After a rather lengthy sabbatical I have decided that, as I took the trouble to set up a website dedicated to my writing ventures I ought to use it. As I work on my next novel and continue my never ending obsession, tinkering with “Slip Sliding Away” I wanted to share some essays with you. Most will be observational or personal in nature and I sincerely hope to stay away from the politics that are so incessantly ugly and divisive these days. I’m usually extremely reserved when it comes to my personal life and feelings but I’ve decided to try something different, emotional honesty. I haven’t the slightest idea how this will work out but change, while scary for me, I feel is necessary to continue my personal growth. I will try to publish something at least once a week. And while I am not looking to write anything terribly objectionable (at least these essays, my fiction is another story) if you find any of the content objectionable please get in touch.
Me, Myself And Asperger’s
Life inside your own head, that’s how I would personally describe living with Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s an experience in internalization, frequent self-doubt and a certain kind of eccentricity that boarders between uniqueness and madness. I’m quite sure my normal appears somewhat strange to even my closest friends and family, even though they have by now become accustomed to my staring off into space, playing with pencils (my unbroken vice all these years) and squinting as I walk because I’m picturing something in my head. Furthermore, within the confines of my mind I lead an entirely different life than I do in the outside world.
When the sun goes down and everyone else goes to sleep I turn up the music and tune in to an alternate story line. For a lot of people, imagination works this way but for me this is a more focused, more intense experience. Excusing instances when I had company, there has not been a night for the past seventeen years when I haven’t paced about my room, headphones on and listening to music while I worked out ideas in my head or occasionally by talking out loud to myself. I can only imagine what this must look like. To me, going an evening without my headphones and music would be like skipping dinner, technically possible to be sure but not practical as far as I’m concerned. I think it’s the reason I became a writer, partially to play off weird quirks as artistic prerogative and also because, the way I see it, if I’m going to spend all this time thinking about alternate timelines I ought to save them for posterity before memory steals them away.
What else can I tell you? Asperger’s has given me fits when it comes to learning for decades now. Few things come naturally to me and most are a tooth and nail struggle, not helped by my tendencies to lose concentration or obsessively focus with narrow vision. I still don’t know how I managed to get through algebra and geometry. I would say this, more than anything else, I consider a limitation and a source of ongoing embarrassment. Jesus I remember vividly sitting in “Algebra 1” my freshman year of high school, understanding nothing and being ashamed to ask for help. I remember the afternoon I walked home from school, knowledge in hand that I had scored a 46% on my mid-term and had a 47 average for the year thus far. I sat in Verona Park and cried my eyes out because I didn’t know how to go home and tell my father that I was miserably failing. I felt like I was failing him and disgracing the memory of my recently departed mother. That hurt more than anything else. I felt stupid, and nothing drives me crazy like feeling or being called stupid. I struggle with this sort of thing to this day.
I think that’s the hardest part for somebody like me, recognizing there are times where I need to ask for help with certain things without feeling like I’m an idiot or simple for doing so. Perhaps that’s something we all can relate to but I feel it acutely. Being shown how to do things multiple times or asking a dozen questions a day at work can be demoralizing. I just try to remind myself that everybody learns differently and I have to accept that this is my process. Different strokes for different folks, right? It may take me longer and I may be slower, which can cause issues in this multitasking, instant gratification society but I make up for it with dogged determination. There are more aspects to Asperger’s I could delve into but I’ll stop here for now. If nothing else, life is a journey of understanding and acceptance of both the self and those around you. I am hoping these entries will aid in that journey.