The pride in my husband (see Aspergers – glimpses of hope) lasted the entire time he was away! And even for the first hour or so after his return. However, 48 hours after normal life resumed, hope was fading fast.
It’s not that the situation’s hopeless – or that he isn’t still all those things I wrote about in my last post (persevering, committed, aspiring to be better, etc) it’s just that he’s also unsociable, rubbish at small talk, hard to share life with, critical, negative, angry, vacant, walks funny and coughs ALL THE TIME. When I’m not with him I can appreciate all the wonderful qualities I married him for but, when he’s around, I just can’t see past the utterly annoying ones.
The other day, I picked him and Sam up from the barbers because it was raining. I’d just pulled out when I saw a woman indicating to pull out to turn right onto the road that I was driving down. I’d only gone about two meters and was travelling at around 5 miles an hour so it wasn’t a huge sacrifice for me to stop and signal her out. ‘Don’t let her out,’ barked Ethan seated next to me, ‘It’s your right of way.’ I was irritated no end: 1) because he was telling me how I should drive and 2) because he was so vehemently opposed to us putting someone else before ourselves – to me being courteous and selfless. In short, he was being thoroughly and selfishly unpleasant. And I know aspergers is selfishness personified: the word autism is taken directly from the Greek route auto, meaning self. It’s hard-wired into him – he can’t help it. To a point. But have fourteen years of nurturing, tutoring and coercing from me really not achieved anything? At the very least, if he can’t help thinking such things, then couldn’t he at least keep them to himself?
This incident was followed, shortly afterwards, by Ethan pretty much blanking the dad who came round to pick up his child from a play at our house – he barely looked up from loading the dishwasher to say hello. ‘I can’t focus on talking when there are distractions in the room,’ he said by way of explanation afterwards (so all the time, then). He’d started loading the dishwasher before this dad came round, and that remained his focus until it was done. To his credit, he did, for the last few minutes, realise (perhaps it was my glares that did it) that he was being rude and stopped loading the dishwasher. But, although physically his hands had started loading dishes, the task was still going on in his mind. He wasn’t in the conversation, his head was elsewhere – it was still all down to me. And, when both me and Ethan are in the room with another dad, it’s got to seem odd that it’s me, and not Ethan, that’s chatting to the other man. I know, again, textbook Aspergers but, frankly, bloody awkward and embarrassing to live with.
He topped it all off, when we went out the next evening and I tipped the taxi driver, by telling him to ‘spend it on a new shocker – your suspension’s awful.’ Another toe-curling moment for me. And, actually, a perfect example of our partnership – me trying always to be as nice and helpful to people as I can (at the expense of my own needs sometimes) and him trying his hardest to be as nice to himself as he can – at the expense of everyone else.
No wonder we clash so much.