With the help of A. and another kind Villager, I did a summer of therapeutic work at local horticultural Nurseries, I was treated very well there and it helped me to socialise and gain plant knowledge, there were some nice people there. When the season ended and temporary staff like me finished work, I bought them all donuts to have at coffee time. JM arranged for FM to come and drop the donuts off at the nursery in his car as I used to bike out there.
The psychology course I was doing taught me about a condition called ‘reactive attachment disorder’ and I wondered sadly if this was what was wrong with me, and self-diagnosed this condition where relationships are almost impossible to form or maintain for an adult who was had a difficult childhood, you see I felt detached even from my friends in L. and felt that they were the ones who got through to me by persistence and hard work, I looked at personality disorders and couldn’t fit any, and discussed that with JM who told me she though she had schitzoid or schitzotypal personality disorder, I don’t think I took that seriously, then I started learning about Autism and realised with shock that this sounded like me, really like me, but JM pooed this idea and told me that I could learn to control my behaviour and that it was more likely to be my background causing the problems. JM’s opinion always overrode my own and everyone else’s, her opinions were frequent and loud and concrete and to all and sundry.
(She did mention being schitzoid again when she did her sabbatical, when she went and stayed alone in a cottage and said she enjoyed being alone a lot).
(Just to say, as autism became more likely, I dropped the attachment disorder theory and no medical person ever mentioned it, nor did anyone else, although autism was often mentioned, it was last year that the idea of attachment theory was brought up again and I started to adjust accordingly and seek help).
One day I saw an advert in the paper for supported employment for people at a disadvantage in getting into work, with unusual courage I phoned the supported employment agency and they sent someone round to see me, it was surprisingly simple to sign up, and even more surprisingly I was almost immediately offered a job trial on an estate some miles away.
It was not easy to commute and make the connection to get to work, so I started to look for a room closer to work, this was the first time of me looking for mainstream accommodation and I was astonishingly lucky, a bedsit was advertised for £50 per week, I quickly phoned, and the man said he would come and meet me, he sounded gruff, I wondered if I was safe going to meet him and going to his house, I really wasn’t sure what people normally did in these circumstances, and I was horrified at myself for preparing to leave L. and Winchester and my church friends and the community that I now did so much in and was so involved in, I tried to tell myself that this was an adventure, this was how to move forward, and this was what the young people of L. and Winchester had to do because they couldn’t afford to live in the area.
The man who met me was a giant of a man, fierce looking, he was an ex-submarine surgeon who had retired to become a carpenter, the house was hidden under piles of scaffold, pipes, tiles, wood and any handy DIY stuff you could imagine, Frank may have looked fierce but he was a very slow, gentle natured and caring man with a lot of health problems, he was one heck of a character and stopped and talked to all and sundry who passed his way. I quickly knew he was safe, the room was a cosy and inviting little place, he had converted the house in to a space for him, two bedsits to let out and a flat as well, and he lived in chaos in his little place and loved his neighbours, he was lonely for his wife who had died some time back, but he was completely trustworthy, as soon as I saw the cosy room with its armchair, tiny kitchenette and coffee table, I loved it, I knew I wanted it at all costs, Frank said ‘what do you think?’ I said slowly ‘yes, I like it, I’ll take it’, impulsive, making a decision for myself, I had been in the flat for three months, and so I had been in sheltered housing for six months with almost no benefit apart from that I had been able to live in L. and be close to my church friends.
I lived at Frank’s for two years, with no incident apart from when an awful woman tried to move her entire family into the small bedsit and I could not get use of the bathroom or washing machine or washing line or anything as they were constantly using them and were very noisy, but they moved on before I did.
So the sorrowful move to be able to get to work and commit myself to my job occurred. The girl at the sheltered house took my old clothes that I wasn’t taking with me, without permission, including the big old farm coat, and she wore them. I had to rehome my rabbits and guinea pigs, which made me sad, it was a big move, but getting to work from L. was so difficult and I wanted to be out of the sheltered housing complex.
I lived with Frank for two years in that room, I will continue to tell you about him later on. the area was a cheaper place to live than Winchester, less wealthy, ‘more down to earth’ as my L. pals put it, and many young people move that way or down to Southampton when they can’t afford Winchester prices.
It was peaceful there, on a quiet part of a reasonably quiet estate, we were at the end of a close, with grass and footpaths around us and a little distance from the town centre, our only real noise was the unmarried couple in the flat violently fighting frequently, they liked alcohol and it caused both of them to turn angry and violent, they got through a great deal of furniture, crockery, and doors, I hardly saw the girl, but the man was nice and respectful to me when he saw me. A while before I left, they split up, moved on, and the flat stayed empty, I couldn’t afford to rent it instead of the bedsit though.