Wish me luck. *** possible triggers on Asperger's ***

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Dutch Uncle

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Wish me luck. *** possible triggers on Asperger's ***
« on: August 14, 2015, 07:21:57 PM »
Tomorrow I'll be going on a boat-trip with my dad. The whole day.
He's an uAsperger's, and since I've realized this over the course of the last past years, I nowadays read up on Aspergers before I meet him. In order not to trigger him, and (more importantly/selfishly) not to let myself get triggered (or hopefully at the very least: subsequently cool down ASAP.)
Things have been better since… at times.

But boy, do I get triggered by him. I spoke with him on the phone a few weeks back, and out of the blue he rebuked me, for not being totally honest: "Your behavior is not befitting a father-son relationship!", he exclaimed angrily. "And now I'm going to sit on my terrace to enjoy the beautiful weather", he joyfully continued without a 'full stop' in-between the two sentences. (Perhaps there was, while I dissociated in the mean time. Honestly I can't tell. I don't remember a 'full stop' though. I'll bet a dear thing there wasn't.)

He can actually pull that off. And after a few days spend in agony/bewilderment over his remark, I finally calmed down through reading some (old and new) Asperger's-related articles. In those I learned 'they' can't even tell a 'white lie'. So probably my dad was very content with himself (at the very moment he said it): he had been totally honest with me when he told me my behavior was not befitting a son a father-son relationship. (edited: Notice the phrasing? I now notice how I 'make' this an issue about me being wrong, a lousy son. When in fact he is saying something about the father-son relationship. This difference is minor (?), but probably hugely significant. For him it's likely a 'technical'/logical issue, for me emotional/affectionate.) That statement probably was even a testament to his excellent parenting. He "showed me". And a model I should follow, I guess.

So, I'm reading up today. And researching some more. Oh, the agony of not knowing for sure!
And I came across this. About how people of my father's generation (WWII-child) coped with being an Asperger, without knowing. Without ANYBODY knowing (Hans Asperger's paper of 1944 (in German) only came to prominence in the 80's, it still took some time after that to get widely accepted and further research to be done on the 'syndrome'):
Quote
Without the neurology that supported an intuitive understanding of social behavior, many adults with AS learned to spend their time observing their environment and the people around them. They tried to make sense of the confounding behavior of their peers and tried to understand why people were always telling them, “You’re so smart, why can’t you just…(fill in the blank): A) go to a family function and behave (sensory, social and anxiety [experienced by the Asperger]), B) complete this work assignment (executive function, processing speed), C) just do what’s asked of you (illogical, theory of mind), D) tell a therapist how you’re feeling (reliance on thinking more than feeling). Through observation and trial and error (after error), many managed to survive into adulthood. Some adults with AS develop an understanding of the world around them, a framework of how and where they fit or don’t, learn and apply skills and strategies to use in particular situations, anticipate and manage disturbing sensory input. Imagine how absolutely exhausting it is to do all of those things relying on cognition, not intuition. Nevertheless, after years of applying these skills and strategies, an adult with AS can look pretty good, maybe even “passing”—or almost passing—for NT (neurotypical).
source: http://www.aane.org/about_asperger_syndrome/living_asperger_syndrome_adults.html
(minor edits by me)

This part really stood out for me:
"tell a therapist how you’re feeling (reliance on thinking more than feeling) [meaning: the Asperger is still 'thinking' while the therapist is continuously trying to get the 'patient' to access his/hers feelings. Well, what else can (s)he bloody do?! ]
That must have been impossible (?) for my dad.
I already shared my problems with my Therapist-mom (the first two paragraphs in this post: http://outofthefog.net/C-PTSD/forum/index.php?topic=2149.msg13314#msg13314). And my mom dragged my dad to therapy after therapy as well. Much more so that she did me. Together with her (to fix their marriage), but also on his own, from what I have gathered. Which is nothing much solid, I must admit.
I had already suspected these therapies must have been torture for him (if he indeed is an Asperger), but now that I actually see it in writing… I shudder in horror.

The marriage broke 15-odd years ago. My father still can't see his wife as his ex. (She left him, for clarity sake)

So, I'll be sitting on a sightseeing boat, biting my tongue. Dealing with a Double Dutch Uncle (=Dad), and possibly having to force myself to behave as such for my own sanity.

Wish me luck!
« Last Edit: August 15, 2015, 05:45:46 AM by Dutch Uncle »

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woodsgnome

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Re: Wish me luck. *** possible triggers on Asperger's ***
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2015, 09:52:44 PM »
First and foremost, Dutch Uncle: GOOD LUCK!  ;)

At least it's on a sight-seeing boat--ready diversions, maybe, to settle the nerves.

I admire your work  to uncover the ins/outs of the past, but it's probably key for you now to focus on maximizing your self-care/self-love; in the end, it's all you can do, and as much as you've struggled with this, it seems you're doing well; it's a hard nut to crack.

Look who's talking, though. I've no idea what it must be like to deal with FOO matters in person, being as I ran from "my" origins what seems eons ago. Alas, my EF/trigger patterns and extreme dissociation sadly stem from that history and I never "just got over" it. Not that anybody does, it seems.

So I hope your day goes well...relax, and know you do have all the best wishes for a grand excursion. Take good care 
                                   :hug:

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Wish me luck. *** possible triggers on Asperger's ***
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2015, 10:16:48 PM »
Thanks!

Your kind words will help me to sleep well tonight.

Off to bed now,
see you later!

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DaisyMae

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Re: Wish me luck. *** possible triggers on Asperger's ***
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2015, 10:57:43 PM »
Good Luck Dutch!

It will be fine and you will have a good time.  It sounds like overall, your dad does really care about you and loves you regardless of how he says things to you.  You have taken the time and been diligent in trying to understand your father, why he communicates in the manner that he does.  Just remind yourself that what he is saying to you is not personal to him.  Do not allow it to hurt you.  If you manage it in the right context, just like you explained in your post, you will be able to respond to him appropriately and know that he still loves you.  He can't help stating how he feels because he is Aspergers and cannot lie.  He does not have the capacity to have empathy for the individual he is directing it to and how it impacts them.  You understand his suffering.  You are a caring, compassionate person that has taken the time to understand how to relate to your father and appreciate him in ways that others do not understand.  That is awesome! 

But, from what you have said in other posts, your mom is definitely a whole other story....  and you did and do not deserve, and probably not your father as well, the way that she treated you.  Since she was a T, she should have been able to understand your dad and appreciate him for who he was and his struggles.  It does not sound like he was abusive to her and I feel bad for him that he can't see her as his ex, that says to me that he still really loves her. 

You are a wonderful, intelligent, and understanding person Dutch.  Best Wishes always, DM :hug:

« Last Edit: August 14, 2015, 11:19:35 PM by DaisyMae »

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Wish me luck. *** possible triggers on Asperger's ***
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2015, 05:37:24 AM »
Thanks so much for reminding me he loves me.
Because yes he does.

 :wave:

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Wish me luck. *** possible triggers on Asperger's ***
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2015, 05:07:27 PM »
All went well  :thumbup: .

Pretty low trigger trip.

B+ I'd give us. Which is very satisfying to me.

A few triggers I managed to sail through firm, clear and confident:
1) my LC with mom, his not-so-ex wife (I've not seen or spoken with her for 8 months now, only replied MC to two e-mails of her.) He brought this up (I avoid the topic of "your mother" like the plague, ever since the divorce finalized). He said at some point: "Can I help?". "No way", I replied. That set him back. OK. I even managed to say to him: "[mom's name] is not an easy woman to get along with." Which he acknowledged. Begrudgingly (?) I'd say, but I'm not really sure if that 'fits' an uAsperger's. A+ for me, not in the least since we both dropped the subject in (almost) harmony. (B for dad. since he brought it up)
2) Then he brought up sis. And I reiterated my NC. Yay me! He had forgotten about the time/event I had told him I would be NC from now on with sis. Which is OK. I'd guess any parent would 'forget' that. It's no fun having to live with the fact two of your children have had a fallout like that. But I calmly, firmly and confidently told him again she has blackmailed me (emotional blackmail, but this is something I tell few people. The whole concept is so alien to many (Bless them!), so I stick to simply "blackmail" in any case. Another A+
3) I even told him (since he brought op the event) that telling me: "Your behavior is unworthy* of a father-son relationship" was really a too harsh remark to make. He didn't 'get' that, which is OK (well, somewhat ok  ;) ). We both dropped it gallantly after that. Still good I didn't let the subject pass without not saying anything about it to my dad, even if I knew the effort would not lead to much. I'd give that event a C.

But all this passed in about half an hour, about 2/3 down the trip, and so the rest of the time we had a good time together, enjoyed the sightseeing (we went to visit the pretty big harbor where I live), enjoyed the marvels of engineering of High-Seas shipping, oil-rigs, cable-layers, Petro-chemical Industries, the lot.
It IS quite a sight!

So, while I've spend more text on the few 'glitches', in the larger experience these were mere drops in the ocean.

Thanks for listening to me.

I might even post a few pics to close of this thread in true spirit: It was a good trip, and I'm happy I've spend it with him.  ;D

Edited to add (almost 20 hours later):
(and I add this mostly since I think none of my friends will 'get' this, I hardly get it. It's part of my 'get to know an Asperger'-quest…)
My dad cried at one point.
He told me he had seen Obama in his address to the Church massacre a few weeks ago. The event where he starts "Amazing Grace" and the ministers and flock join in…
He told me he was so touched that Obama appealed to god's "ruth"/"commiseration" (I had to look up those words in a dictionary, so I can only hope they translate well. But I'm pretty confident they do) and that for him to see the singing about it (I figure "Amazing Grace" is indeed about ruth/commiseration. It fits in a way. But both me and dad are not native English speakers.) had touched him deeply. And it did touch him again deeply, his eyes were as wet as a pond.

Point being of me telling this: Whatever the differences in 'coping' with emotions between me and my uAsperger's dad, this is total conformation of what I've read about it: My dad most definitely has emotions, the same as me, he just processes it in a different way.
It's a note-to-self.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2015, 12:52:26 PM by Dutch Uncle »

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stacey

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Re: Wish me luck. *** possible triggers on Asperger's ***
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2016, 11:25:00 PM »
I'm not sure what ruth/commiseration means?

I get frustrated with my Aspie partner because he doesn't know what he's feeling. He doesn't know when he's feeling happy, when he's feeling sad, or joyful. And I think like many Aspies his feelings are quite intense. It's not so much that they aren't having emotions but that they struggle to communicate what they are, even to themselves. Im sure this varies among Aspies, and of course many NTs struggle with this too. But I think it's much more pronounced and frustrating with Aspergers. And then you've got sensory issues which make touching and being touched by people a difficult thing sometimes too. Add to that the facial apearance issues which can mean some Aspies look stoney-faced and like they're angry all the time and they really can give a different display of what's going on. My partner's nephew's girlfriend once referred to him as, "Oh, that's the guy who hates everything." And he was hurt by that. But it's an easy assessment to make because that's how he appears. I even struggle to remember it's notmthe case myself.

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Wish me luck. *** possible triggers on Asperger's ***
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2016, 01:24:25 PM »
I'm not sure what ruth/commiseration means?
ruth: A feeling of pity, distress, or grief.
commiseration: Sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others; compassion:

Quote
I get frustrated with my Aspie partner because he doesn't know what he's feeling. He doesn't know when he's feeling happy, when he's feeling sad, or joyful. And I think like many Aspies his feelings are quite intense. It's not so much that they aren't having emotions but that they struggle to communicate what they are, even to themselves. Im sure this varies among Aspies, and of course many NTs struggle with this too. But I think it's much more pronounced and frustrating with Aspergers. And then you've got sensory issues which make touching and being touched by people a difficult thing sometimes too. Add to that the facial apearance issues which can mean some Aspies look stoney-faced and like they're angry all the time and they really can give a different display of what's going on. My partner's nephew's girlfriend once referred to him as, "Oh, that's the guy who hates everything." And he was hurt by that. But it's an easy assessment to make because that's how he appears. I even struggle to remember it's notmthe case myself.
I can relate to practically all you said and experience.
And I think it's (for NT's) key to be aware of what I've bolded.
It doesn't make it much easier for me to get along with my dad, but it does help a bit. And I know I need training in this. That his 'flat' facial expressions that don't change much over the course of a meeting with him doesn't mean he experiences everything flat. It helps me to not take it personal if I don't get a non-verbal reaction, while I get a verbal one.
I still have a plan to check all my pictures of dad. I'm pretty sure what I'll see there: his facial expression will be the same in practically all of them. And yes it is a 'stern' face he has, and my perception of him often is 'Grumpy Dad'. I'm only now starting to learn that probably I often was 'wrong'. Still, it's hard to look beyond the stern face. Perhaps with practice I may learn.

Thanks for sharing.
 :hug: