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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Truth About Myself - Part 1 of 5

Truth is a very complex thing to understand.  There are factual truths that exist in the world.  Water is always wet.  Snow is always cold.  Fire is always hot.  These are all truths that we have all come to accept, and they are truths in which we live our lives by.

But what happens when you come across a truth that you feel is so hard to comprehend that you actually want it to be a lie?  Examples would include having your significant other cheating on you with someone else.  Or, having to face the fact that a friend or family member has a terminal illness.  Or finding out that you have had your identity stolen by someone you considered a friend.  Certainly these are truths that can potentially happen to anybody, and it can be a living nightmare to those who have to face that truth.

And then there is my story.  My story that is based around a truth that has been a part of me my whole life that I have only recently become aware of within the last couple of years.  A truth that I am still struggling to accept.

For those people who have been following along on my blog, you've probably figured out what this truth is.  But for those of you who are wondering what I am talking about, I'm going to share with you some truth.  I don't exactly know how receptive people are going to be to it, but I need to talk about it because I think it could help other people who might be struggling to deal with the same truth that I am trying to accept.  The truth is that my truth might cause me to lose some contacts, but that is a risk that I am willing to take - for it is my truth that has likely been the fault of why some of my relationships have fractured over the last 35 years of my life.

The frustrating part about this truth is that I'm not really sure if the truth that I believe is really the truth of what I have.  I know that statement probably doesn't make sense to some of you, but it's the best way that I can describe it.

And this truth is so complex that I am going to need more than one entry in this blog to talk about it.  Consider this to be a miniseries of sorts.  This is merely Part 1.  If I've planned this out thoroughly, this should conclude the same week this blog turns six years old!

So, what is this truth that I need to reveal?

My truth is that I believe I have many of the symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome.  I have never been formally tested by any medical professionals, nor have I been officially diagnosed by any doctor who specializes in autism.  But I know that based on my childhood experiences, my inability to do tasks that most people seem to take for granted, and my stellar ability to make a fool out of myself in social situations, I've got most, if not all the signs.  Asperger's can also be considered a form of high-functioning autism, so it's a bit difficult to determine if a person has it without knowing some of the symptoms associated with it.

I'm convinced though.  And the truth is...I openly admit to having a hard time finding acceptance of it.  Because in order for me to admit it, that would be like admitting to the whole world that I have an abnormality.  For my entire life, I've wanted to prove to the world that I can fit in with everybody, and I feel that by coming out as somebody who potentially has Asperger's, I'm essentially waving the white flag of surrender in ever being declared normal.  

I mean, yes, the truth is that normal is overrated and in some cases even dangerous.  On that token, I think all of us feel as though we stick out like a sore thumb or are square pegs trying to squeeze into a round hole once in a while.  It's just that I feel this way EVERY DAY.

I suppose I should explain why I feel that I have Asperger's, and I suppose the best way to do this is to go over some of the symptoms that people who have it face.  And once I explain my own experiences, it is my hope that those who know me will understand me a little better.  And for those who made fun of me, or who picked on me, I hope it will make them understand why I couldn't always conform to their standards, or why I felt it was unfair for them to gang up on me.

The first symptom of Asperger's deals with vocabulary.  Many people with Asperger's usually have an extensive vocabulary, and often use big words - even when they are in the single-digit age range.  I guess it comes as no secret that I used to read the dictionary.  For fun.  Not exactly an activity that most children would admit to, but I always found it fascinating to learn new words every day.  The problem is that I would often use these words in conversations with classmates or co-workers and get the blank stare in response.  It's kind of similar to the effect one would get if you tried to speak to Siri in twice the speed that you would normally talk in and it comes out one garbled mess.

Even now, I find that I have to second guess how I phrase things, and as a result, I come across as if I stutter, or my speech sometimes gets garbled because I think I used the wrong word.  If I could communicate through writing exclusively, I'd be fine.  But let's face it...this world is one that sometimes doesn't shut up.

Another sign that one might have Asperger's is the super sensitivity to certain noises and that they might have a keen ear for the slightest sound.  Even as something as innocent as a balloon popping or a sudden blast from a police siren could trigger a panic attack.  I hope some of my elementary school classmates are reading this right now because those times in which you used to chase after me in the school playground threatening to pop a balloon in my ears just to see me cry...THAT'S THE REASON WHY.  I'm not holding my breath for any apology...just telling it like it is.  Besides, you couldn't have known.  And while I can handle it a lot better now, it still bugs me.

It also explains to why I sometimes mute the television set if I know a gunshot is about to go off - much to the annoyance of those who happen to be watching television with me.

Another symptom of Asperger's syndrome can be (but not always) possession of a photographic memory.  I know I have one.  I've been told by family members, family friends, neighbours, and even several teachers that I've had that I have one.  One person I know even compared my memory to that of the Dewey Decimal System.  That's not me trying to brag or anything like that.  Those who truly know me know that this is the case.  If anything, I'm too humble to shout anything out from the rooftops.  It's just a fact of life that I've accepted.

Be grateful.  This blog wouldn't nearly be as exciting or interesting if I didn't remember everything that happened to me.  Both the good parts and the not so good parts.

People who identify as having Asperger's have a difficult time (though not always) with physical contact, and have a difficult time (though not always) with maintaining eye contact with people.  I can definitely say with a resounding "Hell Yeah" that I find it hard to lock eye contact with people - which could explain why I have bombed many job interviews over my lifetime.  I sure wish job interviews were conducted over the phone or through e-mail.  I wouldn't nearly be so stressed out over them.  I think it has to do with the fact that I find it a little uncomfortable when I have to stare directly into the eyes of another person.  I don't quite know how to explain it.  It's just the way it is.  I don't expect people to understand, and I think that some might have the wrong impression that I am rude or ignorant or flippant about them.  It's really anything but.  I find it frustrating that I find it uncomfortable to make direct eye contact with people.  

As far as physical contact goes, I'm only comfortable with it if it's someone that I know extremely well.  Family members, I'll gladly hug it out with.  Friends, it depends on how well I know you.  Complete strangers...keep away.  I mean it.

And then there's the social aspect that is associated with people who have Asperger's syndrome...or lack thereof.  And it's one of the many things that can be considered a negative.  Well, at least it is for me, anyway.

But that's a tale that will wait until next week.  Now that you know what some of the symptoms of Asperger's's time to reveal some of the pitfalls that can come with it.  

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