Loved what someone wrote on the Different-together Facebookpage recently about rising above our present circumstances and learning, sometimes slowly and painfully, to let things go...
I loved it because, through experience, I've found it to be the best way. Most of the time my AS husband doesn't mean things the way they come out - he uses the wrong words and the wrong tone of voice and the wrong facial expression (if he uses one at all). All these things combine to produce the overall effect of him seeming irritated, angry, miserable - or all three. The times that I have been able to stay calm, not take offence and gently point out how he's coming across, he's been genuinely surprised and sorry. The problem is that I am human. And NT. And sometimes, whatever my logical side tells me, my emotional side, which feels hurt and cross and fed up, wins out. So too often, the way that I know I should respond isn't the way that I do respond: rather than point out gently, I lash out angrily. This makes Ethan defensive and cross (because, after all, in his mind he was just communicating information and I, as usual, have gone all intense and completely flown off the handle about nothing). Arguments, tension and resentment follow...
We were running late (as usual). I asked Ethan to help the kids get their shoes on. Sam had a pair of new, never-before-worn trainers that he desperately wanted to wear. A couple of seconds later, Ethan's dulcet tone range out down the hallway...
"Who's threaded these laces?" he shouted aggressively (to my ears). "They're done completely wrong." He followed this angry statement with an exaggerated sigh.
I stomped down the hallway. I was instantly irritated:
a) that Ethan was shouting at me about the laces on Sam's trainers rather than just sorting them out (as I would have done).
b) that Ethan was claiming that the laces were threaded 'wrong' when actually they were just threaded differently to how he would have done it.
c) that Ethan was looking for someone to blame and shout at because he was frustrated (the fact that he was overly frustrated over such a tiny thing annoyed me too).
I didn't process my thoughts so clearly at the time. I just felt generally fed-up and annoyed with him. So I didn't do what I should have done. I shouted back at Ethan, told him how annoying and unpleasant he was, how difficult to live with. I grabbed the trainer out of his hands and started re-lacing them myself. While I was doing this, I told him, angrily, that this was the way kids had their laces threaded these days, that they'd come from the shop like this, that they weren't 'wrong' just not the way he would have them, etc, etc. He shouted back, telling me to stop patronising him, that the shoes were actually threaded wrong because he couldn't pull them tight, that I always had to take over, etc, etc. Exasperated, I shouted that if he didn't want me to 'take over' then he should have sorted it quietly by himself in the first place instead of shouting at everyone else about it. He shouted back...you get the idea!
In the middle of all this, Ava shouted at both of us to stop arguing. She told us that we were behaving like kids arguing over how a trainer was laced up and that IT DIDN'T MATTER!! She laboured the point a bit and, at the time, infuriated us both more. But she was completely right. More importantly, she was showing us how much the kids hate it when we fight.
Later on, when I'd calmed down, I apologised to Ethan (although I couldn't resist pointing out that he was at fault too!) We both recognised that we'd handled the situation badly and he explained that he didn't mean to sound like he was angry. And I was reminded how right that lady was when she wrote about letting things go.