It’s 4am. My day, in many ways, was not terrible, but I’ve been crying off and on for the past eight hours. Not a lot, but just always at the surface. If I get around to it, I’m going to transcribe a recording I made yesterday of myself talking in the car, on the way home from an event my son was in.
I dabble a little in music, so I’ve been doing that this evening. Some of my old friends dabble in it as well, and it makes me miss them terribly.
People go through this all the time, I realize, and, based on my experiences on Autistic Twitter, it likely is more common for autistics. At least, the way it happens probably is worse, more cruel, and more confusing. So many of us are hurting and confused, and it’s remarkable how much we think alike. That is the good news!
It’s not all negative. There appears to be a pattern. First, there is a negative prompt. Then, others empathize. Finally, people start to talk through possible solutions. I’ve done all three roles, so to speak. Occasionally, I’m complaining, sometimes I’m listening, and every so often I’m trying to offer good advice. It’s nice, and I wish I’d found this group much sooner, and there are others, much more cohesive than Twitter.
The problem is, it makes me miss my friends more, in many ways. It makes me miss that friend, the one who alternated roles with me: companion, listening, and offering good advice. At least, I thought we did that for each other. I’ve tried. I’ve really tried to find other people, and surely, they are out there, but I’m not going to just find them. How would that even work? I don’t need to be friends with just men who are my father’s age. But, in what must be as bad of timing as the universe could throw at us, my friend and me, or at least me, got overwhelmed suddenly and unexpectedly.
Someone, speaking on behalf of my friend, told me that everyone has family problems when I was attempting to explain my mental state at that time. My confusion and inability to push back against people who were hurting, probably unintentionally, both me and my friend. However, while I continually strive to consider intention, context, and how much a person tries to improve themselves, it doesn’t seem to matter how people judge me. Everyone else looks like they get a pass.
In terms of family difficulties, I don’t think everyone has to carry around a secret like I did for 17 years, 10 of them completely alone, and the next seven almost entirely alone. That’s too much for people without the challenges I have. But, my sister chose me, out of everyone she knew, above her friends and family. She came to me, her older brother. My sister and I, to my recollection, have never a had anything go wrong between us. I’ve never been mad at her, and I don’t think she has with me. She came to me for a reason. And, as hard as it’s been, I would want her to come to me again, every time. Every f’ing time.
And, then, my friend, the one who understood me better than anyone, including my therapists, had her own major stresses to deal with. I was so worried about her, and had been for a couple of years, for reasons most people didn’t understand. The same week my friend’s mother dies—the same g.d. week—my sister tells my mother what my father did to her, and my parents suddenly separate after fifty years of marriage. Moreover, to complicate the situation more, our son was living with them.
This is just a hint of the backdrop for Christmas in eleven days. And, I haven’t seen anybody who can show real empathy to me in almost eight months!
But, I’m sure it’s all my fault. I should have seen it coming.
I haven’t even gotten to my meeting with my mother in May, the day after a communication, or apparently a serious miscommunication, takes place, That requires a lot more explanation.
I will have to finish this later. It’s almost 4:30 am, and my face it wet with tears. Maybe I can do this later today. I’ll tie it in to autism then, as I know that has made it worse and messed up basic communication precisely when I needed to be my best at it.
I’ll come back and edit this later, but I feel like posting it now. At least it helps me.
I’m still moving forward like an idiot, a creative romantic, hoping somehow at least part of this can work out. But, it never will for my family. That path died suddenly in March. Nearly twenty years of my best and draining efforts to encourage my parents to address other issues that were upsetting their children, despite me having to keep secret what my father did to my sister —alone— for ten years. Well, now I’m alone again in something — alone in my life, apart from anyone who understands me.
My wife is asleep next to me, and she is a good person. Too good, probably. She helps me in so many ways. But, empathy, certainly towards me with autism, mental and physical health, and my family, is not something she apparently can understand and communicate. In part, she has never had to deal with these herself, but she also doesn’t feel emotions or display them in a typical manner.
Our relationship has been improving, finally. Frustrations I’ve had for a long time are being addressed. I owe this to the patience of our marriage counselor who we’ve been seeing, at my insistence, of course, for almost three years. My wife has lifted her ban, what I would argue was an unfair boundary. As a result, I am now allowed to discuss autism, mental health, our children, and anything else with an emotional component with her in my allotted fifteen minutes a day. Just that amount of time has been so helpful. She is now listening, and I can accept moving forward, no matter the speed. I only hope that she does not get pulled off track by other factors, including her tendency to fall back into her own natural patterns.
If she ultimately concludes, as she often does, that her happiness is the most important thing for her, that self-care is her top priority, then I don’t know what will happen. Self-care is a top priority for people, and I’m an example of someone who has not always done so, but my wife is the most naturally happy and content person I’ve ever known. And, I’ve never, except in extreme circumstances, tried to get her way of doing whatever she needs to maintain her exceptionally high level of happiness. Remember, this is the woman who can go to bed every night for over a year, seemingly unfazed by a child who is suicidal and a husband who is barely holding his life together. “I need my sleep,” is a phrase that I came to hate a long time ago, as if nobody else needed sleep.
And, a few weeks ago, in one of the most inexplicably unempathetic moves I’ve seen from anyone, this good and kind person became uncharacteristically frustrated with me. She chastised me for warning my seventeen-year-old niece that riding alone in a truck in the middle of nowhere with my father was not safe. However, I didn’t directly tell her, as I realized that would not be ideal. But, I instantly acted. I spoke with my sister, who then told my brother, the father of my niece. He had no idea about the past events between my father and sister. When my niece found out, she was so rattled that she had to go to the emergency room. It gets worse.
But, my wife, who was virtually non-responsive when I told her, overcome with emotion, several years ago about my sister, didn’t understand why I would warn my niece. “She’s not your responsibility!” Well, my wife has learned the of boundaries to an extreme level. I can’t explain it all now—it gets worse—but as my one child texted me, speaking of his own mother: “‘Validate sexual predator’ or ‘validate family’ is a very hard choice for some people.” And, that happens to be the child she wouldn’t stay up with for that year. I do encourage him to not look on his mother with too much disdain, but to see her many good qualities, and to recognize she apparently can’t understand what people seem to naturally do. It may not be her fault, but it is difficult.
With all of that said, I’m really not trying to demonize this kind, wonderful person whose body I feel next to mine as I’m writing this. We are, I think, growing closer again to each other, after a very stressful year, but I don’t think I will ever understand her mindset. I know we don’t see the world in the same way at all, and I don’t see it like most people do.
That’s part of my year, in a nutshell. I’m the one now with no job and no real friends who can relate to me. While I don’t understand it, and it seems insanely unfair, if that’s the price I have to pay to guard my sister, look after my children, and protect my friend, I will do it every time. If others want to look at me like I’m just an idiotic autistic person who oversteps boundaries, and is a complete asshole, then that is their right, and I actually understand. I know why I do what I do, but I still feel guilty because I can’t do these things in a graceful, neurotypical, manner or ignore the like many people would tell me to do.
It’s almost 5 am. My wife’s alarm will be going off soon. Maybe we can spend some time together before she goes to work, and I finally go to sleep. She will never read this or anything on my blog, as she has clearly stated she will not. It’s too confusing to her. Still, part of me wonders why she won’t even try. In those moments, despite her anger towards it, I wonder if she might also be autistic, just with a very different presentation. In some ways, I really hope that is true.
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