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 22
Don’t ask me to Mask Up
The Lost Boffin
But l had to ask myself in the days just after my leaving the matrimonial home, honestly how had l caused this woman to hate me so? Since then, l have researched extensively into CADD to see if there were answers in there to my own questions, and sadly there were plenty. My ex wife like my Mother, had probably suffered as a result of my undiagnosed disorder. I certainly can see similarities; both of them experienced bouts of low self esteem and depression, although neither of them sought out medical assistance with it. My Mother however was prescribed valium as a way to cope with stress in the late sixties and early seventies.
My ex wife blamed her weight gain on my behaviour, when we met she was a size twelve and when we separated she was a size 26, l have never truly weighed more than 12 stone. Suspected crohns at one point was the attacker to sudden bloating periods l suffered with, but that was about as heavy as l ever achieved.
However, during our marriage l had at one point discussed with her parents who weight gain, and they had both answered that in fact she preferred to be comfortable in her skin as it was more natural, and they she had lost weight for me? I always considered this strange, when we first ever met she was not large, she also knew that l had in fact a preference to slimmer women having never dated any other size, and at the time she had said she was heavier during her teen years, but wanted to be slimmer as it was more comfortable!
Whilst we have not spoken for many years now, l do know that she is still heavy, so perhaps her parents were right, but then from what l can gather she does seem to be much happier than when we were a couple.
She was very eager to have children, whilst initially l was, with the arrival of the meltdown; my emotions for children were not present and never returned during our time together. However it is hard to know if she was suffering as a result of my undiagnosed Aspergers or supposedly CADD. She was a heavy sleeper and did not like specifically getting out of bed to go to work, so was she victim to some kind of sleep disorder, l would say no. But then she was quite a confident girl when we first got together and the woman l separated from had also changed dramatically.
I do not like to admit to faults if l feel they are unjustified, but l do feel that emotionally she did have problems during our marriage which could quite easily been attributed to the disorder itself. I was not an under caring partner per se, was l too intense in my affections for her? No, not really, l thought l was about right in consideration to books l have read about Aspergic partners in comparison to Neurotypicals.
She said that the only time l ever showed true intimacy was during sex, l never liked to cuddle after sex, and for that matter was not one for cuddling any time, that l was always so very absorbed in my hobbies and not so much in hers. There is truth there, l tried to encourage her to lead an independent life and not be reliant upon a stuck at the hip relationship, l never heard her argue the toss except to say that we should be doing more together as a couple. I was never one for public affection; l never wanted to visit her friends or go out socially and l was tiring of constantly visiting her parents for Sunday lunch.
It is true, l had started to shy away from society, but only because everything was horribly tiring and exhausting, l would have to take hours to recover from those times and so her comments of l was no longer fun, were probably correct of me.
In many ways her list of complaints about my behaviour, the quirkiness and my changing personality were damning, but l can understand now why that was so. I was no longer interested in our relationship, no matter what l did, it was wrong, when l did things specifically to colour her day, they were wrong. Everything was basically and in a nutshell wrong.
The long and short of it, was that she blamed me for everything from the time of my ‘breakdown’ to the time of our reconciliation, and l found it very hard to provide answers for my behaviour during this time. So whilst not agreeing with the way ‘she manipulated’ my emotions during the final curtain of our time together, l could certainly see that perhaps l had a great deal to learn about relationships if l was to ever succeed with them in the future.
On my side, my very small defence and all l could think of, was well she was some 12 years younger than me, and she had to contend with her husband having a breakdown very early on in the marriage, how many could have coped with that? Surely that would have had an impact emotionally on her also. Plus the main bulk of my belief was even simpler, we were not compatible from day one, should never have contemplated marriage, and during our time together two disorders unbeknownst to either of us had simply collided.
As l left the matrimonial home that sunny Sunday early February 2007 for the very last time, and bade goodbye to the dogs l was not allowed to take with me, she pulled me to one side and looked at me for a while before she said, ‘l suppose you do not wish to remain friends?’ And with my blank response she knew the answer, her face hardened with her final insulting blow ‘I loved you and l believe you loved me, but as we grew to know each other, l knew you were not the man l met, your behaviour was not eccentric as l first believed but deception, you were without any kind of sympathy for any of my upsets and emotions during our time together, l wanted so desperately to have things in my life like children and you deliberately denied me this pleasure, however now l have met someone who will give me what l want in life again, normalcy and children and happiness, l wish you peace, but deep down know you will never ever find it!’
Post – Recognition Relationships
These were very hard pills for me to swallow, and when l was single again awaiting the divorce papers to finalise l have to be honest and say that a new ‘relationship’ was quite frankly the last thing on my mind.
But some times the last things on your mind have a habit of coming into reality much quicker than expected! It was 2007, and l, alongside my four dogs and three cats moved into a rural farmers’ cottage in a village just outside Bourne in Lincolnshire, a very quiet and somewhat sleepy place indeed.
If l thought for one minute that the damage from the divorce was bad enough then l had to be officially called stupid and naïve indeed, the real disaster was literally just around the corner. I guess that my confidence with women was shattered, that my belief in myself as a human being was also in a shambles and that my days of being anyone’s beloved again were disappearing in the passing winds of time.
Friends at the time said that the relationship that l was involved in next was too quick and that l was on the rebound and l would have to concede that they were right, albeit partially. I did not miss my ex wife one little bit, but l did miss the routine, the patterns and the established behaviour of living with another, and l think this may have motivated me along quicker than l should have done.
I was feeling vulnerable this is true, l knew that despite recovering from a major breakdown, l was still not quite right, and the person who emerged from years in the darkness, whilst the same, was a completely different man to the time before the lights went out. I felt continually like l had a thousand questions on my identity, and was simply unable to answer any of them efficiently, l did not know who l truly was anymore.
I had my brokerage business and l literally ploughed back into this, working the same hard core seven day week regime l was accustomed to, and with the little free time l had l tried to understand how l could improve in relationships and not make the same mistakes twice, l was an intelligent man, l would simply have to research and relearn it was that simple. I kept to myself during the initial months, hardly saw the few friends l had, walked on a regular basis with the dogs and that was it. I tried my hands fleetingly with the Internet dating sites and promptly gave up on them, way too complex.
I was sailing along quite nicely on my own, and was quite unawares that around the corner lurked a predator that would ‘discover’ me, that l in turn would fall deeply in love with, become entranced in her ways and would make up for the so called flaws of my marriage, not realising that in so doing, l would allow myself to be manipulated to the fullest degree, and that she would leave me unstable, suicidal, emotionally drained with a dark and jaded cynicism towards any women for a long time to come and l would have issues with trust, belief and confidence like never known before.
Pretty Young Thing
I knew of her through my brokerage business, she was an exotic animal keeper client, with a very solid and sound reputation amongst fellow keepers; she was petite but could hold her own, confident, independent, sassy and somewhat outspoken politically in our industry, traits l liked. It was inevitable the way we both aired our opinions concerning husbandry that we would collide somewhere more directly than the online forums.
Looking back it was a very short dating period that we shared after that ‘collision’, she moved into my lovely but rickety cottage with wide open space and outside buildings to spare, within a period of only a few months. She had been involved in a ‘failing relationship’, had left him and started to reside with me. With her, arrived her own well kept and maintained exotic species collection.
I fell head over heels for this woman, again younger than me by some ten years. She was stunning not just in my eyes, but to many others also, petite, blonde and shapely. Many of my friends at the time could not quite believe what she saw in me, and many of my female friends were very dubious of this woman’s intentions. My business was well known in the United Kingdom, a very well respected brand name amongst animal keepers, with a strong presence in the primate market and known for providing a respected and quality service in the sales and acquisition of exotic animals.
It was an easy relationship to begin with as so much of it centred on sex, and admittedly l was trying very hard indeed to ensure that my failings in my marriage would not rear their head here in this new and exciting relationship, and for almost a year it ‘albeit hard work on my front’ did very well indeed. We were trying for children, something we both wanted l believed. But l had so desperately wanted to be a Father, so much so it blinded me l believe to reality.
She wanted a normal relationship, so did l. Although she had eluded to me that she found some of my behaviour strange in so far as my lacking to want to socialise, she had said that my other qualities, my naivety, trusting nature, honesty and my at times childish outlook were very appealing, which made up for the negative aspects. Later that year in fact, the first idea was proposed to my Aspergers, it was the following year that it was to be confirmed.
In 2008 she fell pregnant, in 2008 she lost it, in 2008 she changed.
With the loss of the pregnancy she resumed her normal ways of smoking of the damned drug ‘skunk’ and continued to rebuild her lost months in the heavy drinking of Cider. I had tried this ‘skunk’ occasionally, but it was not for me, and no matter how often l would ask her to think on what she was doing, she mostly ignored my requests. My business at this time was starting to feel the recession, and things were slowing down, still busy but not as it once had been in 2003 the year of its creation.
Looking back at her pregnancy, l often wondered if she was healthy enough to have carried a full term, for she had smoked this drug for years, was overly active and kept irregular hours, drank herself into stupors most nights and never ate properly. She had always emphatically denied this and said she was at the peak of her prime.
I was struggling with the relationship at this time, the newly awarded label of ’Aspergers’ had altered the way l looked at myself, and l had so many questions suddenly answered and thrown into my mental recesses that l was overwhelmed, and before long was consumed with the obsessive fire that follows this disorder, l could feel myself starting to break again.
However many things were present for me to try and battle, my business was shifting into an urgency for the primate crusade l had led for years, and we were approaching some heavy administrative periods dealing with primate husbandry and regulations, her drug taking and drink binging had become more frequent, her spending of money that was not there was ever present in her feeding of a collection of animals that had grown to almost five times its original size on arrival to the cottage, and her neglect of many of the animals in her care was becoming intolerable.
Many years before l had started the business l had maintained several thousand animals for the commercial business side and had never faltered on my husbandry, yet here l had this woman, who seemingly did not care for a good portion of her collection, and refrained from allowing me to assist. Admittedly l had ceased the keeping of exotics many years before with the creation of the brokerage and only kept my domestic pets, which were more than adequate for my keeping pleasures.
One of our arrangements was that her small tidy collection when she first moved in was not to grow, after all l was in rented accommodation, there was only so much tolerance from my landlord. But she continued to extend and she was struggling to maintain its presence. This too, soon awarded me a major stress factor, in addition to all of my own problems. She was fast becoming something l detested – a hoarder.
Emotionally she was changing also towards me, no longer were my ‘good qualities’ acceptable in her eyes, and l should stop pretending, so l did, l stopped pretending to be who she wanted to see and became me again. With this arrival she was now faced with a man who did not wish nor want to see all these animals and their poor husbandry which so affected me and unbalanced my sense of priorities and moral codes. She too became aggressive and not one for being told anything that did not sit well with her, started to retaliate.
By the end of 2008, l was in one hell of a mental dilemma, my mind was crashing, mentally l was weakening, emotionally l was becoming exhausted, l had resorted to major self harm again to try and alleviate the pressures from a very bitter relationship, yet again another.
Having to face all of this so soon after my marriage, and my recent divorce, as well as having Aspergers thrown into the equation for good measure was really a very demoralising time for me and by 2009, not only were we over as a couple l had literally just turned 46 and my life was an absolute shambles!
In March of that year, l had made a horrible discovery with her reptile collection. She always told me to stay clear of it as l was not at all good with that type of species, and was way too clumsy for my own good, l could risk being bitten or worse! For there were some large snakes in there that whilst could not swallow me whole or anything that dramatic, but if one was to ‘arrange’ itself over me in such a way, could actually render me even more useless than l already was around this species to begin with!
We had not been talking for a while, and it was upon receiving a phone call about a species l knew she had that l went upstairs to check some detail, that l discovered the dead and dying reptiles. She had not fed them for months, l should imagine from the time they had moved in December out of the living room to the upstairs bedroom, the only time they had been maintained was during the move itself. So for three months, she had only concentrated on her animals’ in the garage and not these!
I was crushed at that point, totally destroyed that l could not imagine how l had not seen this happening. My friends would say later that l was over whelmed, l was beyond stress. And that may be, but my principals in everything l personally believed, that my business battled daily, that my politics adhered to had been destroyed!
How could l, who had such a reputation in the industry and who battled for quality husbandry, not have seen this coming?
That day ended us, but it injured me more than her taunts could ever do, l had failed again in so many ways. To make the damage worse, l then went downstairs and inspected her animals in the garage, and discovered more horror! Despite the fact that our relationship was faltering, she had always spent so much time in here, to get away ‘from my abnormality’ as she classed it, she must have been feeding these beasts, these poor creatures?
I will not go into further details, for they are my memories and they are not pleasant and still cause me so much pain to think about.
Even after the confrontation later that night, and her strong urgings that she would attend the species, and to not tell anyone else, l knew that we were over. As l have said l am not angel, but l am not so much the devil that l would ever wittingly administer this kind of evil onto animals of mine. The sense of righteousness that l possess had been rocked, and no amount of apologies from her could stabilise it.
In the summer of 2009, l moved away from the farm cottage, not just because we were over, but also because the farmer had terminated the lease due to the state the animals had made and a breach of the agreement, plus the property the ground resided on was worth more than the renting payments and l believed that he wanted to sell the land rights to developers.
When l took on the caravan l was a very lost man and felt like a complete failure. My business l had no motivation for; l had failed in my own code of right and wrong, and could not be seen as a hypocrite by attacking poor quality husbandry in others, when l had let it happen under my own rooftop.
A woman who l had adored had betrayed me in so many ways, more so than my ex wife had in many respects – after all she and l were both clueless to the presence of Aspergers in our lives and marriage – this woman admittedly had known of the diagnosis and had behaved in a heinous fashion. The incident of the reptiles occurred in March when as a couple we were over, but we still lived in the same house under the same roof.
In May, a month prior to us actually separating and going our own ways in life, l was in a serious medical dilemma, Aspergers was something which although l was looking into, it had to take a second position. Stress with the reptiles was playing heavily upon my mind, l withdrew from the political side to my industry, my business was straining through both the recession and that in many ways l felt that she was trying to undermine my authority with my clients – a rat race of sorts had begun when she was trying to steal them from me on the grounds that medically l was unfit.
The truth is l realised that it was time for me to close down my business; l found l no longer had the passion for it under the circumstances l found myself in. In order to cope with the misery of everything self harm had progressed into a new level of aggressiveness. At every opportunity presented to her would she use as a weapon of destruction against me – telling clients, her friends and family that l was suffering from bi-polar and that l was mentally unstable and needed sectioning!
It was not long before she decided to create new strategies and tactics to further me along the way to completely breaking. She found that by reading up about the disorder she could fine tune on some of my weaknesses and flaws and used those against me also. She conceded that she had never been pregnant, but it was a way of keeping me off her animal keeping, and as it was ‘Why would she want a child with me?’ I was too weird to be considered a Father and l had done my ex wife a favour by not awarding her children!’
She even rang my ex wife who was still listed as my next of kin, and urged her to consider having me sectioned, as a prize she would take my business from me and run it and split the proceeds with her! This battery of mental abuse in addition to everything else proved too much and so one day in May, using the high proof depression tablets l had been prescribed l took an overdose, some thirty – five tablets in all and whilst she was on the phone to ‘my counsellor’ simply walked off with her oblivious to my actions.
I vaguely remember that day even now, l walked for almost three miles before collapsing under a bridge, l had both paracetamol and ibuprofen in my back pocket but atypical my clumsy behaviour had forgotten to take a drink with me and so feeling drowsy, simply leaned against the underside of the bridge and drifted off …
… Only too awaken some four hours later to a pair of l guess size 12 black boots! These boots in fact belonged to a policeman, who once verifying who l was led me out to the roadside where l saw to my horror, at least a dozen coppers, three dogs, several police cars and to boot a helicopter in the air.
Apparently my partner had phoned the police upon discovering the empty foil casings of the tablets and made the call and because we lived in the Fens and the vast expanses of open lands, they called up a county search which meant sadly that not only was Lincolnshire involved but also Cambridgeshire and Nottinghamshire! I was duly informed that had l taken the remaining tablets in my possession l would have completed the job instead of merely sleeping it off and when asked why l had not taken them. My response of ‘l had no water to swallow them with!’ Was met with the somewhat befuddled answer of ‘But you were right next to a dyke filled with water?’ Thankfully, l should imagine they were pleased to have found me alive and confused by the answer l had awarded them, only to be further humoured by ‘And it’s dirty and l could have died of water poisoning!”
Because l refused to go into the ambulance voluntarily, l was arrested for my own health and taken to a ‘mental hospital’ in Lincoln. Unbeknownst to me, during my travel time to that hospital my partner had rung ahead and spoken to the hospital and requested my sectioning only to be told that as she was not next of kin, they were unable to perform this for her. So not one to be deterred, she again rang my ex wife and demanded that she exorcise her right as N.o.K and have her ex husband sectioned, which thankfully she did not do – about the only thing l am grateful for from her – and promptly told my ex partner to ‘go away’ but using more colour l am told.
Failing that, she rang the hospital again and explained that l was delusional, mentally unstable and a self harmer, that l heard voices and was violent towards her and she feared for her own safety! She told them that l thought l had something called ‘Aspergers’ but in reality l was ‘schizophrenic’ and that for the safety of everyone l should be locked up with the key thrown away!
I did not know these things at the time l was travelling to the hospital; l did not require a stomach pump as l had slept off the effects of the tablets. I spent the night in the hospital and was interviewed in the morning by a team of three Doctors whose first question was ‘Did l hear voices?’ My answer of ‘Yes, yours!’ Was sufficient for them to basically say l was not a threat to society, and they promptly released me from their care. There were a few other questions, they asked me about self harm, and l refused to comment apart from it was under control.
They were not at liberty to check beneath my rolled down sleeves unless l volunteered them permission to do so, and l was not going to do that. I knew by then and indeed through some of their questions that my ex partner had in fact rung them. I was fearful for my dogs at home, and needed to return as quickly as possible, so going into lengthy conversations about my acts of self mutilation was not on my agenda of popular topics. Had they checked, they would have seen both of my arms bandaged from wrist to elbow, heavily bloodied and freshly opened due to my scratching and picking at them all night through stress!
They further told me that a ‘medical mental crisis’ team from where l was living would be travelling out to take me ‘home’ and l further demanded that they allow me to take my own measures for returning home, and as they were not bound to hold me, they had to agree and so l walked out of those hospital doors at 09.37am on that day, literally only a few days after my 46th birthday – 35 miles away from where l lived, with just my mobile phone and some ounces of tobacco, but no money.
With my dogs as my focus, l then began a four and half hour journey of walking and hitching a lift, and l was very lucky to have thumbed a distance of nearly thirty miles, cadgered a few cigarettes and a bottle of water and only had to walk some 8 miles. By the time l arrived at the top of my road, l was greeted by a policeman who ordered me into his car and then he drove me back to my house! He informed me that there had been police cars all over the roads between Lincoln and there searching for me, that the ‘crisis’ team were on full alert and that l was in serious trouble!
If they thought that was serious trouble, they truly did not understand the devious mind of my ex partner, for upon opening the front door, she screamed abuse at me and the deafened policeman bade us farewell and hastily retreated to the sanctuary of his car! Whilst l had been busy with my walking, she had been busy indeed, l found my computer had been stripped of raw data concerning my business, my bank accounts had been tampered with, my parents rung and notified that their son was a lunatic, my two dogs had been locked into one of the smallest rooms without food or water and were both stressed and very upset, she had thrown away some of my property or burned it, and had packed away all of her own belongings!
It was not a pleasant homecoming, l can assure you!
I rescued my dogs and then basically threw her out of the office, made required calls, took up my personal belongings and camped with everything in that room. I had not eaten for a few days and was now very seriously stressed, hungry and thirsty and to be quite honest in a worse place than l had been the previous day!
As said it would be a further month before we went our own ways and the remaining time there was fraught with stress and peril, for as ‘mad’ as she believed me to be, and as ‘unstable’ as she was enjoying telling the community in which l worked, she still had other ideas on how to basically crush my mind.
When l had originally arrived in Dunsby, l had four dogs and three cats, a relatively healthy business and was going through the awful procession of an acrimonious and hostile divorce and was in many respects battered, looking to start over again. When l left, l had two dogs, two sadly having passed away, and my three cats that l had had since kittens were rehomed, my business was in tatters and my reputation in my industry was being shredded, l was now labelled an oddball, l was divorced and now recovering from a horrible relationship, my pride was lost and as for Aspergers God knew! I had a few possessions, very little furniture and an absolute corker of a headache!
Her final parting shot when the dust had settled and l was now trying to convince my new landlord that l was an ‘okay guy’, was that the only reason her reptiles had died was because of my strangeness and that it would never happen again and ironically less than a year later she allowed most of remaining animals to suffer the same fate, they were without water, were in the throes of dying through malnourishment and neglect. She could not blame this on me any more, as l was not in her life, the Aspergers was not guilty the first time nor the last.
I found no comfort in being called upon as a witness to previous events, nor did l find any solace hearing that her animals had to be rescued and rehomed – as they say, the one person you can never forgive is yourself! My thoughts at the time only went to those poor animals, who again were suffering and to the people who had to clear up after her. Still she battled on and blamed her then ex partner for everything she could, as is typical of that industry, they tend to believe who they want, and as l was out of the business – it had to be my fault – l obviously still loved her, and could not resist trying to get ‘even’ with her! People are the strangest things going!
Sands of Time
I think that the disorder and its known arrival awakened within me many stirrings of how l looked at relationships as a whole, perhaps also l was finally able to understand what l really did lack in the wrong type of relationships – l say this, because l do firmly believe that if you are with the right person, then life is so much easier. Understanding, trust and communication are vital, once these are present; the rest of everything is like a walk in the park … perhaps.
What l can say hand on heart as an Aspergic male is this, we are lovely people in the main, but by the Gods, we are not at all easy to live with if the disorder is not known about, and sadder if we are with the wrong partner, they do not have an easy life what so ever. But if they discover this, they can bring out the worst in us to suit their own manipulations.
From 2009 till 2012, my life was very different to anything l had ever known before. I lived as a bachelor, although to outsiders l was an oddball hermit, living with two dogs in an oversized sardine can.
I worked with horses, l shied completely away from anything to do with people, l talked to myself and answered my own ponderings, l hardly ever slept, l allowed myself to become cynical and jaded with everything around me. I gave up on everything to do with my family and friends.
I researched, wrote and studied and breathed the new disorder, l needed to know who the hell l was, but more importantly if l had somehow unwittingly become my own Father? I dissected everything in my life from the day of my birth, to my life growing up with my family, to my parents’ themselves, to my identity within relationships.
I fell into the darkest holes of emotion, battled suicide daily, and had to battle bullies on the outside who would manipulate me into a form of slavery. I accepted the role of the subservient lesser man, acted the part of a ‘nobody’ and performed it very well. In truth for those years, l allowed the disorder to consume me, destroy me, demotivate me, and constantly asked the question is this my life? Everything l had achieved and accomplished in my life to date ended with me being here? My pride simply did not exist any more; l had no dignity or integrity left.
Oh yes, it was one hell of a journey into the ultimate puzzle!
In the end, l recognised my flaws, where l had repeatedly made the same errors, l decided it was not altogether just me that was in the wrong, there are always two sides to each coin, it all depends on which purse those coins end up in and how they react to each other.
It was not that l was insensitive; it was more of a case of l was undiagnosed. I was not a bad person, but there were those that would think, possibly even to this day that l was. The man who emerged was still shaken, was terribly dark in his thinking, but he was starting to finally balance out. Knowledge can do that to a person, it changes their whole outlook.
Some things would never be different about me, l was Aspergic, l accepted my disorder into my personality and behaved as it was meant to be. I would never again wear a face that was not of my own, love me for who l am, judge me not. I will love you for you and only you, not your family and not even your friends, l love you, and have no interests in any of the others. I learned that my insisting that my partners would need a social life of their own long before l read about such things, was a step in the right direction, it was quite simply that the previous partners did not want that, they wanted a more clingy relationship, which l am simply not able to provide, l am neither clingy or overly needy.
To communicate everything was essential, whether this be good, bad or downright ugly, to talk, to listen and not just hear, to take time out to hear the day of your partner. I am not consumed by my disorder, but it is mine and not theirs, but in order to understand me properly, they must have an understanding of the workings of my mind, and l must be aware of problems that can cause them upset and emotionally drain them. They must be willing to accept that l have this disorder, that our lives together will be challenging and not at times without difficulty, but it will be worth it in the long run, if we both understand each other.
Chapter 14 – Ep 23 – Soon