Winter is Coming

As summer draws to its inevitable conclusion for this year, I am looking back at what a year it’s been so far work-wise.

After starting my new job in January, there have been some highs and lows. It’s had some almost major soap plot type dramas, good laughs and some great friends. In fact, it’s been a mostly great time. I’m not saying it’s been easy in any way, especially during this summer, which has been one of the hottest I can recall. This has meant we have been very busy, in fact most days we have been booked to full capacity and extending food service to all day, to cope with the demand.

The biggest issues for me as an Aspie has been trying not to get overwhelmed when the bar is rammed and I’m dealing with it on my own. “Anyone would have that issue,” I hear you cry. Well yes, they might, but alongside that comes the overwhelming volume of noise that it brings. For someone on the spectrum, this can not only be uncomfortable, painful even, but it can also be disorientating and can affect some motor skills. Not to mention not hearing the customers orders correctly!

Combined with long shifts (11 hours) and not getting enough sleep, this can mean that I get grumpy. Not with the customer who was rude to me, or one who made an ableist comment, but I t’s unfortunately those I love most like Doggers or Mrs Bob (mainly Mrs Bob). I’m very sorry for being a grumpy old so and so during these times. It does, however, make me extremely thankful for my two consecutive days off every week, as they give me a chance to recharge my batteries and reconnect with my closest loved ones, including my weekly video chat with my daughter, who’s up country.

It’s these little things that make everything worth while.

After seeing what summer can be like in this job, it’s made me very thankful for so many things. Good friends, work mates and my little family. So, can I ask you all to take five minutes to step back from whatever is going on in your life and say three things you’re thankful for. Mine are:

Mrs Bob

My Friends

My health

Stay Safe X

Sins of the Father

I’ve had a very unusual few days, and I’m really not sure how to deal with the emotions I’ve been battered with because of it.

As you know, I’m a parent and I try to be a good one, despite now being a 4-hr drive from them. I’m quite sure that, depending upon who you speak to, you’ll get differing opinions on that subject. I can say hand on heart I’ve done my very best for them both.

I have had some real difficulties with one of my adult (20 years old) children in the last 2 years. She has chosen to ignore all communication from Mrs Bob and almost everything from me for the last two years because we got her out of a potentially very dangerous situation that she was unaware of. She saw it that we had acted unnecessarily and still refuses to believe what we, and the Police, told her about someone she was staying with. This has been incredibly hard for both me and Mrs Bob to handle because she was especially close to Mrs Bob before this.

Then, in February 2019, she let me know, in one of her very few communications, that she was pregnant.

I won’t expand too much on that, but in the past year or so, as well as a resounding silence from her, we began to hear back from other people that she had been saying some terrible, harmful, untrue things about me. Some things that, if they are believed by anyone who doesn’t know me, could cause me extreme problems and upset. Then, when confronted by others about those lies, she blamed it on having Autism herself, which is simply not true. I was absolutely gutted that she would think of saying such awful things about me, which she knows are all complete lies. She has done similar to her older sister, who has created some distance between them, but not closed contact totally.

I got to the point where this was affecting my health badly, and I stopped trying to contact her. I had to, and she made no effort to contact us.

We speak to my other child and her own toddler every week on video chat and we treasure that relationship. We got occasional updates about my youngest through those chats with her sister. However, through that channel we found that my youngest was missing early ante-natal appointments, smoking, drinking, and had gone off the rails. There was nothing we could do, and it was hard for me to process how I felt.

Last week, though, we heard from her sister that my youngest had been taken into hospital and needed a c-section at 29 weeks, due to complications. My youngest did try to contact me but I was at work, and it was manic, so I couldn’t talk. I still intended to stick to my original decision of letting her get on with it because she has support from her mum, stepdad, and one lot of grandparents. She had made her bed, as far as I was concerned, and she had to lie in it. Lie being the operative word.

Then, out of the blue two days later, my eldest sent me two photos of a tiny red human being weighing not even 2lbs. I tried to call the hospital but was told they could not put me through. I couldn’t speak to her.

The photo totally and utterly floored me in a way I hadn’t expected. I was at work when I saw the picture, but I started to cry. Then I got a surge of anger, which Mrs Bob tells me is usually how I process all big emotions. Then I just went very quiet. My mind couldn’t keep up with all these different emotions fighting for control. I’m still trying to process them all as fast as they arrive but it’s futile, like trying to move the Sahara with a de(s)sert spoon.

I know I’m going to shut down all emotion around this now – i can feel it. It’s not a case of if, but whenbecause they’re just too big for me to be able to process. The thing is, I can’t figure out where to go from here. Do I just forgive my youngest for all the trouble she’s caused and the awful things she’s told people, and welcome the new arrival into the family? Going on past experience she will pay lip service to the word “sorry”, but won’t mean it or think about what she’s done, and will do similar again.

Or do I continue down the road I was already headed?

I pride myself on being very logical and I’m sometimes told that I can appear cold, but I’m so mentally exhausted and confused, I don’t know what to do. Mrs Bob has advised me, but I need more input.

Stay Safe X

Social? Network

I have noticed recently, whilst on social networking, that there’s a lot that this grumpy 40-odd-year old Autistic guy doesn’t understand .. and some things that I frankly never will.

The first of these is what I guess is classed as ‘politically correct’ language. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no dinosaur stuck in days gone by when certain words were acceptable, but are now deemed offensive. I understand the evolution of language and that the fast-paced world that we live in is always trying to improve… and I agree with that philosophy wholeheartedly.

However, I’m constantly being told I’ve used the wrong term, pronoun, etc and that I should be ashamed of myself, or that I’ve offended someone or I haven’t put a “trigger warning” on something and I struggle to understand why what I’ve written has offended someone. I would never want to hurt or upset anyone, ever, and I always try to get it right, but I fail sometimes.

It seems that the small minority of people are desperately searching for something to be offended by. I know there are trolls out there who take great pleasure in upsetting people, but I certainly don’t and I don’t think the majority do. I think that most people are like me … not trying to offend at all and having very good intentions behind our posts, memes, etc. I try hard to keep up with these things, but it seems the goalposts keep shifting.

So, please, before you start tearing into me online for something, stop and think to yourself. If you have truly been offended or hurt by something I’ve said, why not just be polite and explain what the issue is? Help me to see where I went wrong, instead of bawling out insults and being rude to me. Just because I’m Autistic, doesn’t meant your words won’t hurt me.

Education achieves so much more than rudeness, and people are more likely to respond to that than someone turning the caps lock on and ranting over a simple mistake. After all, can each of us say we’ve never made a mistake? I make them honestly and regularly.

The second thing I’m noticing online, is the fact that the Autistic Community seems to be very divided and almost in a constant state of civil war. Should we not try to find those things that bind us and try as a neurodiverse tribe to stand together, shoulder to shoulder? Lifting each other up instead of putting them down is so much more productive. It’s just my humble opinion, but I think we could achieve more together with strength in numbers to figure out how best to raise awareness about harmful practises, and damaging concepts like ABA therapy, and organisations like Autism Speaks, etc.

Of course, this is just the wishful thinking of one middle-aged man who has seen his fair share of conflict and just wants an easier life. I can but dream, eh?

Stay Safe X