Autism: I See You

01 Mar

Layered with jackets, coats, toques, and gloves, he heads out the door. The weather report says it is -16 outside, and I believe it – I took my girls out for under a minute, and my little one was crying because her feet hurt. He has to spend the entire day outside. 8 hours in the snow and cold.

Day after day he heads to this job. Five days a week, and it is rare for him to complain. The weather is cold, it is hot, it is wet… All day he is busy outside, one person after another asking him to help them, hardly a moment to think. All day moving furniture. All day ‘peopling.’ Often he has to stay late. He comes home tired. Wet. Sweaty. Hungry. Day after day.

As he heads out the door, I sit in my chair at my computer, dogs on my lap. I pick up my tea to finish the last of it. Warm under my blanket, I acknowledge him leaving… usually. I feel guilty that he is going and I am staying. I know I can’t, but that doesn’t make me feel better. He likes his job, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t come even close. In fact, at this time the very idea of going out to work, to volunteer, to… pretty much anything, overwhelms me. Still I feel guilty.

Defensive, too. Not because I feel I do enough in comparison to him, but because… well, when he is home, I am nearly always sitting. I am paralyzed. It isn’t his fault, this is all me, but I can’t move when he is home – and I want to tell him this isn’t what I do all the time. When he is gone I might get up and clean. I play with our animals. I do the dishes and the laundry. I organize and rearrange our furniture (which I understand he doesn’t quite appreciate since he doesn’t like change…. still)

I exercise. I write my blog. I cook. Only no matter what I do, it rarely compares to what he does, and I feel guilty still. And there are lots of days when I am so overwhelmed with life that I actually do shut down and spend just about the entire day on the computer – while he is out moving the equivalent of two households of furniture in a day.

Defensive because it isn’t that I don’t see what he does, but I can’t. I would love to be able to go out to work, and be as busy as he is, and still live well – but that isn’t possible. I’ve tried. I’ve tried a lot, and I don’t do well at all. But then I still struggle a lot when I am at home with few places to go, and little I have to do. Not fair, but not because I don’t want to be.

Defensive because I do have an income of my own, and though I don’t go out to earn it, I do try to live to earn it – by writing this blog, and taking care of our home, and trying to get well so I can do more (only since I am so often overwhelmed and struggling, it is hard even when I am trying my very best to believe that I will actually ever get there.)

And then on his days off, he runs errands, and volunteers to sing and speak in the senior’s homes, and still deals with people – and he cooks those days, because I am paralyzed, and he tries. I know he does.

But I get overwhelmed by how he ‘isn’t as clean as me’; by wet counters, and open drawers, and extra dirty dishes, and so much meat! I get overwhelmed, and shut down, and he takes over. He does the cooking, and he does the dishes, and then he rests for the little time he has home. He does all of this, and still stays calm most of the time.

I am not easy to live with. I didn’t say I was. With my sensory issues, and extreme sensitivity to anything ‘wrong’ with the world (such as factory farms and the suffering of animals – and the greed of corporations that leave me unable to buy a new dishwasher because “they could make them to last, but don’t”) and my struggles with communication, and with changes to my routine, or being pulled out of my fixations, and my struggles with food, and… it isn’t possible for me to be easy to live with – it is not easy for me to live with other people.

But I do see him. I do see what he does. I do see who he is. And though I am often overwhelmed with how his life affects my issues, I am grateful for him – and really don’t know how I could live without him.

Easter 2016


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