Let me catch you up on things with me.
This past summer, I asked Justin for a separation. I was working 50-60 hour weeks, he was working crazy overtime, too, for a work project. He wouldn't text me or talk to me during the day. Literal weeks would go by with no communication unless I imitated, and even then would be limited answers. On my days off (which weren't many), he would play computer games or Magic the Gathering until he was ready for bed. Or we would watch an episode or two of TV together before he'd play his games.
The therapy during this time was intense, let me tell you. Not only that, but Justin was completely blind-sighted by my separation request. He had no idea that I was so miserable, nor did he realise I was feeling completely ignored. So we would go in for couple's therapy (once a week, along with my individual therapy, plus medication appointments), and he'd say "I don't know what's wrong...I'm totally happy." And I would tell him how I felt ignored unless he wanted sex or food, and he would get this hurt look on his face and say something like "We hang out together all the time."
That's when I realised something. Our ideas of time together were way different. For him, proximity was enough. And, having used up his daily allotment of words at work, he was content to sit in silence next to me on the couch. (Side note-that's his dad's MO as well).
I told my therapist that sometimes, it's like he has little check boxes in his head of things he has to do to get what he wants. She said something that blew my mind. "Have you thought about looking into Asperger's syndrome?" Well, no...is that something you ask all your patients?
But we did. He read the Wikipedia article on Aspies, and took a quiz-albiet a very unscientific one. Out of like 38 or 40 questions, he scored a 32. I, on the other hand, scored an 8. He read a book written by a man who has Asperger's, and really related to how this guy thought about things.
Herein lies the problem. I'm bipolar, which means I over emote. He's an Aspie, which means he under emotes. We are literally 2 polar opposites of the emotional/reactionary scale. Not only that, but I am hyper aware of my surroundings (thank you, abusive childhood). He is clueless on social cues, inflections, and the world around himself, in general. I wanted to bash my head against a wall; it seemed like everything was pulling us apart-including ourselves.
I wasn't ready for a divorce, because he's such a nice guy. He doesn't hit me, doesn't yell at me, doesn't hurt me on purpose...a literal paradise from my earlier experiences. I felt guilty for complaining. Other people have it so much worse; hell, I've had it so much worse. It took me quite awhile to get to the point where I was willing to say that being miserable wasn't OK. Something had to change.
I looked into Asperger's. More specifically, how spouses of Aspies dealt with the realities of living with someone with such an internal world. I found a few things that I would try. I gave Justin 2 months to work some things out with me; otherwise, I'd be gone. Here's what we tried.
If I wanted/needed something, instead of waiting for him to pick up on my cues, say very clearly "These are my needs." If I was having a bad day at work, and wanted him to tell me he was on my side, then I would say "I want you to listen, and when I'm done, tell me that you love me, that I'm good, and that we can get through this." Or even if I wanted to go out to eat, let him know it was important to me.
This was difficult for me. I am so hyper-aware of my surroundings, I had gotten a reputation at work of being psychic, because I knew what people were thinking, and going to do. I was, frankly, offended that a grown man would need me to tell him "I need attention now." I mean, I can tell within 5 seconds (not bragging or lying) of him coming home how his day at work was, and what he needed. Yet the only way he understood I was upset was if I was yelling or crying.
This has actually worked out pretty well. He's a good guy who genuinely wanted to work on our marriage, so when I say what my needs are, he's usually pretty good about meeting them. On the understanding that I won't take advantage of that and say I HAVE to go out to eat every day for a week.
The second thing was to help him understand his feelings. Because of the aforementioned psychic issue, I could anticipate his needs before he was aware that he had them. So he's never really learned what he's feeling or how to articulate it. So I've been taking a backseat and letting him figure out what he wants or needs before I jump in with the solution. This has been incredibly hard, because I'm a fix-it person.
During this time, I celebrated my birthday, my dead sister's birthday, and her deathiversary. All of these were really hard, for reasons that should be obvious.
I also met my other sister. I have a full biological sister who was adopted out when she was born. I'd known about her since I was 18, and been in contact with her since 2007. She, however, just recently found out she was adopted-via a post on her Facebook wall (by her "grandmother" telling her to find her real family). She emailed and said "Hey, I know that we're actually sisters, not cousins like my mom said." We corresponded for awhile, and agreed to meet up.
I still feel conflicted for a few different reasons. I feel like I have to like her. In my head, she's my sister-and we have a lot in common. We think similarly, enjoy makeup, and have similar mannerisms, as well as looking pretty similarly.
See what I mean?
But I'm not sure I like her. I am sympathetic towards her and her messed up life. I feel bad that she is continually in crappy situations. But there's just something...weird. I don't know if I'm trying for too much. I think part of me was hoping to get something akin to the relationship my dead sister and I had, as rocky as that one was. Or maybe it's because she looks like me, and has the voice of Stef. I don't know. It's just a difficult thing. How are feelings supposed to be when there's a genetic connection, but a world of difference in our upbringings?
She met our mom. That didn't go well. Everytime she talked about something, my mom would say "Oh, Stef liked this." or "Stef did that." to the point that I wanted to kick her, so I can't imagine how bad my other sister felt. Not only that, but when asked "Did you ever think about me?" (A common question), my mom replied "Even when I was carrying you, I thought of you as [adopted mom]'s child." Not a great meeting...
Cripes. This post has gone on long enough. Part 2 coming...eventually. :)