Thursday, September 1, 2011

So I married an Aspie-Part 3

The storm was magnificent.  The sky, dark with storm clouds that were relieved only by the occasional strike of lightning, grew more menacing by the minute.  The wind howled, whipping my hair around my face, making me brace my feet on the rocks just to stay standing.  The ocean waves to the left of me pounded the jetty relentlessly.  The waves of the inlet broke with equal fervor to the right of me.  The rain pounded against me like tiny shard of glass, mixing with my tears until all evidence of my hurt and pain were completely obliterated by the magnificence of the storm that raged around me.   I slowly calmed, I slowly found peace.  Compared to the greatness of the nature surrounding me I was small, my problems miniscule…..manageable.  The God of the boundless ocean, the controller of the uncontrollable storm, the being whose very breath spoke all of this into existence, yes to Him everything in my life was easy to remedy.  To Him I was small and protectable.

I can’t tell you how many times I drove to the ocean during a storm through my late teen, early adult years.  Every time I crossed the bridge into Ocean City I felt beaten, out of control of circumstances that seemed insurmountable.  Every time I left Ocean City, crossing the same bridge, I felt peace.  I knew God could control what I could not.  I know that this seems a strange way to start the next to last installment of the story of my dating, engagement and early marriage.   It is so appropriate though.  Before I begin I must say a few things.  First and foremost I am going to do everything in my power to be completely honest while still being mindful that this is not just my story to tell.  Secondly, I do not share this story to drag up hurts in the past.   Rather this is a story of hope.  Thirdly, remember that these are the fires in which we were forged.  Please do not stray from the path.  There are places that are still tender, places that are still scarred.   I share this in the hope that others who have similar stories can avoid some of the dark times we walked.  There is hope, there is light even in the darkest of times.  Sometimes we just need someone else to point the way.

Our dating and engagement months were fraught with communication issues.   Hormones, naivety, and the crazy busyness of the season allowed me to ignore the freight train steaming toward us.  A couple weeks into the marriage I could no longer deny we had problems.     It seemed that my husband had decided I could do no right and he had taken it upon himself to fix me.  Everything from the way I handled money, to the way I cleaned, even the way I talked was up for renovation.   We had never heard the word Aspbergers at this point.  I had no clue that when I said I spent $40.00 and had actually spent $41.50 he would consider that lying.   I would grab a grocery basket and he would correct me; “It’s not a basket it’s a cart.”  I was a newlywed and wanted so badly to be the perfect wife.  Instead it seemed I was becoming a worse wife by the day.  I craved affirmation and instead I received constructive criticism (for the record I didn’t call it constructive at the time).  I spent hours being lectured on my failure to communicate correctly, being told over and over how my feelings really didn’t matter because emotions had no real meaning, and being instructed on how I could get “it” (whatever “it” happened to be at the moment)  right.  I felt completely worthless as a wife.  Please understand I am not beating up my guy.  I wanted to leave this out and he insisted that I put it in here.  His exact words were “Why would I be offended.  It’s accurate” 

We sought out council but it only made things worse.  What normally would be excellent advice to newlyweds nearly ended our marriage. My husband took EVERYTHING literally, and when I say everything I mean EVERYTHING.  When advised that we should consult each other before spending money, he began calling me from work to ask if he could by a coke or a candy bar.  My response “Do you have $.75?  Great! You’re an adult you can make this decision on your own.”  This actually happened, more than once.   He had been told we should be open with each other (fabulous marriage advice you’re thinking, right?)   Yeah, not so much.  Open to him meant sharing every thought that ever crossed his head.  “Hey honey just wanted you to know I’m thinking about pink flamingos.”   “Alrighty then” I would respond.  When he would ask me what I was thinking about and I would respond “Nothing really” he thought I was keeping secrets.  He began to doubt my fidelity.    I had noticed as when we were dating that he flipped coins all the time.  What I did not realize was that he was incapable of making any kind of decision without flipping a coin.  Something as simple as buying ice cream had to be flipped on.  This is a funny little quirk until really important; life altering decisions are based on a coin flip.  Not so cute anymore.    Throughout all of this I felt like I was not only a terrible wife but that I was also going insane.

We fought…boy did we fight.  I tried so hard to stop the arguing but nothing I did worked.  If I agreed he would say I was being patronizing.  If I disagreed he said I was being argumentative.  If I didn’t say anything I was being uncommunicative.  There was just no right answer; there was no way for me to make him happy.

We found out we were expecting our first born about six months after we got married.  I was so excited.  I might suck at being a wife but I am going to be the best mother in the world, I thought.  Our son Paul was born in July of 2000.  He was different from the moment he was born.  The nurse who delivered him freaked out a little because he not only focused on her immediately after birth but he studied her and tracked her with his eyes.  According to both her and the doctor this is unheard of with newborns right after birth.  Paul was very advanced but he was also very sickly.  He had to nurse every twenty minutes around the clock for the first three months.  If he ate any more than that at any one sitting he would empty his stomach.  By five months we had stretched his feedings to every two hours.  The flip side of the coin is that by three months Paul crawled and by five months he was climbing stairs.  He had started to teach himself to read by a year and was playing online video games completely by himself (of course at a year he weighed less than he did at five months and still had to sit in an infant carrier).  He was very sick until we moved to VA when he turned three.  When Paul was 10 months old I found out I was pregnant with our second child.  Between the stress of having a sick little baby and the stress of a marriage that was spiraling out of control I was barely hanging on to my sanity.  Sam was born 5 weeks early in December of 2001.  Although he was early, Sam was born healthy and cheerful.  He was always smiling and would chatter at you all day.  It was such a blessing to have a healthy baby because Paul was still so very sick.  The stress had taken its toll on our relationship.  My man had gone back to school to try and get a better job; he was also working full time.  I was a stay at home mom with two babies, one of whom was always sick.  It had gotten so bad our pediatrician would call several mornings a week just to check on how Paul was doing.  The stress in our lives was through the roof and we were completely falling apart as a couple.  We tried more marriage counseling.  This turned out to be a huge mistake.  The marriage counselor gave us great advice, if we had been a typical couple.  Unfortunately we were not a neurotypical couple and his advice nearly put the nails in our marriage coffin.  I felt like the lowest of low.  I was a terrible wife, whose husband considered her a liar and a cheater.  I was a terrible mother whose son was always sick.  Then I found out we were expecting twins.

The twins changed everything.  When I was 25 weeks pregnant with them, two weeks after Sam turned one year old; I fell down the flight of stairs in our house while holding Sam.  Sam miraculously was unscathed, not even a bruise.  I completely crushed my elbow and spent the next ten weeks in and out of the hospital (mostly in) trying to keep the babies from being born too early.   To say it was a bad time would be an understatement.  Every other day the doctors were predicting either I or the babies weren’t going to make it.  At one point they asked my husband if it came to a choice between me and the babies what should they do.  He chose me, I chose the babies.  It was a hard, hard time.  We called all the churches we had been involved in, trying to find someone who would be willing to watch our boys at home so my husband could work.  My father was willing to pay a great salary to whoever would help us out.  However none of the churches would even ask their members if they were interested.  So my husband was out of work to top off everything else.   He would call me and start his normal “communication lecture”.   Honestly I can’t say he was doing anything wrong.  He was just being who he was.  Unfortunately he was completely insensitive to anyone else’s feelings or state of being.  Laying in the hospital, fighting for the lives of my babies I couldn’t handle it.  I was an emotional wreck.  The nurse walked in at one point and said to me “Honey I don’t know why you’re so upset but these babies need you to be calm.  They need you at peace.”  Right there I made a choice.  Right there I decided I had four little boys who needed a sane momma; four little boys who needed me to be at peace so I chose to distance myself emotionally from my husband completely.  In late February 2003 we had two more beautiful boys: Jamie Patrick and Alexander Usarian (he had it rough when he had to spell his name in Kindergarten ;).

A lot happened over the next five years, more than I could ever fit into a blog.  But over that time I did not speak to my husband at all unless it was something unimportant like the weather or completely unavoidable.  Emotionally I completely detached from him in every way.  We had moved to VA, he was working 80 hour work weeks; I had another baby (our last little boy Benjamin Timothy born October 2004).  Our relationship had gotten so bad a family member offered me $35,000.00 and a house if I would leave my husband.  I appreciated so very much that someone loved me enough to try and intervene but I was committed for better or worse.  I had to hope the better was coming soon.   Around that time Jamie was diagnosed as severely autistic.  That diagnosis changed everything and saved our marriage.  

I am going to break here, in our darkest of dark times.  I promise the hope and the light is just around the corner so bear with me.  I do want to say one thing about this blog:  this is not a blog to beat up on my husband.  I learned later on that he really did not understand at all what he was doing or saying and the impact it had on me.  He was living life as he always had, in an Aspbergers world where accuracy is truth and emotions really are not weighed in at all.  Empathy was not something he was even capable of thinking more or less acting out of.  Indeed he was just as frustrated as I was with the beginnings of our marriage.  I was just so inaccurate and emotional!!!  Please know my heart and that of my husband, who has graciously not only agreed but has also encouraged me to share the harsher times in our relationship, is to show that some relationships need different advice, advice we did not have access to.  Some relationships face different challenges; some relationships exist outside the box.  I hope that as I write the final installment someone out there will be spared some of our hard times.   As always, lots of love-Kristine

1 comment:

Tabitha said...

Proud of you for your patience and strength! And for holding on when everyone is saying to let go!

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