• Lalena Cooper

For Display Only


Have you ever noticed an amazing window display? The creativity in some windows makes me squeal with excitement like a child on Christmas morning.

I follow a few stores on Instagram just for the window eye-candy. Anthropology is one display that never disappoints! I love the attention to every little detail. The window draws me close and says..."Come on in and sit awhile!"

On a recent trip to Disneyland I spent hours wandering through the cute shops on Main Street, USA admiring the exquisite work in each meticulously decorated window. The constant updating was clearly evident with the diamond additions for the 60th anniversary celebration this year.

Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

The displays are meant to be admired from a distance. By no means is it appropriate to treat a window display like a interactive science center. Can you imagine if the thousands of people visiting Disneyland were allowed to touch the displays? Oh my! What a mess they would be!

Over the years I had begun to feel as if I had been the one placed carefully on display in a large window set high on a hill far away from comforting touch and the sound of human conversation. Being a neurotypical married to an Aspie, often I continue to feel isolated.

The inventor struggles with communication, touch, and intimacy. More often than not it makes me feel alone even while sitting next to him. In our early years of marriage, before his diagnosis, I felt like he had placed me on a pedestal in a large garden. I was highly prized and only meant to be admired and brought out when appropriate. I felt hidden and sheltered.

He didn't like it but allowed me to participate in outside activities, clubs, church and the children's school. He strongly preferred me to remain at home and care for his needs. Aspergers can be a very self focused disorder. The inventor recently explained he felt like he was competing for my affection any time I had something to do that did not involve him.

Since the diagnosis he has come to understand that my involvement in outside activities does not diminish my love for him, but actually fills me up to be at my best when I am at home.

The inventor has worked very hard to help me feel heard and important. I no longer feel hidden and tucked away in a garden, but now at times I feel like an item behind a display window. Above the window there must be a giant sign reading,

"LOOK BUT DO NOT TOUCH".

I never thought touch was one of my love languages. I don't think it started out that way. However, after many years of feeling isolated, I long for loving touch. I explained it to the inventor last week how even a brush of his hand on my side as he walks by lets me know that he values me.

Sensory issues are common for individuals coping with spectrum disorders. This creates a huge obstacle in a marriage. I am just beginning to understand the overwhelming effect this has had in our relationship.

I long to come out from behind the glass window and experience the fullness of life I see in the world around me. I long to have meaningful conversations, act silly, laugh my head off, cry deep healing sobs after a draining day, and cuddle on Saturday mornings. The most difficult part is that I know it is available, I only need step out and embrace it - I would just be embracing it without my life-long partner.

I married this man because I wanted to experience life WITH him, not just NEXT to him. I struggle moving forward, because I wrestle with the thought of moving without him. This only makes the daily loneliness I fight each day intensify.

I am not sure what comes next. I can't stay stuck but I don't know how to move forward and continue to honor the man I truly love.

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