It has taken me several months of reflection, rationalization, and consideration to muster up the courage to share this post. Every time I sat down to write, I became lost with what I was trying to say, trying to get the reader to see the value behind what I was writing. Paragraphs would go on and on…. I would stop myself and say; “what the hell am I trying to say?” “Is this too personal to be sharing?” For a moment, I got a glimpse of how my son must feel when trying to find the words, and it was agony. After some “me-time,” a few self-care acts, a bout with the flu throughout the household, and a very long discussion with my husband, the words poured out, in a sequence I was actually proud of. I was given the green light to open this chapter up in regards to our marriage, more specifically, our marriage and autism.
Nothing can prepare you more than being immersed into something you didn’t think you were even capable of doing. As a couple, my husband (then boyfriend), and I fantasied about our future. All the things we would do and conquer together. It was a whirlwind romance from the start, and I loved every bit of it. We briefly discussed having children. This was something that wasn’t really on our radar. We knew we were both too selfish to devote that kind of energy and obligation to a tiny being, and wouldn’t you know, God laughed, and exactly after a year of dating, I became pregnant with our first child. Stunned and pleasantly surprised are the words I used to describe my feelings when I first found out. Abortion and Adoption were both OFF the table, for my PERSONAL CHOICE, and the only thing I could do was try and plan what kind of mother I would be. It is my personal belief that one does not need to be married in order to have a child. However, the weight of disappointing my family with not being traditionally married did take its toll on my psyche. Regardless, my family loved my husband and trusted in us that we would do what’s best for our growing family. Mind you, I was 29 with my first pregnancy, and 30 when I delivered….. their opinion was nice, but at the end of the day, it was simply that, an opinion.
Fast forward; past the first ultrasound,past checkups and hearing our baby’s heartbeat, past thinking of all things baby, and drop into roughly 6 or 7 months of pregnancy. My body was changing, my mind was changing, I was swollen all the time, and nothing ever sounded good. Not food, not music, not fashion, not going-out, NOTHING! I was miserable. Looking back, I know now, that this was all a hormonal imbalance that majority of all women go through during pregnancy. There’s not much you can do, while growing your baby, but grin and bare it. Cute things I found in my significant other now became annoying. I was jealous of the life he continued to live, while feeling like a prisoner in my own skin. I couldn’t keep up anymore. I was tired and ready for bed by 7:30pm every night, and had stopped attending outings with him all together. Then came resentment.
As I started resenting everything he did, the lines of communication became nonexistent. I should have tried more to have a conversation with him about how I was feeling, instead I shut down, and pretended everything was just the way it should be. It wasn’t okay for me to bottle up those emotions like that. One evening (weeks from giving birth), he announced he was going to meet the guys at a local bar to watch some game, something he had done numerous times before, and for some reason I exploded. It all came pouring out; WHY was he leaving me in this state, WHY wasn’t I invited anymore, WHY wasn’t he being more attentive to my needs (after all I didn’t get pregnant alone), WHY did he think it was okay to stay out late, WHY was he resenting me now, WHAT had I done that is seemingly pushing him away??? I couldn’t stop myself, it all came pouring out, months and months of build up brewing, just waiting to be released, like lighting in a bottle. He stood there in shock and in silence. It NEVER occurred to me that he may be dealing with the anxiety of having a child. At the time I would call that bs- he couldn’t possibly understand what I was going through, but if WE would have only kept the communication lines open, I would have found that he was scared out of his mind for this next chapter.
We kept a lot of emotion bottled up through the remainder of the pregnancy and delivery. Knowing stress, would not help, or be good for our “birth plan,” we kept our cool, and entered into parenthood, December 2014. Now many of you know how the rest of the story goes….. I’ve shared our journey up to the point of our Autism diagnosis. If you haven’t caught up, check out; “Our Story,” to catch you up to speed. I am now jumping into married life AFTER our diagnosis. (Shortly after the birth of our son, we went to Vegas and got married, yes, VEGAS!).
After our diagnosis I was numb. I didn’t know how to talk to my husband. All I could do was just cry, every time I tried to speak, a lump in my throat formed, and tears poured from my face- I felt that resentment creeping up again, I was in no shape to discuss feelings, or capable of holding any type of conversation that I would actually remember. For an instant I thought the stress and triggers while being pregnant may have caused this…… Oh God, was this something I did? Was this HIS fault? I didn’t know, and I needed answers. I needed something or someone to put the blame on. I jumped into all things Autism, and began a new journey advocating, and finding ways to help my son. I didn’t care who was with me or not- in my mind, I was fully prepared to do this alone. I quickly built a defense wall around my heart and started to shut out the outside world. I didn’t need help, and I definitely didn’t need “him.”
The problem with trying to put on a tough exterior and refuse help, is that is wears you down. Mentally, Physically, and Emotionally. I had created scenarios in my mind, 100 % convinced my husband didn’t care, because his reaction was not the same as mine, or not what I thought it should be. I held this in my gut and let it chip away at my marriage for way too long. We stopped dating each other, we stopped leaving love notes for each other, we barely spoke. We never had an open discussion about our diagnosis. Both at fault, we handled this in two very different ways allowing our egos to take over and argue over things that didn’t even make sense. He worked all the time to “stay away from us”, I was always “complaining” about never getting any help, He always got “free-time,” and I was “nagging” (a much bigger expletive was used). I thought he was purposely trying to make me mad, so I returned the favor….
It wasn’t until we attended our first parent class; “Autism 101,” through our provider, that we faced the cold, hard, ugly truth. Many marriages don’t make it when something BIG rocks their world; death, money, disabilities, etc. However, the common denominator is and should always be, the LOVE for your child (when dealing with children). You cannot forget about the LOVE you both had for each other at one time. You need your partner more than ever in a time like this, and it is okay to lean on them, embrace them, let them know you need their HELP, let them know you need them to actually LISTEN to what you are saying. Immediately, I was taken back to a time before children, when we first started dating. A time he actually tried for my affection and attention. A time when I adored him. I wanted to get back to that, I wanted to get back to “us,” but now with two precious babies. After the class he asked me what I thought, and once again, I let it all pour out. However it poured out in a loving, mature manner. His response was the exact same. We made a pack and a new vow to always communicate. Always leave the lines open, even if it hurts, to speak up, and speak the truth, and speak from love. Our children need the very best version of us. They need to know what love looks like, and that when two people don’t always agree, they can come to terms and accept each other in a loving manner. This isn’t a free pass to act like a jerk, say your sorry, and not learn from your actions. We really had to be on the same page, and it took a lot of soul searching on both ends, to find out what we wanted. I am a HUGE fan of therapy now in my 30’s, and would recommend getting help to anyone that is struggling in marriage, or just life in general. I am also a HUGE fan of being happy. Being happy looks different for everyone, but it goes GREAT on absolutely everyone.
If you’re having a tough time, there are resources out there to help you! Please, please, PLEASE know that you are not alone in this journey. Again, I am no expert, I am speaking only for myself, and personal experiences. I can and would absolutely love to pass along information should you have any questions. You know where to find me, let’s chat soon! ❤