S2 E7: "That time I embarrassed myself" (transcript)

Jodi Carlton, MEd, LLC
S2 E7: "That time I embarrassed myself" (transcript)

[beginning of introduction] 

Jodi: Hey everybody. I'm Jodi Carlton. And this podcast is for those of you who are in neurodiverse relationships, which means you may be neurodiverse yourself, or maybe that's your partner. And neurodiverse means you have neurodiverse traits like autism and autistic traits. Some of you may call it Asperger's. So anyway, this podcast is for you. And if you've been tuning in and listening to the episodes this summer, this has been a kind of a mini-series, a mini-season. I've been sharing my neurodiverse family and friendships with you. Those of you who have been following me for several years know I talk about my family a lot and I wanted to share them with you. 

So if you haven't heard some of the episodes recently go back and listen to them. And I think you'll find them very interesting because my story is so similar to so many of yours. And I know in the last episode, I mentioned that I've had a really good conversation to share with you with my best friend, Kathy, who has her own neurodiverse family. And she herself has some pretty significant neurodiverse traits that she shares with you. And we talked about our own relationship and how we navigate that. And I'm so excited for you to hear it, but we decided to change up our programming a little bit. So that episode is going to be next week. And this week I decided to share a different, actually, a pre-recorded, live that I did with my private Facebook group.

 At the very end of my conversation with my own mother last week, I was talking about how we really speak different languages when one of us is neurodiverse and one of us is neurotypical and those languages are how our brain processes the world, how we process information, how we process emotion. How we use logic, and how we reason. And it's just, that it feels like a different language. And one partner sometimes is really fluent in certain aspects of certain types of language interaction, and another partner is really fluent in different types of language and interaction. And it's literally like we're using the same words, but, they have different meanings. 

And so it reminded me of when I went live one day in my Facebook group, my private Facebook group, but if you're not in there, the link is in all of my episode descriptions. I really encourage you to join. It's a fantastic group. We are a very high-integrity group. We don't allow any drama. No bashing of anybody. And the members just really learn a ton from each other. We have neurodiverse, neurotypical partners in there and lots of really great conversation. But anyway, I went live in there one day and talked about speaking these different languages. And I just wanted to share that live with you here, because I think it's just really applicable to this series. So that's what the rest of this episode is today. So, um, stay around, stick around and listen up and then be sure and tune in next week for part one of my conversation with Kathy. 

[end of introduction]

My mind is always on you guys. I'm always thinking about you guys and I came up, I was thinking about this analogy about these different languages that we speak. And I wanted to tell you about it because I think this might be a really cool framework for all of you, whether you're neurotypical or you're autistic. So I have these really great friends. [Jodi speaking to someone in the live] Ellen you're in – is it Ellen? Yeah. Ellen, you're in the UK. Okay. You guys who are in the UK are gonna find this kind of funny. Um, but the first story I'm gonna tell is about my friends who are a couple, there are some really good friends of mine and she is from Japan and he's from Germany. She doesn't speak German and he doesn't speak Japanese, but they both speak English. And so this is the common language that they have to speak to each other. So a lot can be lost in translation in their relationship because it's neither of their native language that they're speaking to each other.

And, and in so many ways, this is very similar to what your relationship is like in a neurodiverse relationship. I'm assuming you actually both speak the same language English or whatever the language is, where you are. If you speak different native languages, then you've got an extra layer of difficulty there. My friends have a beautiful relationship though because they have had to learn to really pay attention to the fact that they are going to use that language differently, and that they have to be curious. They have to be curious and investigate because if you've ever learned a foreign language and, and Ellen, there's even a funnier part here about you in the UK, just wait for it. If you've ever learned a foreign language, you know that sometimes you use words and expressions, not quite right.

I'm a native English speaker and so someone who's from another country that has a different native language, they might use an expression or a phrase that translates literally correctly, but it's not quite how we use it here in the English, in American English.

So it is kind of like, no, didn't quite get that right. And so in a lot of ways, that's, that can be similar to how folks on the spectrum use English in a very literal way. And they don't understand the subtle nuances and the cliches and the figurative language. A lot of the folks on the spectrum that I've worked with have told me it's like English, their native language. They've even said human speaking “human” is like a second language to them. 

So my analogy that those of you in the UK are gonna find funny, even those of us who speak the same native language, sometimes there can be differences if we're from different parts of the world. So I lived in Ireland for a while. So the English there is similar to the English in the UK in terms of phrases and expressions and terminology. And we made – my ex-husband now – we made quite a few blunders when we lived there. [Jodi speaking to someone in the live] Hi, Amanda, how are you today? So I'm gonna tell you guys a couple of the blunders.

And those in the UK, you're gonna laugh. And the ones here, you're not gonna know what I'm talking about. But there were a couple of times where I made reference to whatever the pants were that I was wearing that day or the color of my pants. Well, turns out that pants in the UK and Ireland means your underwear! And so I got some really strange looks when I started talking about my pants, because everybody else thought I was talking about my underwear. I can also remember, um, [Jodi speaking to someone in the live] Kitty you're there too. Okay. Yeah. You guys talk to each other. 

I can remember when we first moved there, I was in a place kinda like a sub sandwich shop. I think it was like a, um, a deli, and the guy behind the counter kept asking me, he said, “are you okay there?” And I was like, “yeah, I'm fine.” And then he said, “are you okay there?” I was like, “yep, but I'm good.” And he finally looked at me again and he said, “are you ready to order?” I don't remember what he said, but it made me realize "are you okay there?" there was a colloquialism for, “can I take your order?” And I didn't understand that that's what he meant. And so again, I was being very literal with what he was saying to me, just like an Aspie would with the literal language. I didn't understand the cliche, the colloquialism. So I wanted to use this analogy with you guys because this is very much what it's like for those on the spectrum.

When you're not aware of it, this is part of what results in those conversations that you guys have when you're talking, and then you're just like, what? And I know I've said that before, you're just like what? You're not understanding him or her and your autistic partner's like, “I don't know.” So keep this in mind. This is why it's so important to be curious and inquisitive just like my friends from Germany and Japan. They already know that their common language is going to be different and that they're gonna miss some things in translation. So they're curious. They have to inquire and they have to clarify.

So when you're talking to your partner, remember that you don't use language the same. And neurotypical folks, you speak a language of emotions, some autistic folks don't speak that language. It's not a language that they speak and understand. 

I was talking with a client earlier today who's autistic, an autistic guy, and I was explaining to him how neurotypicals have a literal spoken language, but there's always a meta language, which is like the secondary language in everything we say and do. There's a meaning. There’s a meta language. It's implied. There's an innuendo. There’s the extra meaning that's there. We get that meaning from body language, cues, and context and that's why we're looking for the hidden meaning sometimes in what our partners, our autistic partners say because that's what we're used to as neurotypicals. And when they say things that are kind of blunt and abrasive, sometimes we're looking for that, "what did he mean by that?" And our autistic partners are like, “well, I meant exactly what I said.” And sometimes when I advise you guys to get clarity and ask for clarification, you've given me feedback that your autistic partners say, “I meant what I said” so sometimes you might wanna just take him for what he said, take it for what it's worth and recognize that you are looking for that meaning because you're neurotypical.

But sometimes you might wanna just stop and think about what he said, the literal meaning of what he said, and take it for what it's worth and, and know that there's not an actual, hidden, there's not a hidden agenda. There's not a meaning there. 

So you get the pants analogy. It was horrible. When I told people my pants were wet, it was horrible. So embarrassing. Pants means trousers like what you wear on your lower half and in the UK and Ireland, it actually means underwear. That's what it can be like for someone with autism to make a blunder like that and not realize what they've done.

So you have to ask clarifying questions. You have to try to find a language, kind of like my friends, the one from Germany and the one from Japan, you have to figure out how to use a language that you both speak.

I know the language of emotions is very important to those of us who are neurotypical, and women on the spectrum speak it more than men. Men on the spectrum speak it in a range; they have a range of speaking emotions, but women in general, even neurotypical women, speak emotions more than neurotypical men.

Those of you who are on the spectrum, your partner speaks emotions, and your partners gonna speak emotions, whether you want them to or not.

We have to decide at some point whether we're gonna accept this or not. Well, that's our boundaries. We can't change our people. We can't change our partners. They are who they are and if they don't speak emotions, they don't speak emotions. So we have to learn to speak a common language that we both speak. And if that's not good enough for us, like my friends, they learned to speak English to each other. You know, my German friend, he didn't say “you have to speak German. This is the language we're gonna speak.” and she didn't say “you have to speak Japanese. This is the language we're gonna speak.” They both said, “okay, we're gonna speak English to each other. That's our common language. That's what we're gonna do. We're both gonna butcher it sometimes, but this is what we're gonna do.” You guys have to learn how to speak in a language that you both speak. 

And you're late in the game. A lot of you're late in the game, figuring out that your partner's on the spectrum, but you've got all this history of pain and hurt and resentment, ‘cause you didn't know about autism. Okay. And I was just telling a client this week, this is a total reset. Now, this is a reboot, a reset of this is a new normal, that's a word that's all over as a household term now. Your relationship is gonna have to have a new normal, it's gonna be a new normal, a reset, a reboot, but the, the new normal can be amazing and wonderful, but you really have to decide what's the bottom line for you.

[Jodi speaking to someone in the live] You said after 10 years with my husband, phone conversations are still hard work. He has no idea when it's his turn to speak. Yeah. That's difficult sometimes for folks on the spectrum, that dance, that, social back and forth. Um, that's the case for a lot of folks on the spectrum. It's true. And just knowing this and just prompting is something which you have to do sometimes. 

Rachel asks, “how do you speak without emotions? Can you give an example?” Well, you don't necessarily have to speak without emotions, it's how you would speak at work. This is probably a good example. Think about work. If you work or if you've ever worked, or if you've ever been in a situation, even if it's not a paying job, a situation where you keep things professional. And you don't have to keep it sterile because you can have high-quality interactions with the people you work with, but the interactions with your partner are going to be more successful if you talk to them more like that, if that makes any sense. Was that helpful? Liz says, “you just state what needs to be said, sort of, uh, the way you communicate at work” Yeah. You beat me to it Thank you, Liz.

So, Rachel, I hope that example was helpful. Thank you, Liz. All right, you guys, I'm gonna go, I gotta drink some of my tea here. And for those of you in the UK, tea is served on ice here in Southern Georgia. I do drink my hot tea in the mornings. 

All right. You guys have a great evening or whatever time it is a great rest of your, whatever. So I'll talk to you guys later. Bye.

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