Monthly Archives: October 2015

The interview

Word had spread, slowly, gaining momentum. Each new progression gradually filtering through the layers of the beaurocratic maze that is higher education. The success supporting challenging students, the reputation for successful conflict resolution, the details of each minor victory conflating to create a ripple effect as my name was mentioned in increasingly rarified circles, through the levels of management and oversight and responsibility. The call to attend an interview for progression to mentor, specialist, focused, a significant lift in duties and responsibilities. The shifting of the requirements of the role to allow me to progress proof positive of the desire within the disability team to retain and enhance my services. The nominations, the shortlistings for the “extra mile” award, the university staff member of the year, significant recognition for someone who isn’t even officially a staff member. It all adds up, piece by piece, incremental, and the rewards slowly start to come, each year better than the last, building both in terms of remuneration and in acceptance across the university. The opportunites open up too, there was no staff training in autism awareness, despite years of trying to develop it, so I wrote it and presented it to the heads of disability and welfare. It was accepted almost without modification, something almost unique in university staff training and then roled out to a test audience across several schools within the University structure. Feedback was one hundred percent positive, again almost unique, particularly for a training programme written, developed and written by a single individual. The process of accepting the training into the umbrella of continuing professional development for all staff was a logical step forward, as was the prospect of rolling the training out to other universities to drive awareness of autism in higher education to prominence amongst disability awareness generally.

As the drive and passion pushed me forward and enhanced my reputation the agency themselves began to express an interest. Marketing collateral of the highest order. A success story of a low level minimum wage support worker, pushing himself within the system to excel and outperform all expectation. The first support worker to make the jump from support to metoring. The first support worker to write university accepted staff development training. The first support worker to be nominated and shortlisted for the extra mile award two years running. It all mounts up and now here I am, travelling to be interviewed as a shining light within the Unitemps family. Pushing myself further still in my quest for acceptance of my own disabilities and weaknesses. Yes, I choose those labels for myself, I take ownership of them and all the baggage that comes with them. I am autistic, I am disabled, I do have severe mental health conditions, both as a consequence of my autism and as a consequence of a lifetime trying to fit into a World that is simply not attuned to the way my mind works. I accept the advantages that my autism gives me as well, revelling in the increased speed of thought, the ability to make andbreak connections at will, the ability to work for hour after hour on a project without flagging, the dogged determination and single mindedness that allow me to succeed, and the pragmatism and lack of insight that allow me not to see the costs. Of course there are costs, there always are. My health is not great, my life expectancy is significantly diminished and my mental health, once relatively stable now fluctuates wildly, swinging from pole to pole with no discernable rhyme or reason.

Would I change anything? Would I give up my disabilities and challenges? I really don’t think so, they are what shapes and forms the core of who I am, they inform every aspect of my life, and I wouldn’t change a single thing….


Burning soul….

The day was almost here. I’d been waiting for this for what felt like eternity, but in reality was a couple of weeks… well, twelve days, fourteen hours and seven minutes, but who’s counting? You hurt me, badly, deeply, tore my heart out and stamped on it as though the gift of my love to you was nothing, meant nothing, but it is my turn now and for every second of pain you have given me you will suffer for a lifetime. Your suffering stretches out before you like the long, stony road of the repentant sinner, the irony not lost on me as I quietly wait, my mind still for the first time since the discovery, calm, deeply, chillingly calm, something I don’t recall experiencing before as I wait, my patience inexhaustable. Those words you once said to me, “You’re worth it…”, those will haunt you, as, my dear, you really are worth it. Worth all the planning, all the pain, all the scheming, all the bile and hatred and venom and evil that it is in my power to summon. You are worth burning a hole in my soul, my essence, my core for what you have done to me, to me and so many others before. You hurt me, us, and you are going to pay…

I loved you, more than I should, I know that. I was foolish, but you said that it was my foolishness that made me beautiful to you, my naivety, my innocence, but that was what you took, what you stole from me. You still have no idea what you have done, how much damage you have caused, because you never look beyond yourself, beyond the facile, transitory quest for your own pleasure. You still have no idea what’s coming, and that thought makes me smile, a parody of a real smile perhaps, but it’s the best I can do, and you always said you only wanted me to do my best. So that’s what I did. I opened my heart to you and loved you will all that I am and all that I had, thinking that it meant as much to you as it did to me, that those words were more than a collection of sounds, that they had value. Yes, I was foolish, but not any more. I learn fast, and you’ll see just how much I have learned about you, how much of what you hid from me I have managed to find, and you will pay, more than you can possibly imagine. It is my turn now, and I’ve learned from the best exactly how to wound, how to hurt, how to twist and manipulate, I’ve learned from the best and now the student will outshine the Master.

My burning soul will reduce you to ashes….


The train door alarm sounds, warning of their impending closure as I take my seat, my bag beside me containing my kit for the weekend. I smile, leaning back in my seat, feeling the tension of the week start to drain away as thoughts of the weekend ahead slowly filter into my mind, bubbling up through the toxic neurochemical debris of a week spend under extremes of stress and tension, fixing other peoples problems while having to address my own myself. Feelings of isolation and inadequacy mounting over the days as new issues present themselves adding to the dark pit of depression already welling up inside, feeding the demons that always lurk in the shadows, biding their time, always alert for opportunities to emerge and feast on my self esteem and sense of self worth, destroying everything I have worked so hard to build up over the years, ripping down the support structures that I have so carefully crafted to protect myself from complete collapse. And they’ve been busy this week, opportunities have been plentiful as events have unfolded to cause me to question everything I thought was solid, everything I thought was beginning to go right, everything I was beginning to rely on…more fool me! You would think that I would know better wouldn’t you? After all these years of abuse, neglect, lies, being let down over and over again, but each time hope raises her tender head above the parapet and tries to grow a little more she is scythed down by the razor blade wielded so carelessly by everyone I allow to get close.

I smile because I know what I’m going to do to fix myself, to reset and to heal the wounds this last week has caused. I know what I’m going to do because it’s the only thing that I know works to fix me, the only thing that helps me to feel whole, the only thing that has never broken me, my rock, my point of stability through whatever storm I’m facing. That’s the point of this journey, see? To re-connect with my true nature. To put the human world with all it’s complexity and confusion behind me for a while and enter the realm of equus, the world of the horse, my safe place. The train carries my away as my thoughts travel further through time and space, the pain falling away from me as my smile broadens with each passing mile, each moment a moment nearer to the fields, the gates and fences, the horses….my passion…my salvation…my joy.