Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's Not About You. It's About Autism!

This is turning out to be a very Word "Full" Wednesday . . . thanks for all your comments everyone!

So here's the other Big Thing about all this we've been discussing in the comments lately.

If "autism" is allowed to be this separate entity, if you will . . . this abnormality/damage/handicap of the brain . . . . then when we NTs share our frustrations, it is NOT "all about you, the aspie."

It's our struggle with autism.  It's our struggle with the differences and frustrations that come from AUTISM.  It's not about YOU.

We may believe you to be kind, loyal, brilliant, handsome, and the man of our dreams.  But sometimes we get frustrated and upset by the different way you think and act.  We get frustrated by the brain differences that come from autism.  And we try to explain to you our frustrations.  And then you act irritated with us for doing so.

So do you want us to act like everything is okay?  Do you want us to suppress sobs in the closet?  Or are your our soul-mate, our spouse for life, the best friend we should confide everything in?  Can you please make it safe for us to share?  To share what upsets us?  To share our feelings in safety (this means you will listen and love us gently without being defensive)?

For the aspies reading this . . . let's say your NT spouse is taking a medication that alters her mental functioning.  It makes her forgetful and disoriented like an alzheimer's patient, at times.  Sometimes it makes her aggressive and hostile.  NOW.  She CANNOT HELP these things.  She can struggle against them, but her brain is affected by the meds.  And it is very, very difficult for you to live with.  It is frustrating and painful to you sometimes.

Say that you want to try to explain to her what is frustrating you.  Should she get defensive?  Like you are attacking who she is?  It's the medicine.  It's not "her."  It's okay for you to discuss with her what is difficult for you.  And she can say "I'm sorry."

This is where it helps you to separate who you are from the autism that affects your brain.  This is where you should say "I'm sorry" without getting defensive.

IT HURTS us.  "It" hurts us.

And we NTs want to talk it out, explain our feelings and emotional grief.  And we want a hug, a listening ear, and to hear "I'm sorry."

That's what we're missing.  And that's what we need to be happy.

It's Not About You. It's About ME!

One of the most frustrating things in trying to communicate with aspies is the inability to share your feelings and perspective without the aspie getting defensive.

If I attempt to share my internal struggles, instead of listening and acting like my pain matters to him, he focuses on what my pain says about him.  But there are times when emotional sharing is not about him.  It's about me.

So, aspie friends, if I share how difficult something is . . . accept that it has nothing to do with you for a moment.  It has to do with me.  It has to do with a personal, internal, emotional pain.  That I am trying to work out and deal with, both for my own happiness and yours, too.  That's what we NTs do, ya know.  We talk it out, we write it out, we work it out, out loud (sometimes).  Just listen.  And nod.  And hug.  And don't respond as if you've been attacked. 

Because for a little while, it's just about us, okay?

It's not about you. 

If you think it is about you and you think we're telling you how horrible you are . . . KILL YOUR PRIDE for a moment and just say "I'm SORRY." You don't have to mean that you're sorry for being at fault when you don't think you are at fault.  Just say the words "I'm sorry" and think to yourself that you are sorry that the person is unhappy.  That's all you have to mean when you say it.  Can you do that?  Forget about it being about you to any degree.  Think about the other person's obvious unhappiness at that moment and be sorry for them.

That's ALL you have to do.  That's all you should ever say in that scenario.  You have the power to make the NT feel better, be happier, and love you more, just by saying the words "I'm sorry" when they are unhappy or upset.  Try it!  They are the ultimate magic words.

And I think that is the absolute hardest thing in the world for an aspie.  To do.  Or to say.

"They Have Such a Great Marriage!"

"A Great Marriage"

Yep, I said those very words about an NT/AS couple I know.  Years ago, I said that my goal in life was to have a marriage JUST LIKE that couple.

I've heard others use those words about an AS/AS couple I know.  I've heard others talk about my own (NT/AS) marriage the same way as well.  We have SUCH a "great" marriage.  That's how it looks from the outside.  That's what (almost) everyone who knows us thinks.

And it does look good.  And in a literal, practical, almost sterile way . . . it is good.  The perfect team.  Co-workers for a common goal.  Such a hardworking, like-minded, pleasant, and kind couple.  Beautiful kids.  Nice house.  Hospitable family.  Ideal life.  I'm realizing there are LOTS of families that look like ours.  Functioning smoothly and pleasantly.

But with some serious and intense scrutiny you may find that one of the couple is an NT and the other is an aspie.  And though their life is "beautiful" . . . the NT has a deep sadness and lacks emotional connection in their marriage.

Now here's the deal.  There is a lot of good.  Try not to forget the good.  Make a list of things you can be thankful for and reflect on that list periodically.  There IS some good in your life!

This blog is about one Christian woman's personal struggle as an NT who is married to a man with aspergers.  It delves deep into that struggle.  And it shares what makes things better and easier for this one woman.  It is shared with the hope of letting others know they are not alone on the journey. 

Most NT spouses of aspies bash, berate, and tell others to leave.  But my goal is to stay.  I try hard not to "bash" but I do share my pain.  It is difficult to love difficult people.  I don't pretend that it is easy to love aspies.  But I am trying to love them as best I can.  Because I believe difficult people should also be loved.

If this blog gives anyone even a tiny bit of help and hope, then the time and effort has not been wasted.  Occasionally I sign in, often after a long absence, seriously planning to hit the "Delete This Blog" button, but I see that a comment has just been posted saying how encouraged someone is to keep working and keep loving their aspie partner.  Sometimes it has served as the little boost an NT needed to not give up, and to not feel so alone.

So I'm still here.  And I hope you are encouraged.

You are most definitely NOT alone.