Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Problem with Relationships & Aspergers

There is not enough room in all of the internet to tell of the problems one with asperger's may encounter in a relationship. Lord knows, I have probably seen all of them. I have read that some medical professionals believe that people with asperger's are incapable of forming romantic relationships, getting married and having children. It's simply not true. We have the capability, but the quality of these relationships varies vastly based on the partner's knowledge of ASD, their support of the ASD partner and how much you are both willing to go through to make it work.

The absolute number one problem, in my opinion and experience, is communication. I'll give you a quick run-down of my living situation. I, obviously, have ASD. My boyfriend, whom I will call Hugh, does not. We've been together for about 2 and 1/2 years. We are lucky enough for him to be able to stay home with our son so we don't have to send him to daycare while I work full time. We have had many, many issues, which I won't get into right now, but perhaps one day, I will write more on those topics. 

Tonight, I want to write about the last argument that we've had. It is particularly frustrating to me. You see, I was married previously for 8 years. I have been away from my ex for almost 5 years now. I learned what the relationship rules were then. I followed them as well as I could. In subsequent relationships, I've played by basically the same set of rules. This relationship with Hugh is mind boggling because he is playing by a whole set of different rules...ones that I don't know and don't know how to learn them.

Next week, I will be out of town all week for a work trip. I am very stressed out about this for many reasons. One, I'm out of my comfort zone/routine. Two, I have to ride in a rental van with a work colleague driving. When we've gone before, it was very frightening riding with these people. We can't take our own cars. Three, I have so much to do before I leave. Last one, I promise: I have a bunch of tasks to do on this work trip and I have no idea how to do them and it's a very scary thing to go into this huge project and have no clue what you are supposed to do. This isn't everything, but hopefully you get the picture.

So, this is my last week to get stuff done before leaving. Every day, I have different things that I need to do to make sure I'm ready. I have to kind of over plan b/c of my forgetfulness. Yesterday, my plan was to go to Walmart after work at 4:30 and grab a few things really quickly for the trip and anything else that Hugh may need for him and the baby while I was out of town. I wasn't planning on going for long, just long enough to run through and get the essentials. The problem though: yesterday was Hugh's birthday.

I told him ahead of time that I was planning to go to the store and asked what I could get him for next week.  He replies, "I'm going to take a nap. Do whatever you want." I am not really sure what that means, but ::shrugs shoulders:: ummm, ok. 

I leave work, run to the bank, and I'm at Walmart by 5:00. I run through hustling to grab all the stuff on my list so I can hurry and get home and see Hugh for his birthday, see my sweet baby boy, Jackson, and get this damn bra off! I hate shopping almost more than anything in the entire world. I hate going places by myself. This is not a treat for me. If I could, I would pay someone to do these kinds of things for me, but alas, I am no superstar with an assistant. 

I get home around six, an hour later than normal. Hugh does not come out to help me with the bags from the store. I humph to myself because where I'm from, men run out the door to help a woman with her bags. I sigh and just let it go. I'm used to this from him, after all. I expect to open the door and see Hugh at his computer playing World or Warcraft as normal, but he is in the kitchen. He has his mad face on. I am confused. Happy birthday, I say cheerfully. He says his trademark smart ass, "hmm." When I ask what's wrong, he goes into a tirade about me going to the store on his birthday. Why couldn't I go another night?" "What did I get?" "I am having to cook my own birthday dinner!" It goes on and on. I feel lost. I try to explain that I have to get stuff for my trip; that I'm worried I won't get it all done; that I was trying to help him out by picking up milk and diapers and whatever else he might have needed. He spouts that I don't care and I am wrong. He says, I am always wrong. He yells, why don't I care? 

I tell him that most grown men don't really celebrate their birthdays and it's just another day. I work on my birthday and nothing special happens. I would have been more than happy to make dinner tonight; I was actually planning on doing that. With his yelling, I finally reach my breaking point and I tell him that he is a lady and he gets mad at everything like women do. When I reach this point, I lose all my filters I have learned throughout the years. Having ASD, I have had to learn to not say everything that comes to my mind and to weigh it carefully with things I've heard and said before and people's reactions to those words. I say some really awful things when I'm mad. 

 His reaction to me going to the store on his birthday really puzzles me. I have never been in a relationship with a man that wanted his birthday to be made special. They never expected a card or even a gift. A simple dinner out or even at home, was fine. No expectation to rush right home. If I need to stop at the store, I stopped at the store. How far does this go? If it's Hugh's birthday, is stopping at the gas station out? What if I'm about to run out of gas? What exactly am I missing in that hour I was at Walmart? Bowing down to him? Creating him a ticker tape parade? Waving banners? Running up and down the road shouting that it's Hugh's birthday! 

The very most frustrating thing is, in one breath, he says, "What was so important that you had to go to the store tonight?" Then, in the next breath, it's, "It's not about you going to the store." Well, I'd like to really know what it is about, because you've left me feeling really, really clueless. This is the kind of thing that always leaves me feeling stupid. I can't ever figure out what in the world the other person wants or expects.

As I am in my dark room, sitting on the bed, writing this, Hugh comes in to ask me if I want to watch a netflix movie we have. He is using his regular voice, not the mad voice. We've been arguing about this for 2 straight days, but all of a sudden, it's like nothing ever happened. I am starting to I truly the one that is not typical?

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