Thursday, October 02, 2003

My fiance is not nuts 

She doesn't like being called nuts. This is, as I found, equivalent to calling someone who's lost an arm "crippled". To his face. It does not go over well. I recommend against using the term "nuts" to in any way reference a mentally ill person who's in the room, especially if you're in arm's length of them.

I arrived at this little grain of truth the hard way. Which is how I find nearly everything out. If it's related to my relationship with Kataine, it's always learned the hard way. That is, through drama. I'm hesitant to attribute that to my autism, since how could *anyone* have an easy time relating to this alien, who from what I've been told is a more-or-less typical woman. When she's not on a psychotic break, of course.

Being autistic, I have a very odd way of reading body language. Normal people ("NT" or neurotypical for short) can just look at someone and tell pretty well how they're feeling, from what Kataine tells me. I can't. I notice a mannerism as being out of place for whatever the deafult state of the person I'm interacting with is. With luck, I already know what that mannerism means, and a dim bulb pops on. "She's sad, because she hasn't talked in over a minute." It works acceptably well. I can fairly reliably perceive Kataine's moods...after five months of living together.

It's how I tell when she's on a psychotic break, too. Excessive frequency and force in blinking, and excessive licking of lips. Overly wide gestures too, but I don't usually notice that first. Kataine says those are all signs of agitation, but I've never noticed them when she wasn't psychotic. Good thing I can tell, too. The first time she went psychotic on me I *didn't* know, and it nearly destroyed our relationship.

Not all scizophrenics are psyhotic all the time. A lot are normal almost all the time. Then something will trigger an episode, they go nuts, recover, and feel fine until the next time they're triggered. Kataine's trigger is stress. Her first episode, she was under a lot of stress. A *hell* of a lot. And when she went psychotic, she went, not to put too fine a point on it, completely fucking psycho.

Dealing with a psychotic person is impossible. Reason is useless. Their reality is totally fucking different from ours, and a reasonable argument won't even *make sense* most of the time. And on this occasion Kataine was fixated on committing suicide. I spent about four hours physically restraining her from making an attempt. And when I left her alone for five minutes to throw out some .22 cartridges and the magazine for her rifle, she popped about 150 pills. So, after four hours of desperately trying to persuade my fiance not to off herself, I leave her alone she'd promised not to kill herself. And then tries to commit suicide and nearly succeeds. The ambulance came and hauled her to the emergency room for a stomach Hoovering.

During these four hours I had found out that she was on a psychotic break. Which, if possible, made it even harder to bear than having no clue what was going on. I had an awful vision of becoming the wife from "A Beautiful Mind"--essentially a robot maintenance technician. Thence followed what is possibly the most shaming point of my whole life. I decided that this was more than I could take, that admitting defeat and going home to my parents was a more attractive option than living with the choice I'd made.

Needless to say, a lot of drama ensued. The end result today: Kataine has accepted what happened and moved on. I can now recongnize when she's having an episode and administer the proper medication. And I have a crippling fear that she might have an episode I can't handle and I'll try to bail on her again. In other words, I don't fear being rejected. I fear rejecting her.

This is not good for our relationship. I'm insecure, not because of what she might do, but because of what I might do. But as Dr. Phil says, worrying ain't gonna do shit for you. (I paraphrase) If it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen. All worrying can do is make you stressed out, weaken your relationship, and actually make it *more* likely that what you fear will occur. So I'm trying not to worry. It's hard; anxiety comes very easily to me. I've got a lot of reason to try, though. I don't think anything in the world matters more to me than Kataine and our life together.

Except for margaritas. Man, those are the shit.

Anger management (or the lack thereof) 

It's past 2:00 am, and I can't sleep. Normally, this would be a good thing, but I'm not working tonight and I have to go in early tomorrow. I'm tired, or perhaps more accurately, drained. Drama before bed generally does that.

Anger has been, and continues to be, one of the biggest problems in our relationship. This is a little odd, considering that neither of us are particularly angry people, and it's pretty rare that we actually get pissed at one another. But when it does happen, the resulting mess is incredible.

Part of this is the fact that both Steve and I have some issues with expressing anger in constructive ways. I'm not sure that's even possible. Non-destructive ways, then. If that's even possible. As I told him last night, I'm shooting for non-abusive. I like to set realistic goals.

Even that's not really the main problem, though. The main problem is that we're both quite terrified of the other's displays of anger. We don't deal with our own anger well, that's true, but it's even more true that we deal extremely poorly with each other's anger.

This problem rears its head in ugly little ways, even when neither of us is pissed off. Earlier tonight is a perfect example of this.

Steve's mom called. That, in and of itself, is hardly unusual. She calls quite regularly, and talks at length. But this time I left the room the second I heard him say, "Hi mom," and went to go cook dinner. On the surface, there doesn't seem to be a problem there -- after all, that way he could talk with his mother undisturbed, and dinner needed to be made anyway.

But this isn't how it used to be, and there's good reason for that. I used to stay in the room while Steve talked to his mom and make an attempt at entertaining him. I'd involve myself in the conversation, which he liked, and inevitably wind up groping him, which he didn't like. I never thought anything of it until the last time he talked to her. After all, I invariably treat people the way I personally would want to be treated. When I'm talking to my own mother, anything to break the monotony is greatly appreciated.

Steve's mom, however, is a stuffy old coot. Okay, that's not exactly true, but she's a whole lot more proper and easily shocked than my own mother. If she somehow got the idea that we might be doing something other than sitting at arm's length from each other, she'd be highly disturbed. IOW, the giggling and occasional gasp in the background wouldn't go over well.

So, last time he was talking to her, not really realizing all this, I climbed on top of him and proceeded to get somewhat frisky. Mind you, I wasn't grabbing him by the cock or anything -- even I know that's not really a great idea when he's trying to hold a conversation with his mother. When the incident happened, I hadn't gone below the waistline, although I might have at some point earlier... I don't remember.

Anyway, Steve got pissed. I got the look of death from him, followed immediately by him slapping my hands away, then grabbing and slapping my hand once I'd moved it back, and a sharp jab to the breastbone with his index finger. This was a shock to me, because I had no clue up until this all happened that he wanted me to stop bothering him, and aside from the Twizzler incident, he'd certainly never hit me before.

"Hit" may be a little strong. It's probably not the best word to use, because I can imagine my readers gasping in shock and thinking, "Oh my God, he hit you! Dump him now!" I should note that he did not actually inflict any injury, and a minimum of pain -- the index finger to the breastbone left one of those odd invisible bruises, but that's it. I was mostly just shocked.

I moved off of him, turned my back, and sat there trying to compose myself. Steve kept talking to his mom as though nothing had happened. After another five or ten minutes, he hung up, and drama ensued.

I've gone off on a tangent, but this was necessary to explain why I jetted into the kitchen the second I heard, "Hi mom." Aside from the obvious (I was reminded of the incident), I've also decided to avoid pissing Steve off at any cost. At least until we get this whole anger management thing worked out. Removing myself from the situation not only guaranteed I could avoid a repeat, but also let me take my own anger out on the innocent hamburgers. Fry, motherfuckers, fry!

I fried the hamburgers, chopped and sauteed the onions, toasted the buns... everything was mentally converted in my mind to Steve's penis. Then I lit some candles, and dinner was served right as he got off the phone. (Note: Before you think I'm even crazier than I am, making a candlelight dinner while entertaining an angry fantasy of emasculation, I should point out that the candles were not a romantic gesture. The light fixture on our balcony isn't working.)

By the time I assembled the burgers, I wasn't pissed off anymore, but I was still very quiet while we ate. This is one of the few ways that Steve can tell something is wrong -- I normally talk non-stop, and if I'm silent for more than a minute, he assumes I'm angry. And the drama ensued once more.

It's a rare thing that I'm at a loss for words, but tonight I was. We attempted to discuss the issue, and I found I had little to say about it. He said he didn't know of any way to deal with anger aside from attacking the person (or object) that inspired it, either verbally or physically. I was trying to think of more healthy ways to express anger, and came up with nothing, because frankly, my methods aren't much better. When I'm pissed off, I turn into a stark raving bitch.

At one point, Steve noted that he didn't see a way we could express anger without hurting the other. I don't think there is a way, especially considering we both get very upset about the other being angry with us. I told him as much. "I don't like it," he said.

Well, great. Neither do I, but that's how it goes, and I do not believe it's possible to have a relationship with someone without hurting them from time to time. That's the nature of romantic involvement -- hopefully it's never purposeful, but it happens. I cannot imagine a relationship without at least the occasional argument, and someone's feelings are going to get hurt when that happens.

Actually, that's not true. The last two years of my marriage were like that -- no arguments, no hurt feelings, no tension. No sex. I wouldn't call that a relationship though, it was more like roommates who viewed each other with distaste and avoided each other as much as possible. Certainly not what I want this time.

I get the impression sometimes that Steve wants the impossible. He wants us to be happy all the time, smiling and laughing, and never to grate on one another's nerves or fight over anything. And when it seems that's what he's aiming for, I have absolutely no idea what to say.

Well, sure. That'd be great, I guess. Or not -- I think I'd be dreadfully bored. There's no challenge there, no room for improvement, nothing to work towards. I'd stagnate, or else do something awful in a subconscious attempt to get the tension back.

So I asked him -- "Is being in a relationship not what you'd hoped it would be like?" (Note: Prior to our involvement, Steve had never so much as been on a date.)

He replied that he hadn't hoped for anything in particular, and hadn't known what to expect. "What did you hope for?" he asked.

"Pretty much this," I responded.

Steve seemed rather taken aback by this. It's true, though, and I have to wonder if I never outgrew my drama whore tendencies. Not that I think we don't have room for improvement. There's lots of room for improvement. LOTS. But we're very much in love, both working towards making this relationship better, it's not abusive... what else could I hope for?

I don't know. I can come up with a list of relationship problems we're working on right now. But "no problems" isn't on my wishlist. There'll always be problems, although hopefully less at a time than we're currently trying to handle. If there truly were no problems at all, that in itself would be a problem for me.

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