Had another therapy session on Friday. And none too soon, I might add. I had been stressed and irritable all week – very much on edge, like a cat that you’ve repeatedly pet backwards from tail to head. As the week went on, I was bristling more and more, flexing my claws and waiting to lash at the VERY NEXT PERSON who DARED utter something mortally offensive, like “Hi” or “What time is it?”
Therapy is one of those spinach-and-broccoli exercises. You don’t really want to chew and swallow what’s in front of you, but you know it’s good for you do to so, and besides, there isn’t really a more effective way to clean it off your plate. It’s not like some mental Labrador will come by and happily lick it off for you and make it magically vanish.
So I went. And we talked about how I had cleaned out my closet, per our last session. We then went back to talking about my marriage and our relationship. Although things had been better since he threw out the shirts, I just didn’t understand why I was so angry and irritable this week.
After some back-and-forth, it came out that I’m simply not getting enough attention. Yep. Like a spoiled child, I need more focus on ME ME ME to be happy.
I just want some dedicated focus from my husband.
Back story that I should explain – the hubs is, we suspect, on the autism spectrum. His older boy has the official diagnosis, but in all honesty, he’s just like his daddy. Back in the day <cue old fogey music and bored teenagers rolling their eyes> they didn’t diagnose all these disorders and spectrums and so forth. You just sat in class and did the best you could, and if you slipped up, you got whacked with a ruler. WHICH THEY’D TOTALLY ARREST YOU FOR NOW.
Anyway. So one of the behavioral markers for autism spectrum disorder is an intense focus on certain items of interest. Need new shoes? Drop everything and ORDER IMMEDIATELY. Think you might need a new car? Be first in line on Saturday to test drive, after staying up all night reading back issues of Consumer Reports. Got a new video game? MUST PLAY UNTIL VICTORIOUS WITH ALL CHARACTERS.
This trait makes the hubs really good at programming. (Some companies specifically recruit those with autism/Asperger’s to program. Really. Check it out! Diversity is something that a lot of companies claim to embrace, but until they take a swing at neurological diversity, they have a ways to go yet.)
This hyperfocus is also EXCELLENT when we have a home improvement project. Recently, the hubs redid one of our bathrooms. It was something of a HGTV “Before” picture – gold-flecked sink circa 1970, dark brown vanity and cabinet that had a thick layer of chocolate brown paint (obviously a failed refinishing project, unless they MEANT it to look like a half-melted, lint-covered Hershey bar,) and mauve tile 3/4 of the way up the wall, with lovely “accent” tiles featuring shiny gold outlines of fish. The fish even had little bubbles rising from their mouths. Except HALF OF THEM WERE UPSIDE DOWN so the bubbles were heading south. (“Mom? What exactly is the fish supposed to be doing here?”) Anyway. Hubs decided we’d redo the bathroom, and he’s spent nearly every waking moment since then ripping out, destroying, re-tiling, grouting, and painting the bathroom. It’s just about finished now, and looks beautiful, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. There were days he got frustrated:
This is what happens to naughty tile that won’t cut in a straight line without chipping. (I have no idea what the garage wall did, though.)
So, as of late (several months, at least) – this laser-focus attention has been on the bathroom, the floors, the garage, the kids, the video games, work….but not on me. And apparently, I miss that. I miss having him want to spend time with me so badly that he stays up past 10PM. I miss the dates we used to have – the outings he’d plan, where we’d go to a baseball game, or stroll the art museum, or watching the British Arrows Awards (if you haven’t heard of this, you’re missing out.)
Nowadays, I seem to be more of an afterthought. He seems to enjoy my company, but not to the point of planning activities for us, or making “us” time a priority. It makes me sad, sure, but it surprised me to discover that it also inflames my food issues. Why? Because when I was ten pounds thinner, I got WAY more attention – because he was worried about me, sure, but it was dedicated attention! (And the behavioral experts are always telling us that negative attention is better than being ignored; children will misbehave just so someone notices them. Apparently, I misbehave by slowly starving myself to death.)
Now? I’m…average. And average doesn’t get attention. It’s beige in a world of glitter and rainbows. It’s flat, dull, and uninteresting. Blah.
So my homework is to tell the hubs (and we worked on how to say this so I don’t sound whiny, thanks Dr. P!) that I love spending time with him, and back when we were dating, it made me feel very special, valued, and very loved when he’d plan activities for us to do. And that I enjoy his company thoroughly, and would love to have him plan an activity so we could spend time together building memories and enjoying each other.
(Barf. I know. But I need to say it, because it’s something I need, and I need to find my voice and use it vs. silencing it with fistfuls of popcorn and chocolate or shouting over it that I’m disgustingly fat and gross.)
So, therapy was Friday morning. And since I wasn’t feeling up to any big conversation, and since I had a couple empty hangers in my closet, I decided to go shopping. (Dr. P approved; even though we realized that it might be an experience that soured quickly, if I could find something I felt good in, in the size I wear now, it might help.)
Shopping? Don’t have to ask me twice. <screech of tires and whiff of rubber>
Miracle of miracles: I found not one, but TWO pairs of pants that fit me PERFECTLY and that I didn’t look completely hideous in. Seriously, I actually didn’t feel the need to sob uncontrollably, take a flamethrower to the dressing room, and dive headfirst into a pizza. A MIRACLE, I TELL YA.
I also found this…dress. I think it’s a dress. It may be the abandoned love child of Cookie Monster and Big Bird. I didn’t buy it, so if you head to Saks Off 5th, it can still be yours for the low bargain price of $805. <choke>
Clearly, I will never understand high fashion.
Oh, but don’t worry, kids. I did get the shoes.
Have I mentioned my love for shoes? I big-puffy-purple-glitter-sparkly-heart LOVE shoes. Especially heels.
So after spending considerable time “just looking,” this cute little pair followed me home last night. How could I possibly say no? CHECK OUT THESE DOPE KICKS. I’m in love.
I’m nearly 5’10” in these shoes. BOOM. And – of course – they were 40% off. SOLD.
I realize that shopping didn’t magically fix my issues – it was only a detour on the way to working through some things; a procrastination tool to delay a more difficult conversation.
But, like a mini-vacation, it refreshed my spirits just a bit. I had fun…and I can’t stop smiling at my feet. A little burst of happy at a great price is always a fantastic value. It’s a small investment in my soul.