Yet again I am suffering through a sleepless December night. This bit of insomnia was surely triggered by my planning out yesterday's blog on Wednesday (some blogs are a week or more in thought before they get written). The flood of memories was great, but it is nothing to the current state I am in.
I spent most of Thursday lost in deep thought. Anytime there are emotions involved in my life I tend to retreat and slow down. Around noon I became angry with myself. I started thinking about all the times I have said the wrong thing... or texted the wrong thing and I said aloud, "Aaron, how could you have been so blind?"
This line of thought never leads to anywhere productive and I slowly crept to a dark place. It has been years since the events of Christmas pasts, but to me they are still as fresh as if they were events that happened yesterday.
Again, this line of thought can't possibly achieve anything because what's done is done. Knowing this, and actually abiding by this are two different things and I continued to get angry with myself; furious at one point.
For one reason or another as I was managing my blog I went through all the months of my blog this year and read the entry titles. I don't know if I will ever read anything I write after I click the, "Publish Post" button, but I was able to remember all the places I have been and all the hope people said I brought to them. "Hope?" I asked in inquisitively aloud even though no one could hear me. I then let go of my self hatred and said, "Hope." with a courage that felt out of place. (It was out of place because courage and December, in my book, are polar opposites).
Why was I hooked on hope? December may be a rough month for me, but without the almost Hollywood type scripts of my past Christmas experiences I may never have accepted that I was on the spectrum. Furthermore it is from the sorrow I feel from the whole breaking up on Christmas via text message that lets me bypass all the fears of standing in front of a group. Why? Because the world needs to understand and those that may be on the spectrum need to know.
The need to know can't be stated enough. Imagine if I would have had the same life up until now minus my current job and minus knowing that I was on the spectrum. I would have no knowledge of why eye contact is difficult and why I prefer to be alone. I would have many questions and few answers. Using logic the only thing I would be able to understand is that I must be a huge failure. Again, the self hatred path achieves nothing, but this is the trap of being on the spectrum and not knowing it.
Does knowing it cure it? Of course not, but it gives a reason. Without a reason one only has them self to blame and over time bitterness will fill the person up. Through this, hope is a word that does not exist and the attempt to better one's self is not even thought of. How do I know this? I was there. I had the diagnosis but refused to accept what it meant. I refused to accept the diagnosis because I was scared. The information I read when first diagnosed was not worded all that well and I simply lived life blaming myself.
It was during the day when I was thinking about the story of the last paragraph that hope began to flourish within me again. I think back to a couple presentations in the summer and parents, who had brought their teenagers to my presentations, said afterwards that their kids had said that they saw a lot of themselves in me and that maybe it isn't so bad after all.
I fight this battle within myself every so often and certainly every December. However I always seem to come to the same conclusion and that is, if I had to endure the pains and cause the pain I did to get to this point that I am having a positive impact on the world, and raising awareness and understanding then who am I to complain? December may be rough, but how many people out there have a story like mine without the knowledge that the autism spectrum element is in play? I wonder if their friends or family get angry with them because they think they are "weird" or "odd" or I wonder if they hate themselves for whatever social awkwardness they have endured.
Through this sleepless night my passion has be renewed yet again. I still firmly believe that, "understanding is the foundation for hope" and the world needs to know about the spectrum. Furthermore, those that are undiagnosed need to know more than anyone else. There is always hope, but only if one knows what they are dealing with. I am sure there are people going through what I did during the time I rejected my diagnosis. This though motivates me and I am actually anxious for 2011 and all the possibilities it has. I can't wait to get back in front of an audience or have an extended conversation with an expert or a doctor. I may be excited for the future, but again there are those that aren't, and while my work may not make someone's life better directly or give them the magical cure, it may start the path to understanding and that first step is the step towards hope.