So on the 1st of July I was told to rush to the hospital. I had to drive myself because my kid is an asshole and didn’t want to interrupt her fucking dinner… but I digress. Anyway… they prep me for surgery to remove my gallbladder… I wake up in massive pain with a drainage tube in my stomach… and post-op issues arose… which made my stay double what it should have been. At some point… during my morphine daze…while I was out like a light… a nurse approached my wife… and said “I have a personal question that you are under no obligation to answer… but… is your husband on the autism spectrum?”. Well fuck. Nobody in 50.5 years has ever…ever… seemed to notice the Aspergers. I mean. okay, admittedly, perhaps people were just being polite by not asking… but this is a first for me. Somebody noticed. Fuuuuckkkk. I didn’t think people could tell. I always prided myself in the “act”. The act of looking and acting as normal as possible. the act of looking like I’m tracking all the stimuli and taking it all in normally… the act of making eye contact at crucial moments in conversations when the reality is I could barely pull it off, the act of “blending in” as best as I could… when really I would have given anything to slink under the fucking couch and order everyone outta my fucking living room. The act. The jokes… the humor… the sarcasm (which I’m incredible at displaying, freestyle, but in reality, it took me years to master it). I monitor my speech patterns… I’m careful to not use the words like I’m reading from a scientific text study on the possibility of Martian life versus the statistical probability that life in the universe is… ummm… okay, you get the point. I “dumb down” my speech… I measure my tones and inflections (my wife reminds me when I am projecting louder than normal)…. and I pepper my language with the occasional f-bomb for a more natural emphasis on my points. Instead of saying things like “let me tell you why I feel apprehensive about this particular situation… the bread appears to be somewhat stale” … I have learned to say “the fuckin bread is stale… can we replace that shit”? I’ve worked extremely hard, all of my life, to assure nobody notices I’m a little different. Like an actor learning lines… or someone playing a masterpiece on a piano… it’s all about “practice”… to make what is UN-natural to me… APPEAR perfectly ad-libbed and natural to others.
But somehow, through the pain and the post-op complications… I let down my guard… and someone…. fucking…. noticed.
Now I’m at a crossroads… even though that fine woman is someone I will never see again. So I have to make a choice… at least….. I feel I have to. And that choice for me is a no-brainer.
I make no apologies for who I am. I’m the guy who learned Sql in a week, not by taking the 3 month course or reading the text… but by pulling apart code and seeing it in action… something my former boss told me was impossible… until I knew it better than he did, with his degrees in his pocket. I’m the guy who pulled off an apprenticeship at WWSW – FM in Pittsburgh back in the late 80’s and ended up on their production staff leading projects in their studio (and engineering on the air) within a week’s time. I did the same thing at Audiomation recording studios. I’m also the guy that couldn’t keep those jobs for long… not because I sucked… but because once I master something… it’s done… and I’m fucking bored with my work within a year. All my life has been about moving… I never stood still a day in my life until I came to Honey Brook and said “yeah… I could live here forever and, more importantly, I could die here… happy”.
I’ve pulled off 2 years in Americorps… I’ve worked with children at Family Care Connection (probably my favorite job… ) I pulled 15 years working on the IT staff or leading a staff in my own office (air conditioned offices rock!)… at government jobs. Now… the anxiety of having to cope with my Aspergers and deal with everyone and put on the “act” for 8 to 12 hours a day… always having to flip the switch and be “on”… was what killed it for me. I threw up every single day before work… but I showed up and I did my job. Until I couldn’t anymore… and then I walked. Because according to my doctor…a specialist in the field who gave me my first diagnosis (of 3)… there simply wasn’t any choice anymore. I have no regrets. None.
So, no, you won’t find me apologizing for who I am. You won’t find me making excuses, either. I earned my hypothetical imaginary medals. I busted my ass to make everyone else feel more comfortable around me. So yeah, somebody noticed, and that mortified me for a minute and 37 seconds. But now… you know what… fuck it. Thank you for noticing. You’re probably the first soul who ever saw the real me… besides my wife.
Lastly… I don’t give two shits what the DSM or anybody else labels us. As far as being on the spectrum goes… I am not a disabled man. I am a perfectly-abled man in a world of fucking idiots that I have been forced to put on a show for… for far too long… just for the benefit of “acceptance”. I’m 50 now. When you’ve lived more than half of your life like that… the only sane response is “fuck your acceptance… I don’t even want it”.