Page 1 of 1 [ 16 posts ] 

JMT
Butterfly
Butterfly

User avatar

Joined: 5 Jul 2013
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 9

16 Jul 2013, 2:28 pm

I had a hard time deciding where to place this post; I hope I can get some productive feedback.

I'm a mid-50's husband and father. I work in the technology industry, but I was trained in college to be a musician (I still do some free-lance work). Other than the musician part, I appear to be very straight-laced and somewhat boring. I was diagnosed with AS about 12 years ago. I admit now that, since then, I have not worked at confronting AS, but instead I've just looked for sympathy and pity.

I have a wife and 14 year old daughter (adopted). As a family, we are barely surviving. My wife says she has no intent to divorce me, but our relationship has grown more shallow and superficial over the years. My daughter is a smart, social, and highly competent kid, but she has been through an EXTREMELY traumatic year of boys, school changes, and social upheaval.

A couple of months ago, I took a contract job 1500 miles away from my family; the money was good, and the job was better suited to my interests and abilities. I dearly miss my home and family though.

PROBLEM: My wife and daughter seem to be happier living without me than with me. To compound matters, the stress that my daughter has been under is causing her to confront some deep seated feelings of anger toward me (as an obviously handicapped Asperger's father). I just traveled home over the weekend to see them for the first time since I left; they chose to stay at a hotel for the weekend rather than have to be under the same roof with me. I got to see them twice over the weekend, but we did not even share a meal together.

My wife says that my daughter's anger has her on the verge of suicide, and that I could only be a trigger. But, I DO love my wife and daughter--desperately! While my wife is getting ready to sell the house and move (change of climate and scenery for our daughter), I am all alone in a basement apartment 1500 miles away.

I am afraid that my family may have given up on me. I am ready now to confront and deal with my AS, but it may be all for naught without their support and encouragement. Does anyone have any words of encouragement or advice for me?



LabPet
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 4 Jan 2007
Gender: Female
Posts: 4,389
Location: Canada

16 Jul 2013, 2:48 pm

I would not presume to know your situation as your life is quite different from my own. However, difficulties encountered by those of us on the spectrum have common threads.

Based upon your post, the fact that your family is so meaningfully significant to you will be the strength that holds you all together as a family. Do not let them go. Might it be possible to compromise, in terms of your career? One of the biggest predictors of success (in relationships too) is close proximity - you need to live together. I realise this could be logistically hard for all, but find a way if at all possible. They are lucky to have such a caring father/husband and they do need you. Seems your daughter may need intervention from an outside source too as she is struggling.

From my perspective, most Aspies write our feelings/emotions better than speaking them. To reconnect with your wife, could you write her a letter? Even show her your post, if that's appropriate. Let her know how special she is to you and what your family means. She might not know. All the best and keep persevering to keep your precious family together.

And, welcome to the Wrong Planet! :)


_________________
The ones who say “You can’t” and “You won’t” are probably the ones scared that you will. - Unknown


bushrat
Butterfly
Butterfly

User avatar

Joined: 16 Jul 2013
Age: 60
Gender: Female
Posts: 13
Location: Darwin Australia

17 Jul 2013, 9:30 am

Hi there I'm a 52 yo mum who is probably on the spectrum. I have 2 kids, my son is also on the spectrum and my girl is now 30. I hope I can give some hope. For a start ALL 14yo girls are evil. They generally hate their parents. As you are as you say straight-laced this is probably why your girl is angry at you. I know this because I was an evil 14yo once as so was my girl. (I also teach 14 - 15 yos for a living) Don't give up hope. Have you told your family that you are now willing to work on yourself?

Step 1: Don't leave!! ! Tell your family you love them.

Your missus is probably also angry at you for not dealing with your AS but she might come around if you a willing to do some sort of family counseling. She might not know you love her so tell her!

Step 2 try some family counseling


Even though your daughter is angry she needs her dad and if you try to show her how much you love her she will eventually come around. You should work really hard to keep her now, if you drop the ball now she might drift away and you'll lose her completely this would be a tragedy for both of you. My girl liked counseling, I don't know if it helped her but it kept us together.

Step 3 if the family unit does break down stay in contact & don't judge.
I had to meet my daughter on the banks of the Yarra several times when she wouldn't come home. Make sure you call regularly and take her out whenever possible.

Step 4 Patience.
She will grow out of this horrible stage in about 3 years so if you can maintain some relationship you will be able to have your lovely girl back then.



waitykatie
Toucan
Toucan

User avatar

Joined: 18 Apr 2012
Age: 47
Gender: Female
Posts: 297

18 Jul 2013, 11:41 am

My grandfather was an Aspie (never diagnosed). He died several years ago at the age of 92, having no idea how much his adopted children (son and two daughters) absolutely, viscerally hated him.

I am sure he felt the same for them as you feel for your family. He worked hard to be a good provider. That was how he showed his love, but they felt deeply emotionally neglected. They felt perpetually rejected by him and unable to live up to the expectations they imagined he had. The effect on their psychological development was devastating. It destroyed 3 generations of my family.

His son (my father) slowly went insane. He was as cruel to me and my mother, as (he perceived) his father was cruel to him. This was in fact far more cruel than anything my grandfather actually did or did not do. My father is now basically the Unabomber, psychotic and living in a hole underground in the middle of nowhere. My mother and I haven't spoken to him in years and never will again. He ceased being human years ago.

My grandfather seemed distant, but he loved me and my mother. It was easier for us to accept him as he was, because we did not have the childhood wounds that my father did. Grandpa would be very upset if he knew that my father lied when he said he'd take care of us, and that my father almost smothered him with a pillow on his deathbed. My father just wanted him to hurry up and die, so he could have the money. His sisters are evil too. The three of them have been failures in life - all they do is fight over the money.

I don't mean to be critical or discouraging, but the time to confront the AS was 12 years ago, when you were diagnosed. Children's fundamental personalities are already fully developed by age 12, so it's likely the damage has already been done. I don't know if it can be undone. If my experience is any measure, your wife and daughter will probably feel that YOU owe them support and encouragement, rather than the other way around. They probably feel that you owe them a lot, in general.

Again, I can only speak from my own experience, but I think a lot of communication will be required - repeatedly and over a long period of time. They need to know how you feel about them, and how much they mean to you. They need to know what your expectations of them are, and ask what their expectations are of you. It may not seem fair, but you'll need to accept the anger. Ask them to explain it, and if there is anything you can do to ameliorate it.

At the same time, they will need to invest effort themselves, to understand AS - that it makes you neurologically different, rather than being something you inflict upon them on purpose, to make them feel bad. They'll need to make an effort to see how you've shown your love in other ways, and accept that there are certain things you just can't do. Be clear that the issue is ability, not willingness.

Do not expect results overnight, or after a few conversations. The process of healing will take a long time - on the order of years. The damage took a long time to accumulate, so it will take a long time to heal.

I'll never know if things would have turned out different, if my grandfather had been diagnosed and made an effort to turn his family around. I think it's a good thing, and a worthy thing, and I think it's wonderful that you're willing to make the effort. Your wife and daughter may be past the point where they are willing to respond to you, but I think they should and I hope they do. I wish you the very best.



LabPet
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 4 Jan 2007
Gender: Female
Posts: 4,389
Location: Canada

18 Jul 2013, 1:43 pm

Yikes. Sorry for your family's awful experience, waitykatie.

On another note, it is important to know that there are plenty of great AS parents. Aspie can and do make good family members - just check out our Parents Forum. Yes, while some of us are not suited for parenting (just like plenty of NTs), then plenty have successful family lives too.


_________________
The ones who say “You can’t” and “You won’t” are probably the ones scared that you will. - Unknown


waitykatie
Toucan
Toucan

User avatar

Joined: 18 Apr 2012
Age: 47
Gender: Female
Posts: 297

18 Jul 2013, 2:44 pm

LabPet wrote:
Yikes. Sorry for your family's awful experience, waitykatie.

Thanks. It's in the past, but there are so many regrets that didn't need to be. I wish I had learned about AS before my grandfather died. My mother and I loved him, but if we had known, we would have appreciated him more, and worked harder to develop a relationship with him. And protect him from his nasty children.

Quote:
On another note, it is important to know that there are plenty of great AS parents. Aspie can and do make good family members - just check out our Parents Forum. Yes, while some of us are not suited for parenting (just like plenty of NTs), then plenty have successful family lives too.

Absolutely. I should clarify: I do not think my grandfather is to blame for the fact that my father and two aunts turned out crazy and evil. His AS and how he related with them is a separate issue, from the fact that they were adopted, and the abandonment/rejection issues that often causes. The way they were told of their adoption was handled badly, plus the extended family did not consider them "real" children. They started life feeling unloved and unwanted, regardless of how my grandparents treated them (which was really quite good). I think having an emotionally distant father only amplified their feelings of rejection, and caused them to perceive him through that lens. They blamed him for all their problems, and treated him (and their spouses and children) far, far worse than he ever treated them.

My point is, his daughter's unresolved adoption issues may be a bigger obstacle to the reconciliation JMT hopes for, than his AS. I think it would be wise to stress that it is a handicap (even if he doesn't really believe it), and that, despite it, he has worked hard to be a good provider. I think JMT should be compassionate, but give himself credit, and not allow himself to be guilt-tripped into taking responsibility for all their pain. There are 3 people in the family, and his wife and daughter own some of it too. Hope this helps.



JMT
Butterfly
Butterfly

User avatar

Joined: 5 Jul 2013
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 9

19 Jul 2013, 9:46 pm

Thanks everyone for your productive input! :-)



justkillingtime
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 12 Aug 2011
Gender: Female
Posts: 3,808
Location: Washington, D.C.

28 Jul 2013, 12:03 pm

Does your church/temple offer family counseling?

It has been my experience that it is important to communicate in a way that does not make their defenses go up. People seem to feel defensive when they feel they are being criticized or when the person talking indicates how the goal will benefit him/her (person speaking). People will be more open if they feel you want to see them for who they are and will still love and respect them with all their faults and differences from your rules. It can help to let them know you want to be part of a team (the three of you) that helps the family survive and thrive. Right now, you are helping the family survive financially. It sounds like your daughter will be a real challenge (with the lengthy anger issues and peer problems). I was thinking your wife is probably overwhelmed with her daughter's anger and having to move. Personally, I practically have an emotional breakdown every time I have to move.


_________________
Impermanence.


JMT
Butterfly
Butterfly

User avatar

Joined: 5 Jul 2013
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 9

28 Jul 2013, 7:53 pm

Thanks again everyone for your input. In response to justkillingtime's question, yes--our church does offer family counseling. We have gone through a lot of individual counseling, but I can't say we have done much in the way of family counseling. My wife goes in with my daughter for counseling sessions, but I was never invited to be a part. I'd like to do that--even from 1500 miles away, over the phone or FaceTime. I need to ask my wife if that could be an option.



justkillingtime
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 12 Aug 2011
Gender: Female
Posts: 3,808
Location: Washington, D.C.

28 Jul 2013, 8:54 pm

I think the counselor would welcome your input.


_________________
Impermanence.


James_At_48_Plus
Hummingbird
Hummingbird

User avatar

Joined: 7 Jul 2013
Age: 58
Gender: Male
Posts: 23

31 Jul 2013, 1:12 pm

Heaven be with the OP.

And to anyone contemplating marriage, let alone children, think really, really hard about it.

I wish I had done so.

Thankfully there are no kids in the picture (and won't be).



JMT
Butterfly
Butterfly

User avatar

Joined: 5 Jul 2013
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 9

06 Aug 2013, 8:44 am

Things are not looking better. Got a call from my wife over the weekend, and she came about as close to saying "it's over" without actually saying it's over as you can get. (Still, I retain a shred of hope.)

I am starting to get a sense of how fed up my wife and daughter are with my AS peculiarities. I truly love them and want them in my life, but I fear that I may have alienated them for good. How do you repair a relationship that's been strained to the breaking point? Especially from 1500 miles away?

My wife is making plans to sell our house and move with our daughter to another location within the state. I dearly miss my home state, and want to find employment there once I complete my current contract. My wife says my only obligation now is to remain employed with health insurance for the family; OTOH, she says she doesn't want me chasing them around the state.

Any words of advice or encouragement? Thanks in advance...



LabPet
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 4 Jan 2007
Gender: Female
Posts: 4,389
Location: Canada

06 Aug 2013, 10:19 am

Oh.....really sorry for that news. Really would not know what to do in your situation either. Except I do know, by logic, that if there is a chance you must go to her now. Could you write her a letter, explaining how much she means to you?


_________________
The ones who say “You can’t” and “You won’t” are probably the ones scared that you will. - Unknown


tarantella64
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 16 Feb 2011
Age: 57
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,850

08 Aug 2013, 11:30 pm

Uh...hang on.

You say your daughter is suicidal, then switch practically in the next sentence to all this urgent stuff about your own needs.

Do you see the problem?



JMT
Butterfly
Butterfly

User avatar

Joined: 5 Jul 2013
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 9

10 Aug 2013, 6:01 pm

Duly noted. :(

I am coming to realize that, while I don't have to stop hoping that we will be reunited someday, I have to start accepting that we are going to be separated for the foreseeable future. It's difficult to swallow (both figuratively, and literally since I'm so choked up about it). I have done the damage, and the time has come to bear the consequences.

I still love and miss my wife and daughter, desperately. I just do a bad job of demonstrating it.



oqobo
Butterfly
Butterfly

User avatar

Joined: 8 Aug 2013
Age: 56
Gender: Male
Posts: 15

12 Aug 2013, 10:35 am

Hi JMT -

I have a son (13) and daughter (16) who I see every other weekend. As much as I wish I could, I can't seem to connect with them emotionally. My son and I say "I love you" to each other and that is nice. If I say "I love you" to my daughter, she just acts uncomfortable, I think because she feels pressured to say it back, but she doesn't feel it. For this reason, I try to show my love for her through actions. I try to remember what she's studying in school and ask her about that. Sometimes I will talk about something I am interested in.

I also go online and research an activity I think my kids will enjoy doing on our weekends. Even just going to a movie together feels like quality time. That also provides a topic for discussion afterwards. My daughter seems happy when I find an activity she likes to do but I don't expect her to express anything to me emotionally.

Given your current estrangement, maybe sending a letter expressing your regrets about the past and your hopes for the future would be helpful. When you are apart, maybe a short phone call just to say you're thinking about her and ask her how she's doing would help.

I am focusing on your father-daughter relationship because that is the most important. I've had a failed marriage, so I won't offer advice on that topic. Regardless of what happens to your marriage, you will always be a father to your daughter.


_________________
Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
~ Albert Camus