It took me ages to understand how my challenging communication style affects relationships. It’s not a positive impact, that’s for sure, but I feel like this communication style is who I am. I can’t change it only because I know that a relationship may fail. It is my instinctive understanding that if something doesn’t work properly it needs to be challenged and, if it fails as a result, it wasn’t meant to be. No amount of explaining by relationships experts and counsellors is going to change that. I wonder how many other autistic people feel the same way. I believe it can be a substantial percentage.
What I realised around the time I met John was, that although I can’t change the way how I approach problems in relationships, I can make an effort to stop the problems from appearing in the first place. I can compromise in a lot of ways, I think this is my biggest strength, although some people will make it into a weakness and say I don’t respect myself. But I don’t have any preconceived ideas about how my relationship should look like. It doesn’t bother me if we live together after a year or only see ourselves over the weekends. I mean, I understand that having relationship goals may work for a lot of people and it does make sense in a way to have them, but, because I’m autistic I don’t mind spending time on my own, so why should I apply neurotypical criteria to how I live my life? I think this should only be a problem if the other person in the relationship doesn’t want to take it seriously and the autistic one can’t see it.
With my first partner, who was also Polish, and who became a reason why I’m in this country, we had loads of issues, mostly with his family, that I didn’t feel like I wanted to endure. At the same time I didn’t want to break up. What I was doing, I can see it now, I was constantly acting out my feelings and checking where this will take me. It is damaging, I can see it well, but it’s just something that I do – it’s instinct.
Big problem for me was his sister: she was on a constant diet. I don’t know how it is now in Poland, it’s possible that things changed, but at the time the pressure to be slim was massive among young people. And the best was if you are slim but can eat a lot. People like that, with this great metabolism were massively admired. I don’t really know why, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s like if someone admired me for being tall. But I didn’t do anything to be tall so where the admiration is coming from?
So, my ex’s sister was apparently quite chubby as a child and a teenager and then went on a diet, lost weight and managed to keep it off. If you were ever overweight you probably know that keeping the weight off is not an easy task. I was overweight many times, to say it that way. And yet, the ex’s sister managed it. I admired her at first, then become envious, at the end I just got suspicious: the girl just didn’t eat! She claimed to have small natural yoghurt for breakfast, with nothing added, half of grapefruit for lunch and some vegetables fried in low calorie spray for dinner. No sweets, crisps, snacks, no sugar in drinks, no fruit juices, just that. Would you survive on this kind of diet? I think it was around 300kcal a day. An average woman needs around 2000. Moreover, she wasn’t even skinny. Slim, but not skinny, certainly not anorexic.
But you know what? Everyone admired her for her will power. It was like if she was saying: I can’t be this person who eats loads and stay slim so I made the difficult decision to refrain myself from food altogether.
Obviously she must have been eating when people weren’t around, but I think, if one is not interested in diets and calorie counting, they may not realised that. And I wanted my ex to see that. It was a massive issue for my self esteem and I wanted him to challenge her somehow. Would that help our relationship? I don’t know, but I’d feel like he’s on my side.
I could have just stop paying attention to her strange eating habits and possibly that would be something that a neurotypical person would do. But I couldn’t. And I don’t regret it, if that makes sense? By challenging my ex around his sister eating habits I was acting out my feelings. I had to do that. The relationship finally ended and it felt to me like it was what was meant to happen.
That is how I manage my life. I’m acting out my feelings. It may be tiring and it can create difficulties but this is what I think: if it didn’t work at the end, it wasn’t meant to be. It’s instinct. You can’t talk me out of it. If I don’t follow my instinct I will become dead while still alive.
But then, I didn’t do the same with John, did I? I kind of knew external issues are coming up and that he would find it difficult to support me throughout so I ended it. I do hope he still reads my blog and understands what I’m saying. I do hope we can have a chat soon, when it all settles down. When he sees that Home Group is not trying to sue me for speaking the truth on my blog. That was the best I could do for us at the time, considering the situation.
I know that I can’t stop myself from acting out my feelings caused by problems, but I can stop problems from happening around the people that I care about.