How a man on the Spectrum learns to live

Starting Over

o-BOOK-SCULPTURE-570“Starting Over”: that simple two-word phrase that’s just loaded with meanings and connotations.  The first thing that may come to mind is when a person suffers a tragic event in their life and has to “start life all over again”.  One does not have to go through a big terrible event or even rebuild their entire life from scratch.  You may wonder “isn’t that what always happens to someone when they have a mid-life crisis?”  Hardly!  You don’t have to let half your life pass by before feeling like you need to change.  Hell, you don’t even need to live a quarter of your life to make readjustments!  I believe there’s a cycle to life and that we each have the power to determine our quality of that life.  It isn’t completely dictated by chronological age, it comes in chapters during different ages and many of them happen at the same time.

With the help of this blog, I’ve made my life an open book.  I’ve started many new chapters and ended many others; sometimes the changes are sudden, sometimes they’re gradual.  I recognize the moment when a certain chapter of my life has closed and a new one has begun.  I wonder if being aware of these transitions is just an Aspie thing or a part of human nature.

As a little boy I was told that I could sing, but I didn’t know what it meant until third grade when I was persuaded to join the elementary school choir.  From that point on, music was always present in my life.  I knew that singing and performing on stage was a great source of joy that rested at the core of my being.  This is a part of me that will never be done until I’m ready to leave this world.  Music is so important to me that I can’t imagine living my life without it.

When I graduated from one school and entered a new one, that was one chapter ending and a new one beginning.  For a while I didn’t know what the next chapter would be after I graduated college but after talking it over with Mom and Dad, I believed that I could make a difference with my words, and soon this blog was born as my next chapter of growth and learning.  I feel like humans should never stop growing and learning when they’re out of school; if you stop wanting to, you’ll miss out on some great experiences.

When I was in community college, I realized that music was not a viable option to make a living.  The pivotal moment came when I was preparing to transfer to a nearby university.  One day, I met a woman at an Autism conference who told me about a university that was farther away, but with smaller class sizes and a youthful dynamic well-suited for someone like me on the Autism Spectrum.  I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for that meeting, I never would have considered moving out, renting my own apartment, and changing my major from Music to Literature.  Funny how a chance meeting can close one chapter and open another at the same time!

By far, one of the most important moments of my life happened when I was formally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.  I received the formal diagnosis when I was fifteen, less than one year into high school.  From that moment on, my hazy feeling of living unaware began to disappear.  I took that first step into the larger world of life on the Autism Spectrum by first coming to terms with what it meant.  Gradually, I learned to speak up as I acquired the knowledge and language with which to explain myself.  Today I advocate for myself, but look forward to the day when I begin to advocate for other “Aspies” on a larger scale.

My chapters about love are…complex to say the least.  In my family, I used to look at my relatives as special and they could do no wrong.  As I got older I began to notice how some their words and actions didn’t feel right to me.  Thanks to my network of supportive family and friends, I have come to terms with their flaws, frailties, and differences.  I have turned a page and learned to love them, but some of them I have to love from a distance to avoid being baited into drama and negativity.

I was with a special woman for two years; we were each other’s first real love.  When I realized that we were leading very different lives, I was forced to end our relationship.  For nearly a year I felt as though I was in limbo; the shock of the breakup was so much to deal with.  One year later, I received a letter of apology from her saying how much she regretted the way things ended and how it forced her to look at herself and own up to her mistakes.  That began the slow process of writing our last good-byes to each other and closing the door on the past with no hard feelings.  I don’t know exactly when my next chapter of romance will begin, but I have faith that it will be even better and more fulfilling because of how far I’ve come.

In my life I’ve started and ended many chapters before I even knew how to articulate them.  Some are over for good, others are ongoing, and others have yet to be written.  With the groundwork of a new family business underway, I’m looking forward to this new chapter.  Stay tuned for updates on this very special project.  In the meantime, I am blessed to close this chapter of my blog and open a new one.  I’m proud of the story I’ve written so far and thank all of my readers!

PS: Part of my inspiration came from a classic song by John Lennon: “(Just Like) Starting Over”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWWbu_RSh7Q

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