After weeks of torturing myself over not being able to read Don, and all the things I (assume?) I do that make him abso-fucking-lutely crazy, I started Googling my way out of the dark hole I’d dug for myself – the dark hole of which I began to have a faint inkling I needn’t have dug for myself at all. It came to me one day:
This aint life or death, here! There is no such thing as an Asperger Dating Emergency!
So glad THAT finally got through my Borderline Personality Disorder addled brain.
I found this article online: 8 Tips for loving someone with Asperger’s syndrome
The article is geared towards romantic love and marriage, so let me make a very important clarification here. The kind of love I have for Don, and yes, there is love there, is not the kind of love intentionally focused on the development of a long-term committed romantic partnership. However, the love I have for Don is not purely platonic, either, because there is a distinctly physical aspect to our relationship. There is a touch of romance, the dance of lovers. I chuckle here. Don doesn’t think he understands dance, but he dances the dance of lovers, and he dances it well. The man can be quite charming, I must admit.
It’s quite lovely, that sexual component of our friendship. It’s not the most important part of our connection, but something I certainly value a great deal. That may largely be due to the fact when he wants to have sex, it is clear and obvious to such a degree I have full confidence I am reading him accurately! And there is such great satisfaction in that. In so many many ways, I so do not get the man, but I so do value him.
The fact there is that one place his intentions are fully transparent, that one place I can fully read him, may perhaps be what keeps me in it. It is very likely the catalyst for that seed of hope I will grow in the knowledge of him and learn to read him in other important interactions.
Back to the article. This was the excerpt that hit me square on:
“When dating someone with Asperger’s, make sure not to fall into the trap of offering solutions they don’t need for them to ‘be better.’ It is easy to assume that they would like to be different, but that might not be true… Avoid dating someone with Asperger’s if you are going to try and fix them.”
I have struggled with self-esteem my entire life. Most of my adult life I’ve hovered around the 300-pound mark. Growing up, I was fat-shamed from here to next Sunday. And the Sunday beyond that and the Sunday beyond that and the Sunday beyond that. As a young adult and well into middle-age, I continued the good work of making sure I felt like shit for my appearance and my inability to get control of my food addiction.
I’ve done a lot of work on my weight, but I’ve not gotten control of it as of this writing. I’m currently immersed in a plan to improve my physical health and regain mobility – critical things which will enable to me stay on the path of effectively managing my bipolar mental illness. And that is life and death stuff. Staying stable is critical to my very existence.
Even more important than the physical interventions, however, is the tremendous amount of work I’ve done on my mind. And I’ve had some pretty significant success, most of it just in the last decade. I’ve gained some serious ground in learning to view myself as a unique and valuable person, worthy of great respect and love. Never thought I’d get here. Never never. But I’m here. Just not all the way there. Not yet. One foot in front of the other. I celebrate the small victories. But some of them have been huge victories. Developmental accomplishments I'd never dreamed possible. I'm passionate about self-respect and self-love. A crusader perhaps? I'm deliberately using that term with full knowledge of the negative connotations attached.
Well. Folks. I thought I struggled with self-esteem. I thought I lived at the lowest of the lowest of self-hate. Then I met Don. I have never met anyone that thinks so little of himself. I have never met anyone that expected less of others in how they treat him. He expects to be marginalized and dismissed. It seems history has proven some of that out, and based on those experiences, he’s resigned himself to believing things are dismal and simply won’t ever change for the better.
Knowing what I know, knowing what he's convinced himself of is an out and out lie, knowing a bit about self-fulfilling prophesy and the law of attraction, I took it upon myself to share some of these critical learnings with him. Some of the critical truths I'd fought a lifetime to get hold of, and have successfully gotten a hold of.
I didn’t just share my truths, I began preaching them, repeating them, reiterating them. Then I lectured him. Then I got real intense, as I am wont to do, and I started verbally pounding on him. My intensity shot through the roof; my volume was up. This continued through several of our in real life meetings, and I was relentless over text. Finally, after he started to physically wince and pull away from me like a cornered animal, I stopped.
Then, instead of just thinking, “Hey! That doesn’t work! And maybe, just maybe, it’s not my responsibility to convince Don he’s a good and valuable person!” I started believing I’d miserably failed because I couldn’t convince him of these things that were so obvious to me about who he is.
Phase two of my self-condemnation commenced. I started assuming because he couldn’t internalize what I was telling him, he thought I was stupid, unable to see the truth of the matter, or flattering him for the sake of flattering him… I could go on and on here about all the ways I heaped shame on myself for trying and failing to convince Don he’s one hell of a spectacular human being.
I’m going to stop here. I think on this, ruminate on this, and wear myself out trying to get on top of this communication thing. I'll pick up next post, but right now, I'm tired. I must again remind myself:
This aint life or death, here!
There is no such thing as an Asperger Dating Emergency!
[First published 6/6/2022.]