Quite a while back I saw this article by Susan Dunne and was so struck by how well it described me that I tweeted it. That may have been my first public acknowledgement of my suspicion that I have Aspergers (no longer such a “suspicion” these days), although possibly I tweeted it without comment. Possibly I said “This”. I don’t remember. But it had the unexpected benefit that someone I’ve known on twitter for a few years replied that it absolutely fit him too. I’d had no idea he’s an aspie and I’ve been careful not to lean on him in any way since I found out because that wouldn’t be fair but knowing that someone else I “know” (in the twitter sense) gets it does help a little.
There was nothing in the article that didn’t make me think “God, yes” but the part I was really struck by was this reflection of my own private shame:
“I live in a house where the lights, fridge, cooker and washing machine have packed up one by one but I lack the skills to sort it out, and I’d rather live in darkness than have someone I don’t know in my personal space”
God, yes. I have managed to replace white goods (eventually, in some cases). But household repairs are a different matter. And the longer items of disrepair are left, the more humiliating it becomes to let anyone see them, including the person I eventually get in to make the repairs.
Today it was a plumber. My bathroom suite needs to be replaced. The toilet hasn’t worked for at least three years. Probably four. The plumber would know because he’s the one that stopped it running the last time he was in. (I do have a downstairs toilet by the way!) The taps…ugh. The suite and taps probably date to the 1950s. Someone replaced the washer to the cold tap on the sink maybe four years ago and it was a pig of a job because the tap was a limescaled up bell tap. In no time at all it started dripping again. Three years ago, almost to the day (thanks Amazon) I bought some little thingies meant to descale tap spouts but they wouldn’t work because the dripping tap dripped into the little rubber bag. So, three years ago almost to the day, I definitely should’ve got someone in to fix the tap. It’s got to be at least a year since the drip became a flow. It could even be more like two years. I don’t know. This summer it got even worse so it’s flowing full bore all the time. And a water meter will be installed soon and the house next door but one isn’t vacant anymore and they’re having “mysterious” problems with water pressure…
Meanwhile, the bath is a mouldy limescaled mess that I’m not physically strong enough to get clean (if it’s possible at all at this point) and the hot tap on that has been dribbling around the base of it for at least four years. To be fair to me, the bath and sink are old ceramic. The sink would almost certainly crack worse than it currently is if I just tried to replace the taps and money has been a serious problem when it comes to replacing the suite. Susan Dunne’s very next comment refers to financial troubles and, well, you already know that’s been a problem for me. But it doesn’t change the fact that getting workmen in is awful.
At least the plumber wasn’t a total stranger but if he remembers last time he was here, he’ll remember replacing a pipe which a different plumber had literally smashed by stamping on it when it froze during bad weather…about 18 months previously. I’d been letting shower water flow straight out onto the flat roof of the kitchen for 18 months. I just couldn’t pick up the phone to get someone out to fix it. I’d ultimately called him out because the boiler had broken and I had no heating, not because I’d finally found it in me to ring about the pipe. What did he see as he arrived today? A wheelie bin missing its lid (if only I’d completed the Amazon order for a replacement hinge pin before the other one gave up trying to do the job of two several months later and now I’d have to make a phone call so…no), a gas meter box hanging open with a broken latch (yes. You can close it. No. It wasn’t the wind this morning that blew it open – it was the wind weeks ago), guttering full of weeds, a driveway in desperate need of replacing, a front door somehow seized shut by hot weather, a back gate I had to smash panels off when it got stuck this summer after a storm and I couldn’t use the front door (if only I’d got someone in to replace the hinges at some point in the last few years…). Inside? Clutter. Everywhere. Except on the desk because I made a special effort this morning to clear it, dealing with my nerves over having someone in the house through this activity.
I can’t explain that I do the best I can. That he should’ve seen it a year ago before I discovered chore apps. I can’t explain that it’s humiliating to let anyone see my house or how horrified I am that his tiler is going to need to take a look before he can give a firm quote. I can’t explain to this person who knows what I do for a living why I’m capable of that and not this. I can’t explain any of it. I can’t explain that he’s seeing a side of me that so many people don’t and probably never will. So I smile. I pretend it’s not excruciating for me to have him in my house and to think of the disruption to come and I pretend I’m not dying inside as I see how I live through his eyes. And I know that each job until the very last is done will involve the same kind of discomfort and I don’t want to do it. I just want to hide and put up with the things that need doing a little longer.