Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Pit of Despair

The true triumph of reason is that it enables us to get along with those who do not possess it. -Voltaire

I wonder what Voltaire knew that I haven't figured out.

You know what I feel like right now? A rat in a cage. I can see all the other rats in their cages. They look about like mine. Some cages have different colors, nicer furniture perhaps, but nothing of substantial difference. There's a single lever in the cage. When I push it, I get a beautiful symphony sometimes, I get an electrical shock at others, and periodically I get the food and water I need to survive. I decide that I will get that food without the electrical shocks and over the years (I don't know the comparable time frame in rat lives), I try to figure the lever out.

Does it change what I get if I push with one foot or the other, or maybe with both? Does how long I hold it down make a difference? Is there a time of day or a pattern? With nothing making sense, I dig deeper. I call out to the other rats and find out their experiences. I try to apply more complex formulas. Time of day plus number of previous lever pushes, plus weight on the lever, plus time held might be the key. Or maybe I need to include the lever pushes of my neighbors in my calculations. Or maybe only those neighbors whose cages look like mine, and how close does it need to be to count? Or maybe I shouldn't push the lever at all. I try every combination I can think of, but I am still no closer to understanding what I'll get when I push the lever than I was on the day I started and now I have a lot more pain and suffering from all the electrical shocks I received while trying.

I have seen other rats push their levers and in response have their cage doors opened and they move about at ease, have free access to food and water, and no longer receive the electrical shocks that they once experienced. I keep hoping for my own cage door to open the same way. What's different about them or their cages? Did they push more? Less? Eat more? Less? At different times? In different ways? I spend so much time trapped in the cage trying to start my life that the trying becomes my life. But what's the alternative? Running around my cage in circles? Starving myself to death? Screaming at the wind. I've tried it. Actually, I haven't tried starving myself and have no plans to do so. I have tried other unhealthy things over the years and then I'm only worse off. Anything logical, reasonable, positive... it all gets me right back exactly where I started. A rat in a cage without the fundamental dignities of life.

Everybody's a mad scientist, and life is their lab. We're all trying to experiment to find a way to live, to solve problems, to fend off madness and chaos. -David Cronenberg

I've reached a point now where I feel that I must either accept that my door will never open and resign myself to being a caged rat who must endure electrical shocks at random times if I intend to keep getting the fundamental necessities of life, in which case I keep my sanity but loose all hope, or I must try once more to use reason and figure out just what it is that will unlock that door in which case I might eventually be successful but I'll surely have gone mad in the process. In which will I be more fully human, more fully present, more fully myself? Or must I lose myself to some degree no matter what?

My husband is not rational. I have to believe that. If I don't, then I'll drive myself crazy trying to figure out the reason behind his actions. I believe he is like a toddler, acting on impulse and emotion, thinking only of himself and unable to comprehend how his actions have greater consequences for others, and as such is irrational, unpredictable, and self-involved. No amount of apparent logic falsely applied makes any of it make sense. I am not an individual to him, I am a role to be filled. I am replaceable with anyone else who will provide the services of cooking, cleaning, childcare, and companionship. I must accept that I have no power to change our situation. I can't get us half-way there. I can't get us anywhere. He has the key that unlocks the door and he doesn't much care about finding it. After all, he's not the one getting shocked trying to get us food. Why would he start now?

I could try to cheat. I could try to manipulate or bribe him into giving his support. I could throw him on the lever and let him see how it feels. But what would it gain me? And could I live with myself once I got there? It would be my luck that food would come out that time anyway. Maybe it is sour grapes or maybe I've been working under an illusion all along. Why do I presume that the rats whose cages are open have it better off? What am I even striving for?

Freedom is just Chaos, with better lighting. -Alan Dean Foster

I give up.

I'm done trying to figure it out.

I accept that there is no rational explanation for what I experience.

It doesn't matter how precisely I choose my words, how carefully I plan my steps, how scrupulously I hold myself to the light. There will be no triumph of reason because there is no reason here to be found.

Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable. -Voltaire

I'm miserable and if I insist a moment longer on remaining optimistic, I will go mad. My life makes no sense. There is no reason. There is no order. There is no goodness or freedom. Trying to delude myself into believing otherwise is a fantasy created from denial. I must therefore conclude that the way my life is going is not leading me or my family toward God because there is order and goodness in all God's creation. We simply can't keep doing what we've been doing and expect things to improve, but AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! it doesn't matter that I am aware of this because I'm not able to do a %#@$! thing about it.

In a world without the law of God, you have chaos, oppression, tyranny, and everyone doing what is right in their own eyes. -Randall Terry

I really don't care what kind of neurological syndrome or wiring or disorder causes my husband to hurt me this way. Today was an extraordinarily low blow. If he was of sound mind and able to enter into the marriage covenant, and there is a presumption that he was and a case history showing that Asperger's is not sufficient grounds for an annulment of it so no wondering if he was, then there is no excuse for his persisting on this path. He is hurting his wife and doing nothing to change it. I'm mad! And I'm so very sad that his knowledge of this won't change a thing. We're called to better. We're called to more. There is no reason that we don't have it outside of his hard-heartedness. And if someone wants to tell me that it is inherent in his Asperger's then my answer today would be, "So what?" Really. Boohoo. Cry me a river.

I don't care.

We've all got crosses. We've all got temptations. Apparently when I'm angry I'll use poor grammar. That doesn't make it right. What would make this right is for him to grow up, stop acting like a toddler, and recognize that there are consequences for his actions and there is a world outside of himself and then to ACT on it.

I'm just a little bitter right now.

And weepy.

And so unpleasant that I excused myself and spent my time writing this entry instead of unleashing the full measure of my emotions upon others.

I hate feeling this way.

I try hard to not compare our marriage to other couples we know. I never know what secret crosses they bear. I focus on comparing ourselves only to the minimum to which we are called, on recalling the good moments, on being realistic and hopeful. Then when I read those minimum requirements and I have to believe that we'll never achieve it, my heart is ripped out of my chest anew because a husband who is one with me is rightfully mine and he's denying me of it and there's not a thing I can do.
Asperger's didn't do this. My husband did and he continues to choose it with every passing minute in which he doesn't get off his butt and change it.

St. Evodius: Whence, therefore, are evil things done by men, if they are not learned?
St. Augustine: Perhaps it is from this, that man turns himself away from learning, that is, estranges himself from the fact of learning. But whether this or something else be true, this surely is evident—that learning is good, and because it is derived from [the verb] to learn, evil things can not be learned.

I wish I could take him by the ear and drag him somewhere and force him to learn. I wish there were a way to reason with him. I wish I could see good triumphing. I wish, I wish, I wish... As it stands now, I can choose between accepting the antithesis of what I'm called to being as the best I will get or I can defy reality and believe that continuing to do the same thing will one day get me a different result and that I'll eventually have a husband who can love me. Maybe the movies summed it up best:

Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something. -The Princess Bride


  1. I'm sorry you're feeling so down, but I truly understand. Sometimes it bothers me that I reach a point of indifference about my husband, but we aren't like "other" couples - can't be. The rat-in-the-cage-feeling is all too familiar.

    We went to a therapist once, before we knew he had AS. The therapist told me that my husband was 11 years old, emotionally. Sometimes younger, depending on the situation. Two of my children are older than that.

    I can't offer you any helpful advice. Just look after yourself. Do what you need to do to be happy. Get out and socialize. Vague, yes, but it's all I know.

    Feel free to e-mail me too, if you'd like.

  2. Thanks, Abby!

    It goes against my very being to "take" what I need for myself. I can't find pleasure in it and I end up weeping at my lot in life. So I try to avoid that. But then I push my husband to give me what I need from him and don't get it, so I end up without my needs met plus the reality of my husband being unwilling to do anything about it weighing on me. I hold it all in and push aside so the emotions for a good long time, but then I give up and face reality. That's where I am right now. It seems that no matter what I must face the pain and grief.

    I wish (there's that word again! You'd think I was in a Disney princess movie!) sometimes that he would have an affair or run off or something other people understood so I could find some support. I can't talk about any of this with anyone in my life because he's forbidden my discussing it and even if I did no one would get it anyway, and I talk to work things out which makes it so much harder.

    I don't want a life separate from my husband. I want my husband! But what good will it do if it ever does come to pass but I went crazy waiting in the process? I feel so stuck.

  3. "I wish (there's that word again! You'd think I was in a Disney princess movie!) sometimes that he would have an affair or run off or something other people understood so I could find some support..."

    I'm guilty of this too! Sometimes, I've wished he would just REALLY screw up, so I could justify a break up that people would understand. In the meantime, I just try to think positively and work within our limitations.

    Truth is, though, if I could go back and do it all over, I would not do it! I've never told that to anyone.