“You’re being unreasonable”
My ex said that to me on a regular basis when we lived together. I didn’t always understand what he meant. How I was being unreasonable? My autism was undiagnosed at the time.
After we split up, I mostly lived alone. I could do what I wanted and nobody would call me unreasonable.
Now I am living with my mum and I’m being unreasonable again.
Here’s what happened today. I like to get up and have my breakfast undisturbed by anyone else. She gets up at 8am so if I get up at 7am, I can do what I need to do and get out of the way before she gets up. Today she got up at 7am and I was upset because I didn’t get my peace and quiet and she wanted to use the bathroom when I did.
I am working from home at the moment, trying to establish a new routine. She has been very kind letting me do this from her house, giving me the chance to start a new business with less financial risk.
So it is, on the face of it, especially unreasonable of me to get upset with her for getting up at 7am and going in the bathroom when I wanted to use it.
She then asked me to get a particular brand of milk only available from a particular shop. I said I could get it from another shop but not that shop as it wasn’t in my plans for the day. It would take me five minutes to go to the shop and get it but, as I hadn’t planned that trip, I couldn’t make the change.
I am unreasonable and selfish.
I don’t like it.
I don’t like that I get stressed. when I hear her getting up early. I don’t like that I want her to stay in bed until 8am like she usually does. Even when she needs to go out. Even when the clocks have gone back and her body clock is saying 8am is 9am. I can see why it all looks extremely unreasonable.
But it’s not really.
Here’s how it is from my point of view.
I really struggle in the mornings, particularly after the daylight savings change (why can’t they just leave the bloody clocks alone). I am grumpy and I find it hard to get going.
At the moment I’m trying to establish a new routine. Working for someone else imposed a daily routine on me. Creating my own routine is hard. I’m finding mornings hard. I need things to be right. By following a plan, by having a routine, I can start to get things done. It’s soothing. It makes me feel safe, contained and in control.
Any small deviation from my plan or routine can totally derail me. In the worst case it can lead to me being completely lost and spending the day in bed in my pyjamas. Not because I am lazy (as my family think) but because if I don’t do things in the correct order, I lose track of what I should be doing. I become anxious, stressed and volatile and all I can do is hide under the duvet with a book. This calms me down. But then I find it difficult to transition from reading to doing something else. I forget what I need to do next and am unable to motivate myself to move, to shower and dress. Doing something different makes the anxiety worse.
Today wasn’t so bad. I have managed, at least, to get dressed and write this. But the day’s routine has been off and I am not following my plan. I feel irritated and stressed.
That’s why it’s important to me to get the morning right.
It’s at times like this that it can feel like autism is something separate to me. An implacable monster, growling and snarling, refusing any attempts at compromise. Stopping me being kind and considerate of other’s feelings.
But autism is not separate to me. It’s part of me. It’s not an alien creature making me horrible. It’s just part of the way I am. The good and the bad. Like anyone else.
And because I am autistic, I have needs that might not be the same as everyone else’s.
My needs may come across as selfish to most people. Unreasonable.
Like anyone else, I have a right to get my needs met.
Any compromise that involves me apologising for being unreasonable because that denies that there is reason behind my reaction.
A solution that involves me trying to act like a non-autistic person doesn’t change anything. I have tried but the problem just recurs again and again.
Years of upsetting people and being the unreasonable person that have left me with the self-esteem of an amoeba. (Disclaimer, I just like that expression. I know a single-celled organism won’t be troubled by the concept of self-esteem. Lucky amoeba).
I don’t have any answers. I’d like to to finish this post with a great solution, but I’m not there yet. Whatever we work out needs to include acceptance and understanding of my autism. As well as the rights of anyone I live with. Being autistic doesn’t mean I have to ride roughshod over their rights. But somewhere in the middle there must be a compromise.