The Churchwarden used to refer to my autism as an ‘illness’ that was to be healed, despite me telling him it wasn’t.
Why was he allowed to ‘work with me’ if that is what he alternately claims to have been doing, when he had no experience or understanding of my condition/s?
One of the saddest memories was a leaflet delivering mission he and I went on.
It must have been before Easter, but possibly before Christmas, and we were delivering services timetable leaflets to the houses in the Church district, just as I have done before and since for other churches.
We walked past the sad Crematorium gardens, where ashes are put around rose bushes and a little plastic notice is put with the name of the deceased for a few days before being removed to make way for the next one.
The churchwarden told me his mother was in there, in the rose garden, when in reality it was so long ago that her ashes would be long gone with no memorial.
The churchwarden told me his mother would be glad he was looking after me, and even then it made me sad because I was unhappy with the situation and I genuinely wondered if his mother would be happy with the arrangement at all, but the churchwarden was always affirming his ‘looking after me’ and me being happy with it, even when I was very unsettled and upset.
We delivered leaflets all down the hill, and I wondered at all these huge lifeless houses looking over the bay, they felt forgotten and loveless, they felt like the kind of decay and sadness that Jersey can feel like. I felt sad.
When we got to the bottom of the hill, the churchwarden got me to sit on the wall with him, he had snacks in his pockets for us.
Then he started telling me about how his wife was not happy with me, how she found me to be a burden and how she complained about me.
I was devastated, but this seemed to be the reaction he wanted.
He told me his wife didn’t like it that I didn’t do more housework, and I protested, I said I was more than willing to help and I would offer more, but he didn’t seem interested in what I said, but he seemed to enjoy my reaction.
I was utterly crushed.
When the churchwarden’s wife came to join us, I tried to talk to her about it, but the churchwarden shushed me, which he usually did when I tried to talk to his wife about what he told me she said about me.
But later, I couldn’t stand it and I did talk to her about it, she wouldn’t engage and denied it all.
It was soul destroying, going through all this over and over.
I remember that lifeless hill with the crematorium at the top, and the end of my hopes and dreams.