Monday, October 11, 2010

When Two Rules Collide

I loaded the dishwasher after supper yesterday but didn’t start it.  The bottom rack still had room for the breakfast dishes, so running it last night would have violated one of Barry’s cardinal rules:  You should not waste water.

This morning, though, when Barry realized that yesterday’s dishes were still filthy, he blew up.  Apparently I had violated another rule, the one that says I should do things when he expects them to be done.  After a brisk discussion, he agreed the “save water” rule trumps the “keep on schedule” rule.  We live in the desert, after all.  Conservation is important.

I think we all harbor fuzzy, unspoken sets of internal “shoulds,” and when one of those “shoulds” is violated, we are angrier than the situation really calls for.  I was much less aware of this before meeting Barry.  Asperger’s sufferers have more rules than most people and are very dedicated to defending them.  Living with someone so bound by internal dictates has made me stop and consider what contradictory or dysfunctional rules may be cluttering up my own brain pan.  Here are a few I think I should throw overboard, or at least stop stressing about:
  •   Everyone around me should be reasonable and good-tempered at all times.  Only I am allowed to have snarky moods.
  •  I should be able to eat anything I want to without exercising or gaining weight.  
  • I should not even try to do something unless I’m sure I can do it perfectly.
Yes, and the tooth fairy should pay me the quarter she still owes me.

These are bad rules that limit my pleasure in my life as it is by holding out for impossible can’t-bes.  Jettisoning them and others like them will not be as easy as deleting unwanted files from my computer’s hard drive, but I think I need to try.  Otherwise, I will be endlessly disappointed that the house needs cleaning, my bank account is empty, and Barry continues to be upset with me for breaking his rules.

“If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” ~ Katharine Hepburn

No comments:

Post a Comment