The Town I’m Moving to and the Most Difficult Person There

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Photo by Picturepest via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

The town that I’m about to move to isn’t my hometown. I love my hometown and would be thrilled beyond measure to move back to it. It’s a really nice place. But my parents no longer live there (my dad cheated on my mom with so many women there it would be awkward for my parents to live there now that he’s reformed), and my husband has never been able to find work there, or even within commuting distance of there, even though he has tried. While I did get bullied in my hometown, mostly in junior high, my bullies have since found me on Facebook and apologized to me. Not so for the people who hurt me in the town I’m moving to.

My hometown is a four-hour drive away from this town I’m moving to.

The town I’m moving to is a smaller town where my mom decided to move us to around the time I turned 16. One of her brothers and his wife live there, which is why she chose it. It’s the town I couldn’t wait to move away from when I was 18, and the town I moved back to after I could no longer make it financially on my own when I was 20. Moving back there at age 20 felt like death. It kind of feels that way now. This will be the third time in my life I will be moving there, even though I’ve never wanted to live there even once.

I do have one friend there, thank goodness. I met her at church when I was 27. She’s the friend who inspired me to start this blog. I am really looking forward to seeing her again. Another friend of mine, the one who visited me this summer, is also from this town but no longer lives there. She doesn’t like it either and says she’ll never live there again. People were not nice to her there. But she does visit family there from time to time and that means I will get to see her more often than I currently do. We have already talked about seeing each other when she visits for Thanksgiving. So those are the two bright spots in all of this. I’m grateful that there are bright spots. It truly would be unbearable otherwise.

One of the people I’m most worried about dealing with there is my aunt. My aunt has the strongest, most dominating personality of anyone I’ve ever met. She is very negative and critical and she lies and schemes. She is nosy and meddlesome and seems to think it’s her right to know every little thing about other people’s lives. She’s extremely ignorant and uneducated (whether formal education or otherwise), yet is the most opinionated person I know. She’s also really into alternative medicine (but in the most ignorant and unskilled way imaginable), and has been known to walk up to me and start slathering goop onto my skin without my permission (I have eczema, psoriasis, and occasional bouts of hives) and every time, my condition has gotten worse instead of better.

All of these things make her an extremely difficult person for me to deal with.

I haven’t seen her since 2011. When I saw her then, one of the first things she said to me was, “Which route did you take to get here?” When I told her, she told me that was the wrong route, and another route would have been faster. Then she ordered my uncle to get a map so she could show me the other route. I was already well aware of the other route, and she was wrong, it was not faster. (According to Google maps, her route is 15 minutes slower.) Even if it had been faster, so what? Maybe I just like the route I took better. That is my prerogative. I don’t understand why she makes an issue out of every little thing. Even so, I didn’t argue with her or defend myself because it was just too much hassle (you have to pick your battles, right?) and because I don’t think well in overstimulating moments like that. She’s so overbearing I’m like a deer caught in the headlights when I’m with her. My point here is that even something as innocuous as which route I took is judged and criticized by her. Imagine what she does with the bigger issues.

When I was living with my mom in my twenties, she greatly disapproved. She thinks adults should be independent. For what it’s worth, I actually agree with her on that; I just haven’t been able to consistently make it happen. Her harassing me about it is not helpful.

It’s going to be so much worse now that I’m in my forties.

This woman is not an emotionally safe person for me to be around. Not only because of her disapproval and criticism, but because of her schemes. When I was in my twenties and didn’t have a job, she assumed I just wasn’t trying hard enough and was very critical of me. Then one day, she told me, “I have a new job managing a restaurant. I’ll give you a job. Come there first thing next Monday morning ready to work.” I said okay. But as the day approached I started getting an odd, prickly feeling about the whole thing. So I phoned the restaurant and asked for my aunt by name. I was told I must have the wrong number and there was no one there by that name. I explained that it was the manager I was wanting to speak to because she had offered me a job there. I was told, “I am the manager, that is not my name, and I am not hiring right now.”

Needless to say, I did not show up on Monday as my aunt had instructed me. The next time I saw her, I mentioned the apparent misunderstanding. She admitted she’d lied about being the manager there. She said she’d done it to “give me the push I needed.” She said if I had shown up at that restaurant Monday morning ready to work, they would have been so impressed by my initiative that they would have hired me on the spot. She is utterly delusional. Maybe that’s how people got jobs in her day but that is no longer the case. Can you imagine how humiliated I would have been if I’d shown up there? I was already feeling humiliated just from the phone call I’d made.

She has not changed. She just recently got my mom involved in a scheme. She told my mom that while visiting another town she’d run into an old childhood friend of my mom’s who wanted to see her. She offered to take my mom to visit this person. When my aunt and my mom arrived, this old friend had no idea who my mom was. She hadn’t been saying she wanted to see her. She had no clue. I can’t imagine what my aunt’s motive was, but something was fishy about the whole situation.

Ever since I got married almost 12 years ago I have managed to shield my husband from her. Especially because he’s a physicist and she thinks science is from the devil. She and my uncle (he’s not as bad as her in other ways, but he is with this kind of thing) once told me that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is evil because it states that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Say what?! I’m pretty sure they meant the philosophical concept of Relativism, which has absolutely nothing to do with Einstein, his theories, physics, or science (whether or not it’s evil is a whole other matter, but we should at least be clear on what we’re talking about before we get to that). But they were convinced they were correct and that this means physicists are doing the devil’s work.

I do not want them to meet. My husband does not need to be subjected to that kind of thing. But my aunt has it in her craw that she hasn’t met him yet. She writes in the Christmas cards she sends me, “When am I going to meet your husband?” She has meeting him on her agenda and the only thing preventing that from happening thus far has been a lack of proximity.

I know that once I’m living with my parents in that town again, I will not be able to avoid my aunt forever. But I was hoping to at least get settled and get my bearings before having to deal with her. Unfortunately, a well-meaning person who knows we’re moving back there and doesn’t realize we want to keep it on the down low for the time being mentioned it to my mom when my aunt was standing right there. So she knows. And I fully expect her to be a one-woman welcoming committee. That’s going to be a lot to deal with when I’m already stressed and freaked out by the whole thing.

I don’t hate my aunt. I wish her well. She had a rough upbringing and there are reasons she is the way she is. I get that. But I have a hard enough time dealing with ordinary people, and she is… extraordinary. The combination of her personality and my social and sensory difficulties is not a good thing for me. I seriously consider her dangerous to my well-being.

It’s possible to not hate someone and yet still recognize that they are not good for you.

 

Full of Hate?

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Photo from Photofunia

I am reeling with shock and hurt over something someone said to me today.

I was talking to a relative on the phone about my upcoming move. And because I have the tendency to overshare, I started talking about all my anxieties about living in that small town again.

She snapped at me, “I was hoping that now that you’re older you would have mellowed out, but I can see that you are still full of hate.”

What?! Full of hate? Is that how people see me? Is that how I come across?

I guess perhaps I have sometimes said, “I hate that place.” (I don’t think I said that today though.) But it’s not really hate I feel. It’s dread. And fear. I am afraid of the social atmosphere in that town, because I did not cope well in it in the past. I am afraid of certain people, because they have hurt me before and I don’t feel that they are emotionally safe people for me to be around. I am afraid of finding myself in situations that I won’t know how to handle, and I am afraid of handling social situations wrongly and saying the wrong things and getting into trouble with people. I am afraid of that because it has happened more times than I can count. It is not an unfounded fear.

So I will admit to being fearful. But hateful? I wonder if it’s just this one person who sees me this way, or if others do too.

I am deeply wounded by my relative’s words. What a way to kick me when I’m down.

 

My Weak Body, Crumbling in the Face of Adversity Again

Right now, in our current circumstances, I need to muster up all the strength I have to get through it. But instead, my body reminds me how weak I am.

Fever, sore throat, cough, blocked sinuses, vomiting, weakness. Trouble breathing too… but then I had that before I contracted whatever this virus is. I had just gotten back on the inhalers and they were working perfectly until then, however. Now even they are not enough.

I had been feeling good about how diligent I was being with my exercise, even with how stressed out I was, but now I’ve missed two days, because I’ve been afraid that if I tried to drag myself onto the treadmill with a fever I would keel over and hurt myself.

I had also started making headway on the packing, but I haven’t done any of that in two days either.

Time seems to be going by so fast. It’s getting away from me. I can’t keep up with it.

Why am I like this? The stronger I need to be, the weaker I become. I am frustrated and even a little angry because I feel betrayed by my own body. Why can’t I just suck things up and courageously do what needs to be done like other people can? If I’m not breaking down emotionally, I’m breaking down physically. Sometimes both.

Asthma and Stress and Moving

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Photo from Photofunia.

My asthma has gotten so out of control in the last couple weeks that I’ve actually been scared. I had been trying to get by without using inhalers because I don’t like being on them all the time. For one thing, they’re expensive (and we have no insurance or anything that covers prescription medication) and for some reason after using them for several months they start making me gag and vomit, so it’s not a good long-term solution for me. I was fine for several months but I think the stress of my husband’s unemployment and the seeming inevitability of moving in with my parents has been making my asthma flare up again to the point where it’s worse than it’s ever been. So I have had no choice but to go back on the inhalers.

I recall reading an article somewhere that mentioned a correlation between having asthma and allergies and, on a psychological level, seeing the world as a hostile place. That is no surprise. With all my sensitivities and all the bad things that have happened to me in my life, I don’t have a particularly favourable view of this world or my life in it. Everything is so, so hard.

Right now I feel like I simply cannot move forward. I cannot face what is coming. I gave our notice to our landlord on Wednesday but I haven’t started packing yet and don’t feel like I can handle a big move like what we have to do before the month is over. But there is no choice. I can’t do it and yet I have to do it.

One of My Little Quirks: I’m Never Bored

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Photo by Saul Grinberg Filho via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

So many times since I’ve been staying at home people have asked me, “What do you do all day? Don’t you get bored?”

No, I truly don’t. I don’t even really understand the concept of boredom. It’s not something I can relate to. I think the closest thing I’ve ever felt to boredom is the annoyance of being in a situation where I have to do or pay attention to something I’m really not interested in. But if I’m not doing anything, I don’t feel bored. There is way too much going on inside my head for me to feel bored. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have the tendency to space out and just think my own thoughts. I am completely content doing that.

But other than my spaced-out episodes, I’m rarely doing nothing. Even without a job, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want or need to do. I think part of it is that I work slowly. A sink-load of dishes that would take my mom ten minutes to wash takes me an hour. Writing a blog post like this can easily take me an hour or two.

I do a lot of writing and reading. I’m a news junkie and browse the headlines and read a lot of news articles every day. And I take a lot of free online courses through the public library and Coursera. I’m learning Norwegian and French on Duolingo. I talk to my parents on the phone three times a week, and each call usually lasts for about an hour and a half. I don’t have a car, so when I run errands it takes me longer than it takes most people. I also walk on a treadmill for 40 minutes most days of the week.

I think my nervous system is so sensitive that I need very little stimulation to be comfortable. And when I am in a situation where there’s a lot of stimulation, like in a noisy, crowded, or busy environment, it takes me a long time to recover afterward. When I was working, I was overwhelmed and stressed out to the point of illness and meltdown.

Under my particular circumstances, I don’t know how I could ever be bored. This is something “normal” people don’t understand about me. “I would go stir-crazy if I didn’t have a job! I would be so bored!” they tell me, and I get the impression they consider that a virtue. I don’t know what to say. I don’t have the same experience.

 

A New Blog: Welcomed Back

welcomed backI have started another blog called Welcomed Back. Right now I’m using it to explore my thoughts and feelings about the possibility of moving back in with my parents next month. My husband is still looking for work and if he finds something in time and we don’t have to take this drastic step, I will delete the blog. But if we carry through with the move, I will write about our experiences adjusting to that new life. Maybe there are people out there going through similar things who will be able to relate.

I will still maintain this blog, and there might be some overlap between the two, but in this one I will continue to share my Aspie feelings and reactions to things, while Welcomed Back will be on a more surface level for a general audience. Or at least I will try to keep it that way.

I do find blog writing to be very therapeutic and this might be one of the things that will help me cope with it all.

A Friend’s Visit

A Candid Conversation
Photo by Christian Yves Ocampo via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

One of my long-time friends made the 7-hour drive from another city to visit me last month. She stayed for four days. Our apartment is small, but we made a private little space between the back of the couch and the wall for her air mattress, and that worked well.

It was really nice having her here. We went out shopping and dining. One day we went to the farmer’s market and another day we went to the beach. We had great conversations. I find it really easy to talk to her.

I wrote a blog post in June about not having a social life in this city and said I didn’t really mind that I have no friends here. But my friend’s visit was a nice reminder of how much I can really enjoy being with a friend and socializing when it’s with the right person. With the small number of people I naturally click with and already love and trust, it’s easy to be with them. There’s no social anxiety or constant ruminating on our conversations afterward, wondering what I might have said wrong, like I do with most people.

It makes me wish that I could live in the same city as her. Or that I could make a new friend like her where I do live. But I don’t know if I can make friends like that now. It seems like I made all my friends when I was young and I don’t connect with any new people that deeply anymore. I just find meeting and getting to know new people exhausting now. New people tend to ask me so many questions and put me in the position of having to explain myself and why I am the way I am. My old friends already know all that and accepted it a long time ago. And I think it’s a numbers problem. It’s like I have to meet so many new people in order to find one I might click with, and I open myself up to a lot of stress and pain and potential rejection in the meantime. Maybe I had the energy to do that when I was younger, but I don’t now.

The Hammer Has Fallen

This has been a really hard summer. There has pretty much only been one thing on my mind, and that is my husband’s unstable job situation, knowing he could become unemployed at the end of any month. That’s why I haven’t been blogging; there are only so many times I can write about all that.

But now the hammer has finally fallen. My husband’s last day of work is next week Wednesday. His employer is out of funding. My husband has met with the head of the department and had it confirmed that there is no more work there for him. He has been applying for other things to no avail.

About a month ago, it looked like everything was going to be okay. There was a position that opened up, and the head of the department had asked my husband to apply, implying that he would get it, but when the time came they gave it to another internal candidate who had more seniority. That was devastating, thinking he had something lined up only for it to be yanked away. We have been in situations like that more times than I can count, but it’s devastating every time.

So, if a miracle doesn’t occur before next Wednesday, we will be giving our notice to our landlord and then moving back in with my parents. Words cannot express how much I dread this. It will be even worse than the last time we lived with them, from 2011 to 2013, because they have moved back to a small town where I have a bad history and where there are people who really don’t like me. This is entirely my fault, of course, due to my social cluelessness and my tendency to not control my words when I’m overwhelmed and stressed and hurt (and I did get badly hurt there). There are people there I simply cannot face. I would rather die.

I have been crying for days, and the stress has been causing me and my husband to argue. I have been fighting the inevitability of moving back in with my parents and it has been bothering me how accepting he seems of it. But I think I have reached a point now where I too am resigned to it. I don’t have any fight left in me.

My Social Life (or Lack Thereof) in this City

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Photo by John Perivolaris via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

I have absolutely zero social life in this city right now. I am not really lamenting this. It eliminates a lot of stress from my life, to be honest.

My husband and I first moved to this city in 2013. After a time of unemployment for both of us and getting to a point of utter desperation, we both managed to get something lined up here, and things seemed to fall into place for us to come here in other ways, even though it was never somewhere we had previously aspired to live and we didn’t know anyone here. Feeling like we had no other option at the time, this is where we ended up.

My job here ended up not going well (surprise surprise). On several occasions I had to e-mail the woman who had previously held my position (she had been fired abruptly and had not had the opportunity to tie up loose ends, leaving a lot for me to have to figure out) and when, after six months, she found out I too had been fired (in a nutshell, for back-answering my boss during my six-month performance review), she, probably feeling an affinity with me since we’d both been fired by the same man from the same position, invited me to go out for coffee with her and another woman I knew from work.

The coffee outing (I don’t actually drink coffee, but that’s what it’s called regardless, isn’t it? Going out for coffee?) turned out to be a surprisingly validating social experience for me. It’s not often I can say that. Both of these women are writers, one in her spare time outside of work and the other having moved on to a staff position at a magazine after getting fired from her office job, so we talked about writing and various ideas we had. Sometimes when I talk about these things, people’s eyes glaze over, but these women were interested and engaged. And I was interested and engaged in their ideas too. How rare! And when they asked how my job search was coming along, I told them about an awkward interview I’d had and then I confessed that I actually wanted to be at home. That was my real heart’s desire: To stay home and read books and maybe write or take online courses or pursue other personal projects. But I confessed I was worried about money.

They completely validated my desire to stay home! Most people do not. Most people treat me like it’s disgraceful to want to stay home. Being Christians, these women even told me that if I wanted to stay at home, I should do that and let God worry about the finances. No one had ever told me that before. I suppose it’s always nice when people tell us what we want to hear, isn’t it? For what it’s worth, they turned out to be right. While money is tight, it is no tighter now than when I was working, because I wasn’t earning very much and I tend to spend a lot more when I’m working, on transportation, office clothes, convenience foods because I end up too exhausted to cook, useless impulse purchases because I get too exhausted and overstimulated to practice my usual restraint, and medications, because the exhaustion and stress of being in the workforce, as well my poorer diet at those times, causes all my health issues to flare up. But I digress.

The social engagement didn’t go off completely without a hitch though. At one point they started talking and laughing about something that happened on a TV show I hadn’t seen. Understanding that it was a funny anecdote, I laughed along, only for one of them to turn to me and ask, “Have you seen it?” I then had to confess that I hadn’t. Busted! What a tool, huh? I was mortified, and still think about it sometimes, even though it was relatively minor.

Anyway, they invited me out for coffee with them again, but that time I was ill with nausea and… ahem… bathroom issues (not out of the ordinary for me, but some days are worse than others) so I declined. I legitimately was ill, but perhaps they thought I was making an excuse, and after that it was like the ball was in my court, and even though I had enjoyed being with them, I just never got in touch again.

The thing really holding me back was the fact that I don’t have a car. When they invited me out, it was their idea and one of them offered to come pick me up. But I didn’t know how to initiate an outing and then say, oh, but you’ll have to pick me up, okay? It just seemed to create this imbalance, and I didn’t want to come across like a user or a taker or whatever you call it. (I was accused of that once before, over twenty years ago, and I never want to be again, so it’s something I am very conscious of.) And it’s not like I could afford to treat them to make up for it.

I just didn’t know how to initiate under these circumstances, so I didn’t.

Then there was this guy I met on Twitter. He’s a little younger than us and is a local pastor of a small church, and we had great conversations online. He invited my husband and I out for coffee a couple of times, and then it progressed to having dinner at his home with his family. We got along fairly well, but then he pushed for us to attend his church and we declined, explaining that we don’t have a car and bus service is so drastically reduced on Sundays that we can’t feasibly get there and back. He said, “I’m sure I can arrange for someone to give you a ride every week.” But we explained that we weren’t comfortable with that, partly because there might be some weeks we wouldn’t want to go (especially with my health issues), and we would feel awkward cancelling and making excuses in those cases. And we explained this is not a temporary situation. Unless our situation dramatically changes we do not envision getting a car, so we would be an ongoing drain on whoever volunteered. (At our previous church, someone had even generously offered to lend us a car until we bought one, but we didn’t intend to buy one, so we thought we would have come across as taking advantage of them. Not to mention the fact that we would still have had to pay for insurance, gas, maintenance, repairs, and parking, which is not something we can commit to in our current situation.)

So anyway, we never heard from him again, and it became apparent that he didn’t really want to be friends with us, he was just trying to recruit us to his church. It is always so disappointing when you think someone likes you, but it turns out they have an ulterior motive.

So all that was in 2014, and I have not had any real social life in this city since. Both sets of parents have come to visit us here, and one of my long-time friends is coming here from another city to visit us next month, which I’m really looking forward to, but generally my life is void of in-person social contact, other than clerks in stores and whatnot, but that doesn’t really count.

For the most part, I don’t mind. When it does bother me, it’s more the idea of it that bothers me than the actual day-to-day experience of it. Like, “Yikes, we don’t have any friends; we’re all alone here. What if something happened? There’s no one we could call.” But I also kind of love the fact that I don’t have anyone trying to get me to go places when I don’t want to and making demands on my time, which I never feel like I have enough of, even though I’m not working now. I love that I never find myself in awkward social situations, where I’ve made a fool out of myself and ruminate on it endlessly afterward. I love that I don’t find myself in positions where I have to explain myself and my various quirks and the health issues that affect my life. Life is so peaceful now, and I need that.

This is one of those things that makes the person who shall remain nameless think there’s something seriously wrong with me. Who doesn’t even want friends? Once when this person was visiting, I got a phone call from one of my long-time friends in another city, and afterward the person who shall remain nameless said, “Oh, I’m so relieved you got a phone call from a friend. I do worry about you not having friends!” I just stared at the person, kind of shocked, not understanding why anyone would be thinking such things about me. If I’m not unhappy, what’s the problem?

My husband also hasn’t made any real friends here. There are people he’s friendly with at work, but no one he sees outside of work. Somehow that’s okay though. The pressure always seems to be on me, not on him, as if it’s the woman’s responsibility to make a social life for both members of a couple or something. I don’t understand that. But I don’t understand a lot of things about how people think.

Just Wondering… What Do You Think?

I have still never sought a diagnosis for Asperger’s or Autism. I’m wondering if anyone who follows my blog doubts that this would be a correct diagnosis for me?

I’m afraid to talk to a doctor about this. I think after years of training myself to act “normal” it might be difficult for someone else to understand how difficult life still is for me, despite my outward demeanor. It is difficult for me. I am stressed out to the point of illness when I try to be too “out there” in the world, if you know what I mean. Is it just because of everything I have been through, or is it really the way I’m wired, as I now believe?

Comments solicited and welcome!