Sunday, 14 October 2012

The social coach

In 2002 I was divorced. Two years later I met another man, known by my friends and my Danish blog as W. He was 44 when I met him, so calling him a 'boyfriend' somehow doesn't seem right. We went out for four years and a bit, and it was not a happy relationship. At least I wasn't happy. It was while I was seeing W, that child care professionals started talking about Asperger's in relation to my youngest son. I was rejecting them completely but W thought I should hear them out. He was a child professional himself and I suspect he talked on behalf of his profession. He also had a son (he still has I guess). His son went for regular tests, he has epilepsy, ADHD and maybe something else as well. The boy went to specialised daycare and education. Somebody also talked about Aspergers in relation to W's son.

W never managed to 'see himself from the outside', but his daughter and some of my friends suspected that he had Aspergers. Now I am certain that he does. Compared to him, I was more outgoing and socially ept. My own challenges were minor compared to his. Also, this was before my long period of self-development, where the Aspie-recognition is only the last step. And I have several years of practice in the fine art of almost fitting in. When I compare myself to W and to my mother, I see at least one major advantage of my own personality: I am friendly and tolerant and I have a positive way of thinking. My mother doesn't, and W didn't. Therefore people like me, and my probability of being accepted is much higher than theirs.

W used me as a social coach. His job as a teacher provided daily challenges, with peers not with the children, in the form of small-talk, smiling at people, making friends with people. And he changed his workplace rather often. Everywhere he ran into problems. And he told me about it and I tried to tell him what to do. I think it was his Aspergers combined with the personality: People saw him as rejecting and cross, and nobody wants to get to know a person like that. During the course of our relationship, the coaching part of our conversations grew in size and eventually there was no time for me to tell about my day or whatever I needed to talk about. Not that I really needed HIS advise on anything, his advise was very lousy. I was a bit annoyed with this development but I also enjoyed being of use.

I broke up with W, embarked on a development process, during which I discovered my own Aspie traits (as described), met my husband, and now I am here. My husband knows a lot of Aspies and he works with engineers, but he is not Asperger himself and definitely more socially ept than I am. I often want to ask him for advise in social situations but do not want our relationship to develop the way W's and mine did. I don't want to be W! Sometimes I can hear W's sentences in my head, and if I don't stop myself I'll talk like him. My husband never met W, so he wouldn't know, but I know...

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