Friday, March 19, 2010

being in a relationship (and part of) the social world

I had a conversation with a new friend today, and it's really making me think. We talked about being out in the world and socializing with our husbands and what that is like. I really haven't done much going out with J, we have some friends of his that we hang out with, but we don't go to parties and at church it's been difficult to connect to people. 

My friend said that she isn't all that conversational with the people she and her husband gather with, in part because they have kids and she doesn't, or whatever else, it's like they don't have much in common, and so the conversations often fall flat, and she thinks that they perceive her as maybe immature or less emotionally adult (and she said this isn't incorrect, in a way), and that they wonder, 'what is he doing with her?'

Wow. Exactly. This reflects our/my experience and fears about being social in the world with my husband. I think that my friend accepts the reality in a way that I don't, and it she describes her husband as maybe not so concerned with the implications of people's perception that he is with someone who 'isn't a woman'.

Sometimes I don't feel like a woman. I don't feel on par with most 32 year olds. I don't think I am.

I realize that development, achievement, and social connection are all diverse/variable things, and there isn't just one way to be in the world -- as if we all knew at 17 what we were going to do, and did it, and were successful, and we all fit some mold of what a 30-something person should be, or a 40-something person should be. It doesn't work that way. I sometimes think, with my friend, that if I can't connect with those people, then oh well, and it's not like they'd think me a bitch; I'm a nice person, and so I do have some challenges. Okay?

I'm an intelligent person, I'm a weirdo (in a geeky and sometimes good way), I am caring, I can have deep and soulful conversations with friends one-to-one but put me in a group/party and I don't do well.

But while I could say that the people who would judge me and J are idiots, the fact is that people can/do/will and I don't know how to feel about that. Or what to do about it, aside from hiding out and not being seen as a couple -- which is untenable.

I don't want him to be judged for seeing deeper than my not really holding a conversation well or sometimes getting overwhelmed or overloaded and having sensory problems. I don't want them thinking,

"Wow, she's ... not all there. Why is he with her?? I mean she's hot.. but she's kind of meek. Maybe he wants a frak-toy. Maybe he wants someone he can dominate. Or what's wrong with him, that he can't find some professional successful grown-up woman to be with?'

All of this smacks of BS, but there's some reality to it that means, somehow, our dealings in the world can't be easy, unless I learn some skills and develop emotionally.

This new friend and I are really appreciating each other and the potential for this friendship. I think we'll plan a foursome dinner sometime soon. I would really like to explore having more friendships as a couple with J.

I think he and I both need to gain confidence and feel like it won't just be a disaster. We were long distance for a long time, basically having identities that were as single people but in a relationship, a kind of nebulous state that was still really like being alone socially because it didn't involve negotiating social relationships as a couple. I think we just aren't known in the world enough together. I don't know how the people we do spend time with now perceive us.

I think the anxiety and fear of judgment is the worst part because it can lead us to not try and instead become isolated and that has consequences for our relationship with each other.

I'm not sure if this was coherent, but it's at least reflecting what some of my mind is doing with the really important thinking going on today.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg's post about self-worth touched a current in me that filled me with .. I don't even know. Thanks, alexithymia.

I've been married a little over three months. J is troubled about our lack of emotional connection. I am too. Every marriage faces challenges, but add autistic crap to that and it can feel potentially un-rescuable.

It isn't really un-rescuable, just like neuroplasticity means I'm not some static human who doesn't change, and potentially grow beyond social deficits.

When J shares how he's feeling in relation to me, (when anyone does, really), my response is most often disconnected from the person -- I just circle back into myself and blame myself and allow what they're saying to feed my empty sense of worth. I can sometimes be angry that they are blaming me for the whole situation, but I also somehow know that their assertions are true and I despair. J says he has trouble explaining some of where he's coming from and how he sees me because he senses that I won't understand. I accept this as true and I slide further.

I am doubting my ability to connect. I often just don't know how to respond to statements about feelings.

I feel pretty empty and boring and afraid to go into the world. I often don't go anywhere unless I've made a commitment to do so.

I am shutting myself off in self-protection.

Every week (when the stress gets too much to hold in), J raises the issues of our lack of connection and his doubt about us working, his uncertainty around me being able to be an adult with him in the world to socialize with average people, to be able to be at his level emotionally, get better at communicating. I agree that these are issues. I see that neither of us knows what to do about it. Not really. I can improve myself through various actions like being physically active and keep practicing connecting, working on auditory processing. It just feels like uphill, and I keep sliding.

I have two modes:

1. guarded defensiveness which includes bodily clenching and holding and hyper-sensitivity as well as emotional opacity and blunted perceptions of the social world. A kind of depressive sullen vacuous lump.

2. childish abandon which includes incongruent exuberance, strange voices and mannerisms, silliness, sometimes fake happiness, a level of emotional opacity and no awareness of the people in the world around me and where they're at. A kind of abandonment of the hyper-vigilance I usually maintain, the release valve if you will, the spastic.

The above is too simplistic, but it's a rough idea of how I feel like I live in places that don't make sense when you look at them all together. It's like there's little continuity to who I am. Except, I can experience depression as a continuity. I can experience anxiety as a continuity, as well as the feeling like I'm not like other people and I feel alone.

I am going to find someone to talk to, who knows about issues related to aspergers.

A squirrel keeps scaling the outside of the house right by the window, and the cats are stalking 'im. Gonna try and snag a picture. Living in the little smiles helps a bit, as I try to deal with this current slide.

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