Dancing in the Grey – Life with my Asperger’s
© Rory Matier 2015
Please Note this book was written in 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 6 – Ep 10
The Lost Years
It is a strain for me to remember any of the joy during my maturing years as a young boy to a teenager, for so many times my Father filled my mental space with stress, or my parents would be arguing, rarely a day would pass by that an argument if not two would develop and this would send myself and my Sister up to our rooms to avoid the misery.
Looking back l never really recall seeing many lovingly tender moments between my parents, my Mother craved them this l know, for she oft talked to me about her private thoughts. It’s strange because she would say that my Father only really became attentive if he wanted sex, for years l believed l was similar to him in that respect, my ex wife and my last relationship would constantly yell it at me, the only time l was ‘emotionally sensitive’ was when l wanted sex. Yet, Suzanne has said that she does not believe this to be the case, that l am a sensitive man, l think the difference here, is that l do not wear masks with her, l am simply me, again lending weight to being with the right person.
My Father developed diabetes and my Mothers’ innocence or naivety saw this as a curse, and after this was unwilling to have sex with him, this caused him to stray the pasture further. Some might at a push say that this was a natural reaction from a woman, but we are also talking of the same woman who after hearing of Rock Hudson’s’ illness with aids after sitting behind him at a London show, and who had signed her show guide for her, had it burned and destroyed in case she too caught Aids from him.
It is not that my Father and l never spent time together when l was younger, we did, some of that time was ‘quality’ and some was not. I was not into the same sports as he was, and preferred the likes of baseball, hockey and archery to his more realistic English football or cricket, which confused him, as he believed any ‘son’ of his should participate in one of either those two.
As a family we holidayed, but many a time these could also turn into another excuse for my parents to argue. My Mother was not really much of a willing explorer and so travel did not truly appeal to her nature, where as my Father was and still is a devout outside trekker. He and l have been away together twice during our life, once a long time ago in the eighties when we went to Greece for two weeks and all in all, it was a good time. I saw a very different side to him when my Mother was not present. And a time in 2004 we travelled up to Hadrian’s Wall for a long weekend, and that too was a welcome break.
What l did learn in Greece with him, and l have come to understand properly as l have got much older, is that he was by far happier when my Mother was not with him. Admittedly l can agree that when the two were together, life was fairly restrictive for him and he seemingly did not enjoy it. So perhaps, my Mother was not the right woman for him and their marriage and relationship was not ideal. By all accounts she felt more at ease when he was away, although upon his return you would struggle to believe that as all she ever did was nag and throw accusations of adultery at him. In fact her feeling that he was not being faithful was a source continued frustration for her throughout most of their marriage from what l remember. His absences from the home front, his requirement for long ‘downtime’ periods, his special interests and so on.
In my early to teen years l used to be an avid war gamer, and was very interested in the 1.32nd scale Napoleonic figures l collected from Airfix and he and l would then spend some quality time together planning battles, skirmishes and campaigns up in the loft of the family home. Here too l remember him being more relaxed than usual, and l valued that time with him, here we were just two geekish kids playing soldiers. We enjoyed making the rules and the battle plans very complex and intricate, but my Mother was always envious of the time he shared with someone else and not her. Ironically, she would use topics like this in her arguments against him. This made me feel very annoyed and disappointed in her, for years later she would then argue the toss with him about never spending time with the children.
I sometimes wonder if my Father was so unhappy with everything that occurred with our family and the way they were as a couple, if her continuous nagging and manipulation drove him crazy with frustration and confusion. I am not defending his aggression or violence towards her or l, but have to wonder if she had not pulled the trigger so often, if things could have been different?
Both my Father and l still have a passion for military history, and although my plastic armies of my teenager days are long since lost and now l attend to my interest in PC gaming and books, he on the other hand has visited many famous battle sites around the world and has an astonishing memory for all facts and figures concerning warfare.
I often think back on those times spent with my Father, all they are now are echoes of memory, there is no going back in time, the adage hindsight and foresight is all well and good, but serves no true purpose accept for being able to understand him better these days but only through my learning and acknowledgement of a disorder we both shared and still share. I was baffled by him all those years ago, now l can look back and see how in many respects he ticked and thought having experienced a similar foot path in life.
The disorder shaped him, his disorder shaped me, my life moulded my Aspergers further, the unknown disorder caused both of our marriages to dissolve and we are both divorced and have vowed we will never do it again, we both have had relationships flounder around us and end in acrimony since our divorces. However this is where the similarities’ cease – l was willing to accept the possibility that my behaviour was something else other than stress and confusion; l chased it up doggedly and persisted with trying to find answers. I researched it and accepted the outcome as it was logical and undeniable. I have also seen the darkness he more than likely experienced and had to undergo. He has chosen to forget and ignore both the past and the present, l want more from my life than that.
I am still learning about Aspergers, and know and understand a hell of a lot more of my personality than l once did, l know my limits and my boundaries, what l can and can not do, who l can and can not be. I refuse to wear masks anymore and ceased the pretence and falseness of fitting in. I love my Father as much as a man can, l am my Father’s son, l am his Aspergic son, but above all, l am my own man.
A Mothers’ Son
I love my Mother as much as many sons do for theirs, in recent year’s l have come to understand more about her, and more importantly in the last two years l have seen a different woman.
I was never the Mummy’s boy that my Father accused me of so often, nor was l mollycoddled – l was loved by my Mother, was simply more emotional than my Father. She was there for me when perhaps he should have been, however was not. My Mother had to perform the role of both parents to her children. She had to be the rock or foundation of our childhood, as my Father struggled with this concept. She taught me the better side to me, the sensitive emotional side. Clearly l can see her today as a struggling Neurotypical, just as confused by my Father’s behaviour as he was about the expectations of his role as both Father and husband.
And as much as l love her, she like my Father does not know everything that has happened in my life equally as much as l do not know every inch of hers. I do however remember my yesterdays quite clearly when at home as l know only too well she does also, and yet like my Father she too suffers from bouts of both memory loss and selective memory!
She did have to contend with a lot with my Father physically and mentally, emotionally and personally, financially and behaviorally, l can not deny this. There is no backing away from the fact that he was at times down right odd. But she does also forget that she was not always so angelic, she remembers what she wants but forgets perhaps that l have the ability to recall things also. Her version of some things from our family life can at times be uncannily different to how l remember the same events.
Although not as much these days, in times past, she would throw in odd comments to me during phone calls like, ‘Oh yes that was during your drug days!’ Which is really bloody annoying if l am honest, as l used to get this all the time from my Father, and my Mother used to scold him for it. But the truth is l NEVER had any drug days when living at home with my parents, and of the few times l have tried either skunk or rock this was well in my twenties early thirties or my forties and have never told them of that as is. But when l lived at home, my behaviour on that kind of level was outstanding. For in truth, drugs may well have made my life much easier!
However, l did not drink, smoke, do drugs, sniff glue, get girls pregnant, fight or cause trouble, stay out late all night or perform any thing that could be reason to cause my parents upset or embarrassment. Yes l started smoking at 17, but for goodness sake, l started smoking a damn pipe [and not even a Bong] – hardly alarming, just eccentric! As to all the other issues, in truth l was scared of becoming addicted to such things like drugs and drink, but also l was more terrified of my Father’s potential action towards me if he caught me! So being a bad boy, as my Mother loves to imply – simply never happened. My sister on the other hand was an absolute tearaway from as young as 13, and had experienced sex at this point! What they forget time and time again is this “I was a book loving geek with some quirky habits, shy around girls, who played toy soldiers in his loft, and who hardly ever left his bedroom when at home!” They also forget that l was very clumsy not just in my behaviour physically, but around girls, and if l ever tried my luck on, it usually ended with disaster and some very irate Father’s!
Even my small circle of friends were not hard core anything, we were book reading geeks! Some of my friends had a crush on my Mother, and that was considered adventurous for them, and that was long before the term MILF was known to any of us. So, oh yes we were seriously dangerous criminals!
My parents were never smokers, as far as l can establish they have never tried any puff or a joint in their lives, they forget that both of them were flirtatious – my Mother was not a drinker, and if she did she became incredibly tipsy very quickly, whilst my Father not a ‘beer’ drinker, but liked his wines and scotches. The naughtiest thing l ever did, was smoke one of my Father’s ‘guest’ cigars, and the punishment meted out for that was to be forced to smoke the remaining dozen or so which practically killed me and l was off school for a week. I was seriously angry at that when l was around thirteen, because l had only two pulls on the first cigar before throwing it away as was, but they would not listen to me!
Ironically I did become a smoker from my mid teens but seemingly travelled backwards with this habit starting with as l said the pipe, then l moved onto cigars in my twenties to tailor mades in my thirties and ended up smoking hand rolled in my forties till l started the process of quitting last year. So perhaps my Father should not have forced me to finish off those damn cigars when l was 13 years of age!
My Mother would place a lot of my erratic behaviour down to many things ranging from uniqueness to ‘every body has off days my love’. But even now, l find that my Mother still lives in my reflections of yesterday, and although is fully aware of the fact that her son is much older now, does not always fully understand that l am a different man to the boy l was back then. That l too have travelled long journeys into who l perceive myself to be.
As a good friend of mine recently said ‘I think we always think as parents that we know our children better than they know themselves…but it isn’t always so’ And of course this itself is very true, l was relatively distanced from my parents’ home with my work, and would often prefer to sleep in my office than come home at all.
When l was around 14 l started work in a hotel in Woking, and this also awarded me time out of the house. But when l finally left home, l had already started the walk on the pathway of life, and from that point onwards l have always been the furthest one away from what is left of our immediate family. There are many things that neither of my parents know about me, and this is because in truth l was not always that talkative.
My Mother was also very judgemental, she still is, but will not hear of it, saying openly that she accepts people for who they are, and l know that this is not always true! She maintains even to this day that she remembers everything with a defined clarity and yet when she chooses to remember times in either her life or mine, she clearly displays a distorted version of the memory, usually one that sits with her best. I know my parents the best from when we all lived together as a family unit, and then when we all drifted off like the winds what l know is through what they have told me concerning their lives, or told me of the other through observations from my Sister to one another. I was not living with my parents when they went through divorce, although at that time l was in a hell of my own, and although during a five year period of time l had occasion to spend some time with them, it was far from quality.
I very deliberately and specifically cut myself off from physical contact many a time from all of my family, and perhaps the seeds that were sewn back then by me, have produced the problems today some may accuse me of in so far as communication. I simply disappeared from their lives, with only a smattering of communication to let them know l was still alive. But if l am honest from around my mid twenties to my thirties l was not in a good place and needed time out so simply got on with my life.
My Mother was quick to address the problems with both of her children, everything that went wrong in our young lives was due to my Father, and it was that simple in her eyes. I am not denying that a lot of our problems as a family stemmed from the fact that my Father was only involved in fleeting moments, and that if l was considered to be a little odd in some of my behaviour, he was way beyond odd in some of his. When young l put this down to his own home life, his parents were unusual. His Mother was a devour Catholic and wanted her eldest son to become a priest which obviously rankled my Father as he rebelled and became a Metropolitan police man in London, and as such left his birth place in Lisbon in Ireland much to his Mother’s horror!
But my Mother would, as said always blame him, and yet forget that if my Father was minding his own business when at home involved with something of his own, she would nag him to the point of starting an argument not of his own doing, and as such this constant mental duress at home created an awful atmosphere at times for both myself and my Sister.
My concentration levels were continually disturbed by my Mothers’ franticness, l struggled at times with homework, other times an argument would erupt and favourite television programmes were lost due to us having to evacuate the immediate area and fast, dinner times were stressful and the list went on. However, her selective memory would suggest that he and he alone was the only one to blame for any kind of disruption!
Sadly l think for my parents, they were not right for each other and l know l have written this already, but do not think that a diagnosis for my Father would have helped them either. They were way too opposite each other’s personalities, not just because my Father’s behaviour was odd or that he was aggressive. I do believe my Mother had CADD in her life through the darkness of the disorder in my Father, and this would have seriously rocked the balance of the relationship. I know this from first hand experience, my own marriage ironically was very similar to my parents, the only differences being l did not drink and l did not award any violence to my ex wife. I thank the stars everyday, that she and l did not have children.
Both of my parents never remarried – my Father for a period of years enjoyed a relationship with a woman who he did love very much, and yet for reasons unknown this ended, to the point she will never talk to him again. My Mother has a ‘soul’ mate in a companion of hers, they knew each other before she was divorced, but apart from the fact that he is some ten years her senior and in not good health which worries her, she is happier now than she ever was with my Father. My own ex wife, did not remarry either, however she met someone during our marriage, had an affair and is now the Mother to their two children.
I should imagine during my darkest days my Mother found these very hard to cope with and hear her son suggesting suicide almost daily. And yet still during my darkest hours she felt the need to elaborate certain discussions that were not welcomed. The line that always got to me was ‘l carried you for 9 months, what right do you think you have to take your own life?’ I felt bitter at hearing that admittedly, although l could understand to a certain degree why she used it. My Mother had experienced the misery of seven miscarriages before l or my Sister entered this world.
My Father’s physical and mental violence in her words caused these to happen and she could never forgive him. She too had a tough childhood, her parents were not exactly stable as was, and she was constantly in foster homes, so l do believe that when she met and fell in love and married my Father he seemed like an ideal candidate for long term. She believed that after everything in her life, maybe, just maybe she might end up with a fairy tale lifestyle.
It must have been hard for both of them, l remember very clearly the hardships l had with my own marriage, it was all about confusion and expectation the latter l could not deliver to satisfaction with my ex wife. Bitterness develops, anger grows and eventually hatred begins its life, sadly and regrettably it is unavoidable. I wonder if my Father experienced the same emotions l did during his marriage as l did mine, when confusion spurts start to dominate your thinking, and you become disorientated, a constant thumping in your head and every sense seems alive. Small shivers rock your head, and involuntary thoughts run wild to the extreme point of amok, and at that point you explode. Is this when my Father became violent as a way of coping, as l did with self harm? I will never know the answers to these questions, because he refuses to accept any part of the disorders’ presence and also because he denies being violent.
However whatever the answers, life for both of our wives during marriage could not have been at all easy, for of the four of us, no one had any knowledge of why we behaved like we did, why we were so different from the men they courted and fell in love with and eventually married and started life together. My own ex wife sought the companionship and solace from other men’s arms, quite early on in our relationship. I wonder if my Mother did too. I only say this because at the age of comprehension l had an awful amount of uncles visiting the house, and l knew damn well that none of them were related to any of my parents!
So who knows in truth what my parents did to alleviate their stresses, did my Mother fool around like she accused my Father of? And was he guilty of adultery also, to escape the manipulations of a nagging wife? My ex wife never really bothered to try to understand what was going on with me, but like my own Mother she suggested l visit the doctors as she believed l was not well, she insisted that l attend anger management classes like my Mother requested of my Father. And then like my own Mother to my Father the uncaring serious insults started to arrive, waves of nausea would wash over me when l heard my ex wife deliver the very same thing that my Father had hurled at me years before. But the strangeness is that my Mother threw the same comments at my Father as his Mother had done so when he was younger.
In all – the unknown presence of Aspergers is not a walk in the park, it brings a creeping darkness that can consume not just those affected but those close to them. As l said at the beginning, are the concerned parents of the young these days awarded with the hidden chapters of this disorder? Or just informed that hey, you are not going mad, your youngster has this, but we are moving forwards in giant leaps and bounds, and his later years will be much easier than they are for others right now.
I used to say long before l met Suzanne, and just after l started to understand my life with the diagnosis – that an Aspie would need a very tolerant and understanding partner, but also knowledgeable on the disorder itself and failing that, then Aspies need to be left single. They are a race amongst themselves, as many can be detached and indifferent to their partners who need to be loved in a very specific ‘normal’ way which many are simply unable to deliver.
My own Father struggled, but perhaps got better after the divorce, not by embracing a disorder, but perhaps simply by trying not to make the same mistakes as he did with my Mother. My Mother wanted to be loved normally, it is no different for any woman, and it is not that he did not love her, he did in his own immature and unknown way. Both of them were young, looking forwards to a life together, of building and raising a family, of long term commitment, of buying a house and living the rest of their lives together. But he could not deliver that to her, he could not love her enough in the way she had dreamed of being loved by her husband … how so very ironic, l loved my wife also, but l did not love her enough in the way she wanted to be loved.
It comes back to having the right person by your side, and that does not happen from the start of your loving life, sure some couples might experience it, but we no longer live in the 1940’s, when once married always married. We live in a remarkably fast and disposable world, where things can begin one day and be over at the end of the week. I believe that like casks of wine, we mature as we get older, more experienced, we develop more abilities to cope with the life we lead and is thrown in our faces every day. But life is hard enough in the normal Neurotypical world of romance, sexuality and loving relationships – now throw in a disorder that is not known to the equation called Aspergers – how hard are things likely to be now?
I have a loving woman in my life now, one that understands not just me, but is knowledgeable of my disorder, she is not a novice herself to the world of relationships, we have both been burned by partners before, but we have learned to explore further, not take anything or people for granted, to communicate and be open and honest with each other. We are stronger together, and we are weaker when apart, we share humour and good times, love and sexuality and we know that as long as we continue to talk about our problems we can grow stronger and stronger!
I am no longer prepared to accept failure in my life, l want to live and more importantly l want to live my life and end my days with this woman. I know who l am finally, l am not my Mother or my Father, l am me. The years of yesterday are no longer lost as l found them again, but the years that interest me the most are from here on in.
Chapter 7 – Ep 11 – Soon