Thursday, September 20, 2012

My story

I stumbled upon the book, Look Me In The Eyes, a memoir written by a man diagnosed with Aspergers when he was an adult. The book chronicles his life from the early memories of his problematic childhood to his surprising entrepreneurial success as an adult. I think this book gives great insight on the difficulties that people with Aspergers have trying to ‘fit in’ with a society that inadvertently misunderstands them and often labels them as deviant. The author talks about his family and how he and his brother had very different upbringing largely due to his parent’s abusive and failing marriage shortly after his younger brother was born. After doing research to find more about the author, I learned that his brother is also an author. He wrote the book, “Running with Scissors,” which is his own memoir about his life with the same parents. The Running with Scissors author is not as kind when describing his parents. In fact, his book focuses on his parent’s abandoning him, the sexual abuse he experienced while in the custody of his ‘adoptive’ parents, and his mother’s frequent psychological breaks. His tragic youth led me to feel compassion for the “Scissors’” author as well as a sense of sorrow for his mother. You see the Look Me In The Eyes’ author believed that his father had Aspergers, which may have contributed to the father's dysfunction as a parent and a husband. I am not certain what kind of mental illness the authors’ mother suffered from, but I do know and can relate to how difficult it is to be married to an individual that is in denial about their own mental issues. Then to have a child that is considered weird and intolerable by his peers and the community must have been very distressing for the authors’ mother. The Look Me In The Eyes author talks about how his mom took him to multiple psychiatrists, therapists, etc. in her effort to figure out what was wrong with him. I wonder how much courage it took for a mother in the late 60s to act on her instincts and attempt to get help for her child. I imagine she faced many emotions: guilt, shame, confusion, and incompetence. Her husband and her son were “different”. How did she cope with this revelation? Perhaps it is explained in the Running with Scissors’ author’s book. Was she so broken mentally that she was unable to care for her young son after the demise of her abusive marriage and the challenges she endured raising a child with special needs [who describes himself as a troublemaker].
I reflected on challenges in my own marriage and my own feelings of failure and depression. In my effort to free myself from some of the resentment that I’ve had being married to someone with cognitive differences, I have listed some of the issues that I have dealt with during my time with Marty’s dad. It is my way of acknowledging my pain, loneliness, and anger which, unfortunately, often manifest in various forms of physical illness and isolation.
When I realized that something was “not quite right” with Marty’s dad, I contemplated a divorce; but at the time I was very religious and feared God’s judgment. I even thought that the difficulties that I was having in my marriage were some sort of punishment for the sins of my youth. I struggled with feelings of loneliness, insecurity, sadness, and confusion. I wanted to be married, but I wasn’t getting my emotional, spiritual, or physical needs met. On top of that, Marty’s dad was not good with managing money, so we suffered financially. The expectations that I had for a partner were not evident in Marty’s dad; our values were different, and our spiritual views clashed; and I became a frustrated caregiver of a grown man and primary parent for 2 children [with their own special needs]. My friend’s concerns with their husband seemed trivial to my marital crisis. I was weary and angry, “Who, the hell, was this man that I married?” During our courtship, we seemed harmonious, he appeared to be “normal”; heck, his mother even promised me that he would make a “very good husband.” We had similar interests, or so I thought. He was nice, well-mannered, and highly educated. I must have mistaken his tendencies to obsess over the latest "special interest," which this time happened to be me, for affection and adoration. How did the man that I was friends with 2 years prior to marriage become this man that I now regretted ever meeting, much less, marrying? I guess the pressures of marriage proved to be too much for him. After years of faking it, it was very hard for Marty’s dad to adapt to living with individuals that he had to actually provide support and care for. This was a reality that he had no script or frame of reference for. And, I quickly grew very tired of being the ‘teacher’.

What I experienced in my relationship with an incompatible partner:
  • Emotional deprivation - being deprived of reciprocal love and affirmation
  • Feelings of knowing something is “not right” but fear of not being believed 
  • loss of 'self'' as priority shifts to "figuring him out"
  • Declining self esteem as marital issues were usually blamed on me
  • Lack of confidence in myself due to struggles with conception and intimacy
  • Feeling burdened by additional responsibilities and imbalance in division of labor
  • Grieving the husband that I thought he was be capable of being
  • Worry and anxiety about how his issues might affect our children
  • Fear of the possibility of having a child with an ASD 
  • Feeling trapped and worried about how to financially support children after divorce
Physical symptoms of my stress:
  • Numerous sinus infections and colds
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Pre and post partum depression
  • Caffeine addiction
  • Benign tumors
  • Migraine headaches

1 comment:

  1. Hi I'm a black female aspie with ADHD from London and I've just begun to read about your blog.