Saturday, April 30, 2011

Too Dependent with Asperger's? Have I Taken Care of Too Much?

Here's a picture of our little family all wind blown at the park. We look all perfect and happy, don't we? I'd like to think of us that way. I think we function alright even with the quirks and drama that Asperger's can bring sometimes. We've figured out how to make things work or how to be more understanding when they don't. I've seen how my husband has been able to make a life and be successful with Asperger's, and so I've gained hope that my son can do just as well.

However, recently, we've had some struggles.
Our relationship has always had it's challenges. It seems like the first years of our marriage were full of so many fights about how I couldn't understand why he couldn't remember anything or see the need to do this or clean this, or I would get so frustrated when he would get so upset over little social things that I didn't think were such a big deal.

When we figured out that he probably had Asperger's (according to the professional opinion of the team of doctors who were diagnosing my son), it seemed to open up a whole new light and understanding to our relationship. While I would still become frustrated, I knew many of these characteristics or things that were upsetting me were not actually being done to be mean, or hurt, or the result of a husband who didn't care. He did care, and he did want to do better, but there always came so many obstacles.

He wanted to remember to take out the garbage or do the dishes or pay the bills, but he always forgot, or rather he would get distracted and absorbed into some other activity that he lost all track of time. He wanted to take care of things on his own, but he didn't know how to begin if the job seemed too large. He wanted to be able to deal with social situations, but often gave up because he didn't know how to react, respond, or he didn't understand what others were thinking.

So, maybe it was may fault. Maybe it's because I'm such a control freak. Maybe it's a good thing that an OCD control freak got married to an Aspie. Maybe that makes us a perfect match. But for an instant this past month, I wanted to throw in the towel. I mean, to me it seemed like our whole married life I was this big nag. All I did was constantly remind my husband that he needed to do this and that and how and when and why. I pushed him through college, I helped him find a job. I took over the finances when he kept forgetting to pay the bills. I gave up on him not helping around the house because of his lack of knowledge and sense of not knowing where or how to begin a job. I stopped giving him any sort of responsibilities involving the kids because I was tired of them being late or missing events. I stopped working during the week and moved my shifts to the weekends only so that I didn't have to worry about homework not getting done when left to my husband.

OK, so this sounds terrible doesn't it? He does do a lot. He has his good job that he does well at and he is smart and funny and honest and caring. Yet, I was just so tired and overwhelmed. I think I just didn't want to deal with it anymore. Why did I have to do everything? When was it going to be my turn to be taken care of? This is how I felt. I just didn't want to do it anymore.

I started to think about our son and how I always had such hope for him to be on his own, but now all of the sudden I was seeing a different picture. Instead of seeing a future where MJ was going to make it on his own, I was seeing a future where he couldn't possibly do it on his own without the major help of another. Would he be able to get out there and do things on his own without me there to constantly cue him or remind him or tell him how to do everything? As I sat here and looked at my spouse, I was beginning to get very worried.

It must be my fault. I've enabled him in sort of a way. Maybe if I just stopped doing everything then he would have to take care of it on his own. But did I dare? I was afraid the bills wouldn't get paid, kids wouldn't get their assignments done and the house would go to pot. How could I? I guess I didn't really want to give up all control, but I just wanted the feeling that I could if I wanted to. And maybe I just wanted a little bit of help. Some relaxation time. Something.

And maybe I wanted the feeling of knowing my husband could choose to do things on his own without my suggestion. Wouldn't that be nice?

Or look at me? I've sort of developed into a rambling fool! It's probably again my own fault, but I have developed this awful problem where I can't stop talking. With Asperger's, there is a sort of processing delay where the person must stop and process everything before they speak. I often am very impatient and can't handle the long pause after I ask a question or talk, so I will just keep on talking.

I wanted to be loved or surprised or not have to specifically tell my husband of what to do for me on my birthday or a holiday, or how to show me he loved me. It didn't seem so special when I'd been the one to suggest an activity or action.

All these things overwhelmed me and I felt so frustrated and alone. I didn't know what to do, and I didn't like the way I was feeling.

Frustrating as it was, I confronted my husband one night, and as many things I said came out too literal, my poor husband was terribly devastated.

(Sorry to leave you hanging here, but I'll continue in another post. Don't worry, everything gets worked out somewhat.)