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It'll take time - and I accept that.

Tuesday


Drove to meet Meg on Saturday morning. Woke up early, had a shower, got the paper as soon as the village shop opened. Then posted it through the letterbox at my parents and set off. The drive was easy enough, I made good progress as I left around 6:05 and so the roads were very quiet. Got there 15 minutes early.

We hung out on Saturday, watched Louis Theroux documentaries and Monty Python films – Holy Grail and Life of Brian. I tidied up her dreads for quite a few hours. Eventually it had my neck aching though, so we had to adjust how I sat. A lot of her dreads had matted into one big mass. So I had to snip and trim hair and shape them into individual dreads. One matted clump had 5 or 6 dreadlocks coming out of it. Might sound unappealing to some – but I thoroughly enjoyed doing it.

Crocheting dreads is relaxing, and because the hair at the base of the dreads was already matted, it made twisting and forming individual roots for the dreadlocks rather streamline. She was very pleased with the results. I managed to save one dread that was wayward and very thin at the base. She said she didn’t mind if it was lost, or removed. But I managed to cut some hair away from other dreads whose base at the roots was too wide, or was overlapping other dreads, which really they should’ve been a part of.

In the end I crocheted the hairs into this very thin dreadlock, and I pushed and manipulated what I crocheted to thicken up and even out the dreadlock. When I asked her how she’d done the dreads, she said she had crocheted in the early days but basically let it do it’s own thing for years. I found it thoroughly satisfying to work on them and tidy them up. I had a few “project” dreadlocks – one’s that were very skinny, could easily break at the base under the right/wrong circumstances. Thickened them up. One was really wavy, like a road winding up a mountain. I managed, with a fair amount of time, effort and force – to push together the “S” bends in the dread, and manipulate the crochet hook to effectively merge the “S” bends together, thus making the dreadlock a solid, straight knot, rather than all the weirdness.

Her locks are very long though. I could literally spend weeks on them. But that’s just how I’d want to do them. The reality is that won’t happen. I’m happy to tidy them up now and then. I’ve probably done about 12 hours worth of tidying since we first met. I feel quite honoured she lets me do it, and she’s very thankful that I’m happy to lend a helping hand.

I’ve been going at my dreads a lot recently. Tidying and tightening them. I realised the 2 locks on either side of my head, behind the ears will need to be shaved when I shave my top and sides, otherwise they’d be too far forwards and look odd. I ate 5 digestive biscuits in one mouthful. Meg took pictures as events unfolded. Hard not to choke, but I managed it. One picture she took was me outside the van, and I saw how my hair had balded – in natural sunlight with the head tilted in a way that was unnervingly revealing. I know I live in a hat, but when you look front on in the mirror, the hair loss doesn’t look anywhere near as bad as the reality. It made me want to shave my hair sooner rather than later. I was kind of disgusted with how it looked to tell the truth. But it’ll be years before the dreads are long enough for this bald head, pony tail at the back to look half way convincing. Living in a hat that long feels duplicitous.

Sexual tension wasn’t that bad on the weekend. A few moments we caught each others look, and my heart skipped a beat. In the evening before bed there wasn’t any tension, which was probably helped by the fact that Meg had started her period too, and that acts as a natural barrier of sorts too I guess.

We had good food and sugary snacks throughout the weekend. On Sunday morning we went for a wander and took some photos of mushrooms. On Sunday afternoon we did a bit of staffing. The van got too hot a few times with the log burner lit, but it was lovely and toasty and cosy during the weekend, what with the weather outside mainly being wet and windy.

I left on Monday morning, prior to anyone else arriving on site, although as I drove down to the entrance gate, there was someone parked up waiting to get onto site. Originally I had built up the idea of meeting Meg’s work colleagues and having a brief chat and meeting new people prior to leaving site, but on the morning I was feeling anxious about all sorts, and the idea of meeting new people, and site going from what I’d known the whole time – an empty location asides from me and Meg, to being filled with people and vehicles etc. plus with all the mud on the tracks and field – I just got a bit overwhelmed and started feeling like I’d feel trapped or claustrophobic.

When I left, I’d expected a goodbye hug, but Meg went to open the gate, ask the guy in the car who was parked up who they were etc, and opened the gate to let us in/out. The expectation of a hug that wasn’t met had me feel down, I drove past, looked to her as she smiled and waved at me, and I knew I had “that look” on my face – the one where I’m not feeling good, and my forehead wrinkles, inner eyebrows arch upwards and, yeah. Expectations eh? It’s what bruises our ego and hurts the most.

I drove away and felt down, but then I realised what I was doing with my expectations. Reality was I’d had a lovely weekend, and just because we didn’t get a few seconds at the end to have a goodbye hug shouldn’t put a downer on anything. I expected something, it didn’t materialise – move on.

I’m glad there wasn’t much sexual tension. I hope that feeling like I’m waiting when Meg is in the village will dissipate once she’s finished at the dig site on Wednesday. Once she’s back, I need to just be sensible about all this. Thing is, I know the co-dependency exists. I give a lot when I date someone, and I forgo myself and end up wearing myself out on a number of levels. Truth is, since we split up, I have put in a lot of time and energy into keeping in contact, and meeting up etc.

We spoke end of last week and Meg said she’d read about me mentioning co-dependency in the friendship and wasn’t sure if less time around each other might help. Truthfully, it might – but we both said we didn’t want to force ourselves to not talking or meeting up as often.

So it’s a bit tricky really, I know that we get on well, and that I don’t have many friends. Thus, I’m happy to talk to her a lot. Yet, I know this dynamic isn’t sustainable when circumstances change. So, should I pre-empt and reduce contact, or maintain and tackle the changes as and when they happen? Truth is, nobody can predict the future, and I should not change my present for potentials, or expectations of the future.

Meg likes to use an analogy for “energy spoons” and it’s basically working out what you have time and energy for, so you don’t stretch yourself too thin. Truth is, the co-dependency is there, in so far as I think my self worth is attached to Meg. When I see her, I feel really good, when I’m not around her, I feel quite wayward. Sexual tension has decreased which is good, but my desire to spend lots of time talking or around her hasn’t really abated. I’m going to pace myself today. We messaged briefly in the morning, but not in a back and forth flowing conversation. I will chat a bit tonight if she’s about, but I need to be living my life, rather than living it through someone else.

I figured I’d leave the ball in her court for meeting up once she’s finished at this dig site. Fact is, I’m happy to meet up whenever, so it’s more about when she wants to meet. Now, is that co-dependence? Shaping my free time to her availability? Realistically I think it’s freeing up my free time, rather than me suggesting we do x, y or z. I simply said – let me know if you want to meet up for a walk, or food, or a gaming session. Leave it open ended like that. Truth is, my free time is usually spent in my own company, so I’m happy to meet whenever, provided I have a bit of notice, although doing spontaneous things works too.

I messaged her and we discussed it in brief. She said, and rightly so, that it can’t all be on her to decide when to meet. Seemed logical to me, but it has to be a back and forth. I suppose I just assumed me pretty much spending most of my free time on my own meant it’d be easier for her to say when she’s free to meet. Anyway, the conversation and alternate perspective was appreciated.


Wednesday


Last night’s dinner was odd, but I blogged about that earlier this morning. Yesterday evening was spent on No Man’s Sky. Did some this morning too. I need a better spaceship with equipment, as I’ve lost several fights against multiple ships and when the ship dies, you lose all equipment that was in your ship’s inventory. Which is rather painful when you’ve spent a whole evening or several days gradually building up your supplies. I suppose I should just avoid planets with aggressive sentinels. Soon as they spot you, they call in spaceships to their aid. So you can’t truly escape from them without killing several, and then about 5-10 seconds after beating the first lot of spaceships, more arrive. It gets a bit hairy.

Had a realisation this morning why things feel a little odd knowing Meg is returning back to Haddenham. Not only was it the worry I might feel like I’m back to waiting for her to be available to meet. I think as well, that when she started working and the relationship was long distance – I was looking forward to her returning back home after her work was complete. Now that is happening, but under different circumstances now that we’ve split up. All part of the acclimation process.

I noticed playing my Xbox rather than being on my PC in the evenings means I spend less time responding on WhatsApp. I need to just be sensible with the amount of time invested. Truth of the matter is that I’m happy to talk to people via instant messenger, and because I don’t get many people messaging me out of the blue, and I’ve always been the one putting in a lot more effort in conversations – I guess having Meg message me out of the blue during the day feels rather special. I’ve discussed this before though, and I understand that instant messaging isn’t for everyone, people can go through phases of usage, whereas me, sat in my room most of my free time, all the while sat in front of a computer means that instant messaging to me is a lifeline out to friends I’ve made. Even then, the friends list is rather small, and with most not having much time to actively respond regularly – it feels like a bit of a fool’s errand at times.

Before I finished work yesterday I messaged Kristy on Messenger to see how she was. She replied when I was driving home, so I hit the record button and sent a few voice messages. She ended up calling me and we chatted. She’s encountered similar anxieties, catastrophic thinking and uneasiness with her new, long distance relationship who lives in America. On Monday he only said “good morning” and didn’t reply all day. On Tuesday he said he had a migraine. But Kristy spent all day Monday worrying, panicking and it escalated. Her anxiety was bad and in the end she struggled sleeping and was worrying herself sick.

Kristy said she understood now how my anxiety was, back when we dated. I asked her plainly – did she like Bran more than anyone else she’s dated. She said it felt awkward admitting it, but yes. I said I knew where she was coming from as I felt the same way about Meg, and it meant my fear of the relationship ending or me losing her was so strong, that the worries, “what if’s” and anxious rumination were very pronounced. The times when she didn’t reply for hours, the tension built and built, until breaking point at times.

It was good me and Kristy could relate. Looking back on it – life is a lot simpler being single. My anxiety during our relationship was often extreme. Both in social situations with numerous people, or when me and Meg weren’t around each other, and I constantly felt like I was waiting. Kristy echoed that – she said she feels like she’s constantly waiting for Bran to reply etc.

It’s an obvious statement – but anxiety sucks, and chronic anxiety just feels unfair.

So I’m interested to see how I acclimate in the coming weeks and months. It’ll get easier – me and Meg both know that. Said to Kristy last night that I think I will struggle on a variety of levels when Meg finds someone else. Again, not a new topic of thought or in my blog. Truth is, it’ll be good to see Meg happy, and moving on – that’s the logical side. The emotional and anxious side will probably view the new person as better than me, and the inner-critic may well have a field day. Plus, I know whenever it happens will also signify a reduction in free time for us to talk and meet up etc. So I guess it’s a double whammy. But, I don’t get that with Kristy. I was happy when she met Erik, even if it was so soon after we broke up. I was happy when she got speaking with Bran. Mind you – it’s been over 18 months since me and Kristy split up, and I didn’t feel anywhere near as much of a connection with her compared to Meg. Plus, I’ve still got a lot of self-worth tied up in Meg and I’m working on trying to move away from that co-dependency. Truth is - I have no right to get upset when she moves on, and equally, I don't want Meg to worry that I'll struggle when she does meet someone new. It's never 'all or nothing' though - my world won't come crashing down when she starts dating again, however - it won't all be smooth sailing when it happens either. I'll probably throw numerous hurdles in front of myself, but I'll overcome them.

Acclimating. It’s the name of the game, and a term me and Meg have been repeating. Truth is – my anxiety has improved since being single. Not only that, but I need to regain my independence, because that is something I willingly give up when in a relationship. I end up living for the other person, and giving myself to them. It’s too self-sacrificing and very unhealthy. Self-care fell by the wayside too, as did maintaining friendships etc. with other people.

Thing is, when we dated, Meg regularly mentioned doing things for myself, not pushing myself too hard in order to try and impress her etc. I agreed, and said I knew this – and I did, but I didn’t follow through with it. In every relationship I give up independence, and self-progress tends to grind to a halt. Which again, serves as another reminder that I need to focus on me. Therapy, living for myself, independence, van life – working towards where I want to be. Yes, when someone comes along and likes you, it feels great. But I’ve felt bad in myself for such a long time, that when someone like that does show interest – I drop everything and end up pursuing them, and in a very unhealthy way.

Enough of that. I’m grateful for the experiences, and the introspection our relationship provided. Also the friendship that emerged from it. But, I need to be sensible here. I continued to put in a lot of energy into our friendship, and continued to neglect various other aspects of my life. Between that and the job – a lot of other important aspects of my life fell onto the backburner. I need to reassess and try and ensure I’ve got more of the basics covered. Things like brushing my teeth and hygiene, reading (as that let slip recently too), keeping up with laundry and exercise. At least diet has been improving. Less snacking on really unhealthy stuff and eating better.

It'll take time - and I accept that.

Concentration has been all over the place recently. But I can easily chalk that up to recent weeks, stress, emotional fatigue, new job, progressively feeling more alienated and frustrated living at my parents etc. I'll get there. I don't give up hope on that account, it's just that prolonged feeling of being in limbo right now.

Meg said it'd be nice if I got to a point where I'm doing plenty of things which meant I wasn't always free to meet up with Meg when she asked. Reality is - I spend most of my time on my own. I rarely go out to be social, and when I do it lasts a few hours at most before I'm fatigued and want to get out of there. Once the van is done, my plan is to embrace being a recluse even more. Sure, it'd be nice to paint a picture of a future where I'm more social, and outgoing and doing this, that and the other. But that isn't my reality. I tried socialising and doing lots of stuff - tried with Meg, tried when I dated Katie. I lasted a few months one summer when I was 21 with socialising almost daily and going to house parties and illegal raves on weekends. But I burnt out. I can't maintain that level of busyness and socialising - it's just not who I am.

Ed

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