Dancing in the Grey – Life with my Asperger’s
© Rory Matier 2015
This chapter is in three parts.
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 13 – Ep 21
Don’t ask me to Mask Up
Everyone Breaks …
I have never said l was a complete innocent, but that does not make me the devil either, with my promiscuity of younger years l knew my way around women, but l have never committed adultery and have never cheated on a partner sexually in the physical sense. I have flirted yes l am guilty of that and my innocence of such movements may have caused others to think l was coming on to them, when it was not the case. During my marriage l was propositioned quite a few times by women both directly and indirectly, and during some of the hard times of my marriage there were times when l had wanted to simply say yes, because sex was always so very black and white, to sate the desire, to feel the pleasures of illicit skin on skin again, none of the grey as there was with relationships.
Sex was and still is an important feature to my relationship, for although not the way these days, there was a time when it was the only way for me to communicate my emotions and intimacy for another. My ex wife would use sexuality as a weapon at times, wanting it only when she wanted to quench her desires. Sex is the one act that l have never slotted into a routine, l could have sex and lovemaking all day and in previous years there had been times when l simply never left the bedroom except for biological reasons. But that was not the case for her, she wanted to routinalise this greatest of pleasures to a kind of time tabled event. ‘Tuesdays, and Fridays and maybe if you are lucky l might permit it on a weekend if not busy’, took all the fun out of the sin to be honest.
She would go through phases of simply not wanting sex or any kind of close contact interaction, but this also involved not speaking to me or even for that matter being in the same room, and l was left to my own devices, so not being unfaithful l simply ploughed even more time into my business.
Sex for us during our time together was so rare that if l did not know better it felt as if l could count the times on both hands that sex took place, and of course it was not like that, but in all our time as a couple sixteen years in total, l remember the activity during our courting and dating times with a remarkable clarity. And yet after that, in all the time we were together, perhaps six of those years we enjoyed a sexual relationship, and occasionally in the remaining it was a pleasure toy for when she wanted it.
And yet despite all of this, l did not actually commit adultery, but yes l was at times pondering what on earth l was doing in this kind of relationship and what was the point? Sure l was ‘ill’ and changing during our years together but l never specifically went off contact.
The last five years of our relationship l spent sleeping downstairs on the couch, initially the reason was l had received a back injury through horse riding and as such, not being able to manage the stairs to the bedroom, but l recovered in about 6 weeks, and after that l could simply not see the point in returning to the matrimonial chambers and nor was l missed.
Like my own parents had done years before when taunting and goading each other into an argument concerning adultery, my ex wife constantly threw these at me. I recognised the signs straight away – she was guilty herself – the accusers usually are – it just took me back to my own growing up days and hearing the constant yelling before a slap struck skin and the thunder rolling in.
But because l could usually make women laugh, this was wrong of me, yes l have said l can flirt but back then l was just smiling with no intentions of taking anything further, l suppose, because she many a time refused to talk to me, l sought companionship, nothing sinister but just someone to talk to, to have a laugh with, to feel human again.
But then, at times if l only smiled or partially flirted, it was only when women who thought l was a swinger or a player of some sort made a black and white proposal that l realised l had again missed the social ‘indirect cues and realised my error’. But my wife did not miss anything and as such always thought l had deliberated these moves.
It was odd in many ways for l have always got on better with women than men, even when younger it was the same, so many a time l simply did not think anything of it, it was just a laugh. But after so many accusations l had, had enough and very deliberately started to back away from any social gatherings. I did so to stop false accusations but also, l was obviously wrong for trying again to fit in. So if l did not attend anything where people were, then l could do nothing wrong, could l?
Sometime around my mid thirties l did actually notice that some of the gatherings were starting to get to me, and when l returned home, l would take a downtime to recover or reboot my systems, and even then further insults were added of being selfish with my time.
When l stopped attending her friends’ circles, this too was wrong, l was being overly selfish and insensitive to her emotions, not actively contributing to the relationship by being social, and maybe l was just hiding something?
It is ironic, as much as she used to say l was flirting and it was wrong, she would openly flirt with men and at the same time look at me as if to challenge me, there was no humour in her eyes during those flirtatious moments, but l could see the spite almost a hatred would flash in her eyes! When we returned home, more insults to incite arguments and conflict, something l have always walked away from or at least tried.
“You are such a mouse; you don’t even get jealous when other men so obviously want to fuck me!”
There was no way to win with her, so l simply stopped trying to justify anything in our marriage. In the middle of our time together, she had begun to drift, l knew she was not happy with me as her husband, or as a partner or even as a friend, l was apparently too weird! She took to spending long weekends away with her ‘friends’ as a way of helping to cope with my strange behaviour. Perhaps l should have cared more, worked harder on our relationship, but l was most often or not confused as to why she thought that my ways were any more bizarre than hers? I tried sitting down and talking to her, but she would always throw in my face, “You need to be sectioned!”
I can not say with my hand firmly on my heart, that she was entirely to blame, l was becoming more concerned about my self harm, my desperate need for time by myself. Depression was fast moving in and l had to constantly cope with the battles and conflict of that. I was even faster simply sinking further into my own inner core more, l had a wife who never wanted to discuss anything, did not want to hear what was going on in my head, basically did not want to know me. I guessed she was angry at not having the perfect fairytale marriage.
Of everything it was the simplest of lies on her side that hurt me the most – the most simplest yet thinking on it the hardest to admit to is adultery – is it the fact that you want to be caught out, or that you have this power of knowledge from your partner that is highly scandalous, but it was that that got me. Towards the very end, l knew she was seeing someone, hell l even knew his name, so blatant had she been in discussing her new best friend. And maybe that was it, she did not understand even after all our years together that all l wanted were some honest black and white truths no matter what the content, and all she could do was dance in the grey expecting me to know or just understand.
Sometimes even now, it is these little things in life which baffle me, one side of your brain knows but yet the other side insists on knowing.
I was never an unintelligent man, yes l was at times too trusting and naïve, although not anymore, l carry too many scars to be like that now. But when l first started thinking the thought of ‘what if’, she would always defend her answers and l again had to back away and think that perhaps l had been so terribly wrong.
There were never blistering arguments from my side concerning the matter, just open and honest questions, and her retaliations were so very hostile, that l had to take a literal step backwards to process everything. If you are falsely accused even slightly of adultery there is a good chance that you would react in an embittered fashion, but equally if you were guilty of adultery, could you not also respond in the same way?
Strangely enough l think what baffled me the most and quite possibly her to boot, was that when she accused me l just looked at her as if she had lost the plot, and laughed and said ‘no of course not’, like it was a joke on her side. But my ex wife l learned much later was so very good at lying and l was so terribly trusting.
Divorce was mentioned the first time in 2005 December, l remember it quite clearly as if it were yesterday. I was running a very large website for my business and had created a 600 page site on dial up, and had asked about switching to broadband. We were in the car, and suddenly she simply answered with ‘l want a divorce!’
Admittedly l do not think l heard her correctly, for l simply laughed and repeated the question, when all hell broke loose l thought for a split second we had hit something on the road! I remember thinking, ‘WTF that completely defies logic!’ But simply answered with’ seriously, all because l wish to switch to broadband? A simple no would have been sufficient’
By February 2006, we were starting a reconciliation period as advised by marriage guidance, and by October that same year l realised how dementedly stupid l was as a human being, by December she told me of the miscarriage and by February 2007 l had moved out of the matrimonial home into my own digs. It was basically that simple.
But as we all know, nothing is ever truly that simple, this is the black and white end to all our years of being together as a supposedly loving couple, a painful and hate filled end with heinous cruelty and bitter accusatory statements from a woman who had once loved me, what had gone so terribly wrong?
In 1993, l was a different person to the man who moved out of the matrimonial home in 2007 – l was young and ambitious in my career, an aloof and distant manager who was different to the many managers that lined the books of recruiters and employers alike at the time, l was classed as unique and quirky, something in the early 90’s that was a cut above the normalcy of the flocks of white sheep out there in the industry.
Despite all my inner conflicts emotionally, l had learned to mask them up and pretend that nothing was going on with me. I felt alive, worked long hours and partied just at hard at night. I was on a very high salary for my age when l moved into Peterborough to the new position of Flagship manager for the Scottish firm l had been appointed to. I knew what l wanted and if l saw something l did not have l usually went well out of my way to go and get it, this applied to everything, work and women included.
In the early days of our courting, she would often say l was different to anyone else she had ever dated, l was slightly eccentric, distant and vague and yet charming, old fashioned and had an air of boyishness around in the personality. Back then she was the fox and l was the hound, l was simply following the scent, l was after all known in London by friends and colleagues as a ‘romantic chaser’ – too much money not enough sense sort of thing,
Her family were wary of me, only because of the age difference, although her Father thought l was odd, my ex simply defended that by stating it was part and parcel of my personality, it just made me seem different. Looking back the first major mistake we made was moving in with each other so soon after courting, to be honest l do not specifically recall how that came about, but suspect it was because she still lived with her family, and this may have been her break away opportunity. I had my own apartment and slowly things started to arrive and appear in drawers, in the bathroom and before long we owned a pair of kittens! Yet l can not simply say it was entirely all her doing, l just sort of went along with it all.
I suppose looking back as l am now, if my breakdown of 1996 had not of occurred, then all l would have been guilty of as far as our relationship was concerned, was appearing to be off kilter slightly.
The early days of our relationship were l imagine no different to any other couple, l say ‘l imagine’ because she never gave me any indication that my behaviour was ‘odd’, although there were times in the first couple of years that l felt undue stresses creeping into my every day routines, but had learned from experience to never show these to outsiders and simply pulled my mask a bit tighter.
However, a wife is not an outsider, but an insider and it was revealed much later on in our marriage that she had in fact seen little things in my behaviour that caused her to raise an eyebrow or two on occasion, but simply put it down to eccentricities in my personality. Initially these were seen as the charms that she found to be endearing whilst we were dating, the fact that l appeared to be very trusting, open and honest was soon replaced with the term ‘incredibly naïve to life’, the boyish behaviour was fine during our courting periods, but she believed it was all part and parcel of my routine for dating, and soon grew weary of it when in a relationship and the supposed ‘fun aspect’ of two people being together was to be replaced with maturity and acting like responsible adults.
I came to realise after a few years in, that l did not really like my partnership with this woman, and by the Gods above why on earth had l married her? She had fallen in love with my personality when we were going out, but now that we were ‘together’, l was to stop playing the fool and grow up, which was all rather confusing because l had not changed from the time l asked her out, and yet here she was saying she was displeased with my behaviour and l should act like a mature and responsible adult, which was somewhat insulting, as l was.
Back then l had no reason to distrust her actions, l did not see through some of her falsehoods as my Mother had done on our wedding day, but over the years that were to follow, l came to understand that whilst l did not specifically hate her as that is too strong an emotion, l did in fact come very close to doing so frequently. She would continually refer to me as a useless bum in the years just prior to the first mention of divorce, running my own business was not the millionaires’ pot she had dreamed of, she never became the SAHM, she accused me of not allowing her to join the RAF, which l found absolutely startling as l had always encouraged her to follow her dreams as l was mine. But admittedly never knew that she seriously had wanted to be in the air force like her own Father had been, because of her desires to become a Mother, until a good ten years into our marriage. I would never have stopped a serious desire like that, my own Father was ex air force, why should l?
My business was not glamorous, working with animals hardly ever is, l was very frugal and could make items last for years and thought nothing of buying at times second-hand, she was the complete opposite and detested the fact that she had to work and pay for her own clothing, l was a far cry from the dashing fashion guru she had first met. In addition she was very upset about the fact we did not have children as a couple, l knew she had, like me wanted to have kids, but l had found during the breakdown years that ‘children’ were the very last and least important feature to my agenda. In simple facts, recovery was of the utmost importance, as selfish as that may have been considered.
The thought alone of her becoming pregnant induced more stress, already a demanding and bossy woman the manipulations she would then possess would and could be unbearable and if she did not get her own way, l knew there would be incredible arguments which again would affect my mental health. I look back and still maintain that by not having children was the best decision l could have made and l have no regrets. Back then l was self harming, in the throes of a major depression and my temper was flaring at the slightest noise – how could l deign to believe that by introducing a child into that environment would have been any less rewarding than it had of been when my Mother was pregnant with me? Having children would not have saved our marriage, nothing could have achieved that.
My Mother on my day of marriage to this woman, had asked of me why? ‘Why are you marrying this girl?’ I said l loved her, but ironically on the day of the marriage itself l had wanted to back out, deep down somewhere l knew something was wrong with me, it did not seem right. My head was spinning and l suddenly had a thousand questions about who l was. I had tried to back out of the wedding that day, but found that l could not betray this girl in that way on her ‘special day‘, plus the Mothers‘ Sister threatened me to go through with it, so not being stupid l went ahead and got married.
It was a huge mistake, it is so easy to say that now, but sadly l was saying it way back then also! I had just made one of the biggest mistakes in my entire life, but if anything l am an honourable man, and l knew that l could not fail her.
In the years that made up our marriage, l changed, l was in breakdown or meltdown mode for almost ten, nothing seemed to ever get better and just gradually got worse, the medical profession said l was suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, the world was simply proving too much for me … I backed away from the marriage, society, family hers and mine and from friends, l closed myself off to everything that was going on with the world, worked my business, anything up to eighteen hours a day seven days a week, took no time out for holidays or days out, l became obsessed with the business. I stopped showing any kind of affection, had no romantic inclination or sexual desire and for years l slept downstairs on the sofa – and why did all this happen?
A few reasons, my head felt like it was imploding daily and any interaction with people and it exploded outwards, my wife during the mode of meltdown was a very cruel woman, and l felt no love for her, l was trapped and felt trapped to boot. Counselling and trips to the psychiatrists and psychologists did nothing further to assist me in my confusions and if anything made things even more perilous. As hard as l tried to make the marriage work, nothing was ever good enough, no matter what l did it was always wrong, the income l had from my business was a far cry indeed from my days as a fashion manager. But it was never high enough, or there was never enough money for her lifestyle and it meant we had or rather she might have to stay in more.
When l was ‘normal’ in her eyes, she left me be, but when things all came too much, the insults came in fast and furious, l was stupid or retarded, or just plain slow and so after a while l simply did what l had learned to do, all those years ago when my Father had been raging, l backed away, switched off and mind blanked the lot. Arguments were a point of great annoyance to her, she was the type of woman who loved to shout, and she wanted to entice a response, but l had learned that her response requirement was different to what she argued about.
I was an active self harmer, whilst l never raised a fist to her or harmed her in any way, l was always bloodied, l never shared my mutilations, but at times it was unavoidable to see long scores down my legs or arms, or healing scars and this also infuriated her more. She would always try to get me to react towards her, so that she may have had me committed or sectioned, she knew of my past, my weaknesses and flaws and at times she simply loved to bring them out of me.
But arguments were a real source of joy from her, until the day she came to realise that l did not respond directly to an arguer, my Father had taught me that lesson well, when l observed his reactions to my Mothers’ yelling – his was brutal and aggressive, whilst mine was similar it was always my own self destruction at hand. My ex wife would become so absolutely ballistic at my lack of responses that she too would become violent and throw things at me, or retreat to the bedroom and bang her head against a wall. When she had calmed down l would approach her and ask if she was alright? She simply flared up again, so there was never any winning.
During those years l found it extremely hard to verbalise my emotions, l simply could never express the right words at the right time in the way l mentally had thought of delivering them to the receiver. If l attempted to try, l stumbled, faltered and failed which in turn only served to antagonise her further, so l resorted to writing down all my emotions in the form of a letter and presenting this to her. She was not a great reader and of course whilst she would [in the beginning] endeavour to decipher my scrawl [writing by hand very poor] she soon tired of this application and demanded that l just tell her what it was that l meant which again simply pushed my catch 22 into the foreground! In the end, l stopped writing these ‘letters’ as many a time she simply refused to read them and in fact glanced upon them, smirked and called me a name and then either crumpled it up and threw it at me or shredded it first before throwing them!
So in all the years of marriage to a woman l had loved and despite everything continued to love for a good part of our time together, l was to be awarded at the very bitter end, that l had failed her from the first day of her ‘recognising’ that l was not like other men … my confidences in myself were shattered, perhaps l had, but what of her, had she not failed me also?
When l hit forty years of age, l had come out of the ‘depression’ that the doctors said l had, and they had said that l would come out completely different to the man who had first fallen to its ways. This was very true, the man inside the darkness was already different to the man from before, but not just because of the ‘stress title’ as they chose to award me, but for other reasons. During the times when l was ‘quiet’ in the eyes of others, l was struggling with many inner conflicts, l had real identity issues going on, l simply forgot who l had been and was wondering who l would become at the end of the tunnel?
I had melted down two years into my marriage – so as far as my ex wife was concerned – in 1996 her 33 year old husband had woken up one day and simply stepped off the planet, it must have appeared a very strange event to her, l knew it was for me, life had become surreal almost over night. But by 2003 and as said when l was approaching my fortieth birthday, l woke up, it was around February and l realised that it was nearing Valentines’ day, so l made arrangements for flowers to be delivered to her on the day itself as a way l believed of saying l was sorry and that l was back.
That day did not go as planned, and it was perhaps that day l really learned who l had been during my time out, my wife did not trust me any more, no l had not done anything disloyal or been unfaithful, just that she had seen me go through so many changes she simply did not like me any more, when l raised issues about her treatment of me during my ‘quiet’ times, her defence was ‘it was for your own good’. The art of manipulation by a loved one l think is perhaps the cruellest injustice a marriage can be awarded, and l was to be told that all of that fell under the ‘it was for your own good’ title.
Valentines’ Day 2003 was a complete waste of space for both of us, the flowers were almost discarded with the comment of ‘you should have got some gravel for the drive instead of poxy flowers’ and other comments of ‘think flowers is going to make me love you Mister, think on’. It was a brutal day in fact, and all it did was etch firmly in my mind that our marriage had run its course, and we were over.
The months that followed proved this even more, excuses of ‘l had to do what l could to survive’, and ‘l needed others to talk to as you were never here’, and the corker ‘l had to seek comfort from others!’ The latter when pressed only revealed ‘girl friends who listen to me’. This would certainly explain the weekends away. When l asked why she was not there to listen to me when l needed to speak, her answers were ‘l was depressed, you have no idea what it was like for me and the last thing l needed was to hear your woes!’
In essence we remained married technically from that year until our divorce in 2008, but l had left the matrimonial home in 2007. We basically lived a routine of established patterning in the years in-between this period, divorce was thrown in my face in 2005 and during the so called reconciliation period of 2006, when she had specifically set me ‘tasks to perform’ to prove my love for her and display that l truly cared, were to prove one huge and elaborate plan to show how very deeply she really hated me for all l had caused her during my meltdown years’.
The reconciliation period tasks were to become involved in her family, her friends, her hobby, allow her time to do whatever she wanted, use the joint account the way she needed to, sell off the physical side of my business to concentrate purely on the administrative brokerage side only – it really was a case of ‘do all of these things and l will forgive you and know that you truly love me!’
And so like a moron, l did these things for her, l was somewhat confused at a lot of the things, l had never prevented her from leading an independent lifestyle and had in fact encouraged it, told her that two people could not always do everything together. I was more concerned about the joint account thing, because l discovered that this was one of the things she had done for my own good apparently, reduced my access to my own account of the grounds of medical instability, l was not allowed to use my own money many a time. I hardly ever went shopping with her, because the supermarket lights gave me headaches and the stresses of so many people caused me to hyperventilate – and so she had taken to buying my food and hers. The former was the most basic crap money could buy and the latter was all branded products.
I became involved with her family again, and her friends despite all the stress it caused, l had to go out to events run by her horse stables involving lots of people and this too caused further stresses. Her friends were an odd bunch because many a time they would not speak to me and l felt as if l had been sent to Coventry and was always confused as to why, l had never been hostile to any of them. Turned out that in addition to the true events of our marriage she had embroidered tales of abuse which were ungrounded and that l was retarded. So l had to put up with all of this added pressure. Her family at times were not hostile but were reticent in talking to me which made family ‘outings and gatherings’ very hard to swallow.
During the dark years, my health had deteriorated, l was gaunt, underweight, smoked too heavily, and had serious bowel issues which resulted in horrendous losses of blood during every movement and in addition to this was beyond stress almost daily. Making matters worse, l had an awful sense of not knowing who l was anymore.
There were many humiliations for me during my recovery period, but none quite as bad as the ones during the year of 2006, our marriage reconciliation period, when l was involved in her hobby with horses for seven days a week, riding, mucking out in addition to all my own business and attending the pets we had. I was not allowed to do any of my hobbies, albeit the biggest one l had sold off to spend more time with my wife, and the monies went into the joint account.
All in the attempt to prove that l did love her – which looking back is kind of ironic, hindsight foresight so to speak, because during that year all l was thinking of was what divorce would actually mean to me, and the most dreadful fear was that it would mean change and dramatic at that, as well having to reassign new routines, the strangeness of it all, was that l knew l did not love her anymore anyway! I came to that realisation around July of 2006, that here l was busting my balls for a woman who by all account and measures did not really know nor care who l was, and to boot spending time with her horses when she was ‘away with her own thing?’
The Pièce de résistance came one day in October of that year when she sat me down and said ‘you have proved to me that you love me, however l do not love you, l think you are stupid, naïve and a fool – you stopped the keeping of animals, something which you were passionate about to show me you would spend time with me, you worked my hobby with horses despite not wanting to, you did everything l asked of you and yet you did not once see how l played you, how l manipulated you, did you?’
I sat there admittedly with a bemused look on my face, what was she driving at? And then it came ‘I have been seeing someone else on and off for almost two years, and during our reconciliation this year, l spent more time with him, because he is a man and you are a mouse, l once loved you, l now hate you, l despise you, you broke me. I wanted children we have none …’ and it went on and on for almost an hour. Real hurtful things were discussed like my money from the sale of the business had been used by them as a couple in Travel Lodges, dinners and days out, whilst l had been mucking out her damn horses alongside her Mother. Oh yes her parents knew of my ex wife’s affair also and had ‘played along’ with it all.
I had indeed been played as a fool, she spent ages telling me how my behaviour had sent her off into the arms of another or others, she even showed me her new tattoo she had had done with her ‘other man’ present in the parlor, and considering the location he knew her quite well l should imagine! But even during our reconciliation she was hardly ever at home in the evenings and despite sleeping in the same bed, nothing ever happened.
It was during her discussion with me that night, that l came to again understand the hate emotion, and oh how l so hated her then! At the end she simply said ‘l want you gone in two weeks, and l laughed, she asked for a separation, but my ruthlessness was now present and simply stated ‘fuck that, l am divorcing you now, no questions!’
It was an extremely hostile and acrimonious divorce with fire from all angles and all l was allowed to settle for was ‘unreasonable behaviour’, strange how very similar to my Mother’s divorce from my Father!
Chapter 13 – Ep 22 – Soon