Tonight I was talking with my partner. It started out benignly enough. We were even on the same proverbial page, discussing changes we wanted to make regarding our practice for the upcoming New Year and all of the various natural “reset buttons” that tend to accompany it.
And then I realized that I was moderately miffed that he’d been at the computer all day, which meant that I wasn’t able to make any progress with the business-related blogging work I had planned to do that day, work that I wouldn’t want to do tonight, and also wouldn’t want to do tomorrow…but had a deadline of Monday morning, regardless.
I stayed calm and simply laid out my perspective, my experience as I saw it, taking care to make only neutral statements devoid of any profanity or personal attacks. And I also realized that communication in general had started to fall back toward (but not quite as strained as) pre-diagnosis levels. (During the lion’s share of our years together, he was practically a functional mute; worming information out of him was like trying to squeeze blood from a stone. Then, as my Asperger’s/autism self-realization began to unfold, I had noticed a softening occurring from his end, an opening, a willingness, that had not been there before.)
I voiced a simple concern that his previous new openness was ever-so-slightly waning, congealing, coagulating. And in its place (although I did not express this part to him), a complacency, a mediocrity, the same old uncommunicative staleness might be starting to settle back in.
That’s when he clammed up and went silent. Not the kind of contemplative, neutral quiet that is benign.
The type of quiet I’m referring to is more a stone-cold, damp, falsely-harmless and desolate/empty kind of quiet, the type that induces a void or pit at your core, the type that does a piss-poor job of hiding the turmoil and raging thoughts underneath. Thoughts that never get expressed, leaving you walking on eggshells and waiting for Other Shoes to drop.
Here we go with that old, tired routine. Again.
To firmly-but-calmly drive my point home, I mildly pointed out that the present clamming-up was another example.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I had been calm the entire time.
Surprised was I, then, when he exploded at me. “It’s because I’m pissed off!” he said. Had it been daytime, he would’ve yelled louder. He was forcibly trying to keep his voice down. But it was just as intense had he shouted at me.
It was a verbal slap across the face, but I remained calm. I was across the room, after all, and he’s not a physically violent man. I did make the fatal mistake of saying (still calmly, which is a miracle for me), “calm down.”
Yeah…um, don’t ever do that. I know that “they” say never say that to a woman. But no one ever told me not to say it to a guy, either. It doesn’t work any better on them than it does on us (females). They don’t calm down, either.
I clarified my previous points, an effort I perceived as unnecessary because my words had been read into unfairly in the first place, but I made the effort anyway, repeating those words, slowly and with emphasis: “Communication was great in the spring and summer, as we were exploring my Aspie-ness. But during the fall and winter, we probably got a bit too complacent” (as we tend to do, my partner especially so) “and the openness you demonstrated has slackened off some. Your total lack of communication today brought that to light and made me realize that,” I told him.
He accused me of (verbally) “pummeling” him (with criticism, I’m assuming).
That actually surprised me. Good lord, I know that I can be extra-sensitive, but now who’s oversensitive??
How on earth had I ever “pummeled” him? I mean, I had kept a cool head the entire time (which is more than I can say for him), and I had stuck (only) to the logical facts as I perceived them, stating them sans inflammatory underpinnings.
I said, “believe me, if I were pummeling you, it’d be a lot worse; you’d know it. I’m simply stating how I feel, from my own perspective. And I have a right to that.”
After a few more exchanges, I told him, “you’ve either given me the Silent Treatment, or you’ve unexpectedly blown up at me, and frankly, I’m frightened right now.” I was plenty irate, but although I firmed up my tone of voice, I still didn’t raise it, but I did throw in a strategically-placed F-bomb for emphasis: “if you’re going to talk to me, you’re going to sit there and you’re going to fucking talk to me like a human being.”
It was then that I figured I’d better stop there, while I still had it together. I was frightened still, and I could feel my composure weakening and beginning to falter, to come undone. I wanted to make a dignified exit before it slipped away altogether.
I said simply, “I need a break, before I do say something I’ll regret.”
I reached for my winter jacket. He was standing near the coat tree, half in the way. He hadn’t been meaning to block me in some kind of slimeball intimidation move, but with the distance I wanted to keep, he was. When he didn’t move, I knew that he wasn’t going to hurt me, but I was trembling, mostly inwardly, from his uncharacteristic outburst just the same. I said (still calmly), “you’re going to need to move, please. I can’t be near you right now.”
Sometimes, relationships suck.
Once outside, the cold, damp drizzle made itself clear, but I shuddered through it. That’s when the tears came. And they didn’t waste much time in coming.
As I sit here, they’ve mostly dried, and I feel their residue on my face.
But the emptiness remains, for he has left the house, too, and of course, has not left any kind of note or message that he would be leaving sometime during the fifteen minutes I had planned to stay out, and would be gone for a length of time that only he was privy to.
I was hot before, with the furnace fired up only two days ago for the first time since about March, but I’m cold now. Especially on my back. I get that way when I’m sad, scared, or…
I think that’s what’s happening. Right now.
At this point, I’m barely capable of coherent thought. I’m sure I’ll have to edit this post 20 times to smooth out all the errors. On one hand, I feel like curling up, in a ball, under a blanket. The other part of me feels like pacing endlessly. I have to pee more often. The hunger tension in my stomach mounts, but I can’t wrap my head around the thought of eating anything right now. I know that sleep will not descend upon me for quite a while. I definitely feel like stimming–rocking, specifically. That’s how I know when it’s bad: I rock. And the harder I rock, the worse it is.
Again, sometimes, relationships suck. Part of me is very tired of having to deal with men. I have a challenging enough time relating to neurotypical females; neurotypical males might as well be on Mars. Part of me is so sick of trying to navigate them that I’m reaching a point of exhaustion. I’ve often posed the serious question to myself of whether or not it’s even worth the effort. Where’s the payoff? When do I win? When do I come out–not necessarily on top, but at least equal? It’s not always like this. In fact, it’s a miniscule percentage of the time. But when it happens, it happens, and it’s never pretty.
I’m realizing that yes, I am indeed shutting down. It’s impending, having been set in irrevocable motion. The tears have long dried by now, but the row of dominoes has started to fall, in an unavoidable chain reaction. I wanted to share this anyway, in the hopes that others in similar situations may not feel as alone.
Hopefully I’ll come out of it by tomorrow.