Sunday, July 3, 2016

Same old, same old . . . .

Well, I'm right back where I was several years ago, when my Aspergers journey first started.  It feels like that, anyway.

While my aspie husband and I were in marriage counseling, the marriage was at least getting his attention, and acceptable ways of communicating were occasionally on his mind.  Counseling for us stopped, and the marriage is back to horrible, and communication is ungodly.

I just found a blog post I wrote in 2011 and am re-posting in case anyone else is going through the same hell I am.  I desperately need to be able to hope again.  Do you?


Just when everything has been fine and dandy for a while, a "What the . . . huh?!" moment comes along and knocks you on your rear.

Cuz you did it again.  Your feelings were hurt and you thought he would care that your feelings were hurt.  Ya Big Dummy.  How could you forget like that?  He doesn't give a rat's be-hind about your feelings.  You know that.  C'mon.  You've been told a gazillion times.  When will you ever learn?

But seriously.  It hurts like the dickens, doesn't it?  "What the . . . huh?!" moments are all too frequent in an NT/AS relationship.  And they recur.  No matter how long it's been since the last time it happened, it comes back.  And it hurts.  It's the nature of the beast.  It's self-centered.  "It's all about him/her (the aspie)."  It's never about your feelings.  Your feelings simply do not matter.  All that matters is your smiling, unemotional acceptance of everything life throws your way.

And you forgot again.  You made an attempt to explain why you felt the way you did.  You attempted to share a piece of your heart with him.  But it's just not about you, ya know.  It's only about him!  He doesn't listen or try to understand the feelings-talk.  He gets defensive and feels attacked.  "So it's all my fault?!" is his response to everything you say.  "Damn, you big jerk!" you want to scream back at him.  "Would you just hear that I am in pain and act, even just act, like you care?"  

But I'm not being fair. The rational, logical part of me knows that.  This pain, at its root, is caused by his autism.  He does care about me.  If I have a broken leg, he comprehends that and will even perform acts of kindness that show he cares.  His brain just doesn't comprehend empathy for my feelings.  He doesn't "get it."  And he can't.  And I shouldn't expect him to.

The best analogy I have ever read was on a forum post by cmasp on leprosy.  Leprosy prevents a person from feeling pain.  And so a leper can put their hand into boiling water and not take it out, thus resulting in serious injury.  You can explain PAIN to a leper, but they cannot know what it feels like.  They can be taught to take a hurting person pain medicine, but they don't truly understand.  And the aspie can be taught ways to respond to you, but he isn't going to understand--deeply understand--what you are expecting from him in the realm of empathy.

And so the cycle continues.  I expect the impossible.  I get hurt.  I try to share my hurt and he gets defensive.  Will it never end?  I despair.

But love always hopes.  And God "opens the eyes of the blind."  I believe that.  Maybe, just maybe, I need to quit seeing him as the only one who is blind in this relationship.  Maybe I should hope that God would open my eyes to the wonder of His creating us male and female, autistic and neurotypical.  Maybe I should start hoping that I will rejoice more in these trials that bear the good fruit of making me less selfish, more patient, more tolerant, and more kind.

Maybe if I change what I hope for I'll have less "What the . . . huh?!" moments in this NT/AS relationship.

Maybe?

Let's hope!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Borderline Personality Disorder, Codependency, and Aspergers

Does your aspie fly into rages?  Intensely fear abandonment?  Have extremely poor emotion regulation?

If so, consider researching Borderline Personality Disorder.  The website "Out of the Fog" has tremendous resources to help understand BPD as well as helps for understanding Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

It seems autism can have several different comorbid disorders.  So, don't blame every difficulty on autism!  Research personality disorders.

And if your loved one fits the bill for a personality disorder, definitely study Codependency.  You may be caught up in a common disorder yourself, and without realizing it, you might be enabling the dysfunction.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Speaking of Consequences . . .

Yesterday, my aspie spouse started yelling at me in the car.  What started the argument was, of course, my fault. 


Because I'm a total idiot.  Mainly, because I have feelings.  And (cardinal sin that it is), I tried to share said feelings.


So stupid of me!


Will I never learn?  Obviously not.


No matter how much brilliant and helpful how-to-speak-to-an-aspie-knowledge I store in this noggin of mine, my natural, God-created heart will vomit out my feelings via this mouthpiece of mine that can't seem to stay shut.  Or to remember the "rules."  Great rules, yes.  But are they always there in an argument?  Nope.


So, don't feel like a failure when the tips, tricks, and rules are forgotten and feelings spew out.


Take a deep breath.  And get out of the argument as fast as you can.  Any way that you can.


Know what I did yesterday?  When he was yelling at me?  And I was stuck in a car?  (Normally, I drive.  Again, I was a complete idiot yesterday and forgot to insist on driving myself.)


I got out.  In the middle of an intersection.  At a red light.  In the middle of traffic.


And I started walking.


I had no plan other than to just get away from him.  Because he will no longer be allowed to treat me that way.  To speak to me that way.  To YELL at me.


I walked several blocks.  Home was about five miles away.  And I was willing to walk all the way, around dangerous, sidewalk-less curves. 


Maybe I would've called a friend.  Or in a momentary bout of insanity, accepted a ride from a stranger (a female stranger, only, though).  I guess I could always call a cab.  And charge the bill to his credit card.  Ha!  Now THAT would get his attention.


Well, he pulled up beside me, completely shell-shocked.  Where am I going?  I am going home.  I am not spending the day with you.  I am not joining you on the plans we had for the day.  I am going home.  If you will take me straight there without talking, I will get in the car.  Otherwise, I will find another way home.


And he drove me home.  Where I locked myself in the bedroom for the rest of the day.  (*Another life-saving tip:  get a doorknob with a lock to which you have the only key!)


At the end of the night, my aspie quietly and humbly apologized for not listening to my concerns.  Yes, my aspie has come a very, very long way.  Apologizing for "not listening to my concerns" would never have happened the first umpteen years of our marriage.  These days, however, my aspie can actually be pretty darn awesome.  I thank God for that.  For getting us help.  For couples counseling, and therapy, and a diagnosis, and answered prayers.


Keep praying.  Forgive him, and forgive yourself for all the times you mess up and OOPS! share your feelings.  Use consequences.  It can get better.  It can, it can, it can.  But it will never be easy.  It will never be over.  Aspergers will always be there as a trial for you both to fight your way through, learning, growing, and becoming better and stronger because of it.


God is good.  God is in control.  God gave him this.  God gave you this.  And He will provide a way for you both.





Sunday, September 6, 2015

Consequences and Nondefensive Communication

Another great book worth having at your fingertips for frequent reference is "Emotional Blackmail" by Susan Forward.  The author states that "Nondefensive communication always works!" And she is absolutely correct.

Over the past few months, I have worked hard at communicating more effectively with the aspies in my life, especially with the ones who tend to be rather angry.  My getting defensive, yelling, crying, seeking to argue, justify, or give reasonable explanations, only escalated problems.  Two major changes, however, have impacted my life immensely.

1.). Consequences.  Set a boundary line around issues and areas that need help, and start protecting your time, energy, heart, and life.  Be calm and clear.  After asking nicely that your aspie take your feelings into consideration (which they likely won't and/or just won't know how to manage such a feat), state the consequence for failing to take care of your comfort or health.  "I feel scared.  If you do not stop speeding on these dangerous roads, I will find another way home from the event."  "My pain level is bad this week.  If you do not put the in-laws in a hotel when they come to visit, I will go stay in a hotel myself until they leave." "I'm not willing to be yelled at. I'm leaving." Sound too harsh? An NT would not as likely need such directness along with a consequence, after explaining one's emotional turmoil or health problems that are affected in a given scenario, but your aspie might.

2.) In an argument, use Nondefensive answers only and refuse to justify, argue, defend, or explain yourself.   For memory's sake, the book gives the acronym JADE (don't Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain).  I prefer more grim terms, and use the acronym DEAD (Don't Explain, Argue, or Defend).  Because if there will be no chance of reaching mutual understanding, the sooner the argument is killed the better!
Most importantly, one should commit to memory a list of Nondefensive answers:

"I'm sorry you're upset."
"I understand how you might see it that way."
"Really?"
"You're entitled to your opinion."
"This is the way it has to be."
"I need to think about this more."

and one more time . . . The one phrase that can be used in any conversation that will bring an argument to a close . . . "I'M SORRY YOU ARE UPSET." (aka "I'm sorry you feel that way.")

Respond with that one phrase and always remember your goal for heated arguments.

DEAD.

Don't Explain, Argue, or Defend!  

What?  You disagree?

I'm sorry you feel that way.  ;)









Thursday, March 26, 2015

For Better

Counseling has made a world of difference in our relationship!  Meeting with a counselor who understands autism, and having my emotions validated by a professional in the presence of my aspie spouse, is what I needed to be able to move forward with contentment.  I didn't realize how much I needed that.

Whether he ever understands me, communication, or our relationship, the fact that he physically attends a counseling session where he has to give his full attention to the marriage has completely changed us for the better.

When we miss a session, anger and misery creep back, old habits return with a vengeance.  For now it is obvious that we must regularly meet together with a counselor.   It only makes sense, right?  The aspie is often lacking the common sense to see what others see so easily. He needs to focus deeply on the task.  He might see counseling as pointless.  Even during and after sessions he may believe it was a waste of time.  But if it's what you need, it's okay to make it a non-negotiable requirement.

Whether he realizes it or not, the relationship got his full attention for the time in counseling, and seeds were planted that will slowly take root and grow. Somewhere in that amazing aspie brain, communication was the focus.  He was there.  He was there with me.  Though it may not make any sense to him whatsoever, his attending counseling sessions with me makes me know that he cares and that he is trying.

It's better.  The relationship is not all good. But it's better.

Praise God, we are better.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Get ready. Get set. And GO!

Literally.

Sometimes it is necessary to leave the relationship in order to wake the aspie up.

Read "The Emotionally Destructive Marriage" by Leslie Vernick.  This is a different book from "The Emotionally Destructive Relationship" by the same author.  Vernick goes against the common Christian counsel when she encourages a time of separation as a positive step.  How true that "if you don't allow the abuser to suffer the pain of consequences, he will never change."

I am a Christian whose spouse has Asperger's Syndrome.  And I left my angry aspie.  Got my stuff and kids ready.  Got set for the right moment.  And left.

Five years of pleading with him to go to counseling, to be evaluated for Aspergers, and to work on communication in our marriage met adamant refusal.

It took my leaving to wake him up.  It took a dramatic, drastic, serious action.  It took suffering the consequences.  And you know what?

My spouse just received an official diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome.  A 100% confirmed diagnosis.

And we are now in marriage counseling with a counselor who is very familiar with autism spectrum disorders.

Praise God.


Let's get ready, get set, and go.

Get ready.  Get set.  And GO.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

New Resource by the Best AS/NT Author!

The very clearest explanations of how Aspergers Syndrome affects a relationship with an NT partner are found in Ashley Stanford's book "Aspergers Syndrome and Long-Term Relationships."  That was my Aspergers bible when I started this journey, and I strongly recommend every NT who is in any sort of relationship (but particularly a romantic one) with an aspie, read that book, even before reading any others.  It simply hits the nail on the head for the NT partner who is struggling to understand the crazy AS/NT journey (that now finally has a name!) that she has been on.

When I recently stumbled upon a new book by Ms. Stanford, I could not wait to purchase it.  Troubleshooting Relationships on the Autism Spectrum: A User's Guide to Resolving Relationship Problems by Ashley Stanford.

Hope these resources help you as much as they have helped me!

aspmom