Loneliness is never more cruel than when it is felt in close propinquity with someone who has ceased to communicate. ~ Germaine Greer
Usually, I put some sort of insightful, thoughtful quote here, but today, I decided to combine the image with the quote. I think Robin Williams either has Asperger's or understands it completely.
The older a person with Asperger's gets without a diagnosis and therapy, the worse they get. It's as though they lose their filter. Most Aspies, though, learned at a younger age to "straighten up and fly right" in order to fit in. These are people who are MASTER chameleons. They are able to quickly read any social situation and immediately become the person they need to be. However, there are signs:
But they don't live with them.
They don't see the rigidity of their lifestyle. They aren't the ones being ignored, day after day after day. They're also not the ones who get to see the meltdowns, the temper tantrums, the extreme anxiety that comes with any emergency because they simply don't know what to do. They're not the ones to be standing there when you've walked up behind your Aspie to given them a quick hug or peck on the back of the neck and are sent sailing across the room because they can't stand to be startled. And while you're picking yourself up off the ground, injured, you get to listen to them rant on just how stupid, thoughtless and uncaring you are for making them hit you like they just did. They're not the ones who are there to see him ignore you when you're sick because they can't stand the thought of taking care of another person and they'll treat you as though you have leprosy or some other communicable disease. They're not the ones to see him hit you, giving you a black eye, because your vomiting in the middle of the night woke them up and they need their SLEEP DAMN IT! They're no the ones to see you crammed into the back of the closet or shower stall to hide from the kids your crying your eyes out because of the pain you experience every day of your life because your Aspie has, once again, ignored you for another day. They're not the ones who are there to watch the kids come home with some major accomplishment and see their crestfallen faces when they run to their father, excited and thrilled, sharing their big news and his response is either, "That's nice" or "You could have done better and this is how..."
Aspies really don't want to be alone. The would VERY much like to have friends and a social life. But they just can't. It's not that they don't have the skills, they just don't have the confidence and self-esteem. They're SO desperate to be liked, it terrifies them to approach a social situation, any social situation, because they've already run through all the possible scenarios in their head and the result is always the same there - they'll hate me and think I'm a dork. Because this is the only scenario they can imagine, they refuse to engage in any relationship of any kind, even romantic ones.
With my STBE, much like what I've heard from every other Aspie wife out there, he wanted to sit next to me on the couch each evening. He simply wanted me to do it while he sat there with the iPad in his lap, earbuds in his ears, while he watched either videos on YouTube or movies on one of our accounts. A typical day in our house went as follows:
- STBE would come home from work, usually around 5:00,
- give me a quick peck "Hello",
- go change clothes,
- eat dinner if it was ready, fix dinner if it wasn't (with my RA, I wasn't able to stand up or chop anything for long...Not much anymore),
- sit at the dinner table with me and rush through eating his dinner saying absolutely nothing to me at all. If I would try to talk to him, his responses would be either hostile (as in, "I'm eating!") or monosyllabic, to the extent I'd just stop trying
- Put his dishes in the sink (maybe...) and precariously pile them on top of the rest because he can't be bothered to empty the dishwasher (one of his three "chores") for four or five days at a time.
- Walk to the den
- Pick up the iPad (mine, which he took over the day it came into the house)
- Put the earbuds in,
- Find a video to watch
- Sit there and watch it
Finally, the day my dad was rushed to the hospital for what was his final admittance so he could be transferred to hospice, my siblings and I rushed to the hospital, me locally, my sisters and brother from other states, to be there. The only person who wasn't there was my STBE. I started calling him immediately because a.) I wanted him there with me and b.) someone needed to pick up our youngest from the school bus so this seven-year-old boy didn't come home to a locked house. For three hours I tried to get hold of Mark. He wasn't answering his cell phone. He wasn't at his desk. The receptionist at his workplace couldn't find him. His supervisor was looking for him. There were people searching the building for him and his car wasn't in the parking lot. They were paging him every few minutes because I was a crying mess on the phone. No one knew where he was until he seemed to have magically appeared at his desk. To this day, he'll swear he was at his desk the entire time and people must have just been missing him whenever he got up to go to the bathroom or to get a cup of coffee (to understand this, see Gas Lighting - and once I write my tale of woe in relation to this, I'll change the link to that posting). However, it also came out later he was in the midst of his cheating with one of his sluts. I'm guessing he was with her during that time and was refusing to answer his cell because (and here's the strangest part of his affairs) he refused to cheat on his girlfriends (yes, multiple) with his wife but was okay cheating on his wife with his girlfriends. Once he got to the hospital, my sister tells me all he could talk about was how inconvenient it was Daddy was dying when he was because Mark was on a project with a deadline coming up at work he needed to get back to and finish.
Just to be clear - cheating with your girlfriend during the workday is just fine and dandy. Father-in-law dying during the workday causes major problems and is inconvenient, thus causing major stress. Once again, it was all about him.