Dancing in the Grey – Life with my Asperger’s
© Rory Matier 2015
Chapter 5 has been broken into three episodes and within this episode – the subject of sexuality is discussed. If you are of a sensitive nature my appologies.
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 5 – Ep 7
Differing Shades of Grey
It is hard for me to see things from another person’s shoes, l may know and understand a person, but l am not telepathic and as such can not see how it is exactly they perceive my actions or indeed myself. Having received my AS diagnosis long after my severe breakdowns it is sometimes hard for me to know if l was experiencing a breakdown or indeed the disorder was struggling to cope with everyday life. I do remember having to constantly wear masks just in order to get through one day to the next. I used to suffer from horrible black out periods, nasty black rages or what was seen and described once as a scene similar to a two year olds tantrum, just without the stamping of feet and lolling all over the ground. The times that l was simply unable to control anything and it was during these times that l in fact started to self harm, just as a way of gleaning some normalcy again.
After that incident with my wife where l had reduced her to tears l began what would become a daily ritual covering some five years of self harm, of thinking that l was simply not worthy of breathing the same air as her or for that matter anyone’s air. I had never set out that day to harm her or cause her emotional upset, l simply could not understand why my answers had created so much upset, and for me my responses were logical, if she was not happy with whom l was, then why did she stay with me? Because she loved me was her response, but it was like she had married a different man to the one she had fallen in love with.
I was often subjected to bullying at school, never mind the mental and at times physical punishments meted out by my own Father at home, l was never a fighter, as conflict of a direct nature always worried me, but l did learn from an early age that where as l could not enter the arena of dealing damage, l could land a serious blow mentally onto some of my bullies. It did not always work admittedly, but many a time l could baffle them with the science of quick talking. I also learned that yes they could strike me and it would hurt, but equally l could lash back with some quick sarcasm and that left them bewildered and hurt. Bruises would heal, but a well aimed volley of spite could and would last longer.
At school, in the work place on the occasional social outing l have been regarded as rude or my behaviour interpreted as inappropriate, l have been considered to lack respect for some people and their feelings or emotions and many a time of over stepping the acceptable line. Other times my brutal honesty has offended people, which does confuse me. If someone asks for an honest opinion, then surely they must expect an honest answer? But l have come to learn that many a time people ask for an honest answer but in truth, do not wish for that at all. This ‘just tell, me the truth’ concept can be a very grey and confusing subject and perilous, attempt with care. Here is an example of what l mean …
My ex wife once asked me ‘whether her bum looked big?’ She looked at me with my reticence with answering and said ‘it’s ok, l want your honest answer’. So l told her ‘Yes your bum does look big in that’. I meant no harm by my answer, l just answered honestly, yet she cried for almost a day, and after that period never asked me for an honest opinion again while we were married.
When l used to work in retail, there were times when my mind would notice small anomalies, an error or something missing, and l could not help but point it out as l thought that this is what was expected, apparently this too was seen as inappropriate and furthermore if bringing the problem to the attention of those in charge was considered offensive or downright rude?
I remember in school l had problems with religion as a subject, it was not that l was specifically disrespectful of other peoples’ cultures far from it, l had travelled extensively as a child due to my Fathers’ career and saw many different religions, but just because l had seen this did not mean that l was totally comprehensive of the ins and outs of such things. But my religious instruction teacher l think detested classes with me as l was always full of questions and other opinions, he said to both myself and my parents that he found my behaviour disruptive and disorderly and that l was always found to be offensive or inappropriate, which often confused me.
Many years ago In Australia, l once heard in class my English teacher use this phrase to the class ‘all yous pupils, need to bloody well shut up and listen to what l am saying, because l is your teacher and know what l am talking about!’ I stuck my hand in the air and said ‘Sir, ewes is plural for female sheep, are you addressing us as sheep?’ This earned me a caning across my wrist. Apparently poor grammar by an Australian English teacher is acceptable, where as correction is not?
It is not that Aspergians are not capable of lying, as l have known Aspergians whom were more than capable of this ability and exceedingly good at it. But then there are those who lie and are extremely bad at it and despite being caught out continue to lie for they start to believe their own lies to others. At times l have known Aspies to utilise lying as a form of survival in the grey world in which we live, it is simply another form of mask wearing. I am not a good liar, l stumble and fall, l prefer honesty but this too leads me into perilous waters sometimes much deeper and more dangerous grounds that had l simply crossed my fingers and fibbed!
With regards to inappropriate behaviour l think it is because at times l do not think of the outcomes or consequences of my actions and just say what is on my mind, and that if perhaps l had used a little bit more commonsense l might not offend people. But truth be known l am not that bothered at times if l do upset people, perhaps they are being too sensitive and because they live in a world where lip service and false attitude are common practice are simply not used to hearing the truth in black and white. Friends of mine have learned this lesson all too well and nowadays they hardly ever ask me for an honest opinion on anything. Don’t ask me for an honest opinion if you are not prepared for the honesty that is returned to you.
In addition to being too honest , l am also too trusting of others and have been known to come over as very naïve, although as l have aged l have become a little more wary of such mistakes but still on occasion make blunders and as a result of these errors have become easily manipulated. This stupidity of mine has been seen by others including my Mother at times as inappropriate behaviour. I was once told that my facial expressions as a youngster [around 14/15] were not fitting my reactions in class, and at that comment l worked for hours in front of my bedroom mirror practising facial expressions. I am none too sure if l specifically ever smiled at a death or someone’s misfortune, but in truth how would l know, l live behind my face?
Also, l have been known to say completely the wrong things at times, so l can imagine this is why others may perceive me as being rude, inappropriate or insensitive l guess? Laughing at the wrong time or at things that apparently are not funny is also another quirk l have in my skills tab, although l think l have that one under control now. And try so very hard at not laughing at others misfortune like a 12 year old … which is somewhat difficult to be honest, because l spend a lot of my time in that mind set anyway!
Truth be known it is not easy living in the social world of the NT, they have this ability to widen goal posts as they see fit, and of course as a person that relies upon routine and predictability how can that person keep up with that?
This all comes down to social interaction – l am a very polite persona, l am amicable and affable – but at my own pace, not everyone else’s. To some people who know of me but do not actually know me , they may consider me to be anti social, and it is not that way at all, by my own choice of words l would describe my personality and behaviour as socially selective’. I like a quiet life, l don’t do clubs any more, or loud festivals, carnivals would freak me out. I can manage some pubs as long as they are not overly busy. Even now living with Suzanne, we are not party animals, we like our own bubble and we have friends and family over when we want and not when they want.
Where we live now actually of course makes this much easier, whilst we are NOT living abroad as some view the Isle of Wight, the Solent is still a stretch of water that makes the odd pop in a bit more of a trek, and this suits us both very well. As l said earlier, Suzanne acts in many ways as my Linus blanket, as indeed does Scrappy who is way more social than l am, in fact she reminds me a lot of Dora, who was by all accounts my social ambassador when l lived alone.
The Child Within!
What l have noticed over the years, is my ease of which l can relate to children of all ages, sometimes it is quite simply much easier to understand how they are thinking in comparison to how adults think! I have often been classed as gullible and naive, childish in my thinking and behaviour. Additionally teenage children can equally communicate their thoughts and emotions to me like l am no older than them. I once heard a psychologist refer to Aspergic sufferers as grown children, that we never fully matured in certain ways and some of our emotions were trapped in a mental mind set of around ten to twelve years of age. Sometimes this ability irks me, most of the time it does not. I count myself lucky that l have not lost the ability to still think like a child, and to be honest whilst not an unhappy childhood l had, if l choose to enjoy a second childhood now, why shouldn’t l? The fact is that we are still big children at heart, and no amount of society conformation or medical science will ever deny us this.
Having explained this, something l have noticed of the last year, is that l can also find children quite intimidating – it is not anything they are doing. But whether with Suzanne or not, if l walk past a group of children, l find that quite challenging and nerve wracking mentally, as if they are laughing at me – even though they are not – l do wonder if this is something that stems back to my childhood when children of that age group [l was the same age] would laugh at me because of my misfortunes with my peers? It is hard to explain and l have not read of anyone else experiencing the same problem. I am very lucky that my partner has both a wicked sense of humour and is as big a kid as l am. For l am still in many ways a big child! I find things very funny at times, that other ‘adults’ of my age do not, but then it might tie in with the inappropriate behaviour – l laugh at times when l should not.
‘You Do What?’
It is suggested not without reason, that we Aspies share in the time honoured code of ritualistic behavioural patterns and unusual interests, topics and activities, and that we not only become obsessed but spend inordinate amounts of dedicated time to our past times?
Is the above paragraph true or false?
Sadly very true!
If l am working l am unfalteringly punctual, l love being on time, fact. However if l am not being monitored on my time by employers, l have an uncanny knack of using time and more importantly abusing time. Quite simply l can become lost in it! As far back as l can remember l have always had some kind of special interest in my life, many a time when younger, my hobbies and passions far outstripped my circle of friends. As l became older, these fascinations became more singular, but more specialised.
I am an avid book worm, have been since the first time l started to learn to read, in my teen’s l could read twenty paperbacks a week and would happily chomp my way through the works of Stephen King, Guy.N.Smith, James Herbert and Peter Tremayne and not forgetting the Pan Book of Horror stories series. These days when in the right mood l will go through phases of non stop reading, and last year was finishing a James Patterson hard back in about four days, then starting another. I have always got a book on the go, mostly sited in the toilet where l do a lot of reading, but also by my bed, and there are constantly reference books on my desk or shelves behind.
My special interest in my early to mid teens was the paranormal and the occult, as well as collecting horror books. I had a fair sized morbid collection as one observer noted. Till this day l still have a very keen fascination for strange phenomena and the unnatural.
When younger, l had a major interest in bugs as most children l should imagine develop, but probably do not have underbed insect collections! I have always loved writing and anything to do with words, l adore words, learning new words, and have a enthusiasm to sound words over and over again, but l love languages as well – not learning them, but listening to the sounds they make. I was a war gamer for many years right up till my early twenties, and still have an interest in military history albeit specialised from ancient warfare to Napoleonic only.
These days l am a collector of films in their cases, can not stand having part of my collection not in the right material, so can not collect simply DVD’s of films. My side interest from that is learning all the actors in the films and then building up dedicated collections of each actor. The collection stands at around 600 covering all genres, and like the 2000 books of my youth they are all categorised from A – Z on two very large shelving units.
Studying sex in my mid twenties was a real eye opener for me, l studied several forms of sexual activity, from Tantric to Kama and fetish and fantasy – l used to be obsessed with sex, now l am not obsessed but it is an important part of my life and thankfully my partners. Of the many hobbies and special interests l have held down and maintained, have to say sensuality and sexuality have been by far the most pleasurable! Ironically the only reason l became so studious at this is because l wanted to improve my performance with my partners but ensure that they enjoyed the experience as much as l.
The study of the dark arts was and still is a very fascinating subject and l can only imagine that this stemmed from my childhood curiosity in horror.
A yearlong intense research into all types of sharks was also just as damningly fascinating. And this followed the film Jaws in 1976, but sharks have remained a lifelong passion of mine, and one day l would like to write a fictionalised book on the subject.
During my years with the fashion industry l was completely taken with the likes of the Victorian dandy, sometimes known as ‘Fops’ whilst not specifically dedicating my philosophy to their entire culture l did take a lot of pride in the way that l presented myself to ‘society’ as an eye, but also to my own identity, in so far as the fashionable presence through my attire.
I have always treated work as a hobby, for many this in itself is an odd description, but my philosophy has always been you have to enjoy what you do to get the best out of it and it out of you. I have been lucky, for out of my 52 years, l have been involved with either working or careers for a good forty of them. From part time work to full time positions and of those forty, twenty seven were involved with my own businesses. Up until 2010 l had run a business l literally loved, but this closed due to its specialised niche area and the onset of the recession in the UK.
I guess that l do spend inordinate amounts of time with my hobbies, and my activities and because they really do not incorporate social interaction with others in many cases, this might separate me from society conformation, yet well … l don’t mix with people, so why should they be upset by what l do anyway? Whatever l decide to dedicate my time to, l make sure that l research everything thoroughly, but that is not just dedication, it is a commitment to an undertaking, and in so doing to not do things by half.
When l was married l had opportunity to assist my wife with her hobby of horses, it was not my hobby, it was her passion, but l can not deny that l did so derive satisfaction working with the animals themselves and later on from that l would find that my interest in her passion would serve me also as l had chance to secure some work in a DIY stables for a private owner, where upon l learned even more knowledge with regards to horses.
Aspergers has also become an interesting topic for me, but would you not be the same way if your life was suddenly turned upside down? Would you want to know more? Earlier this year l quit an online game that l had started playinga few years before my diagnosis, called World of Warcraft – l would be surprised if none of the readership had never heard of it and more surprised if a small to healthy percentage had not actually played it. This game was incredibly beneficial to me over these past years, it literally filled my mind, absorbed my time incredibly well, it allowed me to escape when needed, but more importantly fed my routines and craving for numbers. Oddly, even though l do not miss its presence in my life, l do find that l am still storing millions of facts and figures from all the time l enjoyed the game. Admittedly it is starting to become somewhat annoying now [at the time of writing].
I dream when l sleep about the maps and where specifics could be farmed or mined up, l can see everything in full colour, remember with infinite detail the thousands of auctions l had. It is a very odd experience post quitting and something l have not encountered before with a hobby. Perhaps this has come about due to the time l played, as well as the time dedicated to it, and my incredible memory capacity, but also because although l willingly quit the game as the repetition which l so desperately need in my hobbies was finely dawning on me that it was becoming boring, the one thing l can not stand in my life is boredom!
Additionally, l have returned to PC gaming, but have as yet to find a quality plug and play genre that can fill my needs and desires for number crunching. I have tried various ‘shoot ‘em’ up’ titles, but they are only pleasing certain parts of my mind, and l need something more absorbing. I am awaiting the arrival of some ‘simulation trading games’, the ultimate in geek fantasy to many, but my mind is sadly yearning for numbers again. Many play these online games for the community spirit and sociality and play them despite being bored with the content to keep up communications with online friends – the one thing l do not miss is that aspect of it.
Luckily with my passion for writing returning and the much busier lifestyle l enjoy today, boredom is a thing in the distance, but l can not deny a certain restlessness creeping in which may be present until either l find a suitable relaxant or l recommence some work, time will tell l feel. Hobbies or special interests are very much a huge part of my life, they when working correctly can quiet my busy mind, assist me with my downtime and quell any restlessness l may be experiencing.
In the past, l have some very quirky habits when it comes to eating, whilst these days l eat a varied and much healthier diet, when living alone this was not always the case. I guess what surprised many during these times was that as l am a qualified chef, they would be a little confused as to why l simply could not be bothered to a] cook properly for myself and b] eat properly.
The truth is that when living the life as a bachelor, l would become very lazy and quickly revert to old habits, there is simply no fun in cooking for one in my eyes, so would take the easy way out and simply order ‘ding’ meals for the microwave. I love cooking, but am quite finicky with that love and passion. I can not stand cooking dishes for myself and prefer to eat cold and have been known to not always have the patience for cooking to the right temperatures just so l could get it done so l could get on with other more time absorbing hobbies or go back to work. I do not like cooking normal dishes and prefer experimentations, and whilst l like cooking for more than one l only will cook for less than six people at once. The latter oddity cancelled me out as life as a paid chef in a restaurant. When younger l had some very unusual cravings such as vinegar and would not balk at the thought of drinking the stuff.
My ex wife during our marriage would often scold me for drinking the malt and white vinegar – the latter l was able to get away with longer, because of ability to simply fill up the missing space used with water – but soon got caught out! I have no doubts in my mind that this practice did nothing beneficial for my insides and might possibly have explained my stomach problems later in life. When younger l used to eat Eno’s salts which used to infuriate my Mother.
But eating and drinking the things l have listed here were just part of a series of unusual taste requirements l have had. Before living with my partner and indeed before being involved as a couple, my shopping for food was very repetitive in its content, my shopping list admittedly was restricted by finances some of the time, but was not in the slightest bit exciting. I can become fixed in my eating habits, and some of the items l have chosen to eat prior to now in no way shape or form constituted towards a healthy or balanced diet.
I have read that some Aspies do not like to bathe that often, l am quite the extreme, not to the OCD level, but l like to feel fresh and will shower often, l may not shave everyday, but now at least it is once in every two days whereas before l was involved in an us it might have only been once a fortnight.
Clothing has always been an issue for me as l have got older in terms of fabrics against my skin and either causing irritation or not. I can be these days very astute to the way some materials feel when worn, l have to [like my most people] feel comfortable but can feel every wrinkle at times or miniscule loose threading in an item that l may be wearing. There are some fabrics and materials l simply can not wear without experiencing great discomfort. I can or rather l correct myself, did have a preferred look when Suzanne first met me, and to all appearances may have looked down right scruffy. And yes whilst l can acknowledge this, what many may not have taken into consideration was that that ‘grunge’ look was extremely comfortable, it was worn and it had the perfect functionality to it. I could slip those clothes on every day before washing and after and they always had the same ‘feel’ to them. No itching, no discomfort, no scratchiness – neither loose nor tight – for me that look was untidy but it wore well.
Ironically when l was younger l sported an entire range of cloth and attachments in my days of loving ‘dandyism’, but those days have long gone. Suzanne found this difference quite startling; she is the first to say she likes her ‘man to look good’. But must have found my/our early days quite a struggle – l recall our first date out we went to the Seal sanctuary in Skegness and l just looked odd and quirky in my nice to wear clothing – but must have looked a right state to my date!
I became very careless when buying clothing for myself as l became older, l guess perhaps a lack of confidence in both myself and my ability to tolerate large crowds, combined with an intolerance for uncomfortable clothing, and l simply took to wearing the same clothing till it wore down into nothing. During winters in the caravan period, it was so very cold, that at times l wore up to six layers of clothing just to keep warm, so new clothing was not an essential, looking tidy for horses was never appreciated so there was no real reason to look anything other than what l looked like.
I am so very, very fastidious when it comes to what l wear, l have been known to literally tear offending tags out of garments in frustration should they touch my skin in an off handed manner, that l render the garment totally useless. Suzanne buys my clothing for me now, she has come to understand my quirks for comfort, what fabrics and styles l like and what l can not abide and l have to say rather unabashedly that she does a far better job than my Mother ever could!
I still have all the ties and waistcoats from my younger years, we live in a society that no longer has to wear ties at many places of work let alone the old fashioned waistcoat, but l simply can not bear to part with them. They are a collection of the most colourful items ever known to a dandy possible and yet l have no need to either keep them or for that matter ever use them.
‘Now you don’t see that every day!’
I used to believe that l had an exceedingly poor memory, but l now know that it was fogged by stress. Although l still struggle to a certain degree with short term memory, long term has reawakened with a shocking ferocity. With certain ‘favourite’ topics my memory is simply astounding… yes l say it like that, because at times l am in shock at what l can remember, because you may ask me what l did two days ago and despite being fixed on routines may not be able to remember with complete clarity!
Playing WoW for nearly ten years displayed to me both during and after just how detailed my memory could be when focused, even today a few months after quitting, l can remember clearly and with definitive clarity my first day when l started the game, l can remember every single one of the region maps, where the best places were to farm for resources, and auction prices of some the auctions as well as market prices from as far back as five years ago. I find the term startling is well used here. I left the game with just under five million gold which l gave away and l can remember how l made every single gold piece that made that total.
It reminds me of the short period l played roulette’ in my younger days, l could predict somehow, where the ball was going to go, red or black and to a certain degree certain numbers, l could look at a bingo board and predict what would be called it was uncanny. For me it has always been about counting and expectation, not a risk per say but simply the former, sequences arrive and somehow l can see them when l look at lots of numbers – l just sort of go into a trance when l am experiencing a set for the first time and then it is like a hidden code unlocks a door within me, and once l work a pattern, l make it a routine and then it all just becomes clear. In World of Warcraft friends would simply refer to me as guru for making gold, or telling them exactly where to farm something, with drop rates and respawn times and expected loot gains. Others would say the behaviour was similar to savants, l don’t think that it is that so much more a case of just really knowing and understanding a subject you love.
I used to count everything as little as a few years ago to ease off my minds’ over working, if l was under stress l would simply start counting things like trees, and then trying to figure out how many leaves were on a tree, or endeavouring to calculate how many grains of sand made up a stretch of dirt or a beach, counting cars on long journeys used to be a favourite and to make it more exciting, breaking them down into colours. At the end of journeys my ex wife would say what on earth are you doing? I would say counting cars. She would scoff at me, and l would prove it by telling her how many blues, reds, yellows, greens and etc. l had seen and how many of those colours were seen on the given hour. If it was not numbers, it was words, l have always played with words like a novice plays with spaghetti, and make words from number plates or sign posts, or counting cats eyes at night, and making words from the flickering lights. For a period of some three months in my mid thirties l would do ‘word searches’ and must have got through at least three booklets a day, l was just suddenly obsessed with words – to me it is like music, l see things with words, and l see numbers with words and colours. It can be very annoying at times.
I love music and would be the first to say l have an eclectic taste, yet as much as l adore music, sometimes l have to keep clear of it, for it can over stimulate my mind, to the point that it is like the brain is jumping up and down inside my head. Mostly l love listening to house, trance, electro, garage, rave etc. yet when l do my mind is suddenly alive and over creating – l see the very rhythm itself, colours, words, numbers, ladders, blocks and it is like a huge musical kaleidoscope effect. As said at times it can be very frustrating and l listen to no music at all. This gift was particularly useful in the days when l promoted fashion shows as l could handle the choreography of the models to the music we used as l saw a million things in addition to simply hearing the music itself.
Sometimes memories are triggered by a smell or a sound, and a moment in time will be brought up into my robotic mind.
I tried speaking to my parents, my Father who l know to be Aspergic from understanding and observation when he visits as indeed was his Father, is adamant that he is no different to the rest of society, and my Mother who does try so very hard to understand with the little information she has gleaned on the subject but for some reason is convinced that l did hard core drugs when l was younger, seemingly both suffer from bouts of selective memory. I endeavour to secure golden titbits to help me understand more and it is like trying to raise the Titanic using a hand water pump!
I do recall having problems at certain times in my life with how some might best describe them as ‘impairments’ , little disorders within disorders or tics and it would at times award me the title of being of a nervous disposition. I was a constant hive of inner turmoil at various points in my developing years, from eye twitches, to scratching my genitals at ‘so’ the wrong times, to stuttering, to uttering profanities, biting my knuckles, to masturbation in the wrong areas, yet perhaps for the right wrong reasons my parents have chosen to forget these little quirks?
Stimming is a relatively new term for me; it is a form of self stimulation – the term may be new or at least titled now, but l am a devout practitioner of the performance itself! And this may well explain the tics and disorders l had as a youngster and to a certain degree how l act today in certain areas. My behaviour when l was young was considered ‘good’ by my parents, although at times my Mother particularly and not so much my Father, quite possibly due to not really seeing even through open eyes had distinct issues that raised concerns with her. Today l would call those issues self harm, but yesterday my Mother would ask why at such a young age l would choose to injure myself at times? Again she would simply allow this behaviour to fall on my Fathers’ shoulders – in her eyes he was to blame for all of the problems. Ironically, although without humour attached there is some truth to be found in that, but not quite as directly as she would implicate.
Growing up l remember, speaking and the delivery of speech was a problem, and although these days many people who meet me for the first time can yes, detect a trace of Australian American to my accent and think l am ‘posh’, would not possibly realise that l have affected my voice, and how it is to be heard by others. When l was two years of age, my Father had moved us to Australia to better his career and for some seven months l point blankly refused to speak. The Doctors basically said that l was suffering from stress and was acclimatising to the new environment.
Many a time over the year’s people have referred to me as idiosyncratic, others have referred to me as egotistical usually as a result of listening to me speak and play with my words like children play with their food at dinner time! I went through a very joyous time making up words at one point in my professional career, seeing which words could best live with an ‘ism’ at the end, or just a ‘y’, not forgetting my most favourite period when everything l said comprised of completely made up words! I have been called stupid and foolish by the best of the best, pure genius at the creation and introduction of many of my concepts by others, told to not run before l could even crawl let alone walk by the jealous and informed by countless others that l live in a world that none of the rest of society have ever heard of.
Are you on medication?
Long before my diagnosis l was often treated for stress and anxiety, and during these processes doctors would prescribe me various forms of medication to ‘calm’ both me and my behaviours or for depression and so on. I never have liked taking any form of tablet and even now am reticent to take the likes of Paracetamol and other painkillers for headaches or other gripes.
Many a time the so called helpful medications would trigger off other problems with me, or just cause nausea, or in extreme cases make me more hyperactive mentally so l stopped taking any of the prescriptions awarded me. Over the years, it has been asked of me by others if l am on medication, not because l look like l am in pain, but because l can be ‘chopsy’ as in speaking too much, or because of my verbosity when talking about things that fascinate me, but also because l articulate my speaking with the use of an abundance of hand gestures or gestulating.
I have tried to combat this behaviour but it is not always possible, especially when l am incensed or excited, and sitting on the hands normally results in the wildest fidgeting you may ever bear witness to! A simple sentence can be overly long winded or basically makes me appear as if one l am on medication or l am not quite there! To those who do not know me, they are not really quite sure what to make of me. When l was younger this was often greeted with sarcastic remarks from both my peers and elders. The other thing which can be quite annoying for both myself and those listening is that l can become very easily side tracked when talking, so whilst l may start one topic, l may literally forget what l was talking about and finish off on another topic!
Senses and Sensibilities
Sensitivity to me is both at times irksome as well as pleasurable, for l am at times overly tuned in to certain things such as touch, scent, sound, taste, temperature, fabrics, lighting, thoughts, pain and change. Sex has been one of the most enjoyable aspects to my current relationship, as we are both sexually active; we enjoy love making and sensuality to the maximum. As we have developed more as a couple and as such have got to understand each other thoroughly we have been able to reduce some of the very quirky behaviour l had in comparison to when we first met.
I am a very sensual lover, l adore touch, the feather touch as l call it, when it feels as almost a ghost is touching you, but when we first met whilst l could deliver the ghostly sensation, l simply could not receive it. These days l am a very different man to the man l was when we first met, for now l can enjoy our love making fully. Receiving oral sex was for most of my life an untouchable, it could reduce me to a giggling and shrieking lunatic which as some readers might be able to imagine can be quite off putting! It was for many a time an almost agonising sensation, now l know it’s not! For many years because of my own inner issues, as much as l thoroughly enjoyed the experiences, l paid more attention to satisfying my partners rather than myself and as such took the domineering role in sex, as l was able to control how the session went.
However l have always had a problem with ejaculation, [which apparently is a common problem with Asperger’s] although nowadays this problem is starting to no longer be an issue of concern. Whilst l could always assist myself to ejaculate, doing so inside any previous partners was very hard to achieve success due to the overwhelming and uncontrollable sensations derived during love making. Suzanne and l have resolved this problem and whilst l can not say that it happens every time we make love, it is now more frequent than it was previously. But l will discuss sex in more detail in a later chapter.
Away from sex, there are other sensitivities l experiences that still cause me some annoyances; we have already discussed the scratchiness of certain fabrics. I have more than a heightened awareness to certain things touching my skin, hands and feet, but also my face. I can not walk bare foot on linoleum flooring as it freaks me out, nor can l stand flimsy items softly touching my face, or strands of grass or straw in between my fingers. If my hands are covered in icky stuff for longer than ten seconds l have been known in my younger days to literally start shrieking! As a trainee chef this sort of situation was a nightmare, like trying to make pastry!
For some reason now, l can not stand walking in mud … with my boots on but love walking in mud without my shoes on? For many years when l lived in Australia and to a certain degree when in Malaysia, l never used to wear shoes and used to tread on everything in bare feet. Also l think the shoe thing came from when l was living with my parents and my Mother used to go on about not making my footwear dirty. I went through a phase where l was constantly losing my shoes, usually my left foot. And l used to receive a bit of a beating if this happened, perhaps the mud issues stem from there, it might also be something to do with word association – as in boots for everything but mud, and wellingtons for nothing but mud. I may never know the inner meaning to this!
Whilst the following is not as bad an issue as it used to be, it still hinders me occasionally – and that is, trips to shopping centres and supermarkets used to cause me terrible headaches and panic attacks. It stemmed from glare problems, notably from the likes of uncarpeted floors in supermarkets, when the over head lighting would shine on the nakedness of the floor and create a glare which would cause me to squint. A lot of people can walk in these centres and never experience this problem, but back then, l would deliberately stay clear of these premises. I prefer subdued lighting over strong lighting fixtures as is, although for reading l need the strongest white light possible. From 2009 – 2012 l was living in a forty foot caravan which always had sun over it and as it was like living in a goldfish bowl, l drew all my curtains to a closed position for my entire residency only allowing light in when l was laundering the fabrics themselves.
This closure of light was for many reasons, to stop people looking in because of the vast amount of glass and allowing me my privacy, to prevent unwanted sun glare onto my computer screen and an overall dilution of bright light. Ironically l write this now in a conservatory with the sun streaming in, although the shades are drawn, and l have a almost ‘playschool’ like structure made from cardboard surrounding the computer screen itself.
When l lived in Lincolnshire in my bungalow, Suzanne who has SAD would find my lifestyle quite hard and she would often be in the kitchen as it was the lightest room available. However, now we have the ideal situation in the Isle of Wight. The property here is sited in a south facing garden, so she has all the sunshine she needs, and l can enjoy it, with my little box for protection! Ironic in the reading, but hey if it works, why knock it?
I used to have serious quirks when it came to ‘stationary’, for some reason l am always drawn to bright colours, a lot of people are similar, but l should imagine not too many go into a form of trance when viewing them? However, for some bizarre reason l was absolutely enamoured with stationary and all the colours. I did not want any as l had a computer but it seriously irked me that because of my odd time at viewing the likes of fluorescent pens, pads, pencils, drawing pads and so on, for some reason my then Mother in law felt that l needed some. And for five years on the trot she continually bought items of stationary for me that had no use for me, and yet not once bought me something useful for the computer?
At times l have experienced problems with scents and smells, my sense of smell is very acute with certain items and can arouse a host of reactions. I can taste certain smells on my tongue and become nauseated by the prospect. Slugs have this effect on me, l only have to see a slug and suddenly it is like the wretched thing is wiggling inside my mouth and l want to throw up and sometimes actually do.
Macaroni cheese can make me throw up just detecting the slightest whiff! When l was a lad of around six l used to live in Malaysia and would travel to school on the bus and journey from Butterworth to Penang Island, which involved a small trip from my house to the quay to await the ferry. For some reason l always found myself sitting next to Vegemite Boy, which again used to make me want to throw up. Ironically l am a vegemite lover and can not abide marmite. Another smell that used to harass me whilst we waited for the ferry to dock on those early Malaysian mornings in the early but already sticky heat was the strong scent of the durian fruit which was sold greatly to natives and westerners alike. It is quite possibly the stinkiest fruit l have ever been in contact with in my entire life and the lingering scent would make me vomit and gasp for air. Despite having tried it, and found it to be very sweet and somewhat tasty l can not stand to be within 40 feet of it. I know that many people have found this fruit to be an evil entity sent down to taint the earth from dissatisfied Gods, and why?
Because it smells of rotting flesh wrapped up in sweaty socks and the stench is over powering, and ironically its very taste is like something sent down by angels from heaven to some, yet with each person who does yield to it, they all have a different interpretation. My Father would say that it was indeed an evil smell indeed but only became offended by it when within close reach of the stalls, yet for me, it assaulted my sensitive nostrils from a large distance away. I can usually sense the arrival of a different aroma long before anyone else can. Many a time they will awaken memories within my mind.
With certain sounds l can become both alarmed and stressed, the whining of dogs can go unnoticed by many, but for me it is an uncontrolled noise and as such can create the little stirrings of tension, a dripping tap will irk the hell out of me but the soft ticking of a clock l find reassuring and comforting. Children playing and their high squeals can start anxiety off very quickly for me on certain days and yet others it will just be part and parcel of daily life.
When l was married and during times of stress, if my ex wife wanted an argument and l did not, she would deliberately turn up the volume of the music to the loudest it could possibly go, and if we were in the car and she did it, it was not uncommon for me to simply open the door and attempt to throw myself out to avoid the build up of stress. Seeing this she would suddenly slam on the brakes and turn the music off. With unregulated and uncontrolled noise levels l can not simply blank off and crash dive, l experience an explosive sensory overload of stimulus. It is not that l do not love loud music l do, but when l listen to it myself l am in control and can switch it off. There were times in the work place that l would simply have to get out of the environment if the noises of the customers became too much and over bearing.
Other things l can not stand is hand jewellery, when married l used to find that my ring always felt loose and had a new ring ordered just so that it was tighter on my finger and at first was quite uncomfortable and restrictive. When l was going through my divorce it took a very long time indeed to remove the blessed thing, it had over the years moulded to my skin so that it felt like my own skin. It left a mark on my finger for almost six months. I don’t wear a watch and have not done so since 1995, as they too felt very restrictive, but as Time was so important to me, l used to wear mostly a pocket watch as this did not touch base with my skin at all.
No one likes pain and to a certain degree l am no different, however some pain excites me, during self harm the gratification would award me more than an awakening but at times a tingle of excitement, no l would not get off on it, it was not that kind of excitement.
One of the biggest problems l used to have major issues with was the dreaded word ‘change’. I am better at coping with this now, and l bloody well should be considering how many dramatic changes l have undergone since not just the diagnosis, but also the huge transformation l have noticed in my character over the last two years alone. I used to seriously resent a break in my established patterns and routines. Not the case now, whilst l will not lie and say l welcome change with open arms, l am more relaxed about such things. If l am sufficient time to get used to it, l can accept most change gracefully. When l was around two years of age, my Father decided to up heave the family to Australia and l literally stopped speaking for months.
Water simply fascinates me, be this running water, slow moving waters can hypnotise me, crashing waves can awe me, but also still waters which l can stare at for hours. Mirror glass waters can have a dangerous allure to me somehow and it has not been uncommon for people in my past to pull me away from the serenity of it, in case l fall in. I used to enjoy falling into water … nope l can not explain that either.
Chapter 5 – Ep 8 – Soon