I saw the most wonderful story on Facebook the other day. It was about a couple who are both on the Autism Spectrum and they were married Saturday. This is particularly encouraging for me because I’m always reading about how difficult it is for folks on the spectrum to navigate the dating scene. Since social awkwardness is a major trait in High Functioning Autism, I have to say this may be a fair assessment.
I did not date a whole lot in high school. I didn’t date much in college. I prefered to have a “steady.” I’ll elaborate on that in the next installment. Nevertheless, I didn’t know I was on the spectrum at the time so I just figured I was yet another awkward teenager…
I have been married twice. The whole “marriage thing” has not worked well for me. Maybe I just haven’t found the right person…huh? To be fair, the demise of my second marriage had some mitigating circumstances. No, I will not reveal them here. After all, I have to give you some motivation to buy my book: “Life is a Precious Gift – live it with NO REGRETS.”
Many of us are raised in the judeo-christian tradition of dating to find a lifelong mate. I have never been one who was much of a conformist. I believe that you must do what is best for your happiness and sanity. That being said, I was happily married but… I have an adventuresome spirit. The person I marry must understand that. Now he is more than welcome to come along with me as I explore. Clubbing is absolutely not a requirement but I like to do that too, occasionally. And I have no problem staying home and relaxing in front of the television or hey, here’s a concept – carrying on an intelligent conversation. But I’m not going to be a happy camper or very easy to get along with if I can’t get out sometimes and do stuff. Trust and believe, if you do not want to join me, you do not want to be the cause of clipping my wings unless you are ill or in dire need of my attention.
So what is the take away? Many people on the Autism Spectrum have narrow or focused interests. If you’re going to date someone, I would start with looking around at the establishments or events that you frequent. The couple I mentioned at the beginning of this post met at an Autism Support Group. Don’t have one near you? Start one! In order to date people, you have to meet people. Finally, take the pressure off yourself. Everyone you date does not have to eventually become your spouse.
So the other day, my son comes into my room to announce that he would like to take skate boarding lessons. He’s been practicing on his own but apparently, he is not pleased with his progress nor the pointers that I have been giving him (Stop laughing! I was once pretty good). Even his beloved You Tube has failed him this time. Now being the concerned and involved parent that I am, my reaction was, “I’m sorry, what?” Ignoring my reaction he then says, “Can you ‘Google’ that and find out how to make it happen?” Why yes son, I suppose I can but why would I want to? But then it occurred to me, I have been going round and round with a few of my friends that are aware of my son’s Aspergers and they insist that I need to sign him up for flag football or basketball. When I talked to my son about it, he was alright with it but definitely not thrilled. I am a huge football fan. He is not.
Now before we go down this “you’re the parent and he will do what you say” road… I know that. He knows that. You see, I don’t feel disrespected if my child wants to do his own thing. I can already see my boy’s persona forming. He’s very much an independent thinker but he respects other’s opinions. I cannot for the life of me to get folks to understand, we/he may look perfectly normal (whatever that means) but we (people with Aspergers) are wired differently. As long as he understands that he must be respectful to adults always, and that he must treat others as he would like to be treated, I do not feel the need to impose my will on him. We actually had a conversation with his older brother too when we were contemplating signing up for football or basketball. I thought his brother said something rather profound when giving his input, “if you’re not going to commit to it and give it your all, don’t even bother.”
So next week, we will make a reservation and take our first skate boarding lesson.This will accomplish the same goal as flag football; I think. He will meet and interact with new people. He will engage in some physical activity and get out of the house. One thing is for certain; we are going to do what works for us. Less stress, more enjoying life. NO people pleasing. Life is a Precious Gift – live it with NO REGRETS
You may have heard the slang term, “Let’s just keep it 100…” I thought about using that for a headline but then I decided that maybe that was just a little too “hood.” But I do want to reveal a few things about myself today. I got this idea from a post I did on Facebook a little while ago. My son used to love to wear his Spiderman costume everywhere he went when he was little. As I said on Facebook, I was uncertain whether I wanted to expose him to possible ridicule but most people just thought it was cute. In fact, the day we were at Aquatica, a few young ladies asked if they could take a picture with him. Back then, he didn’t mind taking pictures. But my whole point in bringing up that story is he was unafraid to be himself back then. He still has a bit of a rebel streak now. He prefers to wear his hair long. I don’t really mind; it is after all his hair. I would like to take a little credit for helping him to have the confidence to be himself.
I want him to have that feeling much earlier than I did. It has literally taken me years to understand that I can be myself and not have to worry so much about what other people think. I talk about this a little in my book, “Life is a Precious Gift.” Yes, shameless plug!
Now for the big reveal… I like to dress up for Halloween. I think it’s great fun pretending to be someone else for the day and night ( I also love grown up Halloween parties where I get to have a few drinks). I enjoy a decent cigar, occasionally. I know this is somewhat unusual for a lady but I love football, cooking on the grill and beer too so there’s that… I love bending the hell out of traditional gender roles. I am totally heterosexual but I hate dresses and I love business suits.
So there you have it – BE YOURSELF! Screw whoever doesn’t like it. Enjoy life, you only get one. Be happy, be kind, be dazzling and love EVERYONE for who they are. God did not make any mistakes when he made us.
Golf is a great stress reliever for me.
I feel like I’m off my game somehow… I don’t know how to explain it? I may have briefly touched on this in a previous blog, I don’t know? But I know I mentioned it in my first book, “Life is a Precious Gift” I know I mentioned that for a long time, I didn’t feel like I knew my true self at all. I mentioned feeling like I had spent so much time imitating “normal” behavior that I didn’t know what MY normal behavior looked like.
Thank God I rectified that situation and “found myself…” But you see, that’s another thing about Aspies (people with Asperger’s Syndrome ). Things can be sailing along wonderfully until the stress level increases or our routine is severely disrupted and then we are off our game.
Well, my life has definitely been disrupted in the last six months or so… But I thought I was handling it: Spiritually, physically, mentally doing the things I needed to do. But today, this morning, I wonder…? Some days are perfectly fine. Other days I feel completely overwhelmed by life in general. And what is my solution…? Shutting down completely,,,staying in my Woman cave watching television… not answering the phone…not writing for my job…(if I don’t write, I don’t get paid). Shutting down is no longer a viable solution. So how do I rectify this? Getting back into my exercise routine would help. Maybe getting back to church on a more regular basis. Although, more consistent prayer and meditation would be helpful as well. Doing exactly what I’m doing…writing. And I don’t mean for my job. I mean for myself.
You see, I enjoy sharing my thoughts with you all but I can’t share everything. Some things are just for me, my composition book, tablet, laptop and God.
If you call me and I don’t answer, please don’t be offended. I might actually be in the middle of something. I’m not ignoring you. I’m not being dismissive. It’s just that written communication is so much easier for me. I chuckle to myself when my boy leaves me notes. I used to do the same thing to my mom when I was younger…
I won’t go into a long, boring explanation. You don’t want to read all that. You see, Aspies like to pontificate and show people how intelligent we are; something else that I have noticed in my boy. Just suffice it to say, if I’m not busy, text me and we can “chat” for hours. Send me an inbox on Facebook and you will be surprised how long we “talk.”
Those two pictures are my life in a nutshell. One of them is me sitting alone at a Labor Day BBQ/Pool Party. You want to know why I’m sitting alone at a party, huh? I’m not sad or lonely. I actually did mingle and socialize but I needed a moment to recharge. The other one is me with a friend at a Jazz Night last evening. We were there supporting one of our other friend’s event. Once again,I spent a good amount of the evening alone. Not because I didn’t have the option of mingling. I took pictures and chatted with folks but I was fine, chilling, sipping, listening to the wonderful music. It’s taken me so long to get here but I am so glad to finally be comfortable in my own skin.
I’ve been staying home a lot lately so it was nice to get out and about this weekend. In that aspect, I guess I don’t fit the “typical” Asperger’s stereotype (anti social). I actually like to get out of the house sometimes and interact with my friends. On the flip side though, I have no problem staying home in my room watching television alone. This weekend was especially nice though because it was just the right combination of socializing and alone time.
I enjoy intimate gatherings at the homes of close friends. In that atmosphere, if I feel any sensory overload, I can dismiss myself to an area that’s more quiet to regroup. Now periodically I enjoy a raucous good time in a club setting where I can let my hair down. Like I said, if there is “typical” Aspie behavior, I’m certain I can’t be put into a box.
It’s probably due to the fact that I have spent my entire adult life “adjusting” my behavior to fit into a neurotypical world. It’s also why it’s entirely possible for me to feel quite alone in a room full of people…