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Autism: Dream, 7.20.15

July 20, 2015

In the dream, I half-wake-up, realizing that Spouse is cleaning my bathroom. [We have an agreement in waking life where he cleans the toilets and the shower, but I do my own mirrors, counters and sink.] In the dream, though, he moves on from the toilet to the counters and the sink, which [in waking life] are filthy right now. He’s in there so long, scrubbing and whatnot, that maybe he’s cleaning the floor too! Maybe the walls!

In the dream, I wake up fully when Spouse brings into our bedroom [which is suddenly much larger] my stuffed chair from the big room, and arranges it in the corner. I think to myself, “that’s odd. What made him think of doing that?” So I get out of bed, get dressed, and walk into the big room.

Which is filled with mostly-distant relatives of Spouse’s, from Kentucky; some, I’ve met once before, and some I’ve never met or even heard of.

Apparently, some other relative died, recently, and for some unknown reason, the funeral will be held up here in Big City country, instead of in Kentucky. None of these (rural) relatives can afford to stay in a hotel, so Spouse invited them all to stay with us, for free. Indefinitely, because the ‘funeral’ arrangements go on for days.

Spouse says nothing to me about any of this that morning (or had the night before); I pick it up from moving around the room listening, and putting pieces together.

The big room — now, much much bigger — is packed to the gills with people milling around, talking and laughing. They’re wearing clothes that are unfamiliar [for my idea of what’s appropriate for a wake or funeral]; they’re discussing ‘family business’ that’s wholly unfamiliar to me; there are ‘in-jokes’ I’ve never heard. It’s noisy.

I feel like an interloper in my own apartment.

I also… keep trying to find the flow of conversation and slip into it, but somehow everything I say is ‘wrong’, and offends somebody.

= = =

I’m walking down a long hallway, which has doors ajar on both sides. Before I arrive at the next bedroom, I overhear snippets of an intriguing conversation between Spouse and my brother D (!) — they are both laughing a lot (!). I gingerly approach the doorway, hoping to make sense of whatever they could be talking about so amiably (!), but they espy me, and break apart immediately. First, they laugh some more.

I’m mystified.

My F (girl) cousin D is there. I smile, say Hello, but manage to avoid actually talking to her. Later, walking single file with a large group into another building, I think about my age, I think, “I’m 48, D is 49, and R is 50.” Then I go on to have some thought where that’s relevant [that I no longer recall].

D’s father, who is my godfather, is … even more inexplicably … also present. With a young girl who is his grand-daughter, that he is raising. He is attentive and interested in her. With a sinking heart, I avoid both of them as well.

I keep seeing the same 2 little girls, together, but apart from everyone else. They seem to be friends, not cousins or sisters. One girl wears a very dull dress, but her manner is very flamboyant, demanding the attention of any passersby — and usually getting it, momentarily. The other girl is very quiet, although her outfit is brightly colored with bold graphics. When I walk past them, finally, I make a point to compliment both of them. The quiet girl looks secretly pleased.

= = =

Looking ahead to the funeral itself, I have no idea what I even own that might be suitable to wear. I definitely don’t want my outfit to be another faux pas.

= = =

At some point, I realize that, even though nothing still makes any sense to me, I have to participate, I have to ‘do the work’, because that’s what Being An Adult is.

And Spouse is worth making all this effort for, even though I mostly struggle with everything (while he doesn’t, having been born to it).


{ I haven’t posted any prose posts to the blog in weeks because I’m struggling with re-evaluating my entire life in light of now knowing that I’m autistic: “So I’m not defective — just different, in a human-diverse way — but really, who still cares enough about me that I could tell any of this to?”

I’m also marking the End of an Era: the last cousin I was in contact with — the one I kept breaking up with — finally figured out that I really meant to break up. So, for the first time in my life, I’m in contact with… zero relatives. }

{ Link from Twitter last night to a thread on a thing I’d never heard of, called MetaFilter. This thread was (mostly women) talking about who does Emotional Labor in their relationships. I sat on my bed, without moving, riveted to reading the 100’s of comments, for over 3 hours. }



Spouse’s remaining grandparent died the week after I married him, so going to her funeral was my first trip to Kentucky, and first time meeting most of his extended family. I didn’t own anything black, but I brought a favorite brown skirt with me. There was a flurried shopping trip to a department store in KY so I could buy the first brown sweater I saw. And then… my clothes were… all wrong, even though I couldn’t put my finger on how. And I didn’t know what to say to anyone. The one person I truly liked, that I felt ‘at home’ with, was an uncle who married in; he reminded me of the great-uncles I’d grown up with.

I’ve spent 22 years trying to figure out KY customs on visits to Spouse’s parents, and I’m… still mystified. It does not help that… (some) people in his family seem to be neurodiverse, but not in the same ways that I am, so with that, plus Culture Shock, we are never on the same page. I still do inadvertently offend people, and I don’t know what I did that was ‘wrong’. It’s taboo to talk about such things, so I just get to know that everyone probably thinks I enjoy behaving like a jerk for kicks, when in reality, I’m actually trying to ‘fit in’ (searching, ever more desperately, for a way to do so that doesn’t feel like I’m selling my soul), but failing miserably.

I mostly don’t go with Spouse anymore to visit his parents. I have health issues that can’t easily be accommodated. But it’s also too stressful, for both of us.

My father-in-law does, inexplicably, seem to like me. I’ve never made sense out of why.

{ They’re Guess culture, while — after all my therapy — I persist at acting like an Ask-er. }

= = =

My family of origin are also Guess culture.

I don’t fit in.

Even though the majority of them are neurodiverse, and a bunch of them may also be ASD (albeit undiagnosed), everything I do is uniquely terrible and inappropriate and embarrassing.

Or, it’s too boring to pay any attention to my life at all.

Or, on the rare occasions that someone will admit that I accomplished a cool thing, all I hear is, “We always knew you could do it!” Um, that’s actually a really annoying thing to say. Because I certainly didn’t ‘know’ I could do it. I don’t bother trying to do things I ‘know’ I can do — the challenge of ‘testing my mettle’ is what motivates me, not the end result (which I usually don’t care much about).

= = =

I don’t think my brother D and Spouse have ever had a (meaningful) conversation where they were talking and laughing. Spouse rarely laughs around my family.

He may find them as inexplicable as I find his family, but… he doesn’t feel bad about it. He doesn’t try to fit in. He doesn’t worry if he does something ‘wrong’. He just doesn’t care, at all, what they think. Some of them liked him anyhow. (And he didn’t care about that either!)

= = =

Iirc, my cousins D and R are both the same age, which is 1 year older than me. They were friends, when I was growing up, but they didn’t want anything to do with me. Nor did the girl cousin K who was 6 months younger than me. Partly, all 3 of them lived in South Side suburbs, while my branch was in the western suburbs. But also, I just… didn’t fit in, anywhere.

Boy cousins didn’t like me either.

= = =

I think D’s father, my godfather, is Aspie. We seemed similar-ish, even to me, as a kid, so I tried and tried and tried to have a relationship with him, but he wasn’t interested. Seeing him in the dream with a little girl that he liked… heart-breaking.

= = =

The 2 little girls were interesting because I’m clearly both of them: the ‘obnoxious’ show-off who demands attention from everyone and the ‘quiet’ one whose outfit tells you she’s just as passionate and intriguing, but she has to like you before you might see that for yourself.


When I began writing this post, it seemed clear to me that I would have conclusions at the end, which would make sense of the dream. As I wrote, though, I saw that…. my feelings are still jumbled and jangled. They don’t want to sort out neatly.

And that’s okay.

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