Apparently, I’m full of Love.

I went to therapy.  As I had been told many times, I was met by a genuinely warm and happy older man, who made something that is generally uncomfortable and painful for me, much less so.  I am sure there are other therapists in the area who would work well for me, but truly, I’m glad that I stuck to my guns and was insistent on seeing Dr. Wolcott.  Interestingly, despite being fairly convinced that my life and marriage were falling apart, Dr. Wolcott thought otherwise.  Apparently, I am full of love.  However, instead of showing this love in some healthy, well-mannered way, I will go to the ends of the earth to rescue you from whatever problem you have.  This may be not having enough time to do chores around the house, to, in the case of friends (looking at you Mr. ENFP), dropping whatever is actually bothering me, to help you rescue your relationship.  Myself is never first.  Now, how we are going to fix that is beyond me.  I assume that is why you actually continue going to therapy.  But, the root of the problem is simple.  I am a fixer of all the problems.  And by golly, if you have a problem, I will fix it.  It’s very classic INTJ really.  We see above the whole situation and can hone in and take care of it.  And I do so excellently.  I do it at work.  I do it at home.  I do it socially.  If there is a problem, I have a solution, and chances are it’ll be good and effective.  So that’s what we’re going to work on.  Also interestingly enough, Mr. ENFP was quite aware of this (pre therapy), so when I called him flabbergasted at the latest misgiving of my husband, he let me vent all of my frustrations prior to telling me that his girlfriend had likely ended their relationship.  True to form, I immediately put my frustrations aside, and helped come up with a grand gesture in hopes of reconciling, which he dutifully followed.  True to form, they reconciled.  See.  Fixer.  It also speaks volumes that he’s sensitive to this, and spawns many many levels of questions that will have to wait quite some time, as he is in Europe for the next two weeks.

Also interestingly, the root of so many of my problems may not be my husband, but instead, my dad.  When we started going on these trips to Houston, I was supposed to essentially be a taxi driver.  I had to make sure he was where he needed to be, but the rest was up to my dad.  Now, I manage it all.  I book the hotel.  I figure out what we’ll do when we’re in Houston (although admittedly, it’s what I want to do, not what we want to do).  I find out and catalog where he needs to be when, and whether he can have food prior to whatever procedure he is having, and if he cannot, how far in advance he has to stop eating.  I keep up with where we need to be, and whether this is something that is a firm appointment, or soft arrival (i.e., labs are soft arrival.  As long as they’re done before the procedure that follows, who cares).  Pretty well, my dad just has the procedure done to him. I am 100% responsible for the rest.

Despite all of this fix-it ability, there is one relationship at work that is seriously suffering.  In the firm I work at, offices line the exterior walls with cubes on the inside.  It’s all open, and unfortunately the area is particularly live.  We have a younger, inexperienced, secretary who is an ESFJ (universally, this personally rubs me the most wrong, except for maybe my ISTP brother), and a member of the mean/pretty girl clique.  Why we still have these things past high school just boggles me.  In any case, a lot of the firm thinks she is delightful, which if you are in a position of authority, she is.  However, she’s dumb as a brick, and has zero desire to learn more, and is lazy.  I kid you not, she has said several times “I’m smart enough.”  That statement right there is why we can never be friends.  Unfortunately, my boss and her boss do a lot of work together, which means our work overlaps a great bit.  She is now 3 cubes down, which has helped us some, but not enough.  Today’s drama – she complained to HR about me using speaker phone.  Specifically, I used it twice.  Once, I dialed a long distance phone number and then picked it up after dialing.  The other time, I was on the phone with HER boss trying to edit something with HER boss.  So, the HR guy comes to me in his passive-lets-all-be-friends way, which I detest, and tells me how I can’t use speakerphone.  I immediately then email her boss that anytime she wants to edit something, I need to come to her or she needs to come to me.  We will see how this goes.  I detest office politics, but if what I’m doing isn’t wrong, you damn well better believe I will fight back.  I hear her cough, vape, and type all day with her fake fingernails on the keyboard, and never say a word.  Maybe that should change.

More therapy Tuesday.  Thank God it’s Friday.

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I have an aspie husband.

My husband was diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 29.  Though it had been suspected for years that he was an aspie, the official diagnosis came after hours and hours of testing and interviews.  We had been married for two years. At the time, the diagnosis was a beacon of hope, as it enabled him to receive services towards job placement, among other things.  Now, 6 years later, I see it as the beginning of the destruction of our marriage.

Since then, I’ve become a self taught expert on asperger’s and the neurotypical relationship.  I know what my husband’s needs and limitations are, and most of the time, try very hard to respect them.  However, asperger’s changes as you age, and with the onset of the diagnosis, it became an excuse, for pretty much any ill behavior.  I have always fought terribly hard for a social life of my own.  If he wanted to tag along, that’s great, but if not, that was ok too.  I was still going to see my friends.

3.5 years ago, after most of a year trying, we got pregnant.  The asperger’s diagnosis was looming large.  I always wondered if someone on the spectrum could truly care for and take care of an infant.  They can by the way.  I knew that I wanted a baby, and that worst case scenario, I could manage a (single) baby.  Unfortunately, my pregnancy was abominable.  I threw up every day, all day, from exactly 6 weeks.  By 16 weeks, it slowed down some, but then anything that so much as looked at my gag reflex would cause me to vomit.  At around 20 weeks, I swelled up like a balloon and at 24 weeks on the nose, began the trek down the road with preeclampsia.  I was fine until I wasn’t.  At 25 weeks, 1 day, our son was born.  He spent 3.5 months in the NICU, followed by another 4 months on house arrest as he came home during the worst RSV season in decades.  By that point, whatever social network I had was gone.

I struggled through that for about a year and a half.  At that point, I was miserably lonely, and questioning my own marriage.  See, the thing about aspies, is they can put on a good show to convince you they love you and woo you, while you’re dating.  Once you’re married, that show is unnecessary.  I’ve read countless places that NT wives felt duped, and admittedly, my husband and I have had conversations on several issues, where I felt the same way.  In any case, I reached out, on facebook to several friends of the past, notably all male.  I don’t know that I had dishonest intentions, but I don’t know that they were honest either.  I’ve always gotten along with guys, and I knew they wouldn’t want to talk about our kid.  Luckily, one of the friends I reached out to was Mr. ENFP.  Frankly, I owe a lot to him for the fact that I’m still married.  He has always championed the work it out attitude.

One of the traits of asperger’s is that an Aspie is very conflict averse.  So anytime there’s any sort of fight or disagreement, there’s this immediate need to fix it, now.  Except you don’t really fix anything.  You put a bandaid on it.  Finally, the wall of bandaids was so thick and tall with the wound festering underneath, the whole thing fell off.  I don’t know if we’ll stay married.  I get to this point of not wanting to be with him anymore, and then I sit with that, and get really sad.  Failure of any marriage is sad, but I sit in this circle of unknowns, because as sad as it is, I still love him.

Add to the mix, we now have a 2 year old, who is healthy and opinionated and wonderful, except when he’s being an asshole.  I have a dad who has lung cancer.  I’ve become the sole caregiver for everything MD Anderson related.  I have a VERY demanding job, which I love, but that sucks the life out of me.  And then I come home to a cold house, where even though I am with my husband, I’m alone.  I have made some new friends over the past year, in surprising places, and I think that  is what gives me the strength to go to therapy now.  That, and that Mr. ENFP has suggested it every time my husband and I have a fight.  The INTJ can be worn down.

Hopefully therapy will yield something positive.  At least there’s hope.

Dear World, I quit.

Dear World,

I quit.  I quit taking on all of the burdens of my family, friends and co-workers, while I slide deeper and deeper into the mud of my own anxiety without anyone pulling me out or lifting me up, or even noticing.  I quit allowing my needs and wants to not be met in relationships, whether with my husband, my family, or friends.  My needs are not second to yours.  I quit not putting myself first.  If I don’t ever put myself first, I will always be last.  While that’s been ok for 34 years, it’s not ok anymore.  I quit yielding my schedule to those around me.  Your schedule is not more important than mine.  My schedule always involves at least two other people.  My schedule trumps yours.  It is fixed and unvarying.  You can figure it out.  I quit allowing others to tell me what I need to do.  I’ll go to therapy when I’m ready, and to the therapist of my choice.  If I need a glass of wine or a muffin laced with a generally giving substance to calm down at the end of my day until then, then that’s ok.  If I need to pull all of the weeds out of the flower bed, or practice for two hours in the evening to calm down, that’s ok too.

I have a two year old, a husband, a demanding job, a time consuming friend, all of which are male.  I quit having men govern my life.

I quit apologizing for being weird.  I have an eccentric taste in music.  I have an eccentric taste in most things.  I’m not particularly friendly most of the time, and I hate emotions.  Crying is overrated.  I quit apologizing for feeling that way.

I quit not being me.   I am weird, and analytical, smart, and decisive.  I have a lot to offer the world, and I’m tired of nobody seeing that.

Dear World, I quit.  And you’re just going to have to deal with it.

John Popper’s Vaginal Teeth

Mr. ENFP works on occasion at a local music venue which houses both random, weird local to the area, and famous musicians, in this case, John Popper from Blues Traveler.  Specifically, he’s coming May 17.  Mr. ENFP is working for that show, and told me about it a month ago, and much to his surprise, I was a giddy little school girl.  He often tells me of the artists he meets, and most of the time it’s like telling me what you had for dinner.  But, I am a huge Blues Traveler fan.  Child of the 90’s I am.  So he and his friend, who also works at the MIM were talking, and the subject of John Popper came up.  Apparently the dude is a total tool.  Needless to say, the autograph I have been pining for will not be happening, and frankly, after further information, I don’t know that I want it.  His production company is called Vaginal Teeth.  Surely by decision of MIM, there will be no females on the crew that show.  When Mr. ENFP told me that, it was more than slightly off putting.  The vag gives life, and love, it doesn’t bite.  It’s soft and warm, and a place of safety.  Surely we all have our qualms about the vag (Is it itchy?  Does it smell ok?), but at its core is what makes me a woman.

The name – Vaginal Teeth – in itself is derogatory towards women.  It implies evil and malice – like the vag is out to get you, or something of that nature.  I’ve been running with this thought since 7am this morning.  In a world of #metoo, and all of the other movements that have come up, a name so blatantly anti women just is jarring.

I am sure whoever formed this company surely has some deep rooted issues towards women, none of which I can address.  Also, I know I wasn’t always perfectly wonderful towards men I dated.  I have been called cold on numerous occasions.  Once I decided I wanted out of a relationship, or that it wouldn’t work, I was done.  I never cheated.  I never intentionally inflicted harm.  And, now as a woman, half of my life is based on care.  I care for my husband.  I make sure clothes are ironed, people are fed, dogs are walked, etc.  I care for my son, which is obviously a time consuming endeavor, as life is with all two year olds.  I care for my dad, who has lung cancer, by going with him to MD Anderson every other month.  Those trips are no picnic.  They’re grueling, and long, and by the end, as much as I love my dad, we have to take a few days off from each other.   I care for Mr. ENFP.  I offer counsel to him.  I share my days with him.  We support each other.  I care for my male bosses.  I make sure they have what they need. I try to anticipate their needs for work.  All of this I do while having none other than a vagina.

I’d like to say I’ll get past this situation and be the avid fan that I always have been, but I’m really not sure.  While me and my vag don’t always have a loving relationship with each other, she’s mine.  She’s what makes me, me.  And really, that’s a lie.  My vag and I always do great together.  I know how to make her happy, always.  It’s when you start adding other parties to the mix that she can be picky.  Be kind to the vag.  Without her, none of us would be here.  She should be cherished and loved.

An evaluation and self reflection

I’ve been busy.  Work is busy.  The semester of class is winding up.  Life is busy.  We go on vacation in just over two weeks.  I go back to MD Anderson with my dad in just over a week.  But, as I enter a time of year where things try to tie themselves up into bows to relax over the summer, I can’t help but reflect over where I have been, and where I’ve come in a year.  Roughly a year ago (I’m not sure of the exact date, but we are right on top of it), Mr. ENFP and I reconnected.  At that point, I was lonely.  I had nothing pushing me forward.  I had a one year old who was almost two, who was as self-sufficient as one year olds are, but who was past the demands of infancy.  Life was waiting to open back up past motherhood.

A bit of a tangent, but everyone always talks about how much work it is to be a parent.  While I won’t disagree with that, to me, it’s not about it being so much work, but more this all-consuming life shift. You go from being an individual to a mother.  Suddenly this little life is your responsibility.  You have to make sure it’s fed, and rested, has clean clothes and a clean diaper, and you also have to provide for its safety and well-being.  Sometimes a baby just needs and wants to be held.  Though toddlers want that less, they still need it too.  Having come so early, he came with many complications, all of which have seamlessly resolved, but the suction into motherhood was hard and solid.

Anyway, you spend the better part of two years of your life in this all-consuming state.  Somewhere around the two year mark, the child gets just a little less dependent, or your brain says its had enough, or both.  That’s where I was this time last year.  My husband hadn’t yet gotten out of this state.  I was bored, and lonely, and just under stimulated in every way. Facebook would still occasionally suggest reaching out to people during this period, and while I didn’t do it when Facebook suggested that I reach out to Mr. ENFP, Facebook did suggest we reconnect.  It had annoyingly reminded me of his birthday.  10+ years of nothing from Mr. ENFP, and all of a sudden I would see when he liked or posted stuff.  Mr. Zuckerberg’s crew had ideas.  So I messaged him.  Apparently, I messaged him at the worst point in his life.  His marriage had fallen apart.  By all standards, his life was in a shambles.  As he entered summer, he entered this vast wasteland of nothing to do except drink and be miserable.

I am not prone to meddling in people’s business, but for whatever reason, I asked what happened, and probably pushed a little bit.  He’s always been more prone to sharing than I was, but shared he did.  Then I was involved.  My friend was floundering, and while I couldn’t necessarily make anything better, I could make sure that he didn’t get lost in the abyss.  The hours I have spent consoling and dissecting life with Mr. ENFP are real.  Looking back, he probably didn’t want to share with those too close to him, but he had to share with someone.  Someone who he’s known since high school who happens to be 1200 miles away was probably a safe bet. I remember him dropping the gauntlet over Facebook messenger while I was at work, and me literally pushing the chair back, having to digest out of shock.

So a year later, he’s a much shinier version of himself.  He’s doing well.  Really well.  Maybe he’s not where he wants to be, but I’m not totally sure he knows where exactly that is yet.  There’s all of this potential and energy bubbling just under the surface, waiting to explode.  He’s worried about summer as last summer was such awash on the things he wanted to do, yet didn’t. And while nobody ever does all that they want all the time (I mean, what would be left to do if we did?), I do fully believe he will, at the very least lay, the groundwork for something phenomenal this summer.  I have a lot of pride in seeing how far he has come.

Our friendship has made several significant evolutions over the year.  When I reached out to him, I don’t think I was looking for an affair, but I needed something.  I felt like I was mentally wasting away.  Admittedly, feelings from the past were resurrected, but those have burned and cooled.  There is a great amount of love there, I believe on both sides, but it’s the love of great friends.  It’s familial.  I defend him much like I’d defend a sibling (except I can’t stand my little brother, so really it’s what I imagine defending a sibling would be like).  There was a lot of insecurity at the beginning, and really until recently, on my part.  It’s not often that I open up to people.  It’s less often that I allow myself to need them.  Mr. ENFP pushed me to get back into music.  He pushed me to begin the work towards paralegal certification when I decided I had too much on my plate.  He pushed me to try to make friends with people.  While I don’t have a bursting circle of people around me, I do have more friends than I did a year ago.  One of them didn’t make the cut (ESFP + INTJ = loads of frustration), but not all friendships do.  Now, a year later, I’m mostly confident most of the time that Mr. ENFP is just my friend, and will always be my friend, whether we talk 15 times a day or 1 time a week.  That security will be put to the test in a few months, but that’s not now.

Likewise, my husband and I have made great strides over the past year.  We’re more intimate with each other.  We have more frequent and better sex than we did a year ago.  We haven’t made it back to the position of team, but we are both working towards that.  I am interested in seeing how our vacation will be. We’ve never taken a vacation with just the three of us, and our son has never been to the beach.  It should be both a wonderful and exhausting experience.  Usually I read about 6 books on the beach.  My goal is 1-2 this year.  I have been forewarned many times that going to the beach with a toddler is an entirely different experience than going to the beach as an adult.  I feel like there is a whole world of possibility brimming with us as well.  Time will tell.  We’ve both decided we are in this for the long haul, and the long haul is never a quick journey.

As for me, a year later, I still feel some unrest sometimes.  I’m in a phase of growth.  I can’t do real paralegal work until I am certified. That leaves a certain amount of boredom at work. Unfortunately, there’s still at least another year and a half of class for that.  Growth musically is slow and connections based.  The connections were dormant for so long that they take a while to push back together, but it’s coming.   My dad is still alive.  The trips to Houston are every other month.  They’re exhausting, but he is still alive and working, which is better than we were a year ago.  All in all, I’m in a better spot than I was a year ago.  Frankly, I have Mr. ENFP to thank for a lot of that.  Sure I had to do the leg work, as did he in his own life, but it’s nice to have an advocate who will both cheer you on relentlessly and call you out when necessary.

Large Peculiarities

There’s an article in the NY Times by Scott Korb on the college freshman’s essay.  He starts the article by reading an excerpt from William Finnegan’s “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life,” specifically quoting “Our queer devotions, frustrations, little triumphs, and large peculiarities, plus a few waterfront characters, plus photos, could probably keep a blog burbling along.” He asks his students to decipher the meaning, to which he gets nothing.  Frankly, in my opinion, as college freshman even at the New School, he should expect to get nothing.  He then goes into this bit about somehow along the way how the “I” is squashed out of our writing, and how at 18, or whatever, we’re considered inexperienced.  He then goes on to say that we should look at these young minds and take value in what they’ve experienced.

I agree.   Specifically, at what point does one person go from experienced to experienced?  I’ve worked in law for a decade.  By every stretch of the word, I’m experienced.  But, when did I cross that threshold?  Minus the subject matter, some of the best training I got was when I was 19 years old and working in the band hall at Ole Miss.  Working there taught me more about the fundamentals of how an office works than any other singular position.  There was a certain amount of pressing flesh (recruits coming to visit, not to mention the summer work that involved cold calling kids trying to get them to join band), deadlines for various things were monitored, not to mention the standard of answering the phone and working the copy machine.  You can argue that these events are seemingly inconsequential – and maybe they are – but working in the band office while at Ole Miss laid the foundation that ultimately set me up for the rest of my life.

Strangely, the rule of ‘thou shalt not speak in the first person’ in writing passes on to the real world.  In law, you ALWAYS work under the guise of the firm.  Everything is a we.  Always.  Nothing is ever an “I.” “I’s” open you up to liability.  You never act as a single person.  Whether one attorney or 15, it’s a we, always.  I assume it is the same way in every other professional field.  You work under the practice.  You are never yourself.  You are an agent of whatever it is.

Somewhere along the way, we manage to separate the “I’s” of our personal life, and “we’s” of our professional life, and experience and understand those large peculiarities which never as a freshman in college we’d have embraced.  For those of us who have a higher intellect, we allow ourselves to identify as weird.  We become familiar with our insecurities.  We understand where we are mainstream, and where we are not.  Maybe, we even become comfortable with it.  But, when does that happen?  It’s not an instant thing.  It’s largely gradual.  I remember being aware of my difference in late college, but unable to identify exactly what was different.  I now understand that my personality type automatically quantifies me as different, weird, strange, an anomaly, but those four letters alone don’t make me who I am.

One of my dearest friends is getting married in approximately three months.  The only things that are conventional about her wedding is that she has a white dress, and that it is in a church.  She has no engagement ring (they bought a piece of art in the desert).  Her bride’s maids (of which I am one) are on their own for dresses.  No guidance whatsoever, other than it should be pink, green, black, or white, or whatever.  Blue would be ok too.  Her bridal registry is anything other than what one normally registers for.  I could go on and on.  Seeing this, seeing everything play out makes me aware of how weird my friend is and has been our whole life.  I’d always considered her more normal as she always had lots of friends (she is an ENFP after all), but she is just as odd as can be.  I’m sure it’s why I like her so much.  Normal has never been a jacket I was comfortable with.

So what’s all of this about?  Just some thoughts, inspired by daily reading of the NY Times.  A blog is after all, my thoughts.  By default, it’s all about me.  It’s a comfortable embrace of the “I” position.  It’s my life.  It’s my story.  But mostly it’s my thoughts.

Rather than pretend like the experiences we have when we’re 15 or 18 or even 25 are worthless, maybe we should take them as building blocks.  When you encounter that young person, rather than labeling them as inexperienced, or naive, maybe, just maybe, we could take it simply as they’ve had less life than us and are perfectly experienced for their place in life.  Surely we can’t hand down the experiences of a 40 year old onto a 15 year old.  Why should they be held to the same standard?

Embrace the I folks.  It’s your greatest asset, aside from those large peculiarities.

Facing the spectrum

My husband has asperger’s.  He was diagnosed late in life, I believe he was 30.  We knew he was an aspie before the diagnosis, but as he was older, you had to have a psychiatrist referral for the testing, and his psychiatrist wouldn’t sign off on it.  Really, ultimately, it hasn’t mattered.  I don’t really do anything differently in our relationship than I did before I knew he was an aspie.  But, it brings a different colored light to things.  One of the things that is the most important for a well-functioning aspie is cognitive behavioral therapy (“CBT”).  As a neuro typical, no matter how introverted, we reach out into the rest of the world and ask (cognitively or not) how what we are doing affects the world around us.  Someone on the spectrum does exactly the opposite.  They ask how the world affects them.  Seeing a CBT helps keep the aspie opened up into the world just enough to pass for a little weird.  With the right therapist, things are great.  With the wrong one, they’re terrible.  Medical intervention is important, and he is on a variety of medications, but that therapy, that’s the make or break.

He had a therapist for many many years who was wonderful.  Frankly, I figured they’d grow old together.  He knew the whole family.  I’d been with my husband a few times.  However, therapists don’t generally make much money, and as things go, he decided to become a nurse practitioner.  Since then, my husband has gone to one of his partners, who was disastrous, another guy who is a CBT who would randomly cancel and miss appointments (also disastrous), and has recently began seeing a lady who is not a CBT, but was recommended by his psychiatrist.  She has requested to meet me, which is a first in our relationship.  My husband liked her on first meeting, but first meetings generally are pretty benign in the therapy world.  It’s like trying on a pair of jeans – ‘do you immediately not fit? No?  Well, I’ll keep coming to see you.’  Eventually you find that person who just gets it.

So tomorrow, my son will go to his grandmother’s and my husband and I will trot off to therapy.  I’m a little anxious.  I won’t lie.  This has, without a doubt, been a growing year for us.  As we approach our eighth anniversary of marriage, I feel the weathering we have taken this year.  Having a child who was born 15 weeks early takes its toll on any situation.  And children take so much time when they’re small.  This time last year, I truly felt as if I’d lost myself, and was dismally gray.  I am not exactly sure what I was looking for at the time, but when I reconnected with Mr. ENFP, I was looking for something.  Now, he stands kind of as that reminder that I need to consider myself occasionally.  He’s helped me get back into music which has been an excellent outlet for my life.  But, with Mr. ENFP’s friendship, I feel much stronger in my marriage.  I know what I want and need out of my marriage, and what I can’t get out of my marriage.

For me, marriage is a place of comfort.  It’s a refuge.  It’s a soft place to land.  We all take care of each other and love each other.  We encourage each other, but it’s not the place to challenge or push.  But, I need that perspective to keep moving forward – working towards paralegal certification, advancing my playing.  And that is where Mr. ENFP (and Dr. ENFP) come in.  He gives that edge of a push of accountability to make sure that I’m doing what I need to be doing, and when I’m not, he will call me out on it.  The situation is likewise, but this isn’t about him.  It’s about me.

I feel fairly confident that the subject of Mr. ENFP is going to come up tomorrow.  It’s been a sticking point in our marriage multiple times over the past year.  Frankly, I will be surprised if he doesn’t come up.  All week, I’ve been examining his role in our marriage, and I feel fairly certain my husband has been doing the same.  About 80% of what we talk about is musically related.  The friendship is mostly based out of accountability.  I’ve watched my husband examine this as well.  I hope he’s come to the same conclusion.

Therapy will be what it will be.  I’m going in with an open mind and an open heart.   Really, that’s all you can do.  I’ve been in this marriage for eight years, and have plans to be in it for many many more years.  I hope he sees that.