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Energy: Life and Love with an Undiagnosed Aspie

A new school year is upon us, and after twenty years of experiencing it as either a mother or a therapist, I was able to take a step back and view it as an observer.  A huge burst of energy is put forth at the beginning of school years, by everyone involved:  staff, students, parents, journalists, pediatricians, merchants, etc.  It is, as they say, the ‘talk of the town’.

This led me to review my theory of different types of energy, and how they manifested in my groom.  Based on observation, here are the types of energy available at any given time: 

1.  Creation energy:  this is the romantic start of a new endeavor, be it a new school year, a new romance, a new house, a new job, a new car, a new diet, or a new exercise routine.  It bursts, shines and sparkles, and is motivated by the promise of infinite possibilities.  

Creation energy is easy and freely given because it is based on the hope that we will attain something: a dream or destiny that is out of our reach, so we will keep using our energy to reach for it.  

2.  Maintenance energy:  aka “the thrill is gone, but I gotta do what I gotta do” energy.  Not fun, glamorous or sexy.  Maintenance energy requires us to do the mundane work that is necessary to keep what we worked so hard to form with our creation energy.  It’s not a negative thing, given the assumption (which I did) that you value what you received during the creation energy phase.  It is a small price to pay for all that you’ve gained. 

In my experience, most people on the spectrum have the ability to muster maintenance energy when they realize the value of what they have gained, and the prospect of losing it.  

3.  Repair energy:  another step up the ladder.  When things have gone wrong, broken down and are a mess, fixing them requires a LOT of energy; and it is arduous.  Isn’t it easier just to deem it “wrong” or “ruined” and seek the new thrill of creation energy again?  Creation energy allows one to stay the same, to believe that there is a ‘holy grail’ somewhere that will make life easy. 

Repair energy requires us to face our faults, own them, and change.  Change is not easy for most of us, and least of all some of us on the spectrum.

With most of the aspects of our lives, be it relationships, cars, houses, jobs, or pets, these three energies are cyclical:  creation, maintenance, repair, creation, maintenance, repair.  We stay in the circle, the cycle, because we care about what we’ve created, we value it enough to do the maintenance and repair work when it becomes necessary.  Different levels of energy, different motivations, different outcomes.  Lots of variables, and no guarantees.

I’m not sure that we can expect persons on the spectrum to be able to produce all of these energies.  When just living in the world requires more energy than most of us have to expend, is it fair to judge others for being selective about how to expend it?

I have no doubt that my groom gave me the best he had to give.  He (we) created a wonderful relationship and happy home.   But, when the shine wore off his energy waned, so mine had to increase if we were to keep what we had created.  When things began to break and repair energy was required, he had very little, and mine had to increase, and it did, to an unhealthy degree.

There is no doubt in my mind that this struggle with sufficient maintenance and repair energy played a huge role in our inability to stay in a healthy relationship, as well as numerous issues within his family of origin, and his extended family.  The family lore was perpetuated by a lack understanding of what lied behind so many actions and choices.  Lots of starts, but not much follow through, which, in the end, defined their history and shaped their lives.

One thing I never understood was why my groom’s family seemed to value hardship and strife over success and happiness.  It seemed they were all in competition to claim the worst of circumstances or the crappiest deal.  I was constantly asking him, “Who wants to win that kind of competition?”  Being happy and content was viewed as suspicious.  I puzzled over this for years.

Last week, when his sister’s voice piped up in a meeting – delivering the same “but I have it worse than anyone” line occurred, it finally dawned on me – this is what happens when creation energy is all you have.  You start something, then the inevitable conflicts or flaws occur, but you can’t maintain or repair it.  So you give up, and blame it on the worst of circumstances, or the crappiest deal.

And the circle goes round and round…


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