Strangers in the Night

 

A dating site for full-time single parents of autistic children-widowed or otherwise completely alone.

….fiction but what if…

We’d put up that pic from 10 years ago before the stress took its toll.  You know the one, where your hair was just right and your eyes smiled.  The profile would be full of all the autism accreditation we have…the certificates and Continuing Ed hours that won’t affect our pay grade cuz this job is volunteer…We’d list our hobbies as the things we remember doing once that we enjoyed but can’t remember the last time we did…instead of putting stars on the task chart and cheering when more food is in the kid than on him.  Certainly I can’t list my highest achievement as “everyone had matching socks today”…. but then again, this is a site for people just like me, right?  Still.  We are taught early after diagnosis to minimize…minimize our feelings of grief and failure….minimize our feelings of isolation and loneliness..minimize our feelings of anger and outrage….because some Cosmic Santa will never give you more than you can handle….right?  So if we can’t handle this task we’ve been given by a misogynistic grandpa genie in a bottle, then certainly it is our failure, right?  So we lie to make everyone else feel better because no one really wants to hear it. If we don’t act grateful, people don’t want to be around us.  If you don’t look like you’re handling it perfectly, well meaning individuals make suggestions on your behalf out of concern for the well being of the child.  Not that they could handle it, but they sit in wait for the moment it looks like you can’t.

We regard the super-hero we’ve created.  Now to the part of qualities we look for in a partner.  Here’s where the finger hovers over the “delete” key for more than a minute because I can’t come up with anything honest to type.  I want someone to care for me the way I care for my son.  But isn’t that what every single ASD parent wants?  But I cannot offer the same in return, so I feel bad for asking for it.  So I leave this part blank for now.  At this point, I’d be happy with a pen pal…so I trudge forward.

Finally, the profile is complete, and I’m on to the listings.  Lots of attractive pictures, and wow, their profiles are all so similar to mine.  I wonder if they are being faux-honest too. Messages are exchanged, there’s talk of meeting for coffee, and soon a date is set at the local CoffeeBux.  But then their child was having a bad day so we rescheduled, then my caregiver had an emergency so we rescheduled, then they had an opening for a specialist they’d been waiting to see for months so we rescheduled, then we’d had a meltdown and I needed sleep so we rescheduled.  Eventually, we both felt so guilty about not having any control over our lives that we stopped rescheduling, and stopped talking really.  After a few of these, we’d begin to believe we were just meant to be alone.

Then finally, one coffee date gets set, and kept!  We both show up 10 minutes late because there were last minute dealings.  You offer to pay for my coffee, but in your haste to get out the door, you forgot your wallet.  I say I understand, and I do…completely! So I pay for the coffee, it’s not a thing – because it could also happen the other way round – I’ve done it too many times to count.  We’ll sit and drink our coffee, just happy to be out of the house – but the minds are preoccupied with what’s going on at home, the appointments tomorrow, the bills, the treatments, the children.  There isn’t room in my head for a partner – and it’d be a thankless job to anyone who would be foolish to try.  You’re thinking the same thing about yourself.  We smile politely at each other, and at the same time say “I really need to be going, but this has been great!  Let’s do it again sometime?”

You walk me to my car, parked next to yours – and we admire the permanent marker art and stickers on the back windows – and I”m hoping you don’t notice the mess in mine while you hide the view of the mess in your car.  We exchange an awkward hug, say we’ll be in touch, then go back home, delete our profiles and start on the laundry.  Partnered critics would badger me, “Come on, don’t be so negative!  There’s someone for everyone! You’ll meet them!”  Where? the lobby of a therapist’s office?  Over popcorn kernel ear canal extraction in the ER?

In college, I was asked to write a paper where I set up a school program in a building that had no supplies and no budget.  I got a perfect score on the paper, which was 4 times the required length, because the instructor said I created and solved more problems in a 1 year time period than most people see in their entire career.  You want worse case scenario? I’m your girl! I’ve always been a planner, but with ASD there is no planning.  It’s like living in a dryer that’s on all the time.  Just tumbling…….and falling….alone..forever.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pearl Manhattan

Life interrupted - this space is changing - stay tuned

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