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 15 – Ep 26
I See Grey People
The Conspiracy of Tweedledum
I have a knack for walking into dangerous situations with the naivety of a puppy, once in there when l should imagine most people’s alarm bells are sounding l am still oblivious to the problems until it is either too late or l am in too deep, most of the time l can manage to scrabble out – bruised and shaken – but still l escape – but sometimes escape is not that easy.
Living in the caravan in itself was easy, but admittedly not everyone’s cup of tea especially if longer than a holiday break. These days l am the first to concede that way of life is not for the weakened soul.
I viewed it on a glorious summers’ day [well late spring] and at once l knew that this was the right place for me for me to recover from my relationship and get to grips with this Aspergers thing. It was breathtaking on that day of looking around, sure the caravan was not brilliant, but it was mine if l wanted it, and l did, it was just affordable, bit of a financial squeeze, but l felt l could probably find some local work to make extra funds. The Gedney Fens of Lincolnshire during most of the seasons are beautiful in their own way, but it does indeed take a fen Lander to acknowledge that, for they are flat ancient marsh lands and for those who enjoy seeing trees and hills, then you will not find those pleasures here.
My friends when they visited during the first year of my residency would often say how envious they were of the location, by the end of the three years they would not say the same. It was very quiet there, off the beaten track, away from the village by a couple of miles, with what became known to me as Thought’s Highway’ running for some five miles straight from the village, past us and then to continue on further into the Fens as the only road. Not being a driver and a very clumsy cyclist it would prove to be a right royal pain in the ass. But as a road it was quiet, the sabbatical l needed was present with this living location, no noise was a good thing, l felt that too much noise would dirty up this place. Plus an added bonus to an animal lover was that l had horses around me, the stables was a DIY so there were other people at times attending their charges.
What l did not think of during the viewing on that beautiful sunny day was ‘what would winter be like, when l had only 4” of wall between the elements and myself?’ NO! That was one thing l did not think of, and that was perhaps the one thing l should have thought of. However as the phrase says ‘beggars can not be choosers’ and this was true of me, low income and two dogs in tow, l did not have many choices open to me.
Winter 2009 was not just cold, but was l thought at the time brutal, l was to learn that in fact 2010/11 were in fact much harsher, but having come from brick, l did not fully understand just how cold caravans were and could become and how very demotivating they made a person during the worse climates of the year. Sure the winter scenes from my front door were stunning, the misery of the cold helped me write poetry, but it did not keep me warm, and fen land winters can be longer l believe than some of the other more southern counties, where at least they experience autumn! I was then to learn in 2010 that the summer of the previous year had in truth been mild, because my wintry igloo became a hot box during the hotter months, where it was hard to keep cool with all the many windows and doors open!
When l moved into the caravan it would be fair to summarize that l was not the person l had been two years before, my life had taken a topsy turvy curve and my stress was full on. My business could no longer continue due to a moral conflict l was experiencing, not forgetting the recession closing in, and far worse than that, l had no Internet connection to actually work with. But the main issue l had to contend with was the new puzzle that had entered my life the year before, one of the biggest confusions or grey subjects l had ever had the opportunity to address – Aspergers!
The first question l had to investigate was ‘Who the hell was l?’
What l knew about me then was that l was crap at relationships, useless at finding the right person to be with and had around a thousand unanswered questions buzzing around in my head. I was a dog owner and an animal lover and was unbelievably quirky according to all those who knew me, family included! More importantly, l knew that l had struggled to fit into society as l knew it for most of my life, and as a way of coping had pretended that everything was always ok. I had had several breakdowns, both physical and mental covering various periods of time.
The caravan was not the old farmer’s cottage l had spent just over two years in with its antiquated decoration and scraggy lands and dangerous electrics, it was if anything clinical, sort of what you would expect for a family home on a holiday, it lacked personality and identity in its three odd shaped box bedrooms, kitchenette, oversized Loungeroom and tiny bathroom, it was nothing more than an elaborate prison cell – very basic living quarters with limited entertainment, gas supplied shower and cooker, electric card metre and water plumbed in from the stables in front.
At times my naivety knows no limits! I should have thought of certain things when viewing this mental box on that sunny day. Like would the water freeze in the pipes and remain that way for weeks during winter? Will the windows become so cold during winter that they will freeze up on the inside for hours? Will the cold temperatures damage all my clothing inside the wardrobes and encourage mould?
Would l experience problems with breathing during the summer months because of the heat and no ventilation? Would my bedding feel like a water bed, cold and damp to the touch during winter? Will the electric cut out unexpectantly at random times during the days because someone in the main house decides to switch it off? Will there be maintenance awarded to the property in case anything breaks or needs repair?
Would l be allowed to have a BT connection without seeking and begging for permission? Will my personal belongings be rifled through when not here? Will l get threatened and abused? Will l have items of my property stolen? Will my private mail be opened and discarded before l actually see or even have a chance to read it? Will that same private mail be used against me as a weapon? Will l be forced to perform sewage maintenance on others drains not my own? Will my friends and family visits be observed, watched and monitored and then will they be followed for up to three miles away from the property or driven off the road and challenged? Will l be forced to work long hours for very little payment? Will my dogs be threatened? Will l be treated like an imbecile?
I did actually ask about maintenance, and l was told that all repairs, plumbing and so on would be included in the rent, and the small lawn would be mown. But as to the other somewhat bizarre questions … NO, l did not ask them, some of the apparent ones l should have done, but some of the awkward ones, who on earth would? I was told that as l had two dogs and one was used to living outside, she could use their old dog run, and my indoor one could be in with me.
I was a novice to caravan life, as l should imagine so many in truth are, but then let’s be honest, how many would have asked those questions, when finances were low, mental health was poor and two dogs were in tow? Hindsight is a wondrous thing eh? But this box with its tranquil and idyllic surroundings set in the Lincolnshire countryside was somewhere where l knew l could probably rebuild me.
What l did not realise was that this idyllic and managed setting would in fact ultimately try to destroy me!
I sensed no danger even on the first day when the landlord threatened to throw me out because my ex had her animals boxed in transport cases under one of his barns – albeit with his permission – but he suddenly changed his mind and wanted me gone. Despite our differences, my ex volunteered to help me move to the caravan, but as she was doing so, the landlord gave his permission for her animals in the correctly ‘governed transport’ crates to be stored in the shade under one of his barns, so that this freed up more space in her van.
No amount of pleading with him or the insistence that only the two dogs were mine would shift his opinion; he believed the animals in the shade were being kept incorrectly and at that he wanted me gone!
My next and only step was to ring the council and declare myself homeless. Well l am none too sure what happened between him and them, but two hours after, he approached me and said ‘look l am a private landlord, l have nothing to do with the council, l like my privacy l don’t want any hassle here’
Would an NT have spotted any problems with that, my Mother said she would have done, l am unsure as to whether that is entirely true, but perhaps if she had been in my situation, she would have taken the renting, and worked to get somewhere else as a roof over her head, maybe that is what she meant.
That is one of my problems, for some bizarre reason as an intelligent man, l sense no dangers with people, it irks me to agree but l think at times my Mother is right, l am way too trusting, naïve and horribly and blatantly vulnerable at times also known as ‘easy to manipulate’. Suzanne has agreed to this, but nothing gets past her, so l am pretty safe now.
In the caravan l discovered a lot about myself, l did rediscover my identity and even now quite a few years after both the diagnosis and leaving the heat box, l have become happy with who l am, of course like many other Aspergians we all have our hidden chapters, those darker moments in life and will undoubtedly always fall victim to those who can see a way to hurting us. I have learned sadly the hard way about people, about so called communities, about people we get close to or those that deliberately get close to us. I am never going to be Mr. Society, l am not social enough for that, l don’t like interaction for nothing, l consider it wasted time and l can spend time when l want on more worthwhile opportunities. I am selectively social it is that simple, l have friends of course, but do not always interact with them for the sake of it, my family and l are probably best off the way we are, separated and dysfunctional.
My landlords in the caravan taught me a lot about manipulators also, more than l had ever learned with my ex wife and my ex girlfriend to follow, in comparison those two were harmless. I learned again to become very afraid of yet another bully in my life, this time one that used my dogs as weapons against me – in so far as to not argue about the poor maintenance conditions, the repairs that were not attended like a broken front door and a non functioning toilet for months – for if l was to argue then l would become homeless and my dogs would be either put down or sent to live in shelters whilst l ‘stupid’ [his name for me when not calling me a c##t], would be forced to eat scraps out of the rubbish bins, an intelligent retard was how he viewed me, without a practical bone in his body who was lazy.
His wife my so called employer was worse, she never called me names to my face to begin with [that came much later on], she would slate me behind my back, under paid me for my work with her horses, and then would find skivvy jobs to make use of my ability to perform mundane tasks that every other sucker grew tired of. And l became subservient to their ways because l did not want anything to happen to my best friends in the world – my two dogs.
There is no pride in what l write, l am ashamed of myself for allowing this to go on for as long as it did, l was battling conflicts with my personality and for some reason when there, could never truly see the harm they were causing me towards the end on a daily basis. I wanted a no conflict life, no complications just to take life easy, but towards the end l had to become very cunning, had to again don my masks, again pretend to not be bothered about the goings on, and pretend to be a Tweedledum so that l could plan my escape from this Fenland Alcatraz.
The disorder during this time began to worsen, l became completely anti – social, complacent and non confrontational l had in essence become a slave to two manipulators whilst they carried out their so called innocent yet heinous tasks on me. To lead a quiet undisturbed life is quite frankly utter bullshit, it does not exist, what does however, is the ability to possess control over your actions and l had to develop these traits fast.
I learned around November of 2010 that the reason all these things were happening was because my two ‘private’ landlords, were actually illegal, the caravan was not supposed to be rented out for any duration past three months and even then that was clouded in legality. My friends informed me that l was possibly entitled to housing benefit, so should make an enquiry into that. If l thought that times were hard before, l was about to learn that l had been wrong!
I had fallen into the greyest of areas with both landlords and because of their own fear of discovery and my love for my dogs and for no conflict they had decided they could manipulate me to the fullest potential. They knew of my disorder, they knew of my flaws and weaknesses and which buttons to hit to ensure they had control over me. I had to secretly arrange meetings with the council, charitable bodies would come to the caravan and pose as my friends and at times they were followed by the landlord and one incident towards the very end, he forced two charity workers off the road with his car and demanded to know who they were, despite the fact that he rang me during their visit to confirm they were my friends.
Because l had a broken door, which he never fixed [nine months], l could never lock my premises and when out, they would come in and search for documents based upon their suspicions that l was looking to move away. This action came around as a result of my mail being opened and them discovering the housing benefit form, followed by a meeting with his wife to discuss the fact that they would fill out the form for me [remember l was considered stupid], and that they would say l lived in another of their ‘legal’ properties and then we could split the proceeds – l declined the offer and said l had reworked my finances and would not need the benefit.
But since that moment of discovery of that form, every movement l made was monitored, all my mail was opened, some blatantly so and then l was awarded my mail even though l could see it was visibly torn, with the excuse they had mistaken it for their own. Some of my Mothers’ letters were opened, contents read and then thrown away, and her information was then used against me, and the painful list went on and on.
Oh yes l learned a lot about some people during that grey time … and when l left l was very thankful that as much as l had loved the serenity, the hidden horrors l would never miss.
My friends during this period and indeed my own family has said that where l was, was not good for me, and deep down l knew they were right, but a fear of change and a break in routines scared me more, l was concerned that l might lose my dogs, l was already struggling to keep hold of my sanity at times, but l had to make the move, but more importantly l had to see for myself that the situation was not right, and that took a very long time to finally register with me.
My Father would often tell me to stand up for myself when younger, he as an aggressor would say ‘you need to strike back’, my Mother would say use diplomacy, the compromise was that l was taught to swear at 13 – yes taught. I knew many words back then, and had often been reprimanded at home for using the likes of ‘bloody and shit or bloody shit, hell l even remember being told off for saying the likes of ‘Drat’s It’ used by Muttley in Wacky Races! The over use of that in my Mothers’ presence once had her running after me, because to her ears it sounded like l was saying ‘Rat Shit’. My mouth was washed out with soap that day and then on another day, she had hit me so hard and repeatedly that she actually broke her wrist on me her aggressions were so fierce. So admittedly it came to me as a profound shock to be instructed by my Father for awarding me the right to use it at school in defence! But l was not to use it at home!
And so from the age of 13, the likes of FUCK entered my realm of understanding and all the wonderful combinations one could derive from that!
When l was experiencing the many melt downs during my life after that, people said they thought l had a problem because of my ability and frequency to colour the sky blue!
However what l never mastered was the art of fighting, l am not an aggressive person or a deliberated mental abuser like my Father, ex wife and or ex girlfriend came to be. I never truly mastered the art of arguing, sure l could openly and aggressively discuss the ins and outs of a topical discussion, but never a confrontational argument that involved people l was with. Where possible l found that l could easily out manoeuvre others by the word, words became my arsenal of hope, my defence as well as my offence. Intelligence became my weapon, and when to use it and of course when not to.
An old adage springs to mind ‘Be Smart, Act Dumb’, many a time l have manipulated this into my defence, l used it at home, when my Father himself was raging, l acted the subservient. During the caravan days this too was my motto, again having to don the mask of subservience in order to survive the attacks of bullies.
Whilst not directly my fault back then, of course l was to blame, l took on the residency principally based on the fact that l did not want to lose my two dogs, and that was the only location l had found that would allow my pets and l to rent. It was only just affordable but l knew how to live frugally and believed l could afford it if l found local work which of course l did very quickly and that was with the stables, so l had landed on my feet as is usually my way, especially after the sudden demise of my business.
The problem was that both landlords soon came to understand how l ticked, and knew then how they could literally work me to their advantages and my disadvantage and the more they saw me as a man who is a few sandwiches short of a picnic in their eyes. It became infuriating to me that again l had walked into a classic case of the grey and it reminded me of the Colditz episode of Tweedledum way back in the 70’s!
What l have learned through my own inner turmoil is that l am way too trusting of others, who care not for the sense of righteousness in this world and only care for what they can get out of life from others if needs be at whatever cost, my Father used to be like this.
The biggest grey issue l have in truth is Aspergers itself, never mind all the other topics l have listed and it is not that l don’t understand the subject for l do, and luckily so does my partner it is quite simply many people do not, they perceive it as l originally stated as some kind of mental problem which technically it isn’t. However because l can not rid the planet of the confused NT’s for long periods of time, l have to simply tread more carefully – but hey as least this time around l now have met the right person in my partner who can balance me out.
Too many know not who or what l am,
Hidden away out the back, away from society,
Some lonely and misunderstood man,
Keeping to himself, harmless and otherwise ordinary,
To be seen but most assuredly not heard,
Lost in the shade and kept in the dark,
With a voice that can only be censored,
For fear that if listened to it might hit the mark!
Out of sight out of mind, think it’s safe to say,
With abstract friendship used as a ruse,
For timeless unpaid satisfaction each day,
And with complicated denial or ability to refuse,
Known only as the ancient white boy at the back,
Living behind the stables with his two dogs,
Residing within the long ugly metal shack,
His home a run down caravan nicknamed the ‘hot box’.
With its’ low level amenities and no luxuries,
Fit only for the ancient white boy of way out back,
Surrounded by the backwaters’ growth of serenity,
He who tends the horses and cleans the tack,
On call for most of the day if needs so desire,
All the seasons through without reprieve,
Sweeping the garden, or logging the fire,
From early morning, past dusk into eve,
‘Tis not as bad as it may at first read,
Can be peace found even in times of conflict,
But mind has thought of mutiny,
Yet sense betrays guilt as the would be verdict,
For l am just the ancient white boy that lives out back,
Society would list me as a paid up member,
Paying for solitudal pleasure, yet under constant attack,
For being a single white bachelor,
Nay to those whom think that slavery is dead and gone,
Or that the class system is a thing of our historical past,
For both are still present, not at all withdrawn,
Just hidden in backwater ways that are set to last,
I am an ancient white boy that lives out back,
That seeks happiness and an easier living style,
Matters not to them whether l am white, yellow or black,
Just as long as l can slave each day under the guise of the gentile,
Too many know not who or what l am,
Hidden away out the back, away from society,
Some lonely and misunderstood man,
Keeping to himself, harmless and otherwise ordinary,
Yet will they ever come to understand or learn,
That way out back ancient white boys like me,
Who pay to live like this because of a long yearn,
Are still subjected to underpaid slavery?
© Rory Matier 2011
Chapter 16 – Ep 27 – Soon