Last night a girlfriend and I went to see the Sugar Hill Gang and the Furious 5. We got there way late and so late we had to stand on chairs at the back just to see the hands waving round and the rappers and DJ’s heads bobbing about with mics and props in hand. We got there late because it was my turn to LISTEN on the way there, and then in the car parked outside the venue even though we could see that the concert had begun.
Listening to others when they are in pain can require a lot of will power and strength, especially if they are trying to survive something you have been through or are going through as a PTSD/CPTSD survivor. It may be a challenge because it presents an array of triggers, or because you find it hard not to interrupt or say the good old ‘yes that happened to me when…’ or ‘I know what you mean…’!
Add the complexity of high-functioning autism/ASD to the mix and it’s a minefield. Focussing on the other person and giving them eye contact, remembering your facial expressions need to reflect the appropriate responses to their comments. Staying in the moment and not trancing away from the discussion is also hard.
What I discovered yesterday evening listening hard to my friend’s current worries about her marriage and her future showed me that even though she has a neuro-typical brain, the same arguments between husband and wife over bank balances, purchases, clashes in priorities can take place. They are going through a mirror image of strife my husband and I have every now and again.
The similarity in our situations is not anything to do with our brains. It is because we are 40-something women who have led very independent lives out there in the big wide world, successful in careers and know what we want and what we don’t want. We both came through very difficult and troubled childhoods. We both married and settled down in our 30s. We both have 2 children roughly the same age.
Before marriage and children we were ambitious and connected, part of the excitement of life and operated at a fast pace for adequate reward whether financially or in reputation. We hung out with who we wanted when we wanted, how we wanted.
Not all women like us succumb to the calling of Mother Nature to find our mate for life and make babies. We did though, with bells and whistles. Maternal instinct and a need to make sure that our children never have to grow up with the same trauma we had to turns our lives inside out and upside down.
No longer are we the self-assured high-achievers with independent means to cover our standards we want/need to live by. Our husbands become insecure, as we are ticking time bombs being intermittently triggered by our children growing up without the trauma we experienced or having to answer to or be punished by our partners; and respect for each other just isn’t at a kind enough level.
The good thing is that we are both in therapy and we have each other. So, we went into the concert and drank 2 x ‘double vodka, soda and lime’s because they’re kinder on the calories, showed off our advanced dance floor skills (I even got asked if I was a dance teacher LOL), took some selfies with Grandmaster Melle Mel and by the time the concert had finished (about an hour later) and we made our way back home… we were 20 years younger, laughing at our silliness… and… ‘pause’ + ‘save’ to memory banks of bloody good times.