Saturday, July 11, 2009

Where did it all go wrong?

Talking about my lonely, socially inept childhood and adolescence with the psychologist wasn't fun (it's something I've always just glossed over) but I felt it was necessary. For the next day and a half I felt terrible; on Wednesday my depression affected my performance at work more than on any day since March. During my lunch break on Thursday I saw Andy, and just having someone to talk to made me feel much better. I mentioned to him that I thought I had a mild form of autism; he said I could use that to my advantage by helping people with more severe autism because I'd understand their condition. That's not a bad suggestion when I think about it.
I was fast out of the blocks, academically speaking. To help improve my vocabulary, Mum used a "word tin", which was a matchbox full of words written on small strips of card. The plan was that I'd get a few new words each day, but when I could memorise the whole box in one go, those plans went out the window. I'd label everything in the kitchen. "How do you spell ceiling, Mummy" I'd ask, standing on a chair on the kitchen table. She'd tell me and I'd never forget it. I was fascinated by the "grains of rice on a chessboard" problem and could quickly rattle off powers of two up to probably 131,072.

By the time I started school, my brain age was double my actual age (funnily enough it still is - when I'm trying to learn new things at work I'm like a 60-year-old). I had no idea how to make friends with other kids but I didn't care. I had a loving family and thankfully still do. Mum was a part-time teacher, Dad worked at home, I got on (mostly!) with my brother, and I regularly saw my grandparents. In '86 we went to New Zealand for a long holiday, spending endless summer days on the beach at Caroline Bay while Paul Simon's You Can Call Me Al played on the radio - that song always brings back fond memories for me.

I did eventually make some friends, but three changes of school (including a term at a provincial school in New Zealand, which was an experience) didn't help. At the age of thirteen, I became deeply aware of what others thought of me. I suddenly found myself with no friends and no confidence, and things started to go a bit pear-shaped for me.

On Thursday evening I spoke to Mum and Dad on the phone - apparently things have kicked off again in the UK between my aunt and my 87-year-old grandmother. My aunt has a serious drink problem and suffers from severe depression, but at the same time is self-obsessed and extremely manipulative. She's unfortunately the only family my gran has over there, and she has the capacity to make the last few years of my gran's life an absolute misery. Dad will be making a trip to the UK fairly soon, and was trying to persuade my gran to come back to New Zealand with him. It's all so sad that it's got to this point.

I was playing poker (a deuce-to-seven freeroll) while I was having this conversation. I'm hopeless at multi-tasking, so it's no surprise I lost over half my stack (when I think about it, being on the phone probably made no difference). It was a funny tournament for me, though the ending wasn't so funny because I finished 61st, just five places outside the qualifying spots. I lost two huge pots with eights; I need to learn to fold eights occasionally, just like I can fold strong badugis. I kept bouncing back but towards the end I simply missed all my draws.

I went to bed far too late after that tournament, and I had to get up even earlier than usual because it was a special day at work. Once a month the company raises money for kids' charities (which is laudable, but I do wonder how much they really care about kids and how much is just a PR stunt). Somehow I made it to work on time, and though I'm out of my element on special days like that, it could have been a whole lot worse. I even bought a CD of OMC's How Bizarre for 50 cents from a mock garage sale.

Brendan was very helpful today when we looked at an open home in Browns Bay; he knows a lot more about real estate than I do. To be honest though, I'm not all that motivated. I'll still go to the auction next weekend (why is it that every house I look at is sold by auction?) though I doubt I'll be buying.

I'll be taking Monday off from work to sort my life out. I'll be meeting up with Andy for a coffee in the morning; that's something to look forward to.

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