Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's My Blog and I'll Whine If I Want To

Earlier this week I was distressed by a nasty comment that accused me of being totally self-absorbed.  I deleted the comment and then had second thoughts.  I'm sure that I do come across in this blog as extremely self-centered because this is the only place I have to put myself first.

I've mentioned several times that Barry, my partner, has Aspergers syndrome.  Aspergers is an autism-spectrum disorder;  the symptoms are enumerated in this list from the Aspergers Society:
  • Social awkwardness / no friends
  • Obsessions / focused on one subject
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Sensitivity to noise / touch / feel of clothing
  • Odd speech / extreme logic / very proper speech
  • Anger / aggression / hitting others
  • Craves ROUTINE!
  • Appears lost / in own world
  • Communication problems or motor skills problems
  • Stimming behavior [self-stimulation movements or tics, like rubbing the face or flapping hands]
Barry has all these behaviors, some of them to an extreme degree.  Perhaps the quickest way to explain the effects this has on our relationship is to repeat a joke someone told me recently: All cats have Aspergers.  One source I read estimated that 75% of relationships where one party has Aspergers ends up in couples counseling, and the failure rate for such relationships is very high.

Living with someone who has Aspergers demands a lot of patience.  I am his support system and his social buffer.  When we were first together, I handled all of our travel arrangements, home repairs, shopping, and anything else that required dealing with other people because these tasks flustered and angered him so much that he would verbally assault the other party.  After years of work and some help from an excellent therapist he has started to take care of more of these things himself, but he can still abruptly collapse or kick into a rage if things don't go exactly according to his mental vision.

In addition, Asperger individuals are neurologically unable to understand other peoples' feelings.  Barry loves me and says he wants to support me, but he doesn't really get what that means.  I tell him as clearly and as explicitly as possible what my needs are, but there's about an 80%  chance that he won't believe me.  Why should I want a silly thing like that?

Barry is a bright and sensitive person and I love him very much, but I doubt that I would have become involved with him had I known about the Aspergers from Day 1.  (He wasn't actually diagnosed until we had been together for several years.)  In many ways he is more like my child than an equal partner.  Navigating the rocky waters of his quirks, neediness, and anger some days takes all I have to give, or even a little more.  On the days when things go really wrong for him, I feel as if I am living with an emotional vampire, because by the time he is calmed down and functional I am totally drained.

So, this blog is where I go to talk about me.  If the individual who left me the nasty note doesn't like it, he or she can go read something else.  If any of the rest of you would like further information about Aspergers syndrome, I would suggest these online resources:

"I see people with Asperger's syndrome as a bright thread in the rich tapestry of life" ~ Tony Attwood.


  1. Everyone needs to vent occasionally. It's healthy. It's therapeutic. In fact, repressing frustration, anger, etc. simply causes all these nasties to fester, often manifesting in physical ailments. So my humble opinion is: PURGE!
    It's a great equalizer.
    Don't let it get you down because somebody allowed their bile to spill over. Some folks are toxic. More's the pity.

  2. Thank you, Nina; I appreciate your support.

    I've been meaning to ask, what's the address of your blog? I'd like to visit! :o)

  3. My pleasure...I've encountered more than a few people over the years who were suffering from an unfortunate excess of misdirected hostility ( why haven't they developed a pill for that?! ), so I've become a strong adherent of the "Wish you well, but go bug someone else" philosophy.
    All you can do is smile and move on, and hope that someday they'll successfully evolve into fully functioning human beings.
    Ah well.
    Here's my address. Ten miles up the gravel road, turn right at the old blackened stump...