It’s 2.30am in the central United States. I stand in the entryway of the apartment, shoes on, jacket draped over my forearm. The only thing left is the set of keys on the ledge by the door.
I’m torn, half of me wanting to grab them and run, let him panic and come looking for me, and the other half of me telling myself to knock it off, reminding myself that any “panic” on his part is likely to be merely for show.
To make such an attention-grabbing attempt would be out of character for me anyway. That’s generally not how I operate.
Besides, even if I were to pull it off, it would likely backfire on me; I possess just enough impulse to daydream about acting in unpredictable ways, but too much impulse control to let my instincts to run overshadow the fact that I haven’t thought any further ahead than the initial escape.
My instincts do tell me to run, though, and they won’t just quietly dissipate on their own. They won’t be ignored easily.
Let’s back up, by a few hours…
He’s banging in the kitchen again, noisily grabbing handfuls of ice cubes from the tray in the freezer. This is a common occurrence, but tonight it goes on and on, drowning out the already-loud volume on the TV, making me miss words here and there on the show with which I’m trying to unwind.
Worse, the noise is quickly saturating and overdriving my nervous system, and it’s all I can do not to lash out a sudden “shut the fuck UP!”, in a misguided-but-desperate attempt to preserve the last remaining split ends of my frayed nerves.
He finally comes into the living room to say good night, as is our ritual.
I try to turn my seething annoyance into a half-joke, half-hint: “are you finished trying to demolish the kitchen?” The words seem icy in print, but I’ve put on my best wry grin and kept my tone light.
Maybe I didn’t do it very well, or maybe he’s being his usual humorless self. The words come under his breath, but he meant for me to hear them, and I did: “whatever”. His tone, in contrast to mine, is cold and dismissive.
Shock is my weakness, my worst enemy. It robs me of any ability to respond.
He knows that my sensory abilities are heightened. He knows how sensitive my nervous system is. He knows I have trouble winding down at night.
I thought he might have been sensitive, too. At least enough to be human.
I was wrong.
Giving the benefit of the doubt is one of my biggest mistakes and most glaring flaws.
He went to bed, and probably would have been perfectly fine with forgoing the obligatory “sleep well; I love you”, had I not forced myself to say it first.
I broke down and cried.
Then, a cataclysmic event–actually, series of events–happened. I had realized early on that he was, shall we say, “underresponsive”. He has always been a little detached, to put it mildly. Even as an Aspie/autistic person, I’m a freaking teddy bear compared to him. If anybody needs an example of someone who lacks empathy, I’m married to it.
All of his intermittent episodes of detachment, aloofness, coolness-sometimes-turning-coldness, gaslighting, stone-face when criticized or complimented, lying, his lack of any friends online or offline, his lack of self-expression, his secretive nature, even right down to his occasional acting out behaviors (kept secret from me, of course), especially when under stress–it all had to add up to something. It had to be a personality disorder of some sort.
I figured this can’t be normal. Not even within the increasingly open spectrum of what’s considered normal. Put it a better way, this can’t be healthy, not even in a neurodiversity paradigm. Hell, I’m neurodivergent on multiple levels and I’m miserable more often than I’d like to admit.
Misery breeds curiosity sometimes–a compulsion to solve the puzzle. This usually puts me in touch with Google, much like it did in a happier time, when I was first stepping foot into the Asperger’s/autism spectrum.
And much like the discovery of my being on the spectrum, I came upon a list of traits for various DSM labels.
And, again mirroring my own journey, peering at the list of traits of one label in particular sent my head spinning.
It mirrored all of the characteristics, verbatim.
Oh my god, I thought. That’s him.
The label in question? Schizoid personality disorder.
He’s not Aspie at all. I thought he might have been, but now I have serious doubts.
And unlike my own discovery experience, it was not a happy or liberating moment.
In fact, it was a tighter-chaining, further-imprisoning one. Because in no way could I attempt to survive without him.
Trapped, pure and simple.
I broke down and cried again.
Hopelessness is heavy.
Sure, I could talk to him, but there’s no treatment or cure for this thing, so it’s not like he’s going to care. He’s not suddenly going to magically develop feelings for me–or anyone or anything else–that aren’t there. If anything, he’ll go through the motions and play pretend, like he has all this time. In the end, he’s still going to remain detached from any aspect of the world, and even if he could change, I’m not so sure he would; after all, everything’s been great for him, except for having to “deal with” an autistic wife who is sensitive and quirky on all levels (mentally, emotionally, and physically).
It’s now 3am, and like the sucker that I have been for the past 18 years, I’m still here this time, too. I haven’t grabbed my keys off the entryway ledge yet.
Tears dry up eventually, at least until they regroup and refill again. For the night, there’s no one to talk to. I’m Silent, at least until the building of another Wave.
But at this moment, and more than likely for the time being, The Silent Wave has crashed.