Clutter and Surprises

“The most interesting people you’ll find are ones that don’t fit into your average cardboard box. They’ll make what they need, they’ll make their own boxes,” Dr. Temple Grandin

Marriage and other things.

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly seven years since my husband and I met and got married. We dated for a whopping four months before we tied the knot. It has been a whirlwind marriage. We met on a dating website and what drew me to his profile was his love of God and his profession. He’s a physics and astronomy professor at a local college. I’ve had a lifelong obsession of astronomy, especially with the mysterious stuff like dark matter and dark energy, and how from the perspective of light, there is no time. A photon of light can literally be everywhere in the universe instantaneously. (Sort of parallels with the teachings of God and light, but I digress). It’s fun asking him the hard questions and trying to imagine what exactly is going on in the universe and explore the possibilities.

He is a really, really good guy.

Often, I have find myself frustrated with him for no apparent reason (now I believe it’s mostly sensory overload). He is able to keep his cool and help me come down from my craziness. We used to have disagreements quite often over many things because he has his idea about how things should be done, and I have mine. Being the way I am, I’m typically an all or nothing type thinker and I’m right all the time. So says me…

Several years ago, I had our second child 15 months after our first one while we were living in a three bedroom apartment. We had SO MUCH STUFF the piles were literally falling over everywhere. Every single corner of the apartment was stacked with stuff. To be fair we moved from my husband’s house into a smaller space with all our stuff combined and it was just too much to handle. With the overwhelming task of caring for two high needs babies along with my stressful job and my husband working a lot, it was too much to take.

That’s when I discovered (through a friend) a magical woman named Marie Condo.

She encouraged me to get rid of all my crap.

And boy did I.

My husband is a sentimental guy. To be fair he lost both his parents several years ago so he feels very connected to the things they owned and have passed down to him.

I’m not sentimental.

At all.

I discovered how not sentimental I was when I started sorting through everything I owned and realized I could get rid of it ALL. It took me a few weeks to go through everything I had and paired down to 1/10th of what I previously owned. It felt so incredible. My mind was able to rest for the first time in over a year. I wasn’t nearly as tense as I was before. There was less crap to trip over. It was truly amazing.

Getting my husband on board was a totally different matter. He was very resistant at first but started with the way too small 80’s sweaters he wore when he was a teenager. Pretty sure they are back in style again. HA.

Then he moved onto other parts of the closet and by the time he was done, it was amazing. There was room between articles of clothing.  You could actually see every single article of clothing we owned, and wore every stich of it (ignoring the Star Trek uniform in the back). The noise in my head had quieted and I had room to think clearly for the first time since my children were born. I never realized how much clutter impacted my mental space. I highly recommend everyone get the Marie Condo book and start sparking joy in your lives with owning less!

My husband is an amazing guy. He is resilient, jovial, happy go lucky, everything I am not. He helps me not take life too seriously. Sometimes I get stuck in my head or obsess over something and he reminds me to put things into perspective.

It helps.

My husband likes to tease me about things. It’s funny. Before I figured out I am autistic, he would always tease me. I knew he was but I still took it seriously. I can’t help it. Even today when he teases me, I cannot help myself but take it seriously. My brain gets so confused! When we first got together, I thought he was making fun of me by teasing me. It would hurt my feelings when he meant just the opposite and was trying to show his affection by the teasing.

Teasing me always made me feel insecure. I could never figure out what people’s intensions were, if they were being seriously mean or playful. After my autism discovery, my husband teases me even more, about being autistic. Don’t get offended. He means it with love. If you met him you would understand he would never say something mean or rude on purpose. Finding out about my autism has helped him a lot to understand how to better communicate with me. Before I made this discovery, we would often have a misunderstanding because I couldn’t figure out our nuanced conversations. I could easily have entirely missed the point and we could end up in a fight. That would be extremely frustrating for both of us because of the lack of understanding on both of our parts.

Since my autism discovery, our worlds have gotten so much better. He just slightly changed how he approaches things with me and my reactions to things are completely different.

For instance, I hate surprises. If he wants a friend to come over for the afternoon, I need to know in advance. Several years ago, he would make plans to have a buddy come visit us and they would go out but wouldn’t give me notice. It drove me crazy! Not because I wanted to control him and what he does. Rather I really prefer to know exactly what’s going to happen in my near future. Turns out I really don’t care if he wants to hang out with his buddies, I just like to know way in advance.

The reason why it’s so important for me is because we have two little kids and we have a lot on our plate. When he would go off with his buddy unannounced for an evening, the image of how I thought our evening would go is suddenly shattered. I use the word shattered because that’s how it felt. Take a window or mirror and drop it. All those pieces are completely broken on the floor, never to be recovered or be the same again. Life falls apart. The result is I would be grumpy, sharp with my tone or be completely unable to communicate my thoughts or feelings. If I had known several days in advance, I would have time to imagine what the evening will look and be like, then I could adjust my expectations accordingly.

Turns out I am grateful he can have space to be social with his friends. He needs that time. It’s who he is. He is a social butterfly that needs constant interaction with other people. I get that and I’m happy he feels like he can comfortably get what he needs, as long as there are no surprises on my end.  We both understand that respecting each other is fundamental in a relationship. The problem on my end was I didn’t know what I needed from him and I couldn’t figure out how to communicate that to him. It was very frustrating for both of us. Now however, we are both able and willing to talk about what we need from one another and it’s pretty awesome things are really starting to fit together so much easier and our understanding of each other’s needs are so much more clear.

Until next time….

Published by Women and Autism

I turned 40 this year and just recently discovered I'm autistic. This is the story of my life and my discovery.

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