Love and Autism: "I Married An Aspie"
My love and I have not always had the perfect relationship. Oh who am I kidding, we still don't; there's one fairytale that will never ride off the silver screen on a white horse. Sorry ladies.
Allow me to rephrase that. He and I have not always excelled at communicating our feelings to one another. For my part in that I will say that I avoid confrontation like it's coming for my dogs. If (when) I convince him to start guest posting here, he can add his own end of the wishbone, but lacking that, I'll say that he has a history of not just social isolation, but human isolation.
These days I call his personality textured - one of poetic quirks and beautiful strangeness. He calls it Autism.
It was our first summer of dating when things abruptly broke down quickly and without warning. It happened when I moved in. Now before you roll your eyes and snicker at my predictability, let me add that he was all for it from day one. I was the hesitant one, I was bitter, and I was fresh out of a relationship that crashed and burned in my living room. I liked what we had and didn't want to risk pulling the wrong Jenga block. I suck multiple unwashed asses at Jenga.
We discussed long and hard the pros and cons of my coming to live with him, but in the end we decided that counting the minutes until a reunion when we were apart made it seem silly to continue sleeping with 25 miles between us simply on the "too soon" principal.
So he bought a pickup truck (he insisted he'd been meaning to anyhow), and came and collected me and my life in Sharpie-labeled boxes from my dad's house (hey don't judge, even at age 30, there's no place more comforting to tend your post-explosive-screaming-crying-hurt-each-other-as-much-as-possible-because-fuck-you breakup wounds than at your dad's house - especially when the dad in question cooks you delicious vegetarian dinners on the nightly).
Then a curious thing happened-- we just stopped talking. He wouldn't look me in the eye. Like, ever. He didn't like to be touched. Every muscle in his body seemed to tense upon contact - I could almost see him counting the seconds until he could have his hand back.
He hated loud noises and changes to his routine. He bristled if I wandered into his office on a Saturday while he was writing, as if the reality of my presence shattered the world within the screen at which he stared - lost, entranced.
Go with the flow? There was no flow to speak of. Not a single flow did live within these walls. Only a stone path of rigidity, walked silently and without deviation. I felt lonely, out of place in this big house full of things that weren't mine, on shelves upon which I did not perch them, with only my boxes - half unpacked - and my dogs and bird for company. I couldn't understand why I felt so utterly alone here in this house with this man who'd just a few weeks prior had easily gotten lost for hours and days in a soul-baring wilderness with me. Mostly over text or cocktails but it never occurred to me that it wouldn't translate.
Having emotionally invested in two serious relationships that both came to dramatic and painfully incompatible ends, and with no desire to sign up for that raffle again, I did what any (ir)rational being would do - I packed my shit and I left. Phew! That was almost another relationship disaster. Good save, girl!
~cue self-administered pats on back~
Then an even more curious thing happened. He was devastated. I frankly expected never to hear from him again, both of us hunkered into our sheepish corners, feeling silly, feeling relieved... feeling awkward while regrouping and going on with our lives. Instead, the love I thought I'd disemboweled with a can opener suddenly burst back to life and color. We returned to talking in the way we did it best - text and email - all day, every day. I still have those digital exchanges. In them, he told me a secret that explained everything.
(Does this count as his first guest post?)
About 10 years ago I was under a lot of stress so I made an appointment to talk to someone. We figured it out almost immediately. There's a Liv Tyler movie with an autistic kid - I related to him in a lot of ways, so I started researching. It all came together in that first session. I was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. It's called Asperger's Syndrome. I've read about severe cases on the internet. I'm not that bad. I have all of the benefits (and there are many) and only a handful of the negatives. It became far more easy to manage after I learned what it was. For the most part, I get by fairly well. You just happen to be a very perceptive person and immediately noticed some of the issues.
I'm Rain Man with a bigger vocabulary and better hair. Think you can still put up with me or is it enough to scare you away? Aside from what I've read, I've never been treated for this. I think therapy could help us. I can seek out a specialist. I want to break out of this shell as much as you want me to. I don't want to spend my life trapped here. We can do this, together. I am absolutely, unbelievably in love with you. I can't learn that. I can't mimic that. I feel every breath you take in my heart. You've brought me so far in such a short time. I can come out of this. It isn't your future, it's my past. For as long as I can remember, I put up walls. You're the only person I've let past those walls in over a decade.
We can get through this, PB, but you have to be willing to try. I won't give up on us. I've never loved anyone as much as I love you. Together we're unstoppable. We can make it work, I've never been more sure of anything, ever. We can build a beautiful life together.
I'm so sorry I didn't tell you. Please come back. Give me the chance to make it right.
Therapy??? But, we just started dating! That does not bode well. Red flag. Giant, Texas-sized red quilt constructed entirely of red flags. Stitched together with red yarn, stained by the cursed blood of a hundred thousand relationship deaths.