Sometimes I look back on my adulthood and ask myself why on earth I ever got married in the first place, much less three times and struck out.
Had I known what I know now, I would never have married. But I kept thinking: Get married, have a family, and you will begin to feel normal like everyone else.
That didn’t happen.
I spent half a century being diagnosed with a plethora of mental illnesses. Had I gotten an accurate diagnosis I would have accepted my limitations and lived a more solitary life, which I have learned is how I’m happiest.
Then a cousin I had been relatively close to all my life said to me on the phone one day: “I’ve always thought that you have Asperger’s Syndrome.”
At first I tossed the thought aside. No, I thought, because I have all these other diagnoses written down in my medical chart. Then I started reading up on the topic and began to wonder if she was right.
Reading about Asperger’s was like looking in a mirror. Finally it all began to make sense. The failed relationships, the failed jobs, the failed endeavors.
I began seeing a psychologist who specialized in that field and was tested.
For once in my life I scored high on a test. The revolving door of various mental illnesses being floated closed abruptly.
People assume you are capable if only you could drop your emotional baggage. But neurological baggage cannot be dropped. It is pervasive and it is for life.
Once I accepted that I began to function much better. I learned that a routine is vital to my well being. Luckily I finally found a way to support myself that didn’t involve an outside job and being around people.
All my life I had felt like a failure for not being able to do what everyone thought I should be able to do. I learned to forgive myself for my inabilities.
People sometimes ask me how I can think of something to write everyday. Well, it’s just part of my normal routine. I don’t really give it all that much thought. I just follow my routine.
I have learned that I can’t deal with a lot of stimuli and thus sensory overload leads to frustration and isolation.
Who wants to talk about the weather? It is what it is. Why beat around the bush about things? Just say what you think. Instead of cloaking what you truly think, why can’t people just say what they think?
But that’s not how the real world works.
Saying what you think gets you into trouble, I’ve learned. I can’t seem to help but be honest about things. My world is black and white in that regard.
Ask me a question and I will answer it. I don’t mean to sound brutal. The answer is just obvious so I’m not quite sure how to make it more palatable.
Unfortunately women with Asperger’s can fly under the radar for much of their lives because they learn to camouflage their limitations.
I remember standing in front of a mirror when I was young trying to figure out how to act and talk like everyone else.
I wanted to fit in because I knew that was supposed to be what every girl wanted. Yet I found that being around people after a certain amount of time was for me tedious and unpleasant. I needed a good block of time to myself.
Thus had I known all this I would never have married in the first place. Because the success rate for marriages where one spouse is on the autism spectrum is low and divorce rates are quite high.
But I kept trying to get it right. I thought I just needed to find the right kind of man and I would just know how to be normal. And that didn’t happen.
I have learned to embrace my strengths and to forgive myself my inabilities. I am not as anxious. I try not to put myself in situations where I know I won’t be comfortable.
I have accepted who I am.