How a man on the Spectrum learns to live

Posts tagged ‘Rock and Roll’

Just The Way You Are

"I think music in itself is healing.  It's an explosive expression of humanity.  It's something we are all touched by.  No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music"- Billy Joel

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music”- Billy Joel

Once again, Billy Joel helps me to say what’s in my heart, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. This will be my final post for 2013 and I’m glad I can end the year writing about love and music: two of the great cornerstones of my life. One of his most beautiful ballads is “Just the Way You Are”, and it perfectly describes how I feel about romance. This song helps me speak when words are insufficient.

Don’t go changing, to try and please me; you never let me down before. I don’t imagine you’re too familiar, and I don’t see you anymore. I would not leave you, in times of trouble, we never could have come this far. I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times, I’ll take you just the way you are. In life, there’s no guarantees, but I’ve learned to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. I can’t back out of a commitment I’ve made with someone I care for, it doesn’t sit well with me. My word is my bond and I do my best to uphold it. I’ve always felt that true love is work that shouldn’t feel like a job. There will be times when I don’t feel like communicating my feelings, but someone who truly loves me will be able to see through whatever walls I put up. Knowing that I can do the same for her is also reassuring to me.

I need to know that you will always be the same old someone that I knew. Oh, what will it take till you believe in me, the way that I believe in you? I said I love you and that’s forever, and this I promise from the heart. I couldn’t love you any better, I love you just the way you are. I’ve discovered that how a person feels about someone can change on a daily basis. But as long as you remember why you love and respect them at your core, there’s no doubt that you’ll stay close to them.

The past two-plus years have been full of self-discovery and hope for me; I look forward to sharing it all with my past, present, and future supporters. There have been many changes in my life; writing this blog has helped me understand them and remember my true self. By giving my journey with Autism a voice, I feel as though I’ve been able to provide hope and understanding about living on the Autism Spectrum. In the coming year, I will continue to shine a light on my story. I feel optimistic because I’ve found a new rhythm and there’s someone special who’s seen it in me.

I’ve been in touch with this girl for several months now. Recently, there’s been a growing chemistry and connection between us. I’ve found it easy for us to be loyal and sincere with each other, and I’m optimistic because we’ve connected on a deep level of friendship and love without even trying. This song reminds me of what I need most from a woman and what I have to offer her. As long as we remember why we’re together, we’ll have no problem being close. I’ll be proud to say to her: “no matter what, I love you just the way you are”.

My final musical inspiration for this year is, of course, Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are”. Here is an amazing live performance clip:


This is My Life!

"I think music in itself is healing.  It's an explosive expression of humanity.  It's something we are all touched by.  No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music"- Billy Joel

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music”
– Billy Joel

Billy Joel has written and performed some of my most favorite songs. One song that resonates with my journey with Autism is his classic rock and roll hit entitled “My Life”. Singing along with it reminds me of my need to stand up to people who make assumptions about me and act like there’s something wrong with me. I know who I am and my conscience is clear: God made no mistake with me and I no longer allow other people to dictate how I should live my daily life. I still take advice, but I listen to my instincts at the same time; I’m at a great place right now and I can only get better.

When I hear the opening piano chords, I know exactly what song it is. The famous chorus is what I sing with conviction and passion. “I don’t need you to worry for me ’cause I’m all right. I don’t want you to tell me ‘it’s time to come home’. I don’t care what you say anymore, this is my life! Go ahead with your own life, leave me alone…I never said you had to offer me a second chance. I never said I was a victim of circumstance. I still belong…don’t get me wrong, you can speak your mind, but not on my time! I don’t care what you say anymore this is my life! Go ahead with your own life, leave me alone!”

When I sing this, I feel like I’m standing up to my critics and naysayers. The truth is that I’m happy where I am right now and worrying about my perceived faults is just a waste of time and energy. I mean, what did I ever do to you to upset your precious sensibilities? To tell me that I need to “come home” because I’ve sinned in the eyes of you and your God is a grievous misuse of whatever moral authority you think you have. I’ve grown tired of being told that something is wrong with me and I’ve accepted everything about me, good, bad, and indifferent. I’ve let go of my ‘woe is me’ attitude and embraced a sense of control and responsibility for my words and actions. I’m part of the human family and will always belong, no matter what anyone says. I’ve got my own life and I’m not wasting time with negativity. You can live your life the way you want to, all I ask is that you respect my wishes when I ask you to leave me in peace.

This song has given me the confidence to embrace my personal truth and live passionately. It expresses a courage that speaks to my heart and soul and reminds me that I’m okay with where I am right now. It took me a long time to find this inner strength, but for someone on the Autism Spectrum, discoveries like this are few and far between. Now that I have it, nothing can ever take it away. Some days will be better than others, but I won’t lose sight of what’s important. My name is Tony, I have Asperger’s Syndrome, and this is my life.

Today’s musical inspiration is, of course, Billy Joel’s “My Life”:

I Want to Know What Love Is

Hey, there everyone.

It has been a recent discovery of mine that a certain song applies to one of my present situations.  For those of you who may be fans of 80’s rock and roll, music in general, or if you’re just curious about my musical tastes, then you’ve come to the right place.  If you’re also curious about how the title holds credence in this category…you thought I was going to say that you’re in the wrong place, didn’t ya?!  HA-Ha!  Thought I fooled you!  You are still in the right place!

Anyway, back to what I was saying.  There’s a song by Foreigner, one of the most famous stadium-grade rock bands of all time.  It’s one of those power ballads that feels like pure energy giving me the strength to sing from my heart.  That particular song is: “I Want to Know What Love Is”.

Let me ask you something; is there a song that resonates with you on some level?  Did you listen to it at just the right moment in your life?  Does it still resonate with you and/or remind you of where you used to be?

Well, in my case, the more I listened to it, the more it began to ring true.  Every poetic lyric delivered in that rock ballad style said everything that has been in my heart since my last relationship ended.  For me, music is therapeutic; it has been for almost my entire life.  No matter what I’m feeling, I just have to find the right song and my feelings are revealed.  Such is the case with this one.

In all honesty, I was struggling to get over the failure of a relationship that lasted two years.  Even three years after I ended it, the pain still exists at times, but I’ve accepted what’s happened.  I know that my presence in some woman’s life will be a blessing for both of us, but I confess, I’m still so insecure and hung up on my need for some sort of guarantee that I can’t find a way to move forward.

There are times when I feel like I know the score about what people want, but other times I feel as if I have nothing to give.  Right now, there’s a part of me that’s desperate for real love from a woman, but who would want me, with what little I’ve accomplished in my life?

I hear so many conflicting messages that I’m never sure where I stand or where to begin.  There is one feeling, though that remains constant: I know I have something to give to a special woman, but what is it?  I can’t even begin to know what anyone is looking for, and the messages of online dating profiles or personal statements all sound like empty platitudes to invisible critics telling women to straddle the antiquated portions of old-fashioned romance, and some perversion of the feminist credo.

I never really had a chance, did I?

I mean, really, how could a dreamer with Asperger’s Syndrome, a big heart, and very little real world experience survive in a world so merciless to those who possess what I have?  Even so, it helps when I ruminate on the words of a song when they mean something to me.

“I’ve gotta take a little time…a little time to think things over”.  You know, this is something I’ve been doing off & on for at least the past three years.  The truth is if I think about it too deeply for too long, I’m pulled back into the worst feelings of loneliness and isolation.  What I need is to make sure I’m in love with the woman rather than the feeling, in order to avoid the pitfall of ignoring deal breaking differences for the sake of being in love.

“I better read between the lines…in case I need it when I’m older”.  Well, if I know one thing, it’s that my Father reassured me that I have a gift for looking at life beyond the surface, and that I’ve become even wiser than he did when he was my age.  I was not born with this gift, indeed possessing this ability does not come naturally to someone on the Spectrum.  Coming from him, it was a much-needed compliment.

“This mountain I must climb…feels like a world upon my shoulders”.  Here, I am reminded of the struggles I’ve had to endure for most of my life.  For so long, I felt like the burden of my Asperger’s was always to be a cross for me, alone to bear.  That feeling has taken a long time to shake off, but what helped to reassure me was the constant support of the people close to me who understood me.

“Through the clouds I see love shine…it keeps me warm as life grows colder”.  What you probably don’t know is that I can be a hopeless romantic at times.  Nothing sappy involved, just the feeling that no matter how long it takes, my capacity for love will be felt wholeheartedly by one special woman who knows what she wants and is eager to be my friend and partner for life.

“In my life there’s been heartache and pain; I don’t know if I can face it again”.  This is pretty self-explanatory, don’t you think?  First there’s the feeling that I’d never be loved by any woman, and secondly, there’s the added pain of having a relationship that was so deep for so long that when it ended, I was distraught to the point where I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel for a long time.

“Can’t stop now, I’ve traveled so far, to change this lonely life”.  For me, this is the silent determination I have to find what means so much to me.  Having tasted it, I’m ready to be a better man for the woman who was really meant for me.  I will never give up, and I’m still moving forward, one day at a time.

“I wanna know what love is…I want you to show me…I wanna feel what love is…I know you can show me”.  Well, the chorus just brings home what I’ve been searching for.  I feel like I’m calling out to “the one” and asking her for the love she has to give, while promising to give her mine in return.

Some recent good news on this front is that I spent a day with my Dad talking about this subject.  I was surprised and genuinely touched at how open he was about his own love life since he and my Mom divorced.  It was a long-overdue conversation for both of us.

I was very touched by his reassurance that I would be all right once I took another leap of faith.  I had nothing to fear at this point, because as long as we could be open and honest about the challenges and how they affected us personally, we’d both feel safe, having someone to talk to.

In conclusion, I just have to say that in this previous negative cycle of emotions, having a classic song to put my situation into words was therapeutic.  Normally, people on the Spectrum have difficulty understanding their emotions or even expressing them.  In my case, the opposite is true; I have seen enough evidence in my life to prove that I am very emotionally present.  My only question is, ‘how long until a woman finds that appealing in me?’

I’m glad that I can use music to communicate what I feel.  If I didn’t have it, I don’t know what would happen to me.  In the case of my lackluster romantic life, music helps me to carry on with improving my life and drawing nearer to the woman I was always meant to be with.  No matter what happens, I will not give up until I know in my heart that I’ve found the magic of love that I have searched for.  After all, doesn’t everyone want to know what love is?