Had a rare time of Ethan opening up to me this weekend.
Managed to negotiate the myriad of obstacles that needed to be surmounted in order for Ethan and I to have a whole day and evening together in Manchester. We had afternoon tea, we looked round an art gallery, we drank cocktails - and it was during this part of the day that Ethan, relaxed, contemplative and, crucially, given the space and time to really talk, told me how it's feeling, at the moment, to be living with Aspergers. It changes, depending on what kind of mood he's in, how well he feels he's been coping with life, how tired he is. But one of the tensions between us recently has been how much he drinks - bottles of rum are disappearing fast, and none of it is down to me.
He told me that the only times he feels relaxed and comfortable in his own home is when he's had a drink - it helps relax him. Otherwise, he says, the mess and clutter and noise and kids, make him feel really stressed out. He can physically feel the stress, he says, building up inside him, and he either has to let it out by getting angry and irritated, shouting at the kids and being grumpy with me, or by drinking or watching TV on his computer (or preferably both) to dispel the stress. I'd been thinking lately, how well he's been coping with all the mess in the house brought about by lack of time, three kids and, to be honest, lack of inclination. Obviously not - he's just given up mentioning it, finding the solution instead in a tumbler full of rum. It's not good.
He also says that, although initially knowing that he'd got Aspergers had made things easier - since he now understood why he did the things he did, recently knowing has made things harder because he's so much more conscious of the way he is. Whereas before he might make a faux-pas or act insensitively, he'd be blissfully unaware of it. Now he's analysing everything he says and does - and knows when he's, in his words, 'been a bit weird'. Being constantly and publicly aware of your shortcomings every day and not really being able to do much about them, must be hard. And to top that off, he has a wife who, rather than offering comfort, points out how he's messed up and nags him about not caring. Seems he cares a lot more than I've given him credit for.
I do know, frequently and vocally, that it is hard for me to be married to someone with Aspergers, but it's equally as hard for Ethan - and so we need to help each other.
We've agreed that Ethan will only drink one of the days that he's off a week - I'm hoping he'll honour the agreement. I would write that I'll seriously undertake to do some tidying up but I know I won't. I barely have time to pee at the moment. The best I can promise is that, amid the mess and busyness of life, I'll make sure Ethan has his time to escape - with a cup of tea, not a glass of rum.