Who Is Matthew Guy?
"Who is Matthew Guy?" has been a question asked quite a bit, since leaving my old Matthew Sear facebook account and starting again as 'Matthew Guy'.
Guy is first and foremost my middle name. It was given to me after my Grandfather 'Guy Sear', but also because I was born in 'Guy's hospital' in London. My mum and dad spoke of Guy's hospital with such high praise. My mum had several miscarriages before me arriving - and my folks, (being older parents), knew only too well that the window of opportunity was rapidly closing shut. So when, at the age of 44, my mum gave birth to me, they were both overjoyed...
Two weeks ago, on the way to give my first ever lecture, I was passing through London Bridge and walked past Guy's hospital, Deep in thought, as I descended the escalator for the smallest moment, I was back in 2014, visiting my mum in hospital. I began to think of the last day she was alive and the conversations we had...
"I was here 39 years ago (at Guy's) because I had a lump. Here I am now, with another lump," my mum said with her charcteristic cheerfulness.
The poignancy of how one lump had meant life and new beginnings, while the other, meant leaving the world, always give me what I call 'a grief butterfly' in my stomach - but as I always remind myself (with a smile too) - mum hated self pity and wallowing, so sorry mum - I am pulling the blog back to the story.
I had of course talked many times to audiences at recitals, but what worried me a little here, was that my sixth form pupil Kevin was most likely, going to be there, (afterall, he was a young man with Aspergers...his mum had invited me to give the talk, of course he'd be there! - I just hadn't considered it). I began to threat - the awkward stories, the immense social screw ups - they are just not consistent with the very settled and professional person he has come to know - but something stopped me in my tracks. As well as my pupil Kevin, there could be other young people there, like the younger me - and if this was the case, then I owed them. I owed them it all; This meant the epic fails and the screw ups - in all their fine disasterous glory. Honesty was vital, otherwise the whole thing would be of no worth...
The group 'SIGNAL', are a support group for people who are on the autistic spectrum, which is also attended by friends and family. They have discusssions, share laughs and even go on trips to the cinema and theatre. In preperation for the talk, I had revisted many memories, 're - remembering' them, was uncomfortable. I began the talk at getting the diagnosis, at age 25, before going back to childhood and recounting such topics as; how I had bitten through a driking glass, to not understanding a word teachers were saying (words jumbled into nonsense to my ears) to the spaghetti hoops on toast years (1983 - 1990) -and finally, to the discovery of pizza in 1990 (something I have eaten every day since...you only live once!).
With the exception of the two years post diagnosis, (where I had gotten unhealthily near obsessed with autism), for the best part of the last two decades, I have done what they famosuly term in the CIA as the 'need to know basis'. So, yes, I have told close friends and work colleagues, but on the whole, I have kept it to myself. Why did I do this? well for two reasons really. I didn't want the label to be what people saw and also, I too loathe self pity like a lovely lady I loved very much.
From pressing the fire alarm instead of the doorbell when I arrived (and feeling like Inspector Clouseau), to the lively and friendly questions at the end, as I was kindly driven back afterwards, I made a decision. The illusive Matthew Guy may be a man of mystery on facebook, but Matthew Sear is going to be doing more of these talks and reach out to young people. There is an area between self pity and denial, which is about accepting who you are - and until you do, you cannot find peace.
Just like my mum's full circle, I couldn't help feeling I too, had fone a full circle, except this time around, I am ready to talk. Thank you for reading.