Hello Jeff Caplan, thanks for your interest in my work. It appears you are making quite morning of reading it.
Your assumption is correct: my ex is on the spectrum, as is my youngest. Both of my children also have ADHD, like their father. Never a dull moment around here!
And your assumption is also correct that I am quite social. I’m an ENFP, and am very curious and intuitive.
My intuition tells me that you are projecting quite a bit here, based on the information that you shared about your parents’ own divorce, and also based on how emotionally triggering my work appears to be for you (just got two dings that you’ve commented critically on my other pieces).
My intuition also tells me that you also haven’t started your own therapy yet. That, or you’re at the stage in your own therapy process where you’ve cleaned up a lot of your life and because you feel you’ve reached a point of “enlightenment,” it’s easy to see and judge the glaring imperfections that all of us have in own lives.
The problem is there is still more emotional housekeeping to be done, so one gets to the point that we stop judging others so harshly because we’ve stopped judging ourselves. At that point we will also lead with more compassion instead of judgment and fortune-telling about how effed we believe everyone else’s kids are going to turn out, etc.
FWIW, I grew up in a family that appeared to be perfect on the outside: married parents, big house, successful father, homemaker/schoolteacher mother, dinner together seven nights a week, totally appropriate boundaries, and zero arguments — which was exactly the problem. There were no arguments and there was no messiness, which meant people were never working out the issues that inevitably arise in life and/or growing as a result. We all have growth to do, and sometimes you need to lay it all out on the table and do the hard work of actually working the problems.
Like you, I also have the sense that my children will need to go to therapy but only because I think everyone should go to therapy. I don’t see therapy as a bad thing for anyone. I do see a lot of people though, who should do some therapy, but because they think therapy is only for “mentally sick” people, they never do it, and never grow. They lead lives that appear to be perfect on the outside, but without grappling with the hard shit, they never move into a better state of being. But I don’t spend a lot of time judging those people either. I know how difficult it is to take stock of one’s lives and change. I’ve had to change many times, and it’s hard work. Therefore I have compassion for people who don’t have the courage to do what I’ve done.
That said, as a mother, I do reserve the right to be wholly selfish when it comes to my children. Whether my ex is happy, successful, reaches his full potential, etc., is totally out of my hands. But I can do what I can to ensure that he reaches those things in ways that are not even expected of me, if only for the good of my children. This summer, that’s meant assuming 100% of the work concerning the boys so that my ex can go back to school yet again (on top of the A.B.D. in Physics he already has) to attain a professional degree. That’s a big sacrifice, Jeff, one that I assume because my ex and I are still connected, and therefore it is still in my best interest to make massive sacrifices so that he is healthy/happy.
Though I may wish everyone to be happy in this world, any good therapist would say that it’s not my job to make other people happy. But the fact that I am assuming real world responsibilities to ensure that my ex is more successful in life is big. I do this because my kids are worth it.
At the very least you’ve given me more ideas for things to write about. As they might be of interest to you, you might consider following me. :-)