, although l have an uncanny ability to mentally secure and save specialised but otherwise useless information regarding certain subjects.
There are those who would say that it is wrong to continually look into ourselves, to dig and or probe deeper into who we are, that we are all principally the same, and to some extent this is true. And there are others like my Mother who would ask of me, why do l want to remember? I can understand her not wanting nor wishing to recall some of her memories, for as you will see in the book, she was married to my Father, and this was not always easy for her. My parents are both in their early to mid seventies and now divorced, so when they were young newly weds it was in the fifties. Times have advanced on since that era, but some things never change. We just become more aware. Some memories will be forgiven, but never forgotten, and it may pain some to bring those yesterdays back up, so in many ways l can see what she means.
This book deals predominantly with my Aspergian behaviour, touches briefly in some areas on Neurotypical perception; it is not an answer to the disorder, or a cure. All l have tried to do is display to the reader where l was mentally at the times of the memories. It is about learning to accept, understand and comprehending the disorder that is known as Aspergers. There is at times darkness, black humour and lashings of cynicism. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Yes there is, but you do have to be prepared for a journey into self discovery, almost reinventing yourself.
Many Neurotypicals, NT’s or Nypicals [those not on the Autistic spectrum and defined by society conformation as ‘normal’ in so far as their perception into social interaction] hold preconceived ideas as to who we on the spectrum really are. NT’ is the word for those who do not have any problems functioning socially, be this in behaviour and society environmental settings. A significant lack of Asperger like traits usually denotes the nypical. They are the majority of the populace whilst we are the minority and because of this and their actions they too have established the codes of conduct for society behaviour on how it should be seen and how it is to be perceived as odd or inappropriate. ‘If you do not ‘conform’ to society structures, it/you needs to be corrected’ for that is the way of the Neurotypicals thinking, after all we ‘Aspies’ are Neurodiverse.
Significantly NT’s have an extreme capacity for emotional involvement, in some ways they care for affections, and as you will read it is not that l do not have a similar ethical capacity, but l do struggle to understand and come to terms with the big things in their world, and l see them as little things which can cause, has caused and continues to cause some confusion, especially in the likes of friendship and more importantly ‘relationships’. I have lost in reality many of my relationships through my quirks – l refuse to hold up both hands and say l was completely to blame, but l can not deny that due to my lack of knowledge during some of the times that some of my dysfunctional behaviours and attitude may have not helped certain situations.
Sometimes l am asked how l see the world around me, which can be a confusing question in itself… Pretty much the same as most to be honest, although with not as much grey around the eyes as l prefer to work in the black and the white. I started to look at myself differently and in the same time, reflected upon how l was before being officially recognised. For years l suffered and struggled with serious stress, depression and anxiety for this profound sadness that l felt, not just in dealing with unhappiness and grief, but something that ran much deeper, right into the core of which l was. I knew who l was but yet struggled further with my own identity, l always felt like the outsider to myself, that something was not quite right with me personally. Why could l not cope with certain emotions, why did l always seemingly struggle with relationships, friendships, why?
The medical profession for years dug deep into my mind, and came back with many plausible explanations as to why l felt the way l did, but still despite being advised it was this or that, it was still never enough. Still l would mentally rampage; self harm, press my self destruct button and scream from within desperate to know why l felt the way l did, and would the confusion ever go away? How could l simply not understand who l was? Why did l not feel comfortable in my own skin? More importantly why did l always feel that others watched me constantly with scrutinising and bewildered eyes? What was different about me to them? Why did l want to be part of their world yet when l was l felt a world apart? These were just a few of the many questions that l asked myself on a daily basis.
The diagnosis made me suddenly stop and think ‘ok, so now we know’. The research leading up to the confirmation was already making me stop and think and on occasion chuckle to myself, it all made sense. it meant for me specifically that l had to reidentify who l was, the man who got lost in the process of developing into life. ‘Dancing in the Grey’ is about my life, written after my diagnosis, but remembering my yesterdays and what brought me into my today’s. Growing up with my Father, my recollections of stress filled moments, and those times when not only ‘l’ thought perhaps l was mentally ill. To the sad moments when all l wanted to do was take my life thinking that would end the confusions.
In 2010 l remember sending my Father the original foreword to the book, he came back with: ……… ‘I think the definition helps a little. I was thinking of you while away, and have to confess that I did not recognise myself, your Sister or your Mother from your descriptions. However, we live in a democracy and everyone is free to hold their own opinions‘………. In his eyes l had been incorrect of my assessment of my family and especially him. I realised with that email back from my Father that he was right but not the way he suggested, l had been too fair. I had unwittingly again written it in such a way that had made me victim to this mans’ overall attitude. His inclusion of the word democracy upon reading out aloud made me stop and think ‘What the Fuck?’ He did not recognise the descriptions of him, my Sister or my Mother? Had l written wrong, were they not as l believed them to be?
No, l was correct, it was just that my Father does not look back into the yesterdays. He can only see today and tomorrow, but not yesterday. He would argue this point l feel, but on the funny side, it might be that he is arguing only in a literal sense and not the actual sense of my meaning. For in many respects he is a man who lives very heavily in the past, the past of his choosing, and a form of selective memory. But the word ‘democracy’ was not right, for what he had just done whether intentionally or not, was insult his son, yet again. My opinion did not matter, for he held his own, my observations of my family he could not recognise – why not?
They are true observations. But in his words, because we live in a democratic society, l was allowed to voice my opinion, be it right or wrong or in his case unrecognisable. I believe that all he had done was confirm to me yet again, that in many ways he is also an Aspergian. Perhaps he meant not to insult me, my memory or my intelligence, perhaps it was just his way. From this point onwards and all the way through the remaining chapters l have been honest, for that is my way. All his actions truly inspired within me, was the fact that only 20% are we Aspies similar, but it is that huge 80% difference that sets us apart from each other.
I did not specifically have an unhappy childhood as l initially stated earlier, but it was different to others. It had violent moments. Others hearing of my early life interpret it to be unhappy, l do not deny that at times it was tremendously unsettling, growing up with my parents was seriously hard work. But l was lucky to a certain degree, l could day dream and swap over from reality to fantasy quite quickly, and as such detach even at that young age. My parents to me many a time appeared to be like chalk and cheese, my Mother loved my Father, and my Father a hard and brutal man would say many years on, that he did not specifically love my Mother. It was not that he didn’t love his family, but in my eyes he had a great deal of difficulty in both expressing and displaying this. My parents are divorced these days and by a good twenty years.
When l was diagnosed l had a hard time coming to terms with what it all meant, but as time slid past me, l was able to look back into my own yesterdays and see certain traits present in my own Father of this disorder. This book is not about him, but he is my Father and in so saying he also shaped me into the man l am today. Through a genetical inheritance l possess certain character traits and behaviours which are his, however equally through the same method, l also have a lot of Mothers’ genes present. My Father, forever a career and ambitiously professionally inspired man led his family through many emotional hardships following his dreams of personal achievement, which led us to travel extensively, breaking any foundations we as his children could ever hope to build, and the results were to shape the rest of our lives.
As a young son, l developed a stronger bond with my Mother, my Father was simply too distanced to everyone, although my Sister even then was very similar to him and his ways. Back then l viewed them as a pair of narcissists, it was always about them, and they were both very materialistic and incredibly selfish. As l got older the relationship between my Sister and my Father developed and became stronger and the connection between Father and son became weaker. When she had children of her own, he became the doting grandfather and favoured her because of those children. Over the years he wrote and self published books of his own about a lost love flame [not my Mother] and in each of these books my Sister was portrayed in almost a heroine nature whilst l was displayed quite differently. Was l jealous of my Sisters’ friendship with my Father? No, my Sister is a very manipulative woman; she used my Father because he has finances, and uses her children against him as a weapon.
To this day, my Sister and l have not spoken at length and the last time we did so was at my grandmother’s funeral in 2000. We have had smatterings of ‘communication’ since then, but according to her l am way too difficult to speak to, and as such she fails to understand me. It is very strange, l understand her and her intentions so very well. She is like a limpet, she will adhere herself to those who can do something for her and her development, be this financially like my Father because of his pensions and foolish behaviour, or to those who can further enhance her career. In truth, if l had a friend like that, l would not want any part of them, so just because she is family, makes no difference.
The relationship l have with my parents these days is very different and has changed significantly over the last ten years. I still love them, but do not deny that l feel very indifferent to them as people. Their own relationship became very strained after their divorce, l can understand this only too well. I have no communication with any of my previous partners, that is not an Aspergian trait specifically, many partners who dissolve no longer speak to each other. It is only different in many ways if there are young children involved and this can be a very painful time for all concerned, especially the kids.
My Father was an aggressive man when married to my Mother and as an Aspergian and a narcissist to boot, this would not have made her marriage a happy affair, l can sympathise, l was there and l remember many times only too well. But l have learned unlike my parents to not let that particular period of bitterness affect my life. They are only perhaps slowly coming to that acceptance now. For nowadays they actually speak to each other amicably, not daily, but more than they did as little as two years ago. And in that time as an outsider, an observer – or should l say an ‘indifferent observer’ – l too have come to watch their behaviours and attitudes to not just their lives but ours, their children.
I had been for years mystified why my Sister had been allowed to cause so much friction between my parents [since their divorce] and myself and why my Father had allowed her to rule that dominion. I was equally as confused as to why he had shown her so much favour over his son. He would oft tell me that l was not trying hard enough to communicate with her, and that my behaviour in recent years was perceived as beyond ‘odd’ by not just him but her also? Like what would it have to do with her l was often left thinking.
My Father was completely and utterly oblivious that he was being skilfully manipulated by his own daughter, and this he allowed because his own narcissism so desperately wanted to be seen as the only true and validated parent my Sister had. He could not see that it was his money doing the talking with her, and because neither my Mother nor l had any finances readily available for her. There was a time when my Mother only wanted to see my Father drop dead, so l am completely baffled as to how it has transpired that they talk now. But then, l have seen changes in my Mother’s behaviour also and not all of it am l impressed with.
When at home she was always complaining of being ill, even to the point that the medical profession could find nothing to back up her claims, and yet still she was constantly ill or depressed. Of course l have learned over the years that there is a goodly chance that when she was married to not just my Father but also his Aspergers and mine, that she may have been falling victim to C.A.D.D [Cassandra affective deprivation disorder] and that may have explained her franticness at times, it certainly explains the Munchausen Syndrome she subjected me to! But it was her bitterness that continued to make her believe she was ill after they were divorced, something she chose to never let go and my Father chose to forget!
For years l was having to be very guarded when l spoke to either of them on the telephone, if l said something that either one of them had said accidentally, l was back in the war zone of my youth. This only added to my stress, and so over time l simply stopped calling them direct on a frequent basis. Calls once a month, and perhaps a few emails to my Father over the course of a year.
A lot of water has passed under the bridgework of my family, dams had to be constructed and some burst their seams and had to be rebuilt using different methodologies. My Sister and my Mother have an odd relationship these days also, she denied her access to her grandchildren for many years, and if she did see them, she most assuredly never saw them with the frequency that their grandfather saw them, and this too caused major rifts. But my Father also is guilty of manipulation and he is no innocent party to the happenings that exist within our dysfunctional family.
In the last six months alone, my Father has become all too aware of what he allowed his daughter to perform, and is in a rather perilous situation with her financially. I don’t envy him, but he has come to realise that she is not overly communicative with anyone when her plans are uncovered. But this is not my problem, it is all too stressful.
My own relationship with my Mother has also become rocky of late, she initially did not agree with my relationship with Suzanne and this caused a few upsets. But l started to view her differently because of this episode and saw again how she too could be just as manipulative as my Sister. There is a certain irony there. Some families are very close, others like mine are not. Perhaps one does not to be specifically Aspergic to be indifferent. As to whether the presence of the disorder ruined our family unit l seriously don’t know, but it caused a few problems, that l can say.
In truth l would say by my mid twenties l started to notice changes to my personality, whilst l had always viewed the world differently; some of these so called differences were not being experienced by others around me. Mentally l was a world apart in my thinking to my peers, not just through the usual expectancies of work and career. I had already experienced my first major episode of grief and struggled with that. My emotions were turbulent – but in addition to this, l just could not seemingly get anything together.
I had always suffered from stress, living with my family especially my Father when growing up had been a truly terrible time. Most of the time he was in a constant state of anger, and looked confused at his own surroundings. He never looked happy; perhaps he had reason to be unhappy, who knows. If it was not his stress or anger at everything, we had to contend with his ‘unusual ways and behaviour’ and that was constantly unsettling! My doctors would inform my Mother that l was of a nervous disposition, who wouldn’t be – living with what we lived with during my Fathers’ bouts of strangeness?
The more you read into the ‘lightness’ of Aspergers, the more one struggles to find any darker or negative aspects … but they are there if you read further, they are simply not openly discussed at length. Perhaps because the disorder itself is still only young as far as qualitable information is concerned. Was the unrecognised and unknown disorder of my earlier years as a younger man responsible for the stress that would hound me for the years that followed? More questions without answers, always more questions. I am not a doctor and the knowledge l have on psychology only ever seems to award comfort to others and never myself, so perhaps l may never know. What l do know and have wittingly observed are changes in how l approach life or not.
Over the last ten years l both knowingly and unwittingly moved away from the hustle bustle of society, it was one of the ways in which l could see as reducing my stress load. I moved into rural locations, the likes of villages. I became almost hermit like at one point and was ostracised by family and friends. Living with my dogs and shunning the rest of the world, it was a move such as this which led me into a private hell when l started the first book. I have noticed that the disorder loves isolation, being away from the crowds and of course there is a peace to be attained with this, but it is also dangerous to Aspergians. Sure our stresses are greatly reduced, but the more absent from people we become the harder it becomes to interact with them in the future. Living away from life will greatly increases the chances of the dark side to this disorder to present itself to you – for isolation may be craved but it comes at a cost. There is a dark side to this disorder, although it is not always addressed properly in other literature, l will eventually address it within the chapters.
Thankfully these days, l have no need for the masks, but l also have no need to sink back beneath the waves of the darkness.
Chapter 4 – Ep 5 – Soon