As I explained in Friday’s article, I’m autistic. I know, people think autistic people can do little but sit in a corner making silly noises and hitting themselves in the head thanks to Sia’s abhorrent movie, “Music” – which you can read a review of here. No this is not just a plug of all my articles!
Problem is that was very focussed on negatives, the negatives of how autism affected me, the negatives in my life likely caused by my autism and I think maybe some people (naming no names, mum!) might have got a little upset with it.
The truth is I’m pretty good at communicating – In writing.
In text I can express my deepest thoughts and feelings with little to no effort. Face-to-Face you may as well ask your cat to teach you Sumerian.
Consider these words a gift on Mothering Sunday.
I’ve given my mum a hard time all my life. I feel less guilty about it knowing most of that was because of undiagnosed autism and the problems therewith. The problem is then I can only imagine the hells I’ve put her through, or how she feels about the fact that for 30-odd years nobody thought I was autistic, they just thought I was “weird!”
I don’t want anyone around me to feel any guilt. It’s not like I knew, it’s not like I fought my corner and there have been other figures, other people in my life who weren’t having to work their arses off to pay the bills, who didn’t have two other kids to take care of, who could pay the required attention to see I wasn’t quite right, and could have diagnosed me when I was 7 years old. It never happened. I don’t blame my mum.
Well, partially genetically, maybe, but that’s not her fault either!
She has been put through it, that’s for sure. I’ve told you my life story. It’s not my job to tell hers, unless one day she asks me to. I do know it’s been rougher than mine. It was tougher before having any children, never mind a disabled youngest son.
The crying, the screaming, the holes in the doors, the messy rooms, the aversion to housework, the stink of weed, the blackout drunk nights, cleaning up after me, dealing with me in tremendous states of inebriation, I’m fairly certain once she had to go out into the street in the small hours to stop me, pissed out of my gourd, throwing myself into the harbour in my underpants. I’m also fairly certain the tide was out! It seems a silly story now, not so much at the time. One piece of advice, though, don’t mix red wine and special brew – It’s a weird kind of drunk.
She has always been there, and I know I’m not perfect at it and my patience wears thin easily since I started taking my ‘mask’ off more often. But I like to think I try to be there back.
My mum, for the bulk of my life, was more of a father-figure, if I’m honest. I think that makes it hard, sometimes, to emotionally connect. She worked her arse off to provide for our family and, seems, to this day, to revel in going above and beyond for a meagre paycheque and being able to spend a little bit of it on her kids, or her nieces and nephews, or her grandkids.
She’s a weird role-model in that sense. She’s the reason I’m so flighty. She is the reason I am wholly unafraid to quit things, to swap tracks, to try something new and something different. I got to witness her hard work and loyalty not paying off as she truly deserved. I vowed never to get stuck in that rut. I’d rather be a bum on an adventure, trying my hand at everything than bored and unappreciated. If I’m destined to be broke all my life, let’s make it interesting, at least!
But she also taught me my work ethic. A lot of people think I’m a lazy guy because I don’t have a paid job. The fact is I’ve never stopped working! Even when I’m playing videogames I’m absorbing audio-visual data into my mind to dissect, discuss, evaluate, criticise, summarise and compare. Even when I’m just sat watching anime I’m comparing and contrasting it in my head to the books I read, the movies I watch, the theatre I’ve seen, the plays I’ve read and the overarching mythology from and into which the entire human story is written. I’m an eclectic sort but I rarely just switch off my brain and ‘enjoy’ something, I’m always turned on, observing, working and learning. Learning has sort of become my job. It’s exhausting, but, when you put out that article and people read it and share it, it makes it all worthwhile. I wouldn’t have that ethic without my mother.
I’ve been a runner up in short story competitions, long-listed for the National Poetry Competition, I’ve run blogs and websites, I taught myself to play guitar on a Squier Strat my mum got me for a Christmas present, I learned music production to go with it, I’m hitting video editing now (don’t get too excited – videos are a long way off yet), I’ve read books on topics from ancient mythology to current technology, the classics of ethology and behaviour by Lorenz and Morris to modern neuropsychology and anthropology by Sapolsky and Greenfield. Mum was never much of a reader but I don’t remember ever being short of books as a kid! Most of them second hand, hand-me-downs or scrimped and saved for but, whatever, the words are the same! I can give you a guided tour of a zoo and recite bullshit facts about, probably, 50% of the animals in any given park.
I couldn’t have done any of it without her.
If I bust my arse on no-hope ventures and I have done, am doing and will do, it’s because she showed me that even though hard work doesn’t always pay off – doing nothing never will.
She has been reading these articles, so I know she is reading this one now. I don’t expect many other people to do so, after all, it’s addressed to my mum.
I can’t speak for everyone’s parents – some of them are total pieces of shit. If you’re reading this and that’s you I’m sorry. I hope you at least had some people in your life to teach you those valuable lessons.
My mum, though, is awesome.
She always tried. Just like me. She always did her best. Just like me. She didn’t always get it right. Just like me. But she always worked hard at it regardless. Just like me.
In many ways we’re very alike, and I am lucky to have her.
I love you, mum. I don’t say it enough because it feels awkward to say it. But I can type it.
Of course you’re going to read this in the morning, forget any of these words exist and we’re going to get on with our day without any acknowledgement of these words whatsoever, but I mean them.