Have you ever heard the phrase “one day at a time”? If you have, what does it mean to you? Is it something you heard in passing from a good friend? Do you remember it from being witness to meetings in a 12-step program? Well, I’ve noticed that a lot of people have some connection to it. Generally, the feeling is that life is rarely the same every day: the past is gone and the future is uncertain, so all we have is the one present day that we can do with it as we like. Of course I can’t speak for other people, but I know in my heart why I appreciate this phrase. It’s because my life on the Autism Spectrum was also reflected in dealing with my own addictions.
If you didn’t know already, I’ve had to deal with some addictions that further complicated my life. I was already a TV junkie and an over-eater when I received my Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis at fifteen. Dealing with these problems as well as anxiety and depression was a real challenge, but I did catch some breaks. I was fortunate enough to have counselors to guide me and information on Autism that was constantly updating. I needed to take prescription drugs as well, and they did help, but there were some difficult days ahead as I came into my own.
I was forced to confront the truth that I had some very poor eating habits and very little physical activity to counteract them. When I began gaining control over those problems, I was able to confront the fact that I was losing sleep to a video game addiction. As I put away the games and focused on more important parts of my life, I noticed more doors begin to open because I was able to become engaged in life. A sense of pride that I never knew existed began to grow inside me and I felt like I was really living.
The more I understood myself, the more I understood how people with other addictions even worse than mine were in the midst of the same struggles. I was coming to terms with the condition that I was born with while at the same time admitting the addictions that I had. I began to notice that there was a correlation between the addiction healing process and my journey with Asperger’s Syndrome. Basically, I was learning to deal with life one day at a time!
These similarities brought home the reality that I needed to appreciate the present moment because it’s all the time I have. It’s important to remember the lessons of the past and be mindful of the future, but there’s always the here and now to be experienced. Each decision that I made was part of a collection of lessons that I learned daily and used to make each day worth living. Accepting the fact that I have Asperger’s Syndrome has made it easier to live day-by-day with authenticity.
It hasn’t been easy, of course; just like a true person with addictions, I know that managing the problem is a daily task. I would be a fool to think that the problems are gone like yesterday’s news. There’s all kinds of challenges and rewards ahead and I’m in constant preparation to deal with them. Looking on the bright side, this has encouraged me to lead a more engaged and present life.
I’m grateful for all the life skills I’ve developed over the years. I have the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change my circumstances and create opportunity, and the wisdom to perceive the differences. The visions I have are more focused and my purpose in life is much clearer. Every past day has turned into weeks, months, and years of important lessons that I use to move forward. It feels amazing to be engaged and present, and I do it by taking my life one day at a time.