Peff (peffkitten) wrote in autismoinspace,

Troubled Times

Over the summer I visited my dad. His wife (my stepmum, Trish) has just had a baby so I had to come and visit. I warned my dad beforehand that I might not show an extreme level of enthusiasm towards the baby, but that he shouldn't be offended if this was the case. I just don't get excited over the same things as everyone else. He lovingly assured me that he and Trish would be offended if I didn't appear interested enough.

Anyway, meeting the baby was fine. He was quiet and un-pukey, and I like babies well enough. I just don't coo over them so much. The problem was being at my dad's house for a few days. I've never felt particularly comfortable there, but I can't really bring it up because it's exactly the kind of thing he'll get upset about. I just tried to stay out of their way as much as possible, and help out sometimes.

I have a problem with helping my dad because I always feel intensely criticised. I'm very thin-skinned when it comes to criticism, I admit it. I feel a lot of pressure from my dad, really. If he asks me a trivia question and I don't know the answer, a big deal gets made about it "Oh my god - something Peff doesn't know!!" and that upsets me.

At one point my dad said he was going to start making dinner, and asked me to check on the boiling potatoes. At this point I assumed he hadn't yet started, and would tell me when he'd put the potatoes onto boil. Time passed and I heard no word from him, so I went into the kitchen and found my sister taking care of everything. He'd put the potatoes on and left without a word. Later that evening my stepmum made a point of telling my dad that my sister had done all the work and that I hadn't checked on the kitchen until there was an advert break on TV. She did it with a laugh so I wasn't supposed to upset, but it actually really got to me. It made it sound like I was being lazy. I didn't even realise there was an advert break. I didn't leave earlier because A) I didn't realise the potatoes were even on and B) I thought my stepmum would think I was rude if I left her alone in the front room.

The worst event came, however, the day before I left. I was quietly keeping out of the way when my dad called me for dinner. I didn't even realise he'd been making anything. I got my food and sat down, then my dad offered to make me a drink and left for the kitchen. When he was out of the room my stepmum said to me, in the iciest voice you can imagine, "Did it ever occur to you to offer to make dinner?"

I was really shocked. It was a very evil tone of voice and it really really got to me. So much in fact that as I'm writing this up, a month later, I have tears in my eyes. She was basically accusing me of being lazy and rude, and that really hurt. I had helped out when I was there. I even went down the shops for them, I did hoovering, I checked on the baby. And, yes, I had considerd offering to make dinner but I was too scared to because every time I've cooked for my dad in the past I've done something wrong, something he's criticised. I don't know my way around his kitchen and I would feel weird in that environment. I feel that anything I made wouldn't be good enough for him. But I would have been happy to help him with anything he wanted. I did help with cooking when I was there.

I went upstairs and cried my eyes out. My dad came to see me and we had a talk. Trish told me that she thought I wasn't offering to help because I "didn't care" and that made me cry even more. She said to me "you're very sensitive but you need to be more aware of others." Well I do my fucking best, but it isn't exactly the easiest thing in the world for me, obviously. I've tried to talk to my dad about autism before but I guess he's forgotten all about that.

When talking to my sister on the train the next day I summed it up as "So basically he said that he doesn't actually mind if I help out around the house, he just wants me to offer to help sometimes so he can say no." And she said " Well, that makes sense, doesn't it?"

"Makes sense to some people."

I hate situations like that, cos it makes me feel that no matter how hard I try I'll never be good enough. It can be exhausting trying to work out what's expected of me and I can't keep it up constantly. But then when I pull back to recuperate, something like this happens and it really, really gets to me. Usually I'm fine, my autism doesn't cause me too many problems. I have a boyfriend, I have friends, I can cope with most social situations quite well. But then something like that happens, something that wouldn't have happened if I wasn't autistic. And it makes me feel like I'll always be an outsider.
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