This is in no way a helpful post. This is a, “I’ve been in the house for a month, and I’m going crazy” post.
I will never take my ability to drive a car or simply walk anywhere or carry a cup of coffee or get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or empty the dishwasher or my self-reliance for granted.
I am still on crutches. Four weeks didn’t seem so long when Dr. A told me about it in the pre-op appointment, but you know how cocky those bone breakers are. “It’s four weeks on crutches and three months of PT.” Three months is a long time. Four weeks? I guess that’s not so bad.
It’s bad. It’s bad because it isn’t four weeks on crutches. It’s four weeks of 10% weight-bearing on the surgical side. After four weeks, it’s another two weeks of practicing weight-bearing which is a long and painful process. So, really, it’s another two weeks of trying to learn to walk again, and I still can’t drive! Well, I can only drive a few blocks. This is intolerable! Yesterday was my first day of beginning the weight-bearing exercises. I did not enjoy it. I am trying to remember that I once walked. Surely, I will walk again and this will be but a happy memory. It feels like an impossibility right now. I never imagined that a torn anything in a hip could cause this much trouble!
What has been the most interesting thing in this entire endeavor, however, has been observing my husband. I’ve written a little bit on this blog about my marriage. The past two years have been challenging what with Grace’s sharp decline. It’s not uncommon to experience relational difficulties when a child is diagnosed with a severe health condition or mental illness. I have been down and out. I can’t go into the basement to do laundry. I can’t carry the laundry baskets. I can’t really clean anything. I can’t vacuum. I am just now able to get into the kitchen and cook although it’s awkward as hell. He has had to do everything, and this is a man who has never done that.
I have suspected for a few years now that he was on the autism spectrum–high functioning, mind you. He is so similar to our youngest daughter in temperament. He has on more than a few occasions said how similar he was to her as a child. She has high-functioning autism (HFA). Part of me has wanted to dismiss this idea because I have wanted to believe that all his quirks and very annoying habits would change given time and effort. I have, however, only seen the chasm between us grow wider over the past two years. In the wake of Grace’s illness, I have sought greater emotional intimacy, and he has sought out more time alone. He has morphed into Spock, that pointy-eared bastard as Bones once called him, and I have become the single-minded and overly emotional Jim Kirk. We are at odds. All the time.
So, forced into a submissive state of dependence, I have observed. I have done my best to practice what I have internalized from DBT. Observing without judging. It is amazing what can be learned when we suspend judgment. I have watched a man try as hard as he can to look after me and meet my needs while trying his hardest to meet the needs of his children. The physical needs. Driving to and from school. Feeding. Doing laundry. Helping with homework. I can help with homework, but this was physics homework. I will hiss and skitter under furniture at the mere mention of the P-word. He has gone to the grocery store. He has barely worked.
What I have seen is that he can’t be emotional and practical at the same time. He has modes of operation. Sort of like Mr. Rogers and his sweater. He requires a ritual to move from one mode to another. I could write at length about the rituals he requires to make the transition from one persona to another and his intense need for solitude. This lack of emotional affect or even cognitive empathy, however, is what causes him to act like an asshole. He isn’t trying to be a jerk. He just isn’t able to infuse any of his actions with any meaningful emotional content. He behaves like Spock. If I’m Jim Kirk in the relationship, then I’m constantly trying to provoke an emotional response in him which looks like baiting behavior. Where’s the passion, Spock? Why do you appear to be so cold? Do you even care about us? You look miserable!
His response is completely rational. Of course, he cares. Look at what he’s doing. He ticks off what needs to be done. We are provided for. Once the items are checked off the list, he then retreats into his bedroom and disappears for hours. If we need him, we simply need to tell him. He cannot anticipate a need. He cannot read the cues. He does ask so that he’ll know, but he will never be capable of “reading” people or a situation and understanding what is required. Emotional intimacy is not something that he truly wants. He doesn’t have a social drive. He wants his family to be happy. He works hard to provide opportunities so that we can pursue happiness. It never occurred to me that he didn’t see himself as a part of that happiness. He saw us going out into the world to engage in that pursuit while he happily stayed in his cloister pursuing his. It is a shock to me.
This is what I have learned during my convalescence. I told him the night before last very casually that I wondered if Milly might have inherited her ASD from him. “I wonder if you might be very high functioning on the autism spectrum.” His response? “Oh, I know that I am.”
Really? Since when? And, if that’s true, then what does that mean going forward?
Uhura loved Spock. Jim was his friend. On any given day lately, this is my inner monologue:
Interesting times, interesting times. It’s a good thing he doesn’t have bangs (watch the clip to understand the reference).