Aspies + Weed = True Love?

I wrote a blog post about weed before, and how much it’s helped Justin’s life.  We were both anti-pot when we started dating, but since it became legalized here in Washington, we both tried it, and I cannot begin to express how much it’s helped both of us (I can finally sleep).  I asked Justin to write what it’s like from his perspective.

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Weed, marijuana, pot, green, dope, Maryjane, whatever you call, it I couldn’t imagine my life without it now. All my life I was straight edge.  I’ve never even been drunk to this day and I just turned 35. I had only tried weed twice before I really started smoking it regularly 2 years ago. I have recently been diagnosed with autism which doesn’t bother me; I am still me, but I stress 24/7.  I worry about shit I shouldn’t, but with weed, I take one hit, and boom–that worry goes away. Not only that but I am more open and can talk to people I may not know as well.

Weed has saved me, honestly.  I’ve lived in Washington state for my whole life.  It’s beautiful here.  Forests, waterfalls, national parks, etc, and so much to explore.  When I was younger, I never explored.  I stayed inside and just played video games.  Since I started smoking pot, I wanted to LIVE.  I wanted to get out and start seeing this state, and explore, and we want to travel.  It made me see that you should stop caring about cell phones, TVs, internet, and realize it’s bullshit that’ll just hold you back.

Before I started weed I had a hard time telling my wife she was gorgeous or that I loved her just because stress or just forgetfulness. With weed, I tell her all the time.  I tell her that she’s hot right to her face, which is hard for me and was hard for me.  Weed takes away my “What ifs.”   Since I’ve been smoking weed, it has improved my mood and helps control my melt downs a little.

Weed also helps me with my eating—which can be helpful for parents with autistic children or teenagers.  I used to be a really picky eater.  Since I started smoking, I realized there are so many different types of food out there and I love to try new recipes—something I NEVER did when I was younger.  I also discovered I love to cook. I also can realize talents I have like mechanical work that I never felt like I had confidence for.

It also helps me focus on tasks.  Before I started smoking I would want to cross stitch, play games, watch a movie, and about 10 minutes into it, I’d start getting distracted and start thinking about 10,000 other things and never finish what I started.  With weed, it keeps me focused on just one task, and helps me finish.

It really bothers me when people who smoke weed are labeled as lazy.  What about people like me, with a brain issue that I can’t control?  With weed, I’m the opposite of lazy.  I can finally focus on things and relax and be myself.  I can also tell you this is not a “gateway” drug.  Tara & I have both been using pot for our issues, and neither of us have had a desire to start shooting up heroin or snorting coke.  She gets high and goes to sleep (wow, dangerous), and I get high and start being creative.  Yeah…really a scary drug, for sure.

I’m not saying everyone should start smoking pot, but from this Aspie’s point of view, pot honestly saved my life, and probably my relationship.  If you or a loved one is struggling, try it.  It might save their life, too.

Justin and Our Relationship

I love Justin.  He is my everything.  I asked him to write a blog about our relationship, and here is what he’s got to say.

Relationships

Yikes.  This topic is harder for me, because it’s more emotions, and as I am learning, I don’t know much about most emotions. I look at my relationship with Tara, and I feel like it’s something completely different from every other relationship I’ve ever had.  I can’t explain it, really–I guess it’s the knowledge she was the one to marry maybe?  Insert barfing noise here.

I guess I am not normal in the terms of how I view my relationship. With Tara I don’t feel like we have a relationship—it’s deeper than that for me.  She is my other half and I mean that in the way it sounds. There are days where I have to go to the doctor’s or counselor’s, and I hate it because I don’t want to speak and I don’t want to deal with society. With Tara, I am not scared at all.  If I go somewhere and I am feeling a little overwhelmed, I don’t have to say anything to her at all.  She can tell by my posture and my ticks that I’m overwhelmed.

A lot of people wonder why we work together so well.  We have only been in two fights ever. My past girlfriends–no offense to them this is just how they work–wouldn’t say how they felt or what they wanted, and that’s hard for me, so we fought constantly.  I don’t mean to be cold, but if you don’t tell me or show me you’re upset, I can’t tell.  With Tara, she’ll just tell me when she wants a hug or to be comforted, and it doesn’t bother her.  She doesn’t expect me to be a mind-reader.  Physical touch and hugs can be uncomfortable for me (more on that later), but I’ve gotten a lot better with her.

I use this story as an example: I was at my now wife’s house when we were dating.  It was close to my birthday, and she was framing my present.  I went over to her house and apparently it was on the ironing board right when I walked in.  Her heart sank and she thought for sure that I had seen it.  Well I was so focused on my phone or the floor or whatever that I didn’t even notice.  I had no idea and never even saw it.

I don’t think I could put my finger on just one thing in our relationship that makes it so successful; there are a lot of ways that we work. I want to expand my world, and she helps a lot with that.  I used to be one of those people that stayed in my house all the time, I never went to parties or really did anything outside of family camping, but Tara makes me want to get out and explore the state.  She helps me feel safe.

Another thing that’s hard for me is finding or picking something out. For example if we are going out to eat if Tara says where do you want to go my brain immediately things of every restaurant within 100 miles of us and that is insanely overwhelming, so it’s easier for me if she says what she wants or narrows down the choices.  Sometimes if I can’t decide where to go or what to eat I just don’t go out or I end up eating the same stuff I’ve had for a week.

I just love her.IMG_8749

Stimming & Justin

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(Us on 10/7/2017; at one of the most beautiful places in Washington state–Twanoh State Park)

I asked Justin to write a blog post about stimming.  We watched the movie The Accountant, with Ben Affleck, a while ago, and he does the stimming where he racks a piece of wood on his shins listening to hardcore music for 10 minutes.  I didn’t really get it.  From a neuro-typical point of view, it looks crazy.  This apparently is called stimming, which is sort of a self-soothing/stimulation thing for Aspies and Autism-spectrum people everywhere.  I don’t really notice now when Justin stims, and I know it’s something he needs to do.  His stimming behavior isn’t too out of this world–he just gets lost in music or does 15 things at once, and it seems to help.  I found a really good article about it:

Autism & Stimming

I recommend reading this.  It helps to understand why they do this & that it’s normal for them.

So I had Justin write about it, too.  Here’s what it’s like in his world.

 

Stimming From An Aspie’s point of view

Have you ever watched a really, really good movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time?  Or read a mystery novel that you just can’t even?  You know that weird tension you feel where you feel you gotta keep bouncing your leg or move to the edge of your seat, or just can’t sit still?

That’s how autism feels some days.  All day.  ALL DAY.  It’s not regular.  Some days I wake up just fine, and some days I wake up feeling like I want to run around the block 17 times.  I feel the odd tension and just have this weird energy.  Some people with Autism shake, or rock back and forth, or flail their hands and legs and arms.  But it’s only temporary.  I didn’t know what it was until recently, and it’s stimming.

Apparently I’ve been stimming most of my life.  For me, loud music is my go-to.  I don’t really care what kind of music it is (not screamo or anything like that), but I just pick the song or station, blare it (sorry, neighbors) and it takes me to a totally blank place.  I don’t feel my whole body, and I don’t have my usual billion thoughts.  I just feel better.  But sometimes I feel emotional afterwards, which is weird, and feel like I need to cry.  I haven’t figured that out yet.

Multi-tasking, or doing 10 things at once helps me too.  While typing this up, I also have a YouTube up with a football player’s biography and another YouTube up with my favorite band Korn playing in the background.  Some people can’t do this (my wife, for example), because it’s too much at once.  But it helps me a lot.  I am only focusing all my thoughts on this writing, but I also can hear all that and focus on the writing at the same time.  I also can get completely lost in researching things.  My wife told me about Chernobyl, which I had never heard of until I met her.  I got obsessed with learning about this, and spent hours losing track of time and completely sucking up all information I could find on this topic.  This was me 24/7.  I barely did anything else (except the music and other stuff in the background, of course!).

Up until I married my wife, I thought everyone could do this.  She can’t have anything on while she’s focusing, like on homework or something.

So if anyone you know is autistic or has Asperger’s and flails their hands or taps, that’s usually why.  Stimming helps us a lot.

 

Be patient with those who have this behavior.  You know how that anxiety can feel, and they feel it worse than the neuro-typical.  Don’t shame them for it, and just let them do what they gotta do.

Do you stim?  Do you know others who stim and what their self-soothing behavior is?  Share with us. We’d love to hear how others tackle this.

More Words from the Aspie Mouth!

I like it when Justin writes blogs for me to slaughter.  I mean–edit (ahem).  I hope that you can find some relation to what he feels, and vice versa.  I’d like Justin to know he’s not alone with this weird brain he’s got, and that I love him no matter how hard it is to get him to speak to people (or to stop talking!!!).

Shit Justin says:

I don’t know how it is for other people, but for me there is more than one factor as to why it’s hard for me to speak to people. One is if I don’t know the person, I will first notice their mannerisms and how they speak.  Then, however they speak, I will mimic them and their cadence because I don’t know how to speak to them.

From beginning to end of a conversation, I really don’t know when to start and when to stop, so I have a tendency to start a conversation and then I will trail off. Sometimes I feel like my brain’s moving so fast I can’t slow down my thoughts.  I do know that when I get excited, I will talk really fast, and that also happens when I get really nervous.  It drove my wife crazy when she first met me because I had so much I wanted to say I had to slow down how fast I was talking.

It’s also hard to know what to do with my hands, and I don’t know if other Aspies have that problem.  I try to focus on their body movements and try to copy them, but if they’re not moving, I start to fidget and play with my phone or goatee.

I also HATE eye contact.  It’s the worst thing in the world.  Okay, well, I take that back. It’s not THAT bad.  But it’s really stressful.  I try to look people in the eye because I know it’s rude, but when someone looks into my eyes, I feel like they can see into my soul or memories.  I know they can’t, obviously, but that’s what it feels like.  I barely look at anyone in the eyes, and if I do, it’s my wife, and only for a minute or two.  It’s not me trying to be disrespectful or being a dick—that’s just how it is for me.  I also feel like a creeper if I stare at peoples’ eyes too much.

Socializing is a weird thing for me—if the conversation lags or if I don’t know what to talk about, I’ll bring up random crap, like family memories or something else weird.  I just don’t know what to talk about.  This happens if I don’t see someone for a while, too.  My best friend in the world and I barely see each other, because it legitimately stresses me out because I haven’t seen him for a while.  I worry what to talk about (though my wife says we don’t ever shut up anyway).

I feel like avoiding socializing altogether is easier.  The day after I socialize or play games or just hang out with people I’m exhausted.  It’s like a physical thing for me.

Are any other Aspies like this too?

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The Intimate Details

“Autistic people can’t have intimate relationships.”

“Autistic people can’t feel emotions or love.”

“Autistic people die virgins.”  (Yes, that’s legitimately a real statement)

I’ve talked about sex on here before…it’s a topic people avoid, but I don’t.  For some reason sex is given this “hush hush” attitude, when we should be celebrating it.  You’re trying to tell me that the closest you can get to someone is something we should almost be ashamed of?  Well, sir, I disagree.  This is something that we should celebrate.

When we first started dating, as most of you know, I didn’t realize Justin had Asperger’s.  I didn’t think he liked the hugging, kissing, snuggly stuff, and I was totally fine with that.  Just because someone doesn’t smoosh you with their lovey stuff doesn’t mean they don’t feel it.  A lot of people thought that we weren’t really close or comfortable with each other, but that certainly wasn’t the case.  I was comfortable with Justin after the first hour (and my dog also approved).

When it comes to intimacy, part of Asperger’s and being on the Autism spectrum does mean they have a hard time connecting and being able to display affection.  It made so much sense when he was diagnosed, because he does have a hard time with affection.  He doesn’t randomly hug or kiss me, or snuggle me, or that stuff (did I say I’m okay with that?  I promise…I am).  Since he started smoking pot, though, it’s really helped him with his confidence, and now daily he is more able to show his affection for me.  He kisses me and hugs me more, and I can’t support it enough (obviously).

Sex is something different for people on the Autism spectrum.  I see portrayals of Aspies and ASD people in relationships and sex is some foreign, weird thing for them.  Oddly enough, Justin said he’s never had problems with that aspect of a relationship.  I think because he can focus just on that, and it’s the easiest way for him to show his love.  How much more intimate can you get, really?

I will spare you the graphic details of it all (but it’s GREAT), but I want to get the word out that just because you’ve got an Aspie or ASD partner doesn’t mean that intimacy needs to be some foreign thing.  And even those without Autism.  Everyone should celebrate the joy that comes with being in one world for a minute with someone else.  Nothing else matters but that.

How awesome is that?

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Marriage Advice from Someone Who Never Thought She’d Get Married (and still can’t believe it some days)

It’s true.  When I was younger, I was never asked out on dates.  Guys didn’t pay attention to me.  I was never told I was beautiful, attractive, etc.  I was always just “smart.”  I was awkward, plus size, and didn’t have a pretty face.  I still don’t think I’m attractive (sorry babe–I know you’ll be mad at that!!!).  My first boyfriend wasn’t until I was 19, and then he dumped me the day after he met me for the first time.  So safe to say, I was over the whole “marriage” idea.  I was going to be a career-driven woman, with a few fun flings along the way, and I was completely cool with that (though I don’t think my mom was!!!).

Then Justin happened.  Most of you know it wasn’t love at first sight, sparkles and cutesy love music in the background, kissing me and my foot popping up, chick-flick style love.  It was natural, it took a little while, and it wasn’t very romantic–no flowers were involved in the courting process, and he didn’t stand outside my window blaring music.  But it was absolutely effortless, and that is why it was so amazing.  It was just so natural and meant to be.  It was just hey…here’s Justin…here’s Tara…yeah, you guys belong together.  We didn’t fight or wonder if we liked each other.  It just was, like it was our destinies.  And I couldn’t have been happier.

Anyway, now that we’re a year into our marriage, I want to share some thoughts about why our relationship works so well.  I’ve gotten questions about how we manage to never argue after living together for 3 years, and how we don’t drive each other crazy.  I thought I’d share how our simple love is made possible.

  • SPEAK.  The biggest issue with relationships is communication.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I really can’t stress it enough.  Does it piss you off when they leave their socks everywhere?  SAY IT.  Do you love when they fill your gas tank (Justin does this for me–it’s better than flowers)? TELL THEM.  If you’re afraid they’re going to get pissed, oh well.  If they do, really?  You’re going to get pissed about that?
  • Encourage each other.  This is one in every marriage advice article you’ll find, but it’s true.  It’s really important for people to hear that someone has faith in them (besides parents, because parents always think you could rule the world), and having a partner who keeps telling you this is the best feeling in the world.
  • Don’t use sex as a weapon.  Apparently people do this.  They will reward their husbands with sex or intimacy if they take out the trash or do household chores.  And in reverse–they won’t have sex with their husband if he misbehaves.  This is TERRIBLE.  Sex is the most intimate you can be with someone, and it’s a form of showing how much you love someone, and using it as a weapon is so harmful.  Just don’t!  Along these lines…
  • Have sex–a lot.  Don’t be shy about this part.  Sex is super important in a relationship, and being able to share this with someone is amazing.  It’s not dirty or shameful or “gross.”  How much closer can you get to someone than this?  Do it (literally) a lot.
  • Compromise.  I hate going to the store.  I hate going places after work.  It just sucks and I just want to come home and chill after a tiring day at work.  But if Justin has been stuck at home all day and he wants to take a mini trip, I will do my best to go.  It’s not fair that I make him be bored just because I’m tired.  He’ll also compromise for me.  He doesn’t like going to doctor’s appointments with me, but he’ll do it.  Because we will compromise.
  • Don’t tell them they’re not allowed to do things.  I’ve seen this happen a lot.  Wives will tell husbands they can’t buy something when they can afford it, or that they shouldn’t buy something just because they said so.  Granted, if you’re broke and an ATV s on the top of someone’s wish list, yeah, don’t do it.  But if your husband wants to start a new hobby and you just don’t want him to buy it because you think he has too much stuff or he’ll fail, this is pretty shitty.  Encourage–remember.  Let them explore and grow.  It’s part of being alive.
  • Leave the house.  Get out together.  Go for a drive together.  Go see and do and learn new things.  Staying inside in a cramped space drives you crazy (and makes you irritated with the other person) and is very damaging over time to your relationship and brain.  Hop in the car and go drive and take loads of selfies (Justin loves them–haha!!).  It’s worth it.
  • Have fun together.  Part of being with someone is just enjoying and having fun together.  Justin makes me laugh and makes me feel beautiful every day–regardless of how I think I look.  Nothing makes me happier than just being around him, and this is how it should be.

Besides being married to someone with autism, I think this advice is helpful in any relationship.  Finding someone that you never thought you’d ever find is the best feeling in the world, and it takes work to keep it–but it’s worth it in every sense of the word.

Feeling Alone

Sometimes life with an autistic person is really really hard. Obviously.  Being married to one isn’t any easier. There are days like yesterday when I come home to roses and homemade chicken parmesan for dinner. Then there are days I worry every second hpw Justin is feeling. Is he stressing? Is he angry?  Is he going to have a melt down today? 

Our annual 4th of July tradition usually involves Justin being irritated.  I don’t know why  he does, but every year it goes between being excited and then saying he doesn’t want to go. We end up going, but he never is really excited.

This year isn’t any exception.  He’s struggling with asthma and can’t use his THC vape pen, which is what helps him relax. He isn’t speaking and it makes it really hard. He always tells me to not worry about him (as he struggles to breathe) and just enjoy the day. How am I supposed to do that? 

Lately it seems like we have more bad days than good. Especially because of his asthma. He gets really angry and frustrated (rightfully so) when he can’t breathe. I can’t do anything about it either.  No matter what I do or how hard I try I can’t fix everything.

And I can’t help but feel alone. Is this normal for people living with a loved one with autism?