We know our truth.
Well at least we think we do.
Two people can have a conversation and come away with different ideas as to what it was about.
There’s a lot of new age, feel good stuff out there at the moment about knowing your truth.
– Be true to yourself
– You can only be responsible for your own truth
– Find your truth and you find yourself
These are all well and good, but what does that actually mean?
Last Friday, in my regular Barefoot Friday I talked about what it’s like to live with a neurodiverse spouse. Barefoot Friday is live illustration and conversation in which I cover a range of subjects around Identity, Belonging and Expat Life.
With half an hour to spare before I started, I said to my wife, ‘what am I going to do for Barefoot Friday? Nothing is coming to me. I want to do something simple, but powerful’.
My wife replied,
We often joke about her being simple, like the happy bouncy dog that can only focus on the ball you are about to throw. I appreciated her nudge towards our inside joke.
‘Why don’t you talk about what it’s like to live with a neurodiverse partner?’ she said.
She was right. This felt good.
It’s not something I could have talked about once. I didn’t understand it.
My truth was frustration, pain, hurt and confusion.
Ang’s diagnosis of Dyspraxia at aged 50 and our belief now that she’s also got Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Autistic tendencies created a space to talk.
It turns out her truth had been frustration, pain, hurt and confusion.
Ang is now 61, so we’ve had 11 years to learn, negotiate communication that works for both of us, and find ways that mean we get what we need. It’s like anything in a marriage. It takes a commitment to each other to make it work.
So, my truth turned out to be her truth too, but from a different angle.
Finding your truth
I didn’t find my truth as the new-age tells me. I found my wife.
My wife didn’t find her truth. She’d known it for a long time. She finally felt understood.
In talking about neurodiversity, I received feedback from another neurodiverse listener who stressed the importance of talking about the positives of neurodiverse people, not just the struggles. They are right. Neurodiverse people have amazing skills and that will be the subject this week, but it got me thinking about truths again.
It was my wife who suggested the subject matter and she was very happy with it, but someone with a similar experience holds a different truth. Even when we speak the same language this disconnect exists.
In the expat context, imagine too, the added complications of different languages and culture. It’s a wonder that anyone ever understands anyone else!
Dyspraxia is classified by the World Health Organisation as a disability. The benefit of this means that diagnosis opens avenues for funding, support services and further public recognition – all of which has been invaluable for my wife.
However, and I know this is going to sound like I’m speaking from a position of Privilege, non-neurodiverse privilege, the majority, the main-stream…. but I’m going to say it anyway.
And I am saying it, because THIS is my truth.
There is limited support for people who are married to people with dyspraxia. You can find information and services to help with bringing up autistic and ADD children and if your partner is autistic, but dyspraxia? Not so much.
At one point I even contacted the Dyspraxia Foundation to ask if they had resources, but they didn’t. Rightly so, their focus is on helping dyspraxic people, but I do wonder about partners. Are they also hidden voices as they navigate neurodiversity? Resources for non-neurodiverse people would certainly also benefit their neurodiverse spouses and relationships.
Have I just given myself another project?
Navigating neurodiversity in a marriage
Both my wife and I will openly admit that it’s been a challenge to negotiate, individually and together, but we’ve done it well and we continue to. We are an amazing team and I wouldn’t change anything.
Being dyspraxic is as much part of your identity as having brown hair. THIS is the reason I am talking about this issue. Diversity is about understanding, acceptance, embracing and celebrating.
Not allowing space for the full spectrum of people is nothing short of rejection. Who do you reject without realising it or without being honest with yourself, because you can’t cope with their difference?
Living with a neurodiverse spouse can be really challenging, but so can living with a feisty red-headed Australian. We are just who we are. Angie has opened my eyes to the world in ways that I would never have looked it. My wife’s approach to life has given me a lot to think about and loosened me up, inspired me and helped me in numerous ways….
but to find out about that, you’ll have to watch this week’s Barefoot Friday (Friday 2pm BST) on Facebook.