The day after, I was angry. I’d slept less than an hour, and I was beyond exhaustion, in that otherworldly frantic space from being awake more than thirty hours: like wine-drunk, a strange hollowness in the chest. If my brain had been able to slow down I’d have passed out at my desk at work.
The day after, I was angry because I carry now a memory of him, casually naked in his kitchen at 4am, washing dishes, pouring the rest of a beer down his throat, moving around the kitchen in a familiar graceful and efficient way while I leaned against a counter and wondered if I was awake enough to safely drive the three hours up the mountain to work. He pulled a slab of bacon from the fridge (from the heritage-breed hogs he raises), diced it neatly, and threw it into a cast iron skillet (he restores them, that is some of his work). Coffee in an electric percolator. He slung eggs in the skillet on top of the bacon (you can tell when someone has an innate knowledge of kitchen timing, that confidence and grace). He wasn’t there to impress me, he was just focused on what he was doing, and that is different – the lack of self-questioning. He asked me how I take my coffee, added the cream, and handed me a hot mug of strong coffee, and a minute later, slid in front of me a plate with an english muffin egg and bacon sandwich.
Driving home in the early dark I was angry because I had to mentally recalibrate everyone I’ve ever been with. I’d measured experiences on a scale up to ten, and suddenly, it goes to eleven. I was angry that I have to carry the memory of that moment while knowing the incredibly slim statistical likelihood of meeting someone else who also occupies every category I seek, who is passionate about and experienced in and knowledgeable about literally everything I have been working for years to bring into my life. It’s so much easier to be mediocre and complacent because mediocrity and complacency are easy to find.
I expect there are other women. There’s always a skinnier prettier little pieces of ass to show up to get fucked. There are always pretty little things who are better at engaging emotionally than I am, and who don’t have the constant obligations I have. I don’t give a fuck. I don’t have to try to prevent that from happening. I don’t have to be engaging and sweet and make an effort to be desirable. I’m not going to try to be something I’m not, I’m not going to compete.
There is no sweetness in this. This may be a particularly autistic way of approaching intimacy. I categorize, I calibrate, I understand the world through numbers, feelings matter only as far as they can be quantified. There are lists, venn diagrams, flow charts and equations. When it comes to intimacy, I am transactional and efficient. I approach fucking like it’s the discussion of a business partnership. I am looking for x, y, and z; within these parameters.
So I left, and I sat with the discomfort of knowing I’d just hit a peak I’ll likely never reach again, the discomfort of not knowing if I’d see him again, and I kept my mouth shut. I do not reach out. I didn’t take action based on how I was feeling. Communication is brief. I’m not going to be pushy or needy. I am working very hard to not give a fuck. I continue going out there when I’m asked. I am just here to be a good piece of ass.
I have a child, and a career, and I work all the damn time. I have friends, I have obligations, and I have neurological differences that prevent me from functioning as expected and required in emotionally intimate relationships. Might as well be okay with that.
Each time I leave, it’s the same discomfort. So I sit with the fear. If it’s the last time I ever do that, I might as well get comfortable with that. What am I in the absence of external validation? What am I without reassurance that I’m attractive, engaging, desirable? Sit with that discomfort. Lean into the places that hurt. Don’t use those feelings to make decisions. These feelings of discomfort are my feelings, they don’t belong to anyone else.
There is a rat eating a hole in my heart, but I can breathe around it, and I’ll be okay, and eventually the rat will go. The third and fourth day of silence are the most difficult, and by the fifth day, I’m okay again.
When I’m alone, it’s easy to allow myself the comfort of imagining that I’ll eventually be good enough for someone else, that someone else will eventually love me.
It’s very different to accept that I am not owed that story by the universe. I am not owed the experience of some perfect partner out there waiting to meet me. I am not owed an “other half”. I am not owed reminders that I am attractive and desirable.
I know I’m cool as hell. I’m brilliant, I’m creative, I work hard all the damn time, I’m really funny, I am good at listening, I am highly competent, and I give a fuck about things that matter. I didn’t need a boyfriend to tell me that I’m cool when I work on my truck, I just work on my fucking truck. I’m the best piece of ass for reasons I won’t go into here.
But I also know my skills are not socially valued, and the skills that are socially valued in women are not skills I possess. I know that my way of being in the world is troubling and hurtful to neurotypical people who see my bluntness as criticism, who do not understand why I take things literally, who communicate through subtext and subtlety and are frustrated and hurt when I do not understand subtext and subtlety. I cannot learn to be unblind to social communication, any more than someone who is colorblind can just try harder.
I appreciate the practice of sitting with discomfort, leaning into it, learning to be okay.