Thoughts and illustrations on living with Asperger's Syndrome.
Matt,I guess Fuzzy's mate is a true friend - the type who cares enough to understand and bear with us when we need to vent. Others do care, but have no idea how to handle a vent. I think my husband is in this second category, but it took me a while to learn that. There was a time I mistakenly wrongly placed my bloke in category three, people who don't care and therefore make no effort to understand. Was very glad when I realised that this was not the case! :)Word of warning - don't be fooled by category four, people who don't care, but who use the info from your vent against you at a later date. They are sneaky so-and-sos, and it took me advanced self-taught NT skills to spot them. But, I have met sufficient amount, and have gained enough data and know to steer well clear.I have been blessed with understanding people and those who do care, even when they do not really know how to stay with me through a vent. Fuzzy is similarly blessed, I guess. Be thankful, Matt, when you identify those who can be trusted. I am sure you are aware how valuable true friends can be. :)
Ooh, looks like I 'mistakenly wrongly' used a tautology there. Silly me. :)
Thanks Dith, very interesting - I didn't know there were so many types! You are right, the first type who truly listen and understand are quite valuable.
I used to encourage my Aspie girlfriend to vent. I thought she'd feel better. But I soon discovered that it only makes her meltdown then get depressed. Now, I let her say only as much as she feels like, I infer the rest and give her the support she needs.
Sounds like a good strategy, Niko - too much venting can't be good for you.
It took me a long time to understand that venting doesn't necessarily help my Aspie husband. In fact, it tends to set off cyclical thoughts that end up causing more harm than good. And the longer we've been married, the easier it's become for me to just see he's having a hard time and realize he just needs me in the room, not talking or even communicating in any way. Just quietly being there. It seems to work out better that way, though sometimes I wish I could know what was causing him pain so I could go (ahem) squash whatever it is. Anyway, thanks for the post, I think it makes a brilliant point.
Interesting, Melynn, thanks for sharing. It's good that you found a way to help in some way.
One of the best terms I ever learned from my boyfriend was the "space walk," which was taking a self-imposed time out when venting is just too rough or too difficult. He knows if I come home and say I need a half hour space walk, I can fume in front of the computer (if it's too cold out for a literal walk!) undisturbed until I'm ready to come out.I also try to not vent too much to him because, as others have mentioned, sometimes it's too overwhelming to "air it all out." But like Fuzzy, I am constantly surprised at the acceptance of my venting because usually my mind doesn't think it's going to be that way! Another good comic, thanks for sharing.-Hanne
Space walk? Oh, I like that term, Hanne. Maybe there is a cartoon in there somewhere.
It's a great term because it can have many different meanings... like "taking a space walk" can put me in a mind of being literally out in the middle of nowhere where I don't have to deal with any of the BS I was just experiencing. Or it gives the clear indication that I need "space," like I need the comfort of my own quiet place for awhile. It's also a good cue (especially with NTs) that it's nothing personal toward them, it's just something really necessary for one's mental health. "Taking a space walk" is a little humorous than the more serious "I need space" which can also be unfortunately misinterpreted.- Hanne
I love the "taking a space walk" and think it would make for a cute adventure with Fuzzy, our lovable hero :)
I would hate to burden you with externally-determined parameters, Matt, but it makes me smile to picture Fuzzy bouncing around on the Moon contemplating the connection between affect, cognition and behavior; then returning to the situation on Earth with more presence and mindfulness.I find that "space walks" (great new word discovery, thanks Hanne!) are absolutely vital for my mental health. When I was in community college, someone told me about the effects of carving out an hour for yourself when you get home before you let anyone talk to you. (I was undiagnosed and unaware of my neurological status back then; it was presented as something that "some people" happen to need.) It really resonated with me, so I warned my parents that I would be withdrawn and uncommunicative for about an hour after I got home. I explained that it was nothing personal and that the downtime would make me better company for the rest of the night. I was surprised to find that the stress reduction also helped me finish my homework and establish a consistent sleep cycle. My down time was also a convenient time to meditate, which added to the therapeutic benefits. My parents were happy to see all of these changes and indeed I find that the need for downtime is one aspect of coping with AS that neurotypicals find easy to relate to and sympathize with. This makes them more inclined to facilitate the process, especially when they find us calmer, more in touch with our emotions and easier to deal with. This, and our difficulty generalizing arbitrary social rules, seem to be the AS struggles with which neurotypicals are most likely to sympathize without thinking us pathetic or damaged.I think everyone has had the experience of being too irritable because they failed to step away from a frustrating situation or take a breather on an overwhelming day. The difference with us is that sometimes every situation is frustrating and every day is overwhelming, and we are less aware of the way our emotions affect our thinking and behavior than NTs. They seem to place a high value on emotional awareness and levelheadedness and are probably happy to see us make strides in these areas.
I have no one to talk to, or vent to, and when I thought I did, I was betrayed. Now I keep myself as far away from close friendships or relationships as possible, because I have discovered that I just can't trust anyone, even when I want to or even when I think I can. So I focus my venting energy on calling out people that try to lead others astray with misinformation and irrational conspiracy theories. I write when I have no one to fight, and I play Xbox when I have nothing to write. I study journalism, but I doubt I'll ever be able to do anything with my degree when I've got it. I feel like I've lost everything, but where once that would have made me sad, I'm so used to losing everything, or having nothing, that I'm numb to it all now. I haven't had a proper vent in over a year, and I don't know if this is one or not, but I found this blog and saw this post and I realised how far gone I am, and I'm not sure if I should be sad that this is how I've turned out, or if I should be glad that my life is so uncomplicated now with no one in it, or if I'm missing out on something - I just don't know anymore. All I know is that I have everything my way, and no one to make me feel bad for saying what I feel I need to. I wish that I could tell my story, that maybe it would somehow reveal where I went wrong to someone that may be able to avoid going wrong themselves, but I don't know that I can anymore. I think I've forgotten most of it - none of it seems to matter anymore, but that story is why I am the way I am, and who I am today. And if I had seen where I would be today two years ago, there are a few things I would have avoided. Back then, I would have cared - today, I just don't.And I don't really know what to do about it. I'm stuck in some kind of limbo but it's not entirely uncomfortable.
Hi Aspie Warrior, I'm sorry you're going through a tough time and I understand where you're coming from. Many of us have been there at some point. I think the best advice I can give you is this post, Wishing on a Status. I do believe just putting your thoughts on the page as you did helps a lot, because it shows you have hope that someone will listen. Good luck, I wish you the best.
Dear Aspie Warrior, I am really sorry that you are in such a tough spot. I think being betrayed by a trusted person is one of the worst things that can happen in life, and it takes a long time to recover. Please remember that you ARE a warrior, and that sometimes the bad stuff happens so that you can become wiser and stronger.
Aspie Warrior, just talking about it is the one big step to putting yourself out there. There are a lot of us in similar situations, or who have been in similar situations and there's a surprising amount of people who will listen. Take care.- Hanne
I have been with my Aspie husband for almost four years and I have learned a little about his "venting". I agree with some earlier posts that for some aspies venting can set them off into a very dark self-hating mood.I see this sometimes when I try to tell my partner why something he did hurt me. It goes from adamant denial where he will take no responsibility to what I call "catipillar mode" where he gets in bed under the blankets and wraps himself tightly in them to try and soothe his anxiety. It goes right from denail to super- self pity! Is all about him! It skips right past me and all the sudden he is the one hurt and I am trying to soothe him. He ends up making himself feel like a horrible person. Instead I just want him to understand what he has done, not to hate on himself for it and think that he is a bad person. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground where we can have a reasonable conversation about his behaviour. Sometimes he claims he needs the release of being upset. I understand the cathartic elements of having a good cry etc but I see him unravel when he does this and sometimes very hard if not impossible to bring him back from that dark-self hating place. Not to mention my concerns are not addressed because the focus has turned to him and once again I get swept up in the complicated aspie world. How do we get our Aspie partners to find this middle ground?
It sounds like he is feeling shame at being at fault, to the point it overpowers his concern for you. And that it's all or nothing - if he accepts responsibility, it's so upsetting it's like the end of the world. I'm not sure what the answer is; it's a difficult question.
Hi Clairet88, I agree that's a tough one. Just wondering if it would help to focus on positive future messages instead? For example, say you had a headache, and you told him, hoping he'd offer to cook dinner. But Aspie hubby just ignores the hint. Instead of explaining why that hurt, have you tried saying something like, "When I tell you I have a headache, it would make me really happy if you would offer to cook dinner. That would make me feel like you care and my headache wouldn't feel so bad." I guess if he ignores you again after you've told him that, you might have to remind him. I don't know, but it might be worth a try?
A Facebook commenter says: "a book called 22 things a woman must know - if she loves a man with aspergers syndrome, by Rudy Simone. It may help. Did for me."
I agree, that is a very difficult one to answer! All I can think of that I have done to deal with overwhelming emotions is tell myself over and overrrrrrrr something (like "it's okay" or whatever pertains to the situation) until I calm down and believe myself. I like to describe it as having two brains conflicting with each other and you just have to push the rational one to win. And, this all has to come from himself to himself. Having someone else tell me things I want to hear is almost like having an enabler. Now, I have gotten much better at controlling other emotions as well.I hope something in this helped!
Matt your blog is great :) This latest post inspired my latest post on my blog which I haven't updated for ages. Thank you! Perhaps you like a read :D http://lifeofanaspie.tumblr.com/Emily
You're welcome, Emily. Your post is so true; I can certainly relate! And I think "nypicals" is a great word.