How a man on the Spectrum learns to live

Posts tagged ‘Friendship’

I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore!

As long as you have some form of love in your life, then you're already a winner.

As long as you have some form of love in your life, then you’re already a winner.

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Have you ever felt like your life is written in song lyrics? If so, what song is it, and why does it mean what it does? Is it about your pain or about your joy? Well, the song that best describes my life right now is the REO Speedwagon rock ballad “Can’t Fight This Feeling”. This is because I met someone very special when I least expected it. Since then, the resulting swell of emotions and feelings have made my head spin! I’ve never felt this connected to any woman before. She has become my girlfriend, and she is also much more than I ever could have imagined.

We met at a convention I was attending. There was a dance in full swing and I noticed a girl at the volunteer area table. There was something uniquely appealing about her, something attractive that radiated from within. After I introduced myself we both listened to the music that the band was playing. I noticed her mouthing the words of many American Jazz standards and my heart skipped a beat! I felt like she knew something that I thought only I knew! It was a feeling I couldn’t deny.

Within minutes I could feel my inhibitions and fears disappearing, so I took a leap of faith and asked her to dance. She knew what I was asking her because she finished my sentence with me and said yes! I felt a growth of confidence and self-esteem that I’d never felt before. My nervous tension, born out of my Asperger’s Syndrome and Social Anxiety, began to melt away as we danced and I stopped caring too much about what other people were thinking. Somehow I knew that I could trust this girl and be myself around her. I believed that she was going to profoundly change my life.

As the dance was winding down, we said good night and parted ways, but that wasn’t the end of it. Regretfully, I didn’t run into her on the last day of the convention. I felt a pang of disappointment, until I discovered, that night, that she had looked up my name on social media. I immediately responded back and established a connection. This used to be difficult for me. I didn’t think anyone would ever understand the deeper parts of me, and it used to be very hard to open up to people because I’d been hurt before and was too scared to put myself in a vulnerable position. Yet, as I began to see her more often, I found myself being more and more honest with her. She was embracing my core traits as if she had known me for years! I began realizing that we were going to enrich each other’s lives in so many ways.

We’ve been seeing each other for more than two months now. The longer we’re together, the more we discover how much we have in common. In each other’s company, we’re a safe zone of open and honest communication that enhances our trust of one another. I feel like I’ve fallen in love with my best friend! We understand each other on so many levels and have bonded over so many experiences that its like our most impossible dreams and desires have come true! I don’t feel like I’m someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, I’m just a man who’s finally learned how to be in love. She has brought a new level of joy and fulfillment to my life that I’ve never had with any other woman. We love each other wholeheartedly and our lives have become a song; and like the song says, “I can’t fight this feeling anymore“!

Today’s musical inspiration is, of course, REO Speedwagon with “Can’t Fight This Feeling“.

In My Life

Every day is a gift & so are the people in my life.  -Anthony

Every day is a gift & so are the people in my life. -Anthony

People in my life have influenced me since I was born, and the impact has been good, bad, and everything in between. Truthfully, it’s often difficult for people on the Autism Spectrum to appreciate or even understand the influence others have on them; even some neuro-typical people may not realize it. What I do understand is that my outlook on life has been enriched in lots of ways. I could write many posts about all the people in my life, but it’s better for me to articulate what I know for sure through the stages of my Autism Spectrum journey.

From the time I was little to when I started community college, I experienced the highs and lows of learning to be in social situations. Where most neuro-typicals easily learn how to socialize, my social awkwardness kept me from having real friends until I was in high school. Then I was formally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at fifteen and began to understand just how different and special I was. I owe a debt of gratitude to those people who stood in my corner and helped me to discover an important part of myself. By knowing myself better, I felt like I could devote more attention to learning how to be a true friend.

When I was in community college and I transferred to a university, my world views were honed and developed, but that’s when my classmates became something more. Years before, I didn’t know how to talk to or deal with other kids in my class; the college dynamic changed all of that. Because I had a better sense of self and maybe because I wasn’t competing for attention from the teachers, classmates became the people I practiced learning about the workplace with. Working on different projects and bouncing ideas off of each other during class helped me discover that with the right partners and the proper motivation, I could be an asset to a team.

My closest friends and family are the ones who I can open up to and trust with my life. I’ve experienced disappointment, of course. That was because I used to hold some people in such high regard that I felt let down when I learned about their frailties and mistakes. Still, I learned that there are some people I can love from a distance in order to stay away from their negativity, as well as preserve my own sanity. Sadly, there are a few people in my life who are no longer living. Even though I may have lost touch with people, or lost their presence in this world, once in a while I still remember how they made my life a little sunnier with just their presence. They may not be with me physically, but in my heart I can still feel them.

I’ve realized that every person you meet comes into your life for a reason. No matter how large or small their impact, you are changed forever. It wasn’t easy, but I learned to appreciate every person who comes into my life, because I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. The gratitude I have cannot be put into words, but to know that it’s in my heart is worth the joy, pain, relief, and grace that I’ve found with this important life lesson. Now I ask you: who’s made an impact in your life? Have you learned to be grateful, even for the negative experiences? Where are you with your own relationships? I hope that you take time to ponder that. You might experience what happened to me and discover something amazing you never would have thought possible.

Today’s musical inspiration is a wonderfully appropriate song by the Beatles: “In My Life”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zicw_dVwhfM

It’s a Circular Thing

Hi everyone.

For the longest time I have been out of the writing mood.  I confess that for reasons which I attribute to growing pains, I was caught up in the vicious cycle of needing to write to break the anxiety, but being too anxious to do so.  Such is the truth for a lot of people caught up in cycles of behavior such as addiction, compulsive behavior, hoarding, bad food choices, and other detrimental actions.

I believe it started after I became sick with the flu last month.  I couldn’t do very much for nearly a week; if you ask me, for someone on the Spectrum, depending on the severity, it could be a recipe for disaster.  I didn’t realize how bad of a downward spiral I was in, until Mom sat me down for a serious heart-to-heart conversation.  Of course I was confident that I was okay for a time, but it wasn’t until I returned to writing in my journal and in my online drafts that I realized how much I missed doing what I enjoyed most.

What I don’t enjoy about being emotionally present is the fact that my cyclical periods of self-doubt and low self-esteem have a chance of becoming so gripping and tiring that I find I have no energy or desire to do anything that gives me pleasure.  Such is the problem of depression, in my case at least.

In all honesty, anxiety & depression have been a dual struggle for me since I was in middle school.  I was made to think that those afflictions were my core issues growing up.  It wasn’t until the diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome at fifteen that I began to come to a better understanding of who I was.  Being in touch with my emotions is a positive attribute that I’ve learned to put forth.  However the tendency to swing back and forth between anger and joy and nervousness to languor is a distinctive side effect.

I feel like my problem is that I forget to maintain positive feelings and don’t remember how to easily let go of negative feelings.  I know that different people have different rules/expectations of male conduct nowadays, but I’ve never liked being told what to do in such a know-it-all, patronizing manner.  I know who I am and what’s at the core of my character, and all I ask is that I be judged not on appearance and diagnosis, but on the content of my character.

Truthfully, the talk I had with Mom was one of the most honest we’ve had in years.  I was able to say my piece and feel a strong sense of relief.  However, that was not the end of my share of serious conversations.  After I met my closest friend Billy for lunch a few weeks ago, we opened up about where we’ve been and where we’re going in our lives.  Since he had two sisters growing up and I’m an only child, we’ve been as close as brothers for twelve years now, and we can get serious about life when the situation demands it.

Billy’s been married to my other close friend Catherine since 2008.  They love each other, but they were tested greatly for almost two years before finding the end to their own cycle of difficulties.  In a nutshell, a small apartment with too much stuff in it, and two times the dissatisfaction with jobs, took a toll on their well-being.  I really didn’t know how badly they felt at the time, but at least I told them they could always count on me for moral support and any favors they might need.  While it turned out they didn’t need anything really material, I discovered that my words and my subconscious need to see them do better in life did have some effect on them.

I am happy to say that a year ago, they moved to a brand-new and much larger condo and sold some of their excess belongings during the move.  They also found new jobs that they could enjoy going to, and Billy thanked me that day for my unwavering moral support and being such a great person to know.  I didn’t know until recently how badly they felt during their transitional period, but to know that my words had such an effect on the direction they took was enough to tell me that I had done what a true friend would do.

Since those important conversations, I have felt relief for many reasons.  A heart-to-heart talk that could have brought down my spirits was able to break open the shell of isolation that my depression and anxiety had generated.  I was trapped in another vicious cycle, until I spoke to the people who mattered most to me; it was their love and sincerity that convinced me to turn a corner and reignite my positive energy.

Now, let me ask you some important questions: have you ever found yourself in a vicious cycle of negative feelings?  Is there something in your life that seems to weigh down your well-being?  If so, have you or a close friend or relative found a way to pull each other out of that valley and back up to a peak?  How do you maintain a positive frame of mind when things appear bleak?

For me, it was about having the courage to be open enough to let in the healing words of the closest people in my life.  Whatever their relationship with me, they have had the effect of reminding me of how important I am to them, as well as my sense of purpose and significance in life.  I know that I’m blessed to have people in my  life who have grown to understand my diagnosis, which is a large step towards understanding me.

I feel a renewed sense of purpose and being.  I continue to kindle that spirit with daily reminders and routines; I’ll elaborate on those at a later date.  What’s important now is that I’m in a better place, and I’m back to writing, and doing whatever else makes me happy.  With the worst of my downward cycle over with, I feel confident with the place I’m at right now.  It’s taken a long time, but I’m glad to be back on the road paved with words.  I hope I continue to have the pleasure of everyone’s company on this road; Thank You again for your continued support.