Life in a Mixed Marriage, The Power of Hindsight, Reflections
Teresa and I talk. No subject is out of bounds and David is no exception. Teresa has had two husbands called David in her life and so refers to her previous one as , that makes sense, but to me he is just David.
David is part of Teresa’s history and is therefore part of mine. He died a long time ago but we talk about his and Teresa’s life, the good, the bad and the ugly. How can you have a relationship based on communication unless everything is talked about?
From what I have heard, I like David. I can see he had problems, I empathise (and I know the difference between empathy and sympathy) with those problems and their impact on Teresa.
I have seen two (ex) wives struggle with my nature, with how, at times, I seem to have no control. In those cases my control became weaker the longer I felt I was not understood. My concerns and behaviours were different, sure, but there was nothing untoward about them.
Teresa’s description of David is spot on for some of us: intelligent, struggling to understand a world that operates on invisible and unknowable rules and one that doesn’t understand just how simple life actually is.
It doesn’t matter how much I learn to cope with the non-autistic world. Unless those around me understand why I struggle and do all they can to reduce the stress I cannot avoid, I will detonate. It may be external, like Teresa’s hand grenade analogy, or it may be internal and result in immense depression or even thoughts of suicide, but it will happen. In a child such detonation is called a meltdown and is often compared to a tantrum, but different. In an adult, it can have the same childlike quality. However in both children and adults there is always the dark side, the pressure cooker problem, the more we try to cope the greater the pressure and without some controlled reduction in pressure there can be very unpleasant explosions with serious consequences.
Teresa commented on the previous paragraph that it should say “thoughts of suicide”, and so I changed it, but I need to make it clear that suicide attempts and success do occur in the autistic because they cannot handle what is happening to them. To ignore this is dangerous, to classify it as mental illness can be to miss the point, to understand where it comes from and to work on the cause and not the symptoms is essential. I cannot apologise for being gloomy, I know people who I believe were on the autistic spectrum killed themselves because they couldn’t cope with the world not understanding, and to me that situation is unacceptable.
I know that autistic people are often prescribed therapy to help them cope with the pressure of the neurotypical world; Mindfulness and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) are the two favourites of the moment. However, it doesn’t matter how clever you make the pressure cooker, the gas is still on and the pressure is building, in the end it will blow, but possibly with a greater force because the pressure is higher but unseen.
Therapy can help, relaxation can help, I use my own therapy that works for me and it does help. But, and it’s the message of this posting, unless the source of the pressure is reduced, the explosion WILL come and there is no amount of therapy that will stop it, only delay it. All support and help for those of us on the spectrum MUST include understanding and allow us to be different without feeling we are somehow wrong or bad for being different. If I want to walk out of a dinner party because everyone is talking across one other and I cannot cope, then I should be able to without criticism. If I want a dinner party where everybody takes turns and listens, then I should be able to have one with those rules.
I’m not asking the world to be autistic (though I often feel it would be a better place if it was) but I am suggesting that the help autistics need can be more about understanding and allowing them to be who they are than about therapy.
Maybe what we need is therapy for the neurotypicals to help them cope in our perfectly normal autistic world?