— Robert Frost (via observando)
(Image found at www.enzocortes.wordpress.com )
“Loneliness”, I have come to really dislike that word. Loneliness is different than being alone. Being left alone allows me to recharge. Being lonely has a different meaning all together. Despite popular belief, autistic people do get lonely and they do crave companionship and that is what I really want, companionship.
Everyone is different no matter what your neurology is. Some people have social anxiety on top of being autistic. They really don’t want to be around people. My son is one of those people who is both autistic and has social anxiety, but due to trauma, that social anxiety has developed into agoraphobia. He has come to fear people. Does he get lonely? Gosh, yes. This loneliness fuels his depression. It is painful for me to see him so lonely, so imagine how he feels. If it is bad for me to watch, it is worst for him because he is personally experiencing it. He has very few adults that he trusts and really no peer to call his friend. He has told me that he escapes into the computer to get away from his loneliness.
My daughter is also autistic. She has separation anxiety and emotional instability due to bipolar. She can’t handle being alone. She fears it, but she knows that she needs calm down time and that calm down time sometimes requires her to be alone. Does she get lonely? Yes, very much, especially since she feels so different from everyone else. She does have a friend, someone who also struggles, but this friend is a boy. Being in middle school they both get taunted about being boyfriend and girlfriend. My daughter is told by her peers that she needs to “go out with him”, that they would be “so cute together”. She doesn’t even fully understand what “go out with him” means. She is not ready for that and she knows it. She just wants a friend that she can talk to without the pressure of peers trying to push her into things she is not ready for.
Then there is me, a single mom who is autistic and who is grieving over a failed marriage, a relationship that lasted for 15 years. I don’t know what type of relationship my ex-husband and I have now. We are not friends, but he wants my help. He is mentally unwell and he caused the trauma that resulted in our son developing PTSD at the tender age of eleven years old. He has no contact with the kids, but he misses them deeply and has finally accepted the fact that he needs professional help. There is good in him, but he cannot be trusted.
We separated almost two years ago and the divorce finalized this past month. I have not been involved with anyone for almost two years. Sure, I have a social group I go to twice a month. I talk to people at work, I have my family for support, I have a good long distance friend, and I have an online community I can go to, but the loneliness remains.
I am lonely and still vulnerable. This worries me, because this makes me more susceptible to being taken advantage of and used again. This is, unfortunately, something that happens way too often to autistic people, so I am cautious. It usually takes a long time for someone to get to know me, not only because I have to be cautious, but because of simply being how I am.
I have never been a social person, but I have always craved social interaction. I don’t have social anxiety, but I seem to have this social ineptness about me. My social skills seem to come naturally when I am around other autistic people. This also happens around people that are not necessarily autistic, but are like minded in some sense, such as a shared interest. My social skills are not so good around non-autistic people, however. There is a difference between the verbal and non-verbal language I “speak” and the verbal and non-verbal language non-autistic people “speak.”
(Author’s note: I wrote this in an attempt to calm my anxiety over a personal matter. It helped.)
(Image found at www.vigile.net)
Why am I like this? I thought I was stronger. I thought I could do this, but I feel I cannot. Why can’t he just do the right thing? Why can’t he ever say the right thing? Why did I take on the task of helping him again when I know he is just using me like he always does? I am just his backup plan, the one he goes to when no one else will help him. The one he goes to when his roller coaster of a life crashes down around him. It is only a matter of time until that roller coaster goes back up and I will be nothing to him once again. Why can’t he be the father I know he can be? At least the father I think he can be. Maybe I just want him to be the father the kids need. Maybe I am asking too much. Am I living in a dream world? What is this hope that I hold on to? I know he will never change. He only thinks of himself. Why did I take on the challenge of helping him again? He will never change.
Personally, I would rather he crawled into a hole and never resurface. I want him gone for good, but we don’t always get what we want and I have the kids to consider. They are in pain and I have to help them. If only I wasn’t still so financially dependent on him. If only I had a better support network. If only I wasn’t so lonely and still so vulnerable. If only . . .
I want to be free of him, free of his emotional abuse, free of his manipulation, free of the pain he caused. Signing papers only did so much. I want him out of my life for good. I am better without him, so why does he still haunt me so? Help me. Someone, please help me. I don’t feel strong enough, but I have to be, not only for my children, but for myself as well. I have to be strong.
I feel so alone in all of this, but I know there are people out there rooting for me and rooting for the kids. I have to take a stand, establish boundaries, and harden my heart. I refuse to be used again, but here I am opening that door. What am I doing? I don’t know any more. What am I doing?
Why did I open that door? It is because my heart is too big. They say people like me, an autistic individual, lack empathy. Talk about an incredible untruth. My empathy is what opened that door and he is going to hurt me again. He is going to hurt the kids again. It is only a matter of time. At least I know that it is coming now. I can prepare for it. It still hurts, but his behavior doesn’t surprise me anymore. It is only a matter of time.
He says he is going to finally get the help he needs. He says he is getting help not because of the kids, but because he is tired of living on a roller coaster. Day in and day out, no more roller coaster he says. If doing so helps with the relationship with the kids that would be a bonus he says. He says a lot of things, but he has yet to follow through with any of it. The kids need their father, but it is not about them, a relationship with them is only a bonus in his eyes. It is still all about him.
How do I break the cycle, to free myself from his roller coaster ride of a life? The answer to that question has been a work in progress for almost two years now. Strength will come with time and distance. I just have to trust and have faith that the cycle will break and I will be free of him. Strength will come.
He will never change.
If only things were different.
I have to be strong, to protect myself and my children.
But what am I doing? I feel so lost.
He will cause emotional pain again. It is only a matter of time.
He is still focusing on himself, because it is still all about him.
But strength will come and I will be free of him.
I will be free.