At least a hundred times per week, I used to call my husband at work, sobbing or raging down the phone.
“..and then they did this!”
“..and they also did that!”
“..and I can’t do this anymore! I just can’t live like this!”
He, being a rational man of solutions, would respond with:
“Well, did you put a child proof gate across the kitchen?”
“How about if you pull the toy chest in front of the window?”
“Can you put a vest over the suit?”
And I’d hang up.
No goodbyes or gotta goes.
Just a clunk.
I didn’t want or need answers.
I wanted presence. Solidarity.
I needed him to hold space for me; to hear me and to just spend five minutes listening.
It’s taken me many years to come to the understanding that not everybody instantly knows what I mean or what I need, just because I do.
I’d get frustrated with people and explode at them for not getting it. For not reading my mind. And I’d just shut down.
And so I never thought to tell him what I needed in those fragile, raw and vulnerable moments.
I was annoyed at the thought that I’d have to spell
Let me tell you.
Sometimes, autistic people need you to spell.it.out.
Just yesterday, I asked my family if anybody needed anything as I was doing a grocery shop.
My husband walked into the bedroom half an hour later and said “Oh and the kids are on their last pack of rice crackers”.
I stood, staring blankly at him, scanning..scanning for what that meant.
Why was he telling me they were eating a pack of rice crackers?
I looked at him longer and he repeated himself.
“You’re gonna have to spell this one out, buddy”, I said.
“You asked if we needed anything from the grocery shop” he said.
“Oh. So we need rice crackers?”
I really need people to say what they mean and mean what they say.
And so, those few years ago, I told him.
He came home from work, upset. He was tired of me hanging up on him and leaving him to look ridiculous in front of people when the call ended abruptly.
And, it hurt him.
I told him I needed him to hold space.
“Huh? What’s that mean?”
“You know, like, just say “Oh man, that sucks”, you know?”
To this day, when I call or share with him at any time when I’m struggling, he, guaranteed, goes silent for a while before saying..
“Oh man, that sucks”.
And that, is a beautiful gesture.
It’s more than good enough for me.
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