The one that got away
In my last few posts I have been bickering over how difficult the relationships are for people with autism. Relationships with parents, friends, colleagues and the romantic ones. They all demand a lot from an autistic individual and sometimes one just can’t manage it. For a long time I have not talked about how relationships have been or what it was when I was in a real one. I won’t deny I have been in relationships, or have gone on dates, mostly it happened because on a particular day I was not much stressed, was able to mask really well and was pretty confident about everything.
I am writing this about the one real relationship I was deeply involved in and how masking caused too much of stress which resulted in some really harsh decisions which damaged everything I had, everything I cared about, everything I loved.
This goes way back, before my diagnosis of autism, a time when I was trying to find myself a place in the world, learning to be a grown up, an adult. I still remember the first day I saw her enter the class, pretty as a pink rose and tensed. She had the cutest smile and a sense of an innocence that is hard to find these days even in little kids. I remember I couldn’t take my eyes off her for days.
Being a shy guy I couldn’t directly ask or even talk to her but I guess the world around me was much evolved than I thought. They helped us get together and we started to hang out. Being with her was not easy, I was constantly doing things I didn’t usually like or was going out of my way for her. It did use to trigger few fights and arguments but the idea of going back into her arms everyday was really soothing.
We used to kiss, make out at our own pace and it was the best feeling in the world. I never demanded anything else from the universe. She helped me a better person, groomed me as a man and taught me more about women than any social science book or a feminist can teach. After all this, knowing I am not perfect, I am a bit difficult and different she stayed by my side. I guess when everything flows directly in your lap you don’t appreciate it. I was really confident about my relationship and was more than happy about it. I was so happy and confident that I thought even if I ignore it I have nothing to lose.
As I grew along with my relationship, my responsibilities also increased. With great responsibilities, comes great level of stress. So much stress can make you sick, it can make you snap, if you don’t address it, it will pile on and will destroy you and your life.
After getting in the relationship I thought I will be fine, no need for therapy, I will manage myself. After all this is what I used to hear from my friends, “you need a girl”. I guess someday it will be easy for people to say you need therapy, work on yourself first before you can work on your relationship.
From always being there and being the go to guy I became distant, I became unavailable and I wasn’t there emotionally for her. I had my own battles to fight and had an unhealthy understanding that nothing can go wrong till the day I just couldn’t stop myself from feeling out of love. I woke up one day and took a spontaneous decision that I have to end it now or else I can’t work. On returning back to my senses after few weeks, I begged her to come back, I guess she loved me more than anything and I was lucky to have her back till one day I again snapped and decided I have to end it or else it will consume me. I failed to recognize what was consuming me was me. It was the unhealthy way I decided to manage my stress, my repressed emotions and feelings, they were gnawing their way to my core and I was rotting from inside, invisible to the world I was dying a slow death.
I guess it took a lot of courage for me to finally make the call and seek help and accept the fact that I am not doing well and I need to be better. My only regret is I wished I could have made that call long time back. Mental health is not something that is glorified or looked with respect in my country.
I never thought those few sessions will lead to a diagnosis of autism. I don’t know if I should be happy for it or be sad. I guess I had to make peace with it, I am happy I have a diagnosis, I wish things could be different but then again we all wish for a lot of things.
Few months after the diagnosis I had the opportunity to meet her and hang out with her for a couple of hours. She still smelled the same, her fragrance stayed with me that night. It put me through a restless sleep, it calmed my nerves but at the same time made me miss the world I had created with her. I could see all of it crumbling down around me while I watched like a helpless being that has lost everything he had.
Few months later I did lose a big part of my life and now all I have are few memories of her and a faint whiff of her fragrance which fail to leave me alone.