First things first, I suppose a little introduction is in order. They usually make me uncomfortable but since we don’t have to guess who is going to go first this should be a little easier. Besides, there is nothing in this world I know more about than myself, the hard part will be keeping this short and sweet. I am 30 years old, and I just discovered a few weeks ago that I have Asperger's Syndrome. In the grand scheme of things this doesn’t change anything, I’m still exactly the same person I was before I figured out why I am so different, and yet at the microscopic level at which I examine myself it’s monumental. This has given me something I have searched my whole life for, perspective. I have found my voice. I hope to help others find theirs. Welcome to my world.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hiding Within

I haven’t always been reclusive. I went to regular school like any other kid and went on to college. I took my kid to school and went to my full time job every day. I went out every night and had lots of friends. To the outside world I seemed like your average young mother doing her best to get by in life, but I was screaming on the inside. It’s hard to cope with feeling this way when you have no idea what’s going on, or why you are struggling so much with things everyone else can do with ease. I understand now that its common with Asperger’s to feel this way, but back then I slowly withdrew a piece at a time trying to gain some peace and clarity in my life, and some understanding of why it all seemed so different for me.

The times I want to leave my cozy little den have dropped dramatically in the last few years. I don’t think the time I spend alone is a new need, just the further recognition of one I’ve always had. I can’t focus on anything when there are other people around, so I stay in my apartment by myself most of the time. It’s getting to the point where even that isn’t enough. Cabin fever gets the best of me because I love to be outside, but living in the city overwhelms me to the point where I have no choice but to stay indoors most of the time. Even a trip to the nearby park seems like an impossible journey when you are worried about who you might run into. The occasional dinner, family function, or errand I manage these days leave me over stimulated and exhausted. Going to the grocery store is a nightmare of lights and sounds and people that I can’t avoid because I only eat certain brands of certain foods. All I want to do when I’m done is go home and go to bed. Just the idea of going out into the hall of my building can be too much to bear sometimes.

I want to live in the woods. I want trees, and running water, and rock as far as the eye can see. I want my own little room in the attic where I can hang things from the ceiling, and paint on the walls, and fill one end with pillows for curling up and reading in. I want to be able to step outside my door without being immediately assaulted by the traffic, and the lights, and the hordes of people going this way and that. I want to be able to see the stars at night, and to sit by the fire quietly thinking. I want to live where the world can’t find me unless I let them.

Its not that I don’t want any contact with people at all, on the contrary, I am fascinated by people and desire to connect with them, I just struggle with face to face interaction and social etiquette. The few people I do interact with on a social level, including my boyfriend, are either on the spectrum or highly open minded people who can see past these weaknesses. Despite these difficulties I have found a way to connect with a broader slice of the world at large through the internet. I have found a medium where eye contact doesn’t matter and everyone is free to pursue what brings them peace and happiness, where people don’t have to ignore my tapping feet and worried expression to see the truth in my words.

Some day when my situation is a little better I can move from this city and find my little piece of heaven in the woods. Until then I will bide my time here in this apartment, adventuring out into the wide bustling world only when I have to. Those who know me will shake their heads and forgive me, just another way that Alei is different from the rest. Those who understand me will recognize that it’s what I need to do and love me all the more. The rest of the world will pass by my doorstep and never even know I’m here. Its better that way.

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