Sunday, September 27, 2015

Look Me in the Eye! (My struggles with Asperger's.)

You know that one weird person that every social group, be it a church, a work team, or just a bunch of guys who meet up every week to watch football? The one whom they welcome but never fully let in?


Ever notice how I don't look you in the eye? Or that I ring my hands a lot? How about that I like to jump and skip about like a grasshopper? Or, more subtle though, I don't seem to always be very good at carrying on social conversations? What I tend to do is wait for you to approach me and secretly pray that you will. If you don't, I'll just stare at you awkwardly. 

I'm sure you have. I mean, c'mon! I stick out like a blue monkey. Shoot! I once had the keyboard player from one of my favorite bands point me out at one of their shows. In a two-level auditorium. That seated easily a couple thousand. And was full. Don't get me wrong; this was actually pretty cool. 

But, mostly, it really sucks. It's because I have Asperger's Syndrome. High functioning. Which basically means that I have a mild form of it. So, I tell people that, when it comes to autism, I have the mild form of the mild form. But that doesn't mean it's been easy. 

I thought I'd share some things that I've dealt with. I'm not trying to throw anyone under a bus, so I'm not mentioning any names. Nor am I seeking sympathy. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. In fact, if you're only my friend because you feel sorry for me, there's the proverbial door. I'm not saying any of my friends are like that. I sure hope not. 

My reason for sharing this is to hopefully help people understand me, and others like me. Honestly, it's also for me personally, to help myself heal from the hurt that this has caused me throughout my life. 

"A writer must write what he has to say, not speak it."  -Ernest Hemingway.

One of the most common traits of Asperger's or any autism is social problems. No, a lot of the times I don't look people in the eye. I have no idea why, I just don't. Sometimes I walk fast, which took me forever to understand that other people would mistake me for being in a hurry, which I'm not always. Or, if I'm eating at a restaurant, sometimes I'll take my jacket on and off. People think I'm wanting to leave because of that. It's just sometimes I want to put my coat on. Is that really such a bad thing? 

Brutal honesty here. One of the biggest problems I have is saying inappropriate things when I don't mean to. I suck at reading people and gauging whether or not a comment I say to them will offend them or hurt their feelings. To this day I'll say something and immediately think, "Oh crap! I hope I didn't upset them by saying that!" And it's usually something completely harmless. Or at least I hope it is. I simply don't know. So, I'm scared to death to do it. 

And this really bites because I'm one of the most sensitive people you'll ever meet. I'll be honest. Yes I'm afraid of making you mad. Yes, I worry that when you never comment or like something on my Facebook page, that you don't like me or are upset with me. That doesn't bother me too much, though. We Aspie's ( a name we call ourselves) aren't very good at reading other people's emotions. We suck at it. Some of us don't care. 

I do. A lot.

That coupled with my mannerisms that I mentioned earlier (btw, there are more that I didn't mention) has caused me so much stress and hurt. My hand-eye coordination isn't very good either, so menial tasks that normal people think nothing of have even been difficult for me. When I was a kid I remember being terrified when I was asked to do some kind of work with tools or something, because I knew I'd very likely slip up and get yelled at or made fun of. Thank God I learned how to drive a car. 

Let me talk briefly about what goes on inside my head.  People have called it going off to "Tyler's world." Yes, I admit, very often, what is going on inside my head is more interesting to me than what is going on outside of it. I get fixated on something and I don't want to leave. I'm not proud of that. That's often why I have trouble with menial tasks. I'm trying to work on it. And it's not that I'm not interested in what you have to say. I swear I am. 

Image result for man trapped in cage
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That picture shows I feel.All the time. I've been made to feel stupid and worthless, and I'm trying to get free of that. As someone once told me, and I won't say who,

"Tyler, hugging you is like hugging a tree."

You ever see that movie A Christmas Story? The part where Ralphie gets nailed in the eye with a snowball and then proceeds to become enraged and pummel the bully who did it into pulp? Well, I'v often imagined a similar scene in which I am the one getting beat up. Who is doing it doesn't matter, but everyone who's ever been in my life is watching, and cheerful, victorious music is playing in the background as I'm bleeding and bawling my eyes out. My crime? Being me. With this stupid syndrome that I have. I've often worried about not having friends, getting a good job, getting married, that these things will never happen. I worry that people will only put up with me for so long before they finally quit. 

I don't want to end this on a negative note.  I have hope because of this:
Image result for Jesus on the cross

photo credit:

Yes, I talk about Jesus a lot. It's because He's the only reason I'm alive today. I would have slit my wrists years ago and ended my life had it not been for His love. Yes, I even was afraid for years that God didn't even like me and wouldn't accept me. But, He has. I'll even say that I'm being healed from Asperger's. I'm asking God to make His reality mine, and to replace this stuff. I'm seeking Him because it's all I can do. Some people say that religion is for people too week to make it through life on their own. Well, even though I don't consider myself religious, I am too weak. So what? God sustains me. 

I also want to thank everyone who's supported me and continues to do so. People are always telling me what a blessing and inspiration I am. I hope that's true. I want people to know Jesus. Don't look at me, look at Him and thank Him for who He is making me into. Thank Him for the blood that He shed  for me, and for you. Don't feel sorry for me. Just try to understand me. I don't want being my friend to be a chore or a burden for you. I really don't. I just want to love and encourage people. I'm going on because of Jesus Christ and His love. If you take nothing else from this, take that from it. He loves you and wants to know you  and change you. Let Him.