A few weeks have gone by since The Rose became a girlfriend. In that time she has seen a little of how life might have been if Aspersers hadn’t got in her way. And now she’s back and … devastated.
Dumped by text – by her The Boyfriend five weeks after having her first close relationship ever outside our immediate family
It’s really hard. I can’t blame The Ex – he’s only just turned 18 and that’s simply the way it rolls. He has ADHD himself and lots to contend with – but he’s not my son and The Rose is my daughter.
The rules of engagement are a minefield in the path to finding The One. Who of us hasn’t pined and shed tears of unrequited love or been driven mad guessing, assuming, hoping and using the best of our social skills and experience to navigate those treacherous bunkers of doubt and uncertainty? Anticipating what another person is thinking or going to do – or even want they want to hear is something we do unconsciously but spend most of our lives trying to refine. It’s exacerbated and difficult when relationships are important to us or complicated so how unfathomably hard then for those from whom the basics of connection with others have been buried.
We’ve all made fools of ourselves and tripped over our tongues in front of The Chosen One. Few of us have escaped a broken heart – but in the typical world there are our friendship groups, others to lean on and share and confide in, others who help us not to feel so alone in our complicated experiences. We learn and we move on in a world which, on the whole, still welcomes you – even though you are battered.
The Rose loves with all her heart, full pelt, no half measures, extremely and honestly.
She loved the way The Boyfriend sounded when he talked, even before they’d been properly introduced. She loved his smell and took his scarf to sniff within minutes of meeting.
And right before her first ‘date’ she told him that she loved him that he was ‘a keeper’ and she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.
Playing mysterious and interesting was never going to be part of her seduction technique. But to be fair to him he didn’t back off, despite the fact he wasn’t necessarily looking for that level of commitment so soon!
He came to our house so I could ‘inspect him’ (her words not mine – but she was right!). She was invited to meet his family to celebrate his turning 18 during the first few days of ‘official’ going- out together. It seemed fantastic – she was happy and very calm. They talked together like I’ve never heard her speak to anyone ever – relaxed, calm, no funny voices or squeaking.
But after a week or so she was tense and edgy.
The Boyfriend seemed to be out much more frequently, every night in fact and often at parties or at a mate’s houses without inviting her. The Rose claimed she didn’t want to go anyway and I believed her – stupid of me. Just because she doesn’t like crowds doesn’t mean she can’t feel isolation.
When he skipped college one Thursday she was furious. Not because he’d lied but because she knows ‘you have to go to college’ that’s the rule.
She really told him off. Her wrath was unbounded; disproportionate to the level of the transgression. I felt the force from some distance. I felt awkward for them both.
The relationship quickly became just seeing him on Sundays. She was so happy when I dropped her off in the morning and usually close to tears when I collected her In the evening. She almost always said she’d had a nice time but her underlying stress was spat out in jagged statements which I pieced together to find shards of a less happy day in which she felt vulnerable and confused but to which she desperately wanted to belong and fit in.
I discovered he’d talked about his friends and some were girls. He told The Rose they were good fun. Some were pretty too. The Rose was so insecure
I tried to explain that girls and boys could certainly be friends and that she should be calm and not worry but that evening she hurled jealous anger down the phone at him and accused him of all sorts of things that were extreme (but imaginative).
She told me she ‘felt funny’ but didn’t know what was wrong exactly. She checked his phone and became obsessed with a text he’d received with a fairly innocuous message and two XXs from a girl. Apparently he’d replied with three XXXs and this summed up the whole of The Rose’s feelings and angst. He’d been nicer to the girl who’d texted him than she had been to him – THAT WAS WRONG, he must love her .
Life was in a downwards spiral.
He asked The Rose nicely not to be so possessive and controlling – he had a point so I tried to help her think rationally. She tried to swallow her hurt and jealousy but it was just WRONG. She was needy, possesive and literal. None of which is very attractive when you are an 18 year old boy just flexing your muscles in the world and certainly not looking to get married anytime soon.
The relationship visibly cooled but The Rose didn’t. She was so desperate to be sure of him. To keep him. I knew it was over – but how could she? Yet I think she must have.
Driving her home last Sunday – she was so close to tears. I was walking a tight rope between my protective instincts and respect for her space. She checked her phone for the gazillionth time:
“Oh God NO! MUM! MUUMMM IT’s HAPPENED”
I stopped the car to hold her. The dump message had come in.
And she wailed her pain like she’d been physically stabbed. She read the text to me in a scream. She called him immediately and pleaded like a beaten slave for him to make the pain stop, for him to change his mind. She begged.
He was soft voiced and patient and had probably done the decent thing. He told her he couldn’t give her the commitment she wanted. He wasn’t ready. He didn’t want to string her along.
“What does it mean Mum? What did I do? Help me help me”
Oh my love my precious love. I will help. I will always catch you. Where do I begin?
I wrote this blog a few days ago. There is a post script.
This morning as The Rose got in my car for a lift to the bus stop she said without prompt or question and with the clarity she so often possesses:
“I feel really light today. I feel like the weight of all that stuff – bricks they were Mum, well it’s all gone away. I feel fresh and ready for a good day. No crying.”
I’d like to say I smiled and responded with warm silence, a knowing hand on her knee and unspoken love between us. I’d like to say that of course- but in fact I gushed like a fountain. A torrent of words and un-asked for kisses delivered with wild enthusiasm in a much too loud voice to the side of her face.
She put me straight.
“Mum, I’m clean right now – don’t spoil it”
I promise my love, my baby, my little girl, my fine young woman.