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Saturday, 3 August 2013

Aspergers and learned behaviours

Happy sunny post today to go with the weather (where we live anyway!)
Ethan’s drinking coming to light has been the best thing that could have happened. The insinuating bottle of whisky is now on full view of everyone in the wine rack - a deterrent to Ethan necking half the bottle. Just knowing it’s there has made me so much more relaxed. I’m not even checking how much is left – the very fact the bottle’s still there means I can trust him (but, yes, I’ve checked dark corners and filing cabinet drawers just in case – nothing there either). I think the fact he started drinking heavily again pulled us both up sharp and made us realise that we can’t get too complacent. We need, more than most married couples, to be on our guard against letting things overtake us – and keep on working at being the best we can be for each other. Three crazy, loud, screaming, arguing, demanding young children don’t make that easy! We don’t have much time or energy left for each other and, so often, they’re the cause of our arguments.
But this is a sunny, happy post. And, actually, today has been brilliant. It’s the first time for ages that we’ve spent a family day together. It’s also the first day of two weeks annual leave for Ethan so that’s instantly a load of pressure off him.
Ethan’s instincts for doom and irritability have been tested right from the off today. The day started off with heavy rain – and Ethan began to go down the familiar route of pessimism and gloom. A gentle reminder from me was able to pull him back. And, as if as a reward, the sun came out – and shone all day!
Then we went on our bike ride. The scenery was beautiful, the weather was beautiful, the kids were actually well-behaved. But it was a pretty long, drawn-out affair. Sam has only recently learnt to ride a bike and, in retrospect, the distance was a bit ambitious for him – and uphill all the way back! We literally were stopping every five minutes, or less, ‘for a rest’ and Sam whinged and cried for pretty much the whole hour return journey. Ethan bore the brunt of Sam’s neediness and did 90 per cent of the work. Stopping with him, encouraging him, patiently to him (again) how to set off. Critically, he didn’t shout, lose his temper or criticise.
Having a husband who I could trust, and even leave, to help shoulder the responsibility of our kids, felt so liberating. I even rode off a couple of times and left Ethan to sort out Sam. And he did a good job. Days like today show me that Ethan can be the person we all want him to be – when he makes the effort. Which begs the question of why he doesn’t make the effort more often – even all the time?
But I know why. It takes so much effort for Ethan to appear optimistic when he feels pessimistic. It takes so much out of him to be patient when he feels like exploding. It’s exhausting for him to be sociable when everything in him is retreating. And it’s hard work or him to smile amidst the chaos and mess and unpredictability of our family life. But, if we can have a day like today once a week and get at least half way there on the other days, I’ll be pretty happy.

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