To Be Left Alone: Living with Autism – 3

By EMMA WISHART

How I Wasted Most of My Life

I met a man who had a profound impact on my life. I met him through a friend at a gig in 1986. We got on really well and became friends and I soon realised that I really, really liked him. Like really a lot!

All this time he was single, but I just didn’t know how to tell him or what to do and was very happy just being friends with him and really enjoyed his company.

So one day in 1989 we were watching Predator together and he began to ask me about the only boyfriend he had seen me with in that time, and why I had split up with him.

I said: ‘Well, because I was desperately in love with someone else and we both knew it, so it was a bit pointless.’

He asked if I had ever got to go out with this other bloke and I said no. He asked why not. I said: ‘Because I’m too scared to tell him.’ 

He said: ‘You should tell him! Everyone likes to be liked. Tell him!’ 

Um. So after about half an hour more Predator I had screwed up every bit of courage I could find and  said: ‘What would you say or what would you do if I told you it was you?’ 

He was really stunned and played with my hands for a bit and then I went home. 

I didn’t really know what to do next and I didn’t have a phone so I waited a few days and then rang him and asked him round for supper. 

He’d already eaten but he came and ate anyway. I was trying to be polite and not be a slag, and I was hoping it would be the start of something and there was no need to rush into anything, so not much happened.

I suppose he thought that meant that I wasn’t as keen as I had made out. So then I was left absolutely not knowing how to know what was next or what to expect. I really didn’t want to be the one always nagging him and pressuring him, so I left it a while to see if he would contact me. 

The next time I saw him was with his band and he was talking quite openly about someone he was seeing, so I guessed I had missed my chance. Then she was pregnant, then they got married. So that was that. 

In 1994 I was working in the divorce court and he turned up at the counter to get the forms to get divorced. ‘Give me a ring!’ he said. So I did, about 10 minutes after I got home. 

That was July and we had a bit of a thing until the end of October, when he turned up absolutely fired up with suddenly needing to get divorced, despite having had the papers for nearly four months, and needed my help.

When I asked why now, he told me that he’d met this perfect woman (so feminine!) who was absolutely his soulmate and they were going to get married and wasn’t it wonderful?

 I may have intimated that I was less than thrilled at the prospect of being used to help him marry this amazing proper woman as it was clear that he meant a lot more to me than I meant to him.

I asked him what we were having and he said: ‘We’re friends, we have fun.’

That’s all I was to him. He went home again without filling in the forms. Needless to say I decided that of course I would help him, but this time I think he was a bit worried about my intentions and only agreed to meet me at my work, presumably so I couldn’t do anything weird.

I helped him fill in the forms, and oversaw the divorce filing process, making sure it was at the top of the pile at every stage. I saw him at Christmas 1994 and he had split up with the perfect woman but I knew they’d get back together.

I didn’t see him again until Christmas 1996 when I was really having a hard time getting over him. I thought that if I could see him and tell him how I felt that it would then go away (like having therapy or something).

I knew that he was back with her and, in fact, they were getting married, and I wasn’t expecting anything. I know it was a weird thing to do, but I think he was really freaked out and became convinced that I was insane and going to come after him or something.

I was still working in the divorce court and he needed a copy of his decree absolute to re-marry so I arranged to get it for him, but when I got to work, someone who knew him told me that he had already been in (on a day he knew I wasn’t there) and got it himself. So that was that. I never saw him again. 

I have changed so much and probably he has changed so much that I’m fairly sure that if I saw him now I’d be able to put him in the ‘What was I thinking?’ category.

But unfortunately that 25- to 30-year-old version of him is the one that is still stuck in my head. 

In a fabulous twist of fate, I ‘met’ his daughter in an autistic Facebook group and am now FB friends with her. She is completely wonderful, a queen of memes and makes me laugh at least five times a day. 

To be continued next week…

Emma was born in Brighton at the start of the 1970s. She spent most of her childhood in a tree, watching the trains pass on the London-Brighton railway line. School was a trial that she managed to escape at 16, embarking on a series of short-term, menial jobs in order to fund her insatiable music habit. She spent most of her teens and twenties following bands around the UK on an aged and unreliable motorcycle (now deceased). She was diagnosed as autistic at the age of 45. She now lives in Pembrokeshire, working hard to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of autism. 

Please note that since posting this series from Emma Wishart she has been published in an anthology from Editor and writer Mair Elliot, From Hurt To Hope- Stories of Mental Health, Mental Illness and Being Autistic. @Jessica Kingsley Publisher 2021

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for pembrokeshire.online, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says "Pembrokeshire.online has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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