A Love Story

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A story courtesy of my therapist with quite a lot of embellishment on my part.

Once upon a time there was a couple, who like most couples, were as different from one another as night and day. The man was sturdy and pragmatic; a man of few words. He loved to take things apart to see how things worked and LOGIC was his middle name.

The woman had an openness with people and was sentimental about those things she deemed important. She was a lover of words and was as bohemian and adventurous as her husband was stalwart and they lived together in a rather small house, that was dominated by a rather large hutch, that the wife inherited from an uncle she met once when she was four years of age. As often happens in these cases, a large piece of furniture like a hutch can rarely be left to stand empty; so the wife slowly began to fill it with cups, which after several years became a collection of sorts.

The first cup that was bought came from a grand old lodge in the Adirondacks where the couple spent their honeymoon. It was a good solid cup in a rustic and homey sort of way. It cost $20 which seemed wildly extravagant in those days but she loved it and so her husband surprised her with it when they got home so “our honeymoon can continue forever,” he said.

The second cup, the one with a small chip on the handle,  was picked up at a flea market at a small country church. The couple had stumbled upon it on their way home from the annual pilgrimage to his parent’s farm which was located in the boon docks of the state. It was a place people rarely visited and home to more cows than people but the imperfect cup needed a family and so it came home with them and their new puppy, a mottled brown dog that they named Boonie.

About a year later the third cup was won at the local county fair by the husband after he successfully threw a ring around a bottle. It surprised them both because neither had known that the man had a talent for this particular kind of endeavor. It was an ugly pea-green color that was too big to hold a decent amount of coffee without going cold and it was too small for a pint of cold beer but nevertheless it was given a place of honor on the shelf.

And so it went…a fourth cup soon joined the third and the fifth came after the birth of their first child. Soon the top shelf was filled with cups of all shapes and sizes and every morning the wife was delighted as she opened her hutch and studied the cups pondering which one she would use that day.

As the years went by upon occasion the wife began to ask her husband  to buy her a cup when he was away on business. But he was a pragmatic sort of chap and didn’t see the need for yet another cup in the house. He always used the same cup day in and day out and saw no reason to change. He was baffled about his wife’s cup “obsession” and began to resent the money she spent buying them and the time she spent taking each cup down for a decent dusting and so he refused to indulge in his wife’s request for more cups.  But sometimes when he went out-of-town on business he would remember her request and bring her home a piece of homemade candy or something that the area was known for instead; but he never brought her a cup. And while the wife appreciated his gesture it sometimes hurt her feelings that he would not give her her hearts desire…a cup that he had taken the time to pick out just for her just as he had on their honeymoon. Then after a while she began to wonder if he even loved her at all because he wouldn’t give her a cup when he knew how much she desired this of him. And while she knew her worth could not be measured by the appearance of a mere cup sometimes it felt as if its absence spoke volumes about how her husband saw her and it validated her belief that her husband didn’t love her enough to do something as simple as buying her a cup. Slowly their connectedness to each other began to diminish due to her resentment and his withholding.

One day, as the woman was dusting her collection, her husband asked her, “Why is it that you seem to delight in taking each cup down and dusting it? It is a lot of work to keep those cups clean. Why do you do it?”

“I do it because everyday when I open the hutch our story together continues. When I reach for this one, she said, pulling out a dark purple cup covered in roses; I remember the first time we went to the public gardens over by the shore. I bought it because it reminded me of how you picked that lily and handed it to me with a flourish. Then we left immediately, afraid we would be thrown out of the gardens forever and hauled off in the paddywagon. We laughed hysterically as we made our getaway….remember?”

Her husband chuckled. Yes, he too had fond memories of that summer’s day.

“And this one with the hearts on it is from the time you surprised me with tickets to see my favorite band.”

“Let me guess. Was that the time I took you to see Heart?” he said with a laugh.

“Of course” she said with a smile.

As his wife shared her memories about each cup her husband realized that he had not understood his wife’s delight in each cup because he did not understand the story. His unit of measurement of love was different from hers. While he had just seen cups; she saw more and she remembered the closeness and the joy she felt when she was with her husband and bought a cup in remembrance of those special times together. To her the cups were proof of their love story and for that reason she treasured each and every one.

The next morning the man watched as his wife opened the doors to the hutch and pondered which cup she would use that day. Her face lite up with delight as she removed the tiny white one adorned with four-leaf clovers and his did too as he remembered the trip they took to Ireland for their 20th anniversary.

Several weeks later the man headed off on yet another business trip. But this time when he arrived home he decided he would surprise his wife with a cup. So he searched high and low until he found the perfect one at an old antique shop on River Street. It reminded him of the weekend they had traveled the South searching for the perfect painting to go over their mantle but brought home a four-poster bed from Georgia instead. A bed that had brought each so many nights of pleasure since the day they hauled it, huffing and puffing up the stairs and through the hall to their room which lay furthest west from the front door.

As she unwrapped the box her husband felt a kind of happiness he hadn’t felt in a long time. It was a sort of hungry anticipation for seeing the delight he knew his wife would feel when she saw the cup and he wasn’t disappointed.

“Georgia?” his wife said as she admired the cup and her husband’s good taste.

“That was one special weekend, wasn’t it?”

“I think about it every night we lay together in our bed,” she replied with a shy grin.

These days, when he goes away, the husband, upon occasion,  looks for the perfect cup to give his wife. Sometimes he comes home with one and other times he doesn’t because he hasn’t found one that would be meaningful to them. But when he does arrive with the perfect cup in hand he savors the simple delight of his wife has when receiving her cup, while his wife savors the connectedness she feels with him as they discuss each of his finds. Because once the husband understood the entirety of the story sitting within the hutch it allowed him to give his wife her hearts desire and she began to see the other things her husband did to nurture their relationship. Their story was no longer about the absence of a cup. Instead, it was a story that morphed into the connectedness and delight  the couple felt towards one another that was renewed once each understood and appreciated the other’s story and soon they begin living with hearts wide open towards each other just as they had when they were first married .

It never really was about the cups after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Returning Home

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Tomorrow I head back home after seven days away and sometimes I wonder what I am going home for and who I am going home to. You tell me that you are all fine. That things are going along comfortably without me. It makes me wonder what is the purpose of my being there when it is so obvious that my being there is not what you want?

This morning when you told me that you asked the kids whether they missed me it made me wonder whether you had an ulterior motive. I mean, who asks their kids that? Kids always miss their mothers. Or were you hoping that they would say no so you wouldn’t feel guilty about what it is you appear to want to do?

But more importantly, the fact that you could not and would not give me what I needed…love words…speaks volumes about where our relationship is at. It crushed my soul that you feel such distaste for me that you could not say you missed me and you loved me. Whether you wouldn’t or your couldn’t…neither one is acceptable for is shows a lack of respect, caring and obviously the type of love that is needed for a marriage to flourish. Shutting down only allows you to keep yourself shut off and to reflect back any love that is directed to you which then allows you to convince yourself that I don’t love you. And it is all because you don’t want that love…at least from me. Or so it would appear.

Even more importantly, I wonder what parts of myself I should bring back and what parts I should leave behind that would help you to love me again. Which parts do I leave at the door because they are no longer desired or is it a matter of just not stepping over the threshold at all because there is nothing there that appeals to your sense of what a marriage should be. And it makes me resentful that I feel that I have to leave the best parts of me at the door to get your approval. That I have to drop off that introspective part, my inquisitive nature, and the part that believes you when you say “I love you” at the prompt.

After we talked this afternoon you said that the letter I sent you made you feel that you always disappointed me but to me telling your lover what it is you need is giving them the opportunity to create a better relationship. And me too. Yet, if the truth be told I think you USE that fact that you feel like you disappoint me as an excuse to be bitter and to prove to yourself that you are right. That nothing you do will make me happy. But I should be able to state my thoughts without being made to feel like if I do that you will think that you disappoint me. Often I believe that if I just smiled and never told you how I felt about anything that would make you happy and comfortable because you would never have to look at things that you didn’t want to. You could live in la-la land being happy while I became more and more miserable being something I am not. I mean if I can’t say in the kindess way I know how what I need from a relationship then I think that a life size blow up doll is your next option. Probably a skinny brunette.

As it is I wish you would ask yourself why you could not and would not assure me of your love? Why would you not say you missed me? Are you withholding because you no longer love me? If so, I can tell you that it feels cruel and inhumane. It feels life taking not life giving.

Yes, I know that yesterday I discussed that fact that holding onto our hurts only increases our own suffering and it does. I know this to be true because yesterday, I did let them go and they left leaving behind the lessons to unpack and contemplate. Yet, here they are back again and this feels like a major disappointment to me because it feels like I have failed myself as I pull out this hurt once again. But I hope in writing all of this, that by seeing my words in front of me, I can let it go and start concentrating on the lessons that are presenting themselves so I can grow.

Maybe it is all baloney. Maybe I can never be that type of person. Maybe I am just kidding and deluding myself but I  would like to think not. I believe that I can and will be able to re-train my brain into seeing things in a new light. And that if I can start to apply what I have learn from these lessons that I find myself intertwined in at this moment;  that someday in the not so distant future that I will finally not allow myself to give you such power over my own emotions. That I will learn to let go of things I cannot control and accept those things that I cannot.

Acceptance isn’t instantaneous. Learning how to allow acceptance to float throughout your life takes practice. Learning that you will not get everything you want from your relationship and you might have to find other ways to fill the void is something I am beginning to seriously consider and am searching for ways in which I can have my needs meet through my own actions rather than yours. It will take a while more. I am still learning. How long it will take I cannot say. But I know that when I come to accept you and myself that things will improve dramatically.

Until then I know that I am doing the best I can working with what I have got at this moment in time. If it is not enough for you then I am truly sorry. If it is, then I hope you have the courage to give me the time that I need to complete this journey that I am on, on my own terms and at my own pace. If you cannot, then you will lose out on something wonderul in the future. I may not know much but this much I know to be true.

 

 

Brain where social behavior occurs is different for those with High Functioning Autism

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In a new study released yesterday, researchers at UCLA determined that areas in the brain that are associated with social behavior were less developed and lacked sufficient networking in high functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) individuals as compared to their neurotypical peers.

The study noted that ASD subjects showed an increased blood flow in the frontal areas of the brain which is linked to higher oxygen metabolism in those parts of the brain that are used to navigate social situations. This is opposite of individuals not on the spectrum whose blood flow is reduced as they mature. According to scientists increased blood flow suggests that in persons with ASD there is delayed neurodevelopment in these front areas of the brain that are responsible for social-emotional cognition. The study is consistent with MRI findings of enlarged brain size due to a lack of pruning as the brain develops.

The study also found a lack of long-range connections between the front of the brain and the back. This apparent lack of connectivity means that information is impaired between distant areas of the brain leading to a decreased social responsiveness in persons with ASD.

Researchers hope that in utilizing information gleaned from this study that in the future scientists may contribute to developing an even earlier way to diagnosis and perhaps treatment ASD. And that would be great for families who have young children and are just starting down this long and often challenging road. Because if I am completely honest, and I could have given my sons pills to alter their autism so that social-emotional dealings would have been easier for them their entire life; I would have done it in a minute. For as a mother you don’t like to see your child suffer by being the outcast, being teased, being rejected and being bullied day in and day out. Sometimes the lengths to which people will go to hurt and embarrass others are just mind-blowing. Never mind having to fit in with the other kids, ASD kids often are surrounded by adults who unintentionally/intentionally contribute to their ostracism and loss of self-esteem leading to a high rate of suicide in this segment of the population.

Yet, at some point as people with ASD mature they come to recognize what is unique and wonderful within themselves and these future “treatments” no longer appear to be the miracles that they might be considered to be when a child is two years old. Both of my sons say they are happy being who they are, autism and all. Both do not see a “miracle” pill being part of their lives. And I am happy that they feel that way but as their mother also know that no child or family should have to go through what they have gone through to get where they are now. I find nothing noble in suffering and my children were not put on this earth to be the moral compass and recipients of those without ASD practicing their seven virtues to buy their way into heaven. So while I welcome advances in ASD medicine, I will do so on the side lines. But I will cheer on and support those parents of the future who may be presented with opportunities to change the lives of their children in ways that are most likely for the better. For everyone deserves to be able to reach their full-potential which is something many with ASD are denied.

Sweet Emotions…Or Not…305 Days To Fix This

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This is REAL music

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfTa8QhbB_M&list=RDDfTa8QhbB_M#t=0

The other day B and I were talking when he said, “When you express your emotions you are not thinking about others you are only thinking of yourself. It is selfish.”

I was dumbstruck. Stopped dead in my tracks. Bowled over and stone cold. After twenty-nine years of marriage I finally found this out. Well, that explains a lot…especially about our relationship and about B himself.

You see, I thought my wearing my heart on my sleeve and being totally transparent was what attracted people to me. You know what kind of person I am within five minutes of meeting me. Yes, I have deep layers, but people who know me understand that for the most part what you see is what you get. All these years I believed my openness and honesty were a few of the qualities that make me irresistible to B. Obviously, I was wrong.

Where do I go with this information? I honestly do not know. For if sharing your emotions makes you selfish then what he is saying is that I am one of the most selfish people he knows because I don’t believe in hiding who you are from anyone. Never have, never will. I think it stems from situations I encountered as a child. Whatever it is, I don’t like trying to guess other’s emotions or being less than candid about my own.

At the same time, I do recognize that the uninterrupted emotions of a Drama Queen can be overwhelming for those dealing with her. Constant emotional chaos is draining  and having to live within a cloud of emotional debris is life defeating not life affirming.  But I am not one of those women. I’m just your normal run of the mill woman who near her period gets a little more emotional than the other 25 days of the month. Nothing extreme.

If being a normal person with normal emotions whose expression of them makes B uncomfortable than he has a HUGE problem and it is one that I cannot fix for it is his issue alone. I can hand him the shovel but ultimately it is B who has to dig down to find the treasure chest of emotions that makes life rich, full, and complete. I hope for his sake that he will dig fast.