Wednesday, 27 February 2008

The Value of Pain and Struggle

The last couple of days I have been on fast forward. Like a sponge soaking up as much information as I can find online about adults and parents with Aspergers. Like I am a large 33rpm album with so much information being played at 78rpm. There is an end, or rather a resolve, to the research and the process of my pain and struggle and I am whizzing towards it. Yes, I might have ambitious ideas about resolving but I am determined I am not going to sit here wallowing for the next few years. My life is getting on and I want it to be my life and not one with the shadows of the past looming over.

Realising for sure that my mother is Aspergers doesn't take away the pain she inflicted upon me because I do not believe it was the Aspergers that did it. Though the Aspergers adds to the mix that made her her, and is clearly the person she is now, because on the whole, she can not get away with what she did to us as children. So I have two issues. One is me and processing the anger I now acknowledge I have (and quite rightly so because I did not imagine what happened) and the other issue is learning to understand the Aspergers and being able to manage the fall out from my mother's behaviour from now on.

With regards me, I am talking to friends and family; sharing; and getting some therapy this weekend that might just make a fundamental difference.

With regards to my mother I am still trying to understand the Aspergers. What gets me, is that one of my mother's current special interests is in a particular alternative therapy she "practises". I was wondering how does giving such a "hands on" therapy fit with someone with Aspergers so I did a google for the therapy name and Aspergers. Three million pages (I exaggerate!) into google and I find a discussion forum on some sort of politics where someone explains a bit about themselves including my two keywords. I am hoping I might drop them an email to see if I can chew over some thoughts privately with them so a quick flick to their profile and I find a link to a website that just blows me away!

The Nibiruan Council was not what I was expecting to find when it starts off with "Welcome to the official website of the Nibiruan Council, a multidimensional off-world council whose members are connected to the planet Nibiru." I am really not making fun of it, but I am kind of shocked. After all, like a lot of other things, I have never heard of the planet Nubiru and it puts me in mind of a certain make of car: Daewoo Nubira! Anyway, I am fascinated and once I put my jaw socket back into place I continue exploring, though I didn't find the person I was looking for and if I did am not sure I can embark on the conversation I had in mind.

Their leader, Jelaila Starr is the Nibiruan Councils’ messenger and channel, has produced a number of videos on youtube. If one can put aside any of the more way out aspects such as the end of the world (as we know it) in 2012 and the ascension ideas, they contain a lot of good stuff for living life. Really good. And most pertinent to me at this time was the first video I watched:

The Value of Pain and Struggle

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Parents with Aspergers

Back in December 2005, as a result of some astute friends (Cheryl - you are one of them), I was looking into the possibility my mother was an adult with Aspergers. It would explain a lot of her bizarre behaviour, but at the time I couldn't get to grips with it and then life took over and within a matter of weeks I was in contact with long-lost cousins. One of whom is so special to me and then ended up validating stuff that she saw in my childhood so I knew I wasn't making it up. With all that going on the Aspergers thoughts were sidelined.

Until late Sunday afternoon when my sister stuffed a Times newspaper article under my nose. Does your partner have Asperger's? might be about partners but ends with a checklist. On all eight points we can unreservedly tick for our mother:

The Asperger’s profile

Your partner may have Asperger’s syndrome if he (or she) has most or all of the following traits. Does he . . .
  1. Have difficulty interpreting body language and facial expressions?

  2. Have difficulty understanding jokes, metaphor and sarcasm because he takes everything in a very literal way?

  3. Struggle to maintain friendships?

  4. Become withdrawn and seem to be uninterested in others, appearing aloof?

  5. Have poor social awareness and find it hard to imagine how his behaviour impacts on other people?

  6. Love routines and get very upset if these are broken?

  7. Have an intense and all-consuming special interest or hobby?

  8. Have sensory difficulties? Is he oversensitive to touch or smell or noise or to a particular taste (people with Asperger’s have a very limited diet). In some cases, there can be an undeveloped sense.

Adapted from the National Autistic Society website:

So now I am digesting. And researching, again, and came across this list from a Conference in 2005 given by Dr Tony Attwood (originally found on

The Parent with Asperger’s Syndrome

• Knowledge of normal childhood abilities and the parental role.
• Perfectionism.
• Regimentation.
• Anger.
• Abuse.

Child’s Perception
• Lack of affection, understanding and support. (Aloof).
• Criticism not compliments.
• Embarrassment in public.
• Fear of the parent’s mood and not to antagonize.
• Fear of the ‘cold’ touch of affection.
• Disagreements between parents.
• Parent has a monologue on their own problems.
• Intolerance of noise and friendships.
• Egocentric priorities.
• Favoritism.
• Feeling a nuisance.
• Desire to leave home or move inter-state or abroad.

Child’s Reaction
• Seeking affection and approval.
• Hatred.
• Escape using imagination, solitude, alternative family.
• Choice of partner.

• Recognizing the disorder in a parent.
• Resolving past issues.
• Explaining the person to other family members.

I am still working out my position but it seems clear that my mother has undiagnosed Aspergers. But also thrown into her mix is a whole bundle of stuff that created a hellish childhood for me. Any thoughts of mine to seek acknowledgement or even an apology are shot through but that's sort of OK. This might just help me to finally let go.

PS. I love this article I have just read:
Alien Parenting - A mother with Asperger's Syndrome (Link removed as no longer working - 12/2012)

PPS. A post I wrote since writing this, telling a bit about how life was for me Spring Cleaning of the Mind

PPPS. In early May 2011 my mother died very painfully and I was there for her doing what I could in those last days. I would not wish that level of pain on any living creature. Still, the past happened but I feel like I am supposed to whitewash and forget it. I am still processing and will likely continue for some time to come. I am up and down not sure what or why. Your comments here are still relevant and very much appreciated - thank you. 14 June 2011

PPPPS. December 2012: I am starting to add labels to my posts so that other relevant posts of mine might be more accessible, if wanted. I have also added back some of the more upsetting posts (Jan 2006) as they may serve a purpose for others who feel they are alone. Labels include aspergers   childhood or see the label cloud to the left. I read all the comments posted and welcome them.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Cauliflower Cheese

Food is comforting and healing. For instance, I made this cauliflower cheese recipe the other day when I was feeling a bit down and looked forward to the therapy of making the white sauce. Cooking through the flour and butter and slowly adding the milk bit by bit keeping it all smooth is almost like an art. It takes time and patience but is a delightful process. In the end though, I tried out the quick method and was delighted by a better taste than usual, which could be just hit and miss, but missed out of the full therapy of the mixing.

Just now I am feeling out of sorts. One of those minor blips and so I am writing about food to cheer me up.

Mr Doris particularly loves cauliflower cheese that we often have it and sometimes he makes it and sometimes I do. (It is funny but I often want to write it as cauliflour cheese and not sure why that is.) Some end results are better than others but the main tip is that the sauce will only thin, if anything, and will not "improve" in the oven. So the sauce has to be right before it goes onto the cauliflower.

The other big tip is to NOT add any salt at all to this recipe. It does not need it as the cheese seems to contain enough salt.

Equal quantities of marge (or butter) and flour (maybe 65 grams)
3/4 litre milk (but don't use it all at once in case it is too much)
2 teaspoons dried English mustard powder
Black pepper
250gm cheese grated
1 cauliflower

Put the oven on to 200C to preheat.

Cut cauliflower in largish florets keeping as much of the stalk as possible (ie don't waste any of it!). Steam for about 9-10 minutes to just cook whilst making the sauce. Aim for firm - don't let it get too soft.

The Quick Method:
Put butter, flour, mustard powder and 3/4 of the cold milk altogether into cold saucepan and put on the heat. Use a hand whisk and gently whisk the flour into the cold milk as it heats and whisk in butter as it melts. Keep whisking gently until it comes to boil and turn heat down to a low manageable level and keep whisking. The sauce will thicken almost immediately without lumps! Really, it does! I was so surprised that I had to share this was indeed true. The idea is to keep the sauce cooking to cook the flour. This whole process takes maybe three minutes. Add more of the milk if needed. Aim for a very thick cream sauce. Keep on low heat stirring occasionally. Grind in black pepper and stir in about 3/4 of the grated cheese. Taste and add more pepper if needed.

The Therapy Method:
Melt butter in saucepan and when melted add the flour and mustard powder and mix. It will turn into a roux paste ball and you need to keep it moving with a wooden spatula. Cook for about a minute or so. Add a dribble of cold milk to the base of the pan and let it heat slightly and start to stir into the roux ball. It will reform into a ball again and keep repeating the process until the roux ball is more a paste and then you are pouring the milk directly onto it. Keep stirring and combining the milk as needed. Don't rush it otherwise it will not thicken. This process can take five to ten minutes but is relaxing. Aim for a very thick cream sauce. Keep on low heat stirring occasionally. Grind in black pepper and stir in about 3/4 of the grated cheese. Taste and add more pepper if needed.

Don't forget, the sauce has to be thick. It will not thicken in the oven, nor will it lose any lumps!

Transfer hot, steamed cauliflower into saucepan and stir through to combine over all the florets and then tip into a heatproof dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top and put in hot oven for about twenty minutes or until nicely crispy on top and bubbling round the sides.

Serve with boiled potatoes or even just by itself. This one was gloriously delicious and worthy of photographing. The taste is of thick unctious creamy cheesy-ness with a tang of mustard smothered around barely crisp succulent freshness of the caulifower.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Procrastination sucks

Yup, it's official, procrastination sucks the living daylights out of me. So I'll keep this brief.

I no longer procrastinate. My new self-imposed motto is "I can do it and I can do it all". Which means I don't have to flounce off and leave blogging behind. Which means I won't feel that every email I receive is the straw that breaks the camel's back. Which means that I won't feel overwhelmed and under-energy.

I'll just do it. Bit by bit and only as much as I can do but it'll be fun. And here is the cherry on the cake: I am making lots of money as a result. It is about time I stopped this flaffing around. Sure I work hard, and I know I do a lot for other people and I don't see that changing much. But I can see I am going to be doing more of the right activities.

This last week I have cleared and cleaned my desk and surrounding area. No more two foot high piles of "stuff". Every day I clear my desk and look forward to seeing it the next day. It might seem silly but this matters: this last week I have cleaned out our car. A complete vacuum job and it took about an hour or so. How many pens does a car need? I found about three or four crushed between the back seats and the boot and a further ten or so throughout the car! The pine needles from Christmas trees past have embedded into the boot lining so they'll have to stay there but how beautiful it is to drive a clean car. It is a reflection of my beautiful, clean life full of order and managed well.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Valentine's Day Aftermath

As far as the Mr and the son are concerned I pulled off my first ever roast leg of lamb. It was pink and utterly tender. Considering the meat was just from the supermarket and not a speciality butcher is quite something. To cook the lamb I washed and then dried it, and then rubbed it with dried English mustard made up with olive oil. Cut whole garlic in half lengthwise and cut slits into the lamb and stuff in half a garlic and a sprig of fresh rosemary deep into each slit. About 8 slits one side and maybe 10 the other. Lay out the remaining rosemary on a wire rack in a roasting tin and laid the lamb on it and let it stand a couple of hours before cooking.

Then make up half a pint of beef stock and pour that into the base of the roasting tin and put into a preheated oven at 170C for about 50 minutes. I think our joint could have stayed in for another 10 minutes easily but it worked out as I don't really eat it and there was plenty that was cooked enough. The next day I finely sliced the left overs and warmed them through in gravy in a hot oven for about 30 minutes so it was fully cooked by then, but still tender.

The 70p I squandered on a "ready made gravy for lamb" mix was worth it on this occasion as it really made it work and lasted the two meals.

And for pudding I made an upside down pineapple cake which is one of Mr Doris' favs.

The aftermath bit comes when Mr Doris put the white towels on to wash the next day. Somehow, one of the red paper napkins from our Valentines meal made it into the wash load too, leaving my wonderful white towels very red. Some dygone later (or rather the equivalent) and they are just a mellow shade of pink. Oh well.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Hot salty tears

One of those nights where I have slept earlier on the sofa and then having gone to bed after midnight have lain in bed awake since. Contemplating life, the universe and everything, one thing leads to another and here I am crying. Hot salty tears that flow effortlessly and I wonder why am I crying? About events and situations that happened thirty to thirty-five years ago it seems utterly ridiculous. All whilst the steady, deep breaths of darling Mr Doris sleeping alongside.

It doesn't feel as if I want to be pitied or felt sorry for. It is not that I want to be a child again - heaven forbid I should go back to that purgatory. Maybe it is an escape mechanism for all the things not going right just now I can fall back into blaming my past. But I do not think it is that either, especially at a time I have realised I need to let go once again. Perhaps it is the over-indulgence in the red wine earlier in the evening but I feel as if I have slept it off already.

A week or so ago a crazy idea flashed across my mind that perhaps I wanted to confront my parents and to give them the opportunity to say sorry. To give them the chance to clear the air before any of us shuffle from this mortal coil. I don't for one moment think they are actually aware of the pain I carry from my mother's physical and mental blows (as a result of her own screwed up childhood) and from my father's negligence and complicity. Instead I organise family outings and treat them with extraordinary kindness and tolerance, even though I say it myself.

Back in the 1980s I came to a certain peace with my past for a while. At a time when I learned inside myself to forgive and let go although even then I felt a strong forgiveness I found it very hard to forget. I also realised nothing was to be gained from talking over the past with my parents: my mother would just deny it.

Which drives me back again to wondering why on earth should crummy events from all those years have such an impact now. I feel pathetic as a result. Like I should just pull myself together and move on. Or maybe I should face the fear and bring it out and let my parents in on it. If I have screwed up big time with my children I would rather they gave me the chance to fix it. But then I am really mainly sane. My mother is a little child inside. Not a child I could love but an egotistical little bitch who is mean, brutal and demanding. Sure she has a very kind side in an over-bearing "what-I-give-must-ultimately-be-paid-back" kind of way but nothing endearing to me. She wants to be loved and that is probably all she ever wanted. But she has had so many chances and so many lovely people in her life who have tried to show her love and friendship and if she blows it then that is her path.

Meanwhile I have known love and am loved. So why do the ghosts of the past still torment and affect me on occasion. What am I supposed to learn from all this - I am sure there must be a reason but I never seem to be able to put a finger on what it is. One day the answer will come from within. Thankfully writing it down here my eyes are now dry and perhaps sleep will wrap me in warm slumbers.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


In a month or two ten years ago Mr Doris and I met.

In a month or two nine years ago Mr Doris and I married.

It is poignant to look at the group wedding pictures and to see the faces of those who have passed since then. My paternal grandfather and then an ex-neighbour who was one of those extraordinary characters who faced much drama in her life and gave to so many. Then the elderly matriarch of close family friends whose entire family came to the wedding from the US. Her son has now departed too. And my paternal grandmother passed a few years after her husband - my grandfather.

I remember her telling me the trauma of when finally, my grandfather was going to be taken to hospital. She told me she laid down next to him on their bed knowing this would be the last time they would ever be together. They were both nearly ninety. He died within a couple of days. I had been to visit just a couple of weeks before and he was indeed poorly but he came to the door to see me and the kids off - I took a photo of him standing there in his reduced height but still much taller than I.

My grandmother taught me there was life after death. I thought her heart would break when he died but she kept crying and she kept going on and then she cried less. I admired her so much in those following years. She talked about the past and about the things she had done wrong in her life and apologised about. Things were different back "then" and thank goodness for the freedoms and understanding we have in this day and age.

Back then on my wedding day, my grandmother gave me a very long antique gold chain. It had been given to her by her grandmother. After she gave it to me the rest of the wedding pics has me wearing the chain. A year or two later (after my grandfather died) I was heavily into genealogy and was given an old board photograph from the turn of the century of my grandmother's grandmother and grandfather. Around her neck was a long chain, likely the gold chain of which I am now the guardian.

In a generation's time, god-willing I can give the chain to my granddaughter. Perhaps as an elderly woman on her wedding day.

Thursday, 7 February 2008


Written about contentment with darling Mr Doris;
and dedicated to my friend Jo as she embarks on her new life.

arms embracing close and blankets swathed round us

being able to talk and share

because it is everyday and not just for special occasions

body, mind or heart

neither of us are less important or more important

in the moment it is a now thing

of the little things that matter

bodies close and as one

giving not zapping

without any undue effort

so completely and all enveloping

Sunday, 3 February 2008

London Delights

Not bad being in London at 1pm following a phone call out of the blue at 9.30 am .... and it involved a two hour train journey. Showed me that there is still movement and a zest for life in me yet.

My dear friend from Germany (the one who's 50th I celebrated with a couple of years ago by being a surprise guest at her party) surprised me with her unexpected flying UK visit. Me coughing and spluttering at the tail end of my cold but how could I stay at home. So I wrapped up; found an empty carriage on the train to sit in and zoomed into London.

It was the first time both of us saw the Meeting Place statue in St Pancras International. I had been looking forward to seeing it for ages but have to say I was slightly dampened by it. We didn't like the eyes in typical blank carved format, which together with the greco looking heads and noses gave an out of worldly look .... almost sci-fi alien like! And then the other main thing is that there is just not enough space around the statue. With a brick wall facade right behind it and glass wall about equidistant in front of it, the meeting area around becomes an almost narrow walkway hemmed in front and back. I want to see the whole statue ... the couple embrace ... from a comfortable distance but that is just not possible. And then there is the cricked neck one gets from looking up so high. Moan! Moan! Moan! But I don't mean to!

The weather was glorious and we went down to Richmond for the day. After walking along the Thames we went up into some public gardens and a little tea rooms where, in the wintry sunshine, wrapped up in our coincidentally identical coats and scarves, we sat on the balcony on iron chairs with old cushions and partook of tea and cake and shared old times and new.