"Go With Your Gut."
I used to dread this trite phrase. However, like so many other things I used to fear, dread, or hate, it has become a key to finding my true way.
I had made arrangements to travel last week. It fell through. I cancelled the travel because, after all was said and done (and believe, me, a LOT was said and done, coming under the rubric of DYSFUNCTIONAL CONVERSATIONS), the trip felt wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG. Once again, the hallmark of the trouble was a conversation in which one thing was stated by the other party and then completely forgotten at a later time.
Had it worked out, both my spouse and I would have missed the wonderful events of the weekend. I would be out hundreds of dollars. And I would be furious, furious, furious.
Go With Your Gut.
When we die, Gd will not ask us why we were not more like Moses. Gd will ask us why were not more like ourselves.
I bitch and moan relentlessly in this blog. This is where I come to navel-gaze (shudder) and dump crap, relying on the void of the Internet to spread a la
Instead, today I offer up an example of true joy from my life as a parent.
Yesterday morning my offspring undertook a public task. The last time he did this, it was an obligation with much pressure and requiring much preparation of time and energy. Yesterday, however, he did it as a gift to a trusted adult, on his own with guidance from me, in very little time. He acquitted himself admirably. He has agreed to do it again. I could not be happier with, or more proud of, his growth over the last year.
Yesterday afternoon he received a most unexpected gift of appreciation from his peers at a year-end event. His commitment to this group over the last two months has impressed everyone. As the adult in charge put it, all the participants learned at least as much from the offspring as the offspring learned from them. To feel like one of the guys--to have a valued role--to have others acknowledge his ob
A gift beyond measure to me, his mother. To us, his parents. And to the people who surround us, transforming them into a community of caring and power.
Scrap the saboteur series. I am now on a quest to find out why I can't leave the house. Why I have an invisible fence that keeps me walking around in circles.
The prison: H. tells me he doesn't want to talk to me because I accuse him of being the source of all things awful in my life.
The counter: He can't have it both ways. He doesn't get to ignore my efforts at increasing our physical intimacy for 15 years, he doesn't get to deflect any attempt at civil conversation, and then claim moral high ground for not talking to me when I get irritated or upset with the status of things because I fling it all at him.
This is the reality I am avoiding today. The best way to tell him? It's always hard, because we are both conflict-avoiding.
The prison: How do I find a good lawyer to talk to without telegraphing it to my community, or having it somehow affect my privacy on the topic?
The counter: I think I know who to call about discreetly finding someone.
The yard guy we've had for several years has been ok. Not great, but ok and consistent. So I bit the bullet and got a service with a good reputation.
Oy, what a mess.Don't get me wrong, the yard actually looks really great! It just doesn't look like my yard.
I ask to have mulching done. To make it all look nice & even, the service pulls out all of the ground cover that has been slowly creeping through all the beds instead of mulching what was bare and leaving the ground cover. ARRRGGHHHHH! I've been nursing this ground cover along for 6 years!!!!!!! Two lavender plants are gone, as is a wild geranium that was just getting ready to send up blooms.
And now. I want to cry. My beautiful weeping red Japanese maple, so lush and full and such a lovely waterfall of color, has been trimmed up to look like a mushroom tree. No more graceful droop, but a stick-straight out to the side look. The trunk is about, oh, 6 inches in diameter. The guy took off at least 3 branches of 1-1 1/2" diameter; significantly large branches for this size tree.
They could have asked. I was getting into the car the last time he was here. Who would not ask before making such a major change to a slow growing expensive tree?
This is why I married my guy and why I remain. This will happen every time, this kind of misunderstanding that results in a mess. He protects me from this crap. But of course, I have to face all of this on my own anyway now that he has inexoribley dropped all of the house stuff into my lap. This is just like the horrible butchered haircut my son got the first time down here. Everything was set up well; then we moved, and I started again from nothing.
A friend just rained on my parade. Hard.
I walked into a game with friends and was so happy to announce the news of my graduate school plans. I was positive that they would be happy for me, too, then we would get down to the business of our game and regular chit-chat.
No sooner were the words out of my mouth than our host derided my choice as unemployable and poor. I stepped out from under the downpour twice to not be caught in the deluge, but both times she countered with derogatory comments. I was shocked. And hurt. W.T.F? After the first game I left and went out for a drink to calm down from the distress. She called repeatedly this evening to talk. I did not accept the calls; too soon. I'll call her in the a.m. But what to say?
Oh world of cyber, what say you? Have you had situations like this? How did you handle them?
UPDATE: I answered her email that evening with a succinct explanation. We spoke the next evening. She: I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. Me: Yet, in fact, you did. It took a long pause, but she actually uttered the words, "I'm sorry." Good thing. "I didn't mean to hurt you" is not the same thing as "I'm sorry I hurt you." We shall marshall on and get past it. And if we can't, well, then, exactly how strong was the friendship to begin with?
My first friends in this area may have now lost all respect for me.
After h.'s recent attempt to sabotage the critical new friendship between our family and the family of offspring's new friend, I have decided to just be up front to people about h. not knowing when he can get off of work when I make social plans for us. I had arranged for our friends to drive up with me/us to go to one of offspring's sport games. Amazingly, h came home in plenty of time.
Me: "What did you do with my spouse?"
He: "I heard you didn't like him so well, so I made some changes."
Me: "Good! Don't let him come back."
The exchange was serious and light-hearted all at the same time. Little did I know how I would pay.
I was running crazy all day getting a variety of things ready, so I texted the directions to the field and restaurant for later to h. We had not been to this field before. What does h. do? He puts into the GPS the directions for the restaurant. We are almost there when I realize we are in the wrong place, I have no idea where the field is much less where it is in relation to where we are now, and we are about to be very late. GGGGAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH
Now I turn into a jerk.
After a tense car ride in which h.very nearly yells at me for my near-paralysis over the wrongness of what is going on, we arrive at half-time. I am so discombobulated, I am so frozen, that instead of telling anyone who asks that we were stuck in traffic, I blurt out way too much information about address mixup, stadium address not being in the GPS. . .basically throwing my spouse under the bus publicly. Lashing out like a cornered second-grader. I know better than that. Usually it's my spouse who doesn't know how to be discreet.
I relied on h. for something and I got screwed. I told him what I thought in private and paid for it. Hell, I wouldn't want to go out with us again, either. I wanted to have a nice time and take my friends' mind off of their issues and look what happened. Uck.
So who was the saboteur? I thought it was my spouse at first, but now I see that I played right along because I was way out of my comfort zone on this social outing.
Can anyone offer perspective?
Sometimes you just need to escape, exit, leave, and figure out what you are moving towards as you go. But one has to have a place to go to start with. Without a place to land temporarily, one is just moving from one disaster to another. When the rug has been pulled out at the hint of any independence one's entire life, clawing up to a place of stability just takes a while.
I just got lectured on how one needs to move towards something rather than exiting something. Them's be fine words from the side lines, but not very helpful for any planning. Well, free and unsolicited advice--that's 5 minutes I'll never get back again, although it's good to know where one stands.
Afterthought: It truly is an exit plan. The old marriage is gone. Think of the Marriage of Figaro. When the Count is trying to bring the Countess back into the fold, he tries to appeal to their youthful courtship by using her first name. The Countess spits back at him, in a glorious soprano, "Rosina is dead now!" I surely feel that way about the sweetness we originally shared.
No matter what comes next, it's a different relationship.
Recent postings in ILIASM would have us believe that we seek abusive, lonely, ultimately unsatisfying relationships because that's what we know. We wouldn't recognize a decent reciprocal relationship if it hit us over the head. Does this mean I'll never know anything else, no matter how hard I try? All my friendships ultimately will dead=end in to an abusive pattern because I can't forge anything else?
Let's see. . .A) a college degree in an unemployable specialty at the behest of a narcissistic parent;
tried to escape, but was pulled back in to:
B) . .a master's degree in the same subject as a pretty fiction to be at the beck and call of same narcissistic parent;
tried to escape, but wound up:
C) . . .with another ill-suited master's degree I can't use, setting me up for a marriage that makes me completely dependent on spouse for support;
tried to escape with a truly employable master's degree, but wound up with:
. D). .no degree, no job, and a child who may never be able to fend for himself, ultimately giving up whatever I built to follow spouse so he can provide financially for us. Spouse kind of tries, but doesn't like our offspring and can't conceive of his selfishness or what I've had to toss aside.
trying to escape again by building friendships, finding interests, some volunteering. Limited success.
trying to escape further with another master's degree that, theoretically, will be much more employable.
So I am on escape plan # 4.5
Good god, by the time I actually escape, I'll be dead. Does anyone have any wisdom to offer?
Everyone who comes back to ILIASM afterwards says how much better it is after exiting an SM. Here's the question:
What if it never was better BEFORE the SM?
What a load of horse sh*t he tries to dish out.
In the past I've spoken about how h. is consistently on time to make me late. In the last year, the offspring has matured enough to be comfortable unattended for a brief period of time. Now that h. can't manipulate me in this way, he has been coming home consistently so offspring has no gap in coverage.
Last night we were invited over to dinner at the home of new friends for offspring AND for us. A true connection and friend for my teen on the spectrum? A rarity. Parents who will also click with us? Long ago I despaired of ever finding such a thing. What does h. do? He goes off to take care of something and is not back by the time we need to leave. Offspring and I are at the car. H. calls and goes into his song and dance about been a couple of minutes away, how he planned to go there with us, when he gets back he'll need to change clothes. . . I told him the address and we left. You don't pull that crap on your spouse, and you sure as hell don't pull that crap on autistic offspring obsessed with time. I didn't get worked up over it. It's what he does. The big deal is that I had to courage to just leave without him.
Sure, it was weird when I arrived without h. He showed up 50 minutes later. But that's not my problem. And we did have a very good time. I overheard H. apologizing for his stupidity with time to the other male spouse. Does he apologize to me or the offspring? Of course not.
The recent holiday was the last straw. I took to heart something I wrote in a discussion in the commentary section of an ILIASM story. The word "withholding" to describe various activities we no longer do is not usefully desc
From this perspective, I'm not leaving our bedroom because I am angry at h, or because I want him to suffer, or because. . .I have gone back to the guest room because bedtime and sleeping with h. makes me crazy. The calmness I feel is not a byproduct of a sad decision but just a necessity of life I must create. Ok, theoretically I feel sad, but in theory only.
So let's see what has happened since then.
H. is routinely and automatically helping with dinner. He is cleaning up after dinner, including the counters. He's making more of an effort with the offspring. He's participating in financial discussions and completed the taxes.
Dgiz Looiz, why couldn't he take responsibility for the counters when I asked him to 11 years ago? Or any of the other "could you just take responsibility for this one thing" I've requested over the years?
One of my siblings is fond of saying that he hates having to say thank you to people for things they ought to be doing anyway. While I feel that general gratitude for ongoing partnership is a good thing, I do agree that h. should not be expecting a ticker-tape parade when he fulfills activities that fall under the category of division of labor.
One old boyfriend used to say, "What do you want, a medal or a chest to pin it on?" I hated that remark. In h.'s case, though, it seems particularly apt.
We have been living for several years in a land of ill-conceived transportation. On any given day, the main artery will be blocked with just one alternate available. For all this time, I understood the alternate route to involve an extra hour of driving. This situation has severely limited my options. Yesterday, however, I discover that I had only ever focused on the longest possible alternate. A glaring alternate exists that adds only a few minutes on to the time. How on earth did I miss that, even with GPS?
Then there's the issue of the car's back seat. I've had it for several years. A modern car ought to have a back seat that folds down, right? It wasn't obvious, so I assumed it didn't; the car does have a small pass-through to the trunk, so I thought that was it. Lo and behold, the seat does fold down with the pull of a lever.
Bazzar is always going on about how we are so afraid of the unknown in life after the SM. It could be better, and in general, we don't know our own strength and capabilities. Ah, but I know what awaits. I possess a disaster mentality coupled with the ability to make do with whatever is on hand. A deadly combination. I will always see the worst. It's not a matter of just lifting the blinders from my eyes; like the transportation route, I looked at it time and again, only to see the longest and most detrimental alternate route. Like the back seat of the car, I didn't explore enough--like looking in the owner's manual.
H. is the complete opposite. I have unlearned so much of the disaster thinking, learned that I can expect more from life. Yet after all this time, disaster still permeates my thinking. I've been approached by the Moonies in my college years. I've had strange encounters with men on the street who can only have been pimps. My very first moments in a large town resulted in losing ten dollars to a directions scammer. I know what waits for me if I tempt it.
It's been so long since I've had a good example of my "why" to share to explain the state of things. I take it as a very good sign of how much I have changed, yet also a cautionary sign of what still might happen.
Earlier in the week I told H. that our mutual participation in getting the offspring out the door in the a.m. was what I had always thought parenting with him would be like, the two of us working together. H. liked the sentiment. "We finally made it." Jerk. Where was he for the first decade or so?
So tonight at dinner (scene: a restaurant) he asks if he can go back to the gym this coming week in the mornings. Offspring has finished eating, we've all been talking during the meal, now Offspring is chilling with the game.
H: So can I start going to the gym in the morning again?
Me: Pause. How do I respond so I don't give or deny permission, thereby playing into the Con Job?
Me: It's been nice with you in the mornings. (I hesitated to say this, because I put myself out there. Again.)
H: You are getting up now
Me: I'm in a shoe now, so I can walk Offspring to the bus. You could leave when we do.
H: That only gives me (not enough time) to get to work (by desired time).
Me: (Punched in the gut by putting myself out there only to be knocked down) (turning away in sadness)
H: I've only ever been able to get to the gym 3x a week at best.
Me: (Honestly, there's no possible response to this that doesn't play into The Con.) (I say nothing)
H: Rubs my back and says, "Hey, there are plenty of new episodes of [insert T.V. program names]. Oh, the check is here. We can go now.
Every now and then Offspring asks why I am sad. Sometimes the sigh is marriage related, sometimes not. Next time he asks, I shall tell him enough to let him know that H does not want to spend time co-parenting. Well, even that statement is not appropriate. But Offspring should know that the marriage is not making me happy. I don't want Offspring to know that the way his parents are is what he should look forward to. I have already had to coach Offspring in greeting H with over-the-top delight to make him enjoy coming home and being with him.
Reading this last sentence, I am disgusted.
Me: [playing a riff I just picked up]
H: [Pays me a compliment]
Selective memory comes into play. Next I hear:
H: [you need x to make it sound better]
So the sum total I heard was a compliment that was then immediately taken away. Maybe 15 min. go by. We converse about other things. Then I question H about this "Here's a Compliment that You Don't Deserve" dynamic. Asked if he could consider separating the two comments by some real time. H. says that I said something after the compliment that caused him to then offer advice about why I'm not good at it.
Ah, yes. I was happy to receive a compliment. Not a frequent recipient in the topic under discussion. Actually, rather touchy about this topic. [insert unnecessary backstory] . I wanted to bask in the compliment for a bit. So I then said: "Thanks! I'll need to do Q to make it better, though." Replayed the more accurate verbatim with H. I could see how he would then be prompted to offer his version of what I would need to improve. We discussed how this played out, I told him that I had wanted to enjoy his compliment. We talked a little more, he drew out his compliment in an authentic way, I felt I had received the sunny stroke from genuine admiration. Done.
This does not negate the fact that H *frequently* offers the "Compliment/Slam" combination. It doesn't negate the fact that I am needy on the topic of my music. Or that I engaged in self-deprecating words to hear a little more positive feedback.
At dinner we had a classic, CLASSIC example of what another member of ILIASM has described as emotional abuse.
H: For our anniversary, let's do [insert activity that involves lots of walking]!
Me: Too soon after my foot surgery.
H: [his face falls]
Me: Did I just shoot down your idea without first saying that it would be wonderful to be able to plan on doing that?
H: Yes. It will have been 3 months already!
So here's The Con, if you didn't spot it already: He's so wonderful for putting forth the effort to come up with a terrific plan for our anniversary. But the plan involves a key medical uncertainty. He has seen that my post-op has not been as rosy as could be expected. This very day he just sat in a doctor's office and heard the doc say my foot would swell for up to three months post-op. I oh-so-cruelly killed his sweet idea without first stroking his ego for coming up with a plan that is so blatantly, obviously not workable under the current situation.
Today was not a stellar example of fending off The Con. H took the day off for needed mental time in his shop. This was justified, in my opinion, ba
# 1: Had H been able to determine the day off more than one day in advance, the cleaning lady stuff could have been rescheduled. His inability to plan does not constitute an emergency on my part, causing me to move other people and myself around last minute. So sticking to my guns on this one goes to my favor. In fact, this is one of the big sticking points between us since I wised up, that I no longer assume that his last-minute-itis naturally trumps anything else I have planned for the household for which he has been duly made aware.
#2: Groceries: Either he would have to drive and pick up an on-line order at one store, or he would go with me to a much closer one at which an efficient shop could be performed by us both. Same amount of time involved.
Here's my backsliding: At the checkout line, the impatience is pouring off of H. But he does not say anything about it. So I say: Don't worry. You'll be back in your shop soon enough.
Dumkopf! I just said: H, you are justified to be miffed at how your precious time is being wasted in this mundane task that I should be taking care of on my own. I accept that your time is worth more than mine, and I'm sorry I'm not holding up my job (even though I am still medically compromised), which is to take care of this boring task.
I should have ignored my sullen teenage spouse.
H: I got the part I wanted--Is it ok for me to go out to the shop for an hour, and then come back and spend the rest of the evening with you?
Hah! Do you see it? Mom, can I go do something fun before I do something else? Only this time he made the "spend the rest of the evening with you" sound really sweet, that he really wanted to spend time with me. After last night's response, he has upped the ante! I did not bite.
Me: Spending the evening with you would be good.
If he is going to go out to the shop, that is his choice. He does not get to foist that responsibility on to me.
There's an old movie ("If a Man Answers," 1952) that begins with a newlywed growing distraught that her husband is starting to spend less time with her, be less romantic, basically moving in the direction that we all recognize as a SM. She confides in her mother. Her mother recommends a book to her that will fix any and all marital problems. What is the title of the book? "How to Train Your Dog."
The body of the movie shows how she puts various maxims into direct play. They all work. But honestly, if we need to manage a relationship as if our spouse was a pet, or a child, or a teenager, why would we be physically attracted to him/her as an equal?
So if I am to be honest, I have to own my behavior.
Yes, my comment to H about not being able to plan in the last reported conversation was unfair. The comment was off topic and manipulative on my part.
I have read Chai07's post about emotional abuse. I have employed those tactics. Maybe some of them have been in the name of protecting myself, maybe some of them have come as a last-ditch effort to get my points across. All of them have been drilled into me from family experience.
So besides laying bare the manipulative con job and how I have been complicit, I must also take to task any emotionally abusive behavior on my part as well as how to correct it. I'll have to come up with a good title for this part of the series. . .
H. calls last night before coming home to say, "Can I go do (x) before coming home?"
Previously I would have heard this statement in this way: "How nice! He's checking in on our schedule to see what's happening and what the parameters are! See how he cares!"
So here's how the conversation went down:
H: "Can I go do (x) before coming home?" (knowing that I have an evening appointment at a later time)
Me: "I have no idea how long it will take you to do (x)"
H: (slight pause) "Have you and the offspring eaten?"
Me: "Well, we never know when you are coming home, so yes, the offspring has eaten." Was this passive aggressive of me? I was stating the truth that keeps me from being able to plan, a point that H does not either care about or does not understand.
H: "So I've missed the opportunity to eat with the offspring." [insert a short sentence indicating that, as long as he's not eating with offspring, he may as well go do his errand thing. Note that coming to eat with me does not appear to be as interesting as his errand or eating with the offspring]
Me: "I have not eaten."
H: Pause. Indicates he is coming home instead of doing (x).
I put the responsibility for the choice squarely back on his shoulders. How interesting what comes out of his mouth when I understand he is just a teenager trying to test all his limits and refuse to buy into the game.
Factoids that H neglected to share with me over the years and how long it took for the information to emerge:
He intensely dislikes the type of hangers in the closet: 17 years
Why he will engage in only a single type of folk dancing
to the exclusion of all others (And this single type causes
me to be nauseous and dizzy): 18 years
Our unmade bed drives him crazy: 16 years
He doesn't like the way I talk about
physical intimacy: 19 years
What H chose, injudiciously and unprompted, to share with me about his first solo therapy session: "I've got about (x) good years remaining. I just want to be left alone to do all the projects I want to do."
Really? As a post-menopausal woman married to a man who has no interest in intimacy, I have no good years left. In fact, I'm running in the negative numbers right now.
For those of you who choose to view this blog series, I would welcome feedback-either as a comment or in a p.m.--on the best way to drive home to H. my above response.
Previous PostsAn Excellent Choice!, posted May 20th, 2013, 2 comments
A Day of Pure Joy, posted May 19th, 2013
New Series: Why I can't leave the house today., posted May 17th, 2013
Ach! My Poor Japanese Maple!!!--lots of whining., posted May 14th, 2013
Looking for crowd-sourced suggestions and perspective. . ., posted May 6th, 2013
New Series: The Saboteur, posted April 27th, 2013, 3 comments
Yeah, right., posted April 25th, 2013
So this is all there is, then?, posted April 24th, 2013, 4 comments
Better After?, posted April 13th, 2013, 2 comments
H's M.O., posted April 7th, 2013, 1 comment
The Kitchen Counters, posted April 6th, 2013
THIS is why I married h; THIS is why I stay., posted April 2nd, 2013
What the Offspring Witnessed from Behind the GameBoy, posted January 20th, 2013, 2 comments
The Con Job: Mutual Participation, posted January 16th, 2013
The Con Job and How Nothing is Good Enough For Me, posted January 5th, 2013
The Con Job and Caving In, posted January 5th, 2013
The Con Job and Not Taking The Bait, posted January 3rd, 2013, 1 comment
The Con Job and My Responsibility, posted January 3rd, 2013, 1 comment
The Con Job and Being My H's Mother, posted January 3rd, 2013
The Con Job and Keeping It To One's Self, posted December 21st, 2012
The Con Job and Moral Support, posted December 20th, 2012
, posted December 20th, 2012
The Con Job and The Priority Trap, posted December 19th, 2012
The Con Job and My Unwitting Approval, posted December 17th, 2012
The Con Job and the Freudian Slip, posted December 10th, 2012
The Con Job and How to Make Me Put Up with His Late Hours, posted December 5th, 2012
The Con Job and the Person Who Hates Con Jobs, posted December 4th, 2012
The Con Job and How to Make Me Content That He Will Be Late, posted December 4th, 2012
The Con Job and and How to Avoid Being Together, posted December 4th, 2012
The Con Job and the Request for Confirmation of Love, posted December 4th, 2012
The Con Job, posted December 4th, 2012
Asperger's, Rules, and Literalism: Part II, posted September 21st, 2012
Asperger's and the predator, posted September 21st, 2012
Asperger's and the myth surrounding routine, posted September 20th, 2012
Asperger's and literalism, posted September 19th, 2012
Asperger's and the obsessive interest and denial, posted September 19th, 2012
Asperger's and food, posted September 18th, 2012
Asperger's, 9/11, and emotional regulation, posted September 18th, 2012
Asperger's and the death wish, posted September 13th, 2012
Asperger's and the wireless collar, posted September 13th, 2012
Women with Asperger's and Role Playing, posted September 11th, 2012
The Woman with Asperger's Marries the Man with ADD, posted September 11th, 2012
Autism and Gender Roles, posted June 16th, 2012
Shockingly isolated no matter what I do, posted June 10th, 2012
My mom died on Sunday..., posted January 11th, 2012
I want to die...., posted September 27th, 2011
Love is not enough., posted September 11th, 2011
Comedy: a crisp view into truth, posted September 5th, 2011
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