This post probably isn’t what you think it’s going to be.
I’m not going to wax-lyrical about that perfect house with a view on a woodland through a huge floor to ceiling window. Its interiors full of glowing wood, reading nooks, and a jaw-dropping library.
It is about autism and masking, if you’ll bear with it.
For many years I’ve had a recurring dream about a house (sometimes it’s a hotel). I know the house is mine and yet it looks nothing like my actual house. Mostly the dream houses were disturbing and unsettling. Very occasionally they were wondrous, discovering a hidden, fairytale gem of a room in this house of mine. Let me give you a guided tour.
The first one I remember was a big old Victorian vicarage type house where the roof was collapsing, the garden path was overgrown, and inside, it had tardis-like dimensions with new rooms at every unexpected twist in a stairway or landing. I had acquired this house unexpectedly, inherited it. All the rooms were in poor repair. I was responsible for this; how on earth was I going to be able to afford all the things that needed doing? To add to the dilemma, some of the rooms had tenants. I woke in panic and overwhelm. I had no idea what the dream meant.
A later dream had a house like one of the big, beautiful, stone, terraced houses in Glasgow. Don’t ask me which era. I have no idea. I’m tempted to say Georgian but I’d just be making it up.
To enter this particular house I had to climb a set of steep external steps to the front door and then an even steeper set of internal stairs up to a central landing. The main feature of this landing, and the house, was a beautifully appointed, shining bar. Every bottle of every drink you could imagine was there. You couldn’t go anywhere in the house without first negotiating the bar.
One of the jewel-like dreams was where I wandered around my house and discovered a beautiful mother-of-pearl bathroom. I had never seen this room before. It was full of gorgeous colours, soft shapes, warmth, steaming water and something magical. I couldn’t believe it was mine and I’d never found it before. In hindsight it was like the magical prefects’ bathroom in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I was distraught to wake up and have to leave the room.
Another one was an Alpine A-shaped house with a woodland garden. I didn’t go inside the house. I spent all my time in the garden removing all the candles inside old jam jars spread everywhere by my parents. They had just left them behind, not bothering to take the jars with them when they left. I didn’t want these ugly things in my garden. I wanted my candles, in beautiful holders.
It was a while later that I read or was told that when we dream of houses, they often represent our selves.
The house with a bar was around the time I became aware that I was in danger of becoming dependant on alcohol to deal with the stress of my daily life. The turning point was the evening I got home from work, having picked up my two (at that time) sons from after-school club, and the youngest one, on seeing how stressed I was, told me, “You sit down Mummy and I’ll go get you a glass of wine”. Wake-up call. From that point on, my rule was no weekday drinking.
Yesterday I dreamt of my house again. It was back to the big, old, Victorian house. This time it was in good repair. My youngest son came in with me and we explored this fascinating building with lots of rooms, interesting twists and turns, and intriguing attics. All the rooms were empty and the walls needed a bit of cosmetic repair and certainly decorating but the whole place shone with potential; a blank canvas to do with whatever I choose. I suspect that starting this blog and publically stepping into my unmasking has led to this dream.
I’m autistic. I’m not broken. I don’t need fixing. There’s no need for massive, expensive repairs.
I have room after room after room to do with as I please. It is an opening up and out, not a closing down.