Sunday, 20 November 2016

Need to feel some love?

Self care Challenge.........

Curl up with a dog. Or whatever pet is available and willing; a cat, rabbit, fish bowl, a favourite pot plant. If there is no living pet or plant, a rock will do. Feel the unconditional love (or imagine it, if it is a rock). They have no expectation of us, no judgment. They don’t mind if we wear pyjamas, or brush our teeth, or don’t keep the house clean.  They take us how we come, and when we come. We won’t hear a rock ask us for a thing. Breathe in the peace. Spoon away. Ahhhhhh.


Friday, 4 November 2016

A Match made in Heaven

As a neurotypical have you ever been the odd one out? Yesterday I had the pleasure of experiencing this. I call it a pleasure, because I have learned to enjoy my ‘out of the square’ experiences, thanks to living in my neurodiverse family.   While I am the odd one out in my family, what made this experience more delightful was that it involved someone who was not a part of my family.

I had gone to pick up my Aspie teenage daughter Humphrey, from her Aspie teenage friend’s house. I shall call him Wilbur (yes, he actually is male). I stood at the kitchen bench while I waited for Humphrey and Wilbur to finish their poorly timed lunch break. Humphrey wandered over to the kitchen cupboard to retrieve herself a cup. I felt that tug-o-war within. One end was held by my horror that Humphrey was helping herself to someone else’s cupboard without asking first. The other end was held by my delight that she felt so comfortable in a place other than her own space at home.
Unable to resist I announced in a sarcastic tone, “I am so glad you’re comfortable enough to help yourself to Wilbur’s cupboards.” Humphrey, picking up my subtle wrist slap (she’d had enough of them over the years to read the intention) responded with, “I don’t like people having to do things for me.”

As I processed and related to her sentiment, and was about to respond, Wilbur piped up excited by his discovery, “Excellent! I don’t like to do things for people! We are a match made in heaven!”
God I love Aspie logic! They make so much sense! Where else would a conversation like this evolve other than an Aspie kitchen? The sublime honesty, the pleasure in things fitting together, the authentic sharing. It was a delight to witness. No mind reading, no subtle inferences (other than my sarcastic interjection), no shoulds or oughts, rights or wrongs. No offence given and none taken. Complete acceptance of the way that it is. And it is exactly the way it is. I love learning from Aspies.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Top 10 things I want my ASD partner to know.......

1.   I frequently feel split. Sometimes I love and admire you so much I could burst. Other times I am so challenged by your way of being I do burst. All over both of us. Sorry about that.

2.   I am sorry if I seem critical, or if it feels like I want to change you. Sometimes I struggle with what you do and how you respond. I love you and I want us to work so much. The only way I know how is to try and make you and me better.

3.   Sometimes you trigger something deep in me that really hurts. I don’t always know how to manage that. I may need some time to work out if the issue is mine or yours or both of ours. You are a great mirror. You help me see my own wounds. I am learning to deal with these.

4.   I appreciate your loyalty to me. I would love to see it extend to thinking or wondering more about my needs, or even asking how you could help me. Sometimes I feel alone managing all that I do. I like to feel that you are there.

5.   Hello! I am here! I know you get very busy and absorbed doing what you do, but sometimes I feel forgotten. Come and pat me, tell me you love me, ask me what I am doing. Show me that you know I am here.

6.   I know you get very frustrated and it is hard to manage those feelings. But you need to know when you let loose all that rage, it frightens me. I may shout back or withdraw from you, but that is what I do to manage my feelings. I am always looking for a different way but sometimes I can’t find one.

7.   I would like to develop strategies with you. It is hard to do without patronising or criticising you, or making you feel small. Sometimes my word choice is clumsy. I want to support you to take responsibility for your feelings and actions, just as I am trying to take responsibility for mine.

8.   Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with all I cannot control, that I feel helpless and hopeless. I know you know this feeling. Please don’t feel bad. I am just exhausted and struggling to find new ways to understand, to see, and to be with our life together.

9.   I love how you are different from others and I celebrate your uniqueness and your gifts. But sometimes I struggle with that difference when it shows up in ways that expose us both. I am trying to let go of my attachment to ‘normal’, but it is deeply entrenched in me. I want you to be free to be who you are. Sometimes I forget that it is OK.

10.  Sometimes I want more companionship, conversation or intimacy from you than you may feel ready or able to give. Rather than try to manipulate you or force you, I will try to take responsibility for this and manage my needs through other appropriate channels. I love us both enough to honour your need for solitude, and my need for connection.

While I am at it I will just add 3 more:

11.  Sometimes I am awkward around you. I want to say something but I don’t know how to tell you in a way that will not hurt your feelings, or make you anxious and angry. I want you to know I still love you, even when I have unpleasant things to say.

12.  I know you do not like to be interrupted, but sometimes life happens unexpectedly and I have to interrupt you because I need to consult with you, get your opinion, or get your assistance. We are a team and that is how a team works.

13. When I am distressed, I just need you to listen. You don’t have to fix anything or tell me what you think. You just need to pay attention to me and to say “I’m sorry that happened”, or “Is there anything I can do?” This tells me you care about me and I feel heard and loved.


Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Angry Aspie

Dear Herscue and Jomphrey,
Sometimes my Aspie partner gets furious when something does not work. He shouts and swears and throws things. Sometimes he hurts himself. How can I manage this?

Herscue says:
It can be distressing and unpleasant to hear someone we care about having such a loud and intense expression of anger. We can feel frightened, intimidated and even threatened. A few things can help these situations:
·         Taking care of ourselves in the moment. This is not the time to express our feelings to our partner, but to look after our needs and create physical and emotional safety. That may look like removing ourselves to another room, or to another location.

·         Exploring our reaction to the anger. The way we react can help or hinder. What is our relationship to anger as expressed by others? As expressed by ourselves? Where is our line? Is our line allowing enough room for some anger expression? Or is our line over exposing us to too much unhealthy anger expression? It can help to explore our experience of anger with a professional, who can support us to reflect on our boundaries, and take responsibility for how we respond.

·         Finding empathy for the frustration our partner is experiencing. We all know what it is like when something won’t do what we want or need. Empathy can help us stay in a more loving, respectful, and less judgmental space when we deal with others’ anger.

·         Remembering that we cannot control when, why and how someone expresses their anger, but we can express how it is for us. Choose a calm, open time to do this, and express authentically eg, “I feel helpless and scared when you are so angry. I want to offer you support but I don’t know how to do it. Do you have any suggestions for me?” Work together towards solutions that suit both partners.

·         Being clear about the forms of anger expression we will not tolerate ie: anger expressed directly at us, intense expressions around children. Share the concerns and the actions we will take to hold that boundary ie: When you direct your anger at me, I feel unsafe and fearful of you. It impacts the way I feel towards you. To look after myself, I will be leaving the house when I see you escalating.”
Don’t expect an easy solution. Remember that neural wiring impacts on our ability to regulate emotion. Those with Asperger’s are frequently distressed at their challenges managing their emotions and the impact this can have on others. It takes time to develop a different way. For all of us. The dialogue about anger is an ongoing one to be had without blaming and shaming. Anger is best dealt with in a loving way, one human to another.

Jomphrey Says:
Firstly, if everyone says Aspies have meltdowns, then your partner is probably having a meltdown. You married one and this is what we do. The Aspie is the one with the problem here. Something has tipped them off balance. It’s not directed at you. My advice is one in, all in. You yell and scream at that thing as well. Really give it some. Share the outrage and be amazed as the situation de-escalates quickly. Then you can worry about your feelings later with your counsellor, priest and all your support team. This is acknowledging. They feel very alone, the Asperger.

Friday, 7 October 2016

It's a 'No' from Me!

Self-care Challenge.........

Say ‘No’ all day. There are so many times a day we would like to say no, but we say yes. We feel obliged, we like to be helpful, we cave in to social pressure, we can’t think of a reason quickly enough. There are many reasons ‘yes’ is on our tongue speed dial, especially if we like to please. So we bite off more than we can chew. And feel resentful. I propose this day we say ‘No’ to everything. Can you make my breakfast? No. Can you find my shoes? No. Can you wash these jeans because I need them? No. Can you help me with homework? No. Would you like to buy a raffle ticket? No. Can you run tuckshop today, we’re short? No. Can I take all your energy today? No. Not today. If we need to soften it, we can add a ‘thanks’. ‘No thanks, I don’t need to listen today.’ Make sure you say ‘yes’ to yourself. Would I like to stay home from work today? Yes. Would I like to sit and read? Yes. Would I like to go back to bed? Yes. Would I like to eat that freddo frog in bed? Yes please.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

An Aspie Gem

I received a wonderful dose of reality checking this morning. Sometimes we can overestimate how important, how central we are in the life of our Aspies. In fact, we can get quite caught up in the story that we are essential to their functioning, and therefore we station ourselves nearby, and make ourselves constantly available.  We are like a mobile tower, except we receive Aspie signals. This role usually evolved as we struggled early on in our lives together. There have indeed been times when we have been very necessary.

Despite many of us coming to realise this role's capacity to enable the Aspies in our vicinity, we may still slip into it like a favourite old coat. Being central has helped us anticipate, respond and keep order in our house over the years. Not to mention, how it has helped reduce everyone’s anxiety, including our own.   

As a self appointed receiver of Aspie frequencies, I regularly assume my family members need to know where I am at all times, and also when I will not be available to fulfil their needs or their whims (and what they should do because of it). It was while wearing this favourite old coat this morning, that I began to inform my Aspie husband Jomphrey, of what I would be doing, “After breakfast, I am doing some tidying before I start work on my computer....... in case you were wondering,” I added casually. 

Jomphrey stared at me blankly before replying, “But I never wonder.”

Pause. Instantaneously, my thoughts scattered in several directions. One pulled me to that place I frequented for many years (BAC – Before Autism Consciousness); that place of the mortally offended, “You never think about me, selfish thoughtless man!” This neural pathway was deeply embedded. But I knew this was not about selfishness and thoughtlessness. Jomphrey’s head was full of thoughts about rocks, exercise, and interesting sounds. I had long accepted that no matter how still I stood, I could not pass off as a rock.

Another thought went to the place of awe, “My goodness, another pearl has dropped out of his mouth!” His truthfulness, his immediacy, never ceased to shock and amaze me. It was a good thing I was learning to enjoy the truth more than the ‘kind’ white lies that many of us latch onto to break a fall. Jomphrey would have struggled to show interest or answer with, “Thanks, I appreciate you keeping me in the loop.” Within seconds of Jomphrey’s real answer, I knew that my information sharing was superfluous. In my ‘helpful haze’ I had forgotten.

And then my final thought went to the place of recognition and relief, “Yes! That’s right! I am not the centre of his universe!”  The truth be known, I am barely in the same solar system at times. I do not need to orbit around him (or our Aspie daughter Humphrey) like a planet (or a servant). I had been once again assuming I was existing for them. What a lovely reminder for me that I can have my own pocket of space. I had just been given permission to be the centre of my own universe too. And what a tremendous feeling that was. You gotta love those Aspie gems.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Happy Aspie-versary

A recent and delightful Anniversary card from Jomphrey read:

"Dear Herscue,

It’s been a wondrous 23 blissfuls here for us inside the relationships on account of the eccentrics and the loving demeanours. Adventure is the theme and plus is the descriptor. Our matrimonials are adventure plus. So glad you took the nuptials. It’s always a neato to think of how Olsen (wedding minister) transduced the divinities. Thank you for approaching me with love and associated skills – I’m definitely recommending you for another 23 years,

With love plus,

Your husband Jomphrey"