Going back to Monday’s post about the stuck red light concept I want to add upon that. First off, I feel as if this is the best concept I’ve come up with since Kansas and my mom referred to it as the, “ultimate explanation of autism in concept form.” What does it all mean though? How does it influence what happens on a daily basis? To answer this I introduce walls.
To summarize the initial concept is this; you’re stuck at a red light in the dead of night but the light isn’t changing. It’s solid red but nary a soul is around and you eventually decide to run the light despite your brain telling you that you shouldn’t be doing it. This is what being on the spectrum is like in that what we have to do on a daily basis, even though it is needed to make progress, whether it is something major or something as minor as eye contact, the trepidations are strong. For this post I will talk about relationships/friendships.
My history of relationships has been, well, anything but stellar. Even when it comes to friendships I struggle. When asked at presentations if I have friends I say I do, but they aren’t in the traditional sense as most live at least 1,000 miles away and I know them via Xbox Live. Have we met? Yes. Have we talked in depth? Yes, but in terms of having a friend in my hometown? It’s been, um, it’s been a very long time. I don’t keep friends, I don’t know how, and part of the problem is the constant proverbial intersections that have to be crossed.
I’m constantly analyzing a game that can’t be quantified, classified, or scored, and yet I do. What is the criteria for a friend? Is the other person just being nice because they know I am on the spectrum? Do they even know? I know I know therefore they know? Wait, no? Yes? Imagine those questions happening on every occasion. Actually, they occur before, during, and after. It never ends and each time I make a decision to say hello, or not, or to avoid, or to not, it’s the same stress as crossing a red light in the dead of night.
Now when it comes to relationships, and I have been getting a lot of questions about relationships on my author page on Facebook and I am very frank in that I am the worst person in the world to heed advice from in this realm. It seems the minimal amount of relationships or near relationships I’ve been in have all ended in a flaming heap of rubble that I’m lucky to get out of in one emotional piece. Why do I use such superlative language? This goes to walls, which I should’ve elaborated more on in the previous couple of paragraphs, but because the intersection game is so hard to go through I put up a lot of walls to not even allow navigation to an intersection. Think about it; if I’m seemingly uncaring, aloof, or overall stoic then those around me are going to leave me be. This is what I want outwardly but you can’t see the struggle going on inside. It’s a struggle because there is this part of me that wants to be the confident guy that has no problem speaking to anyone and everyone. That person that is fearless and can speak to any given person on a whim. I actually think, down deep, this is my true personality because, after all, how many people have a fear of public speaking and yet I do it with ease. And yet, this is where the walls come in.
Public speaking, and I apologize if it’s difficult for you, is easy for me. It really is, but there’s no emotional exchange in that arena. Walls are needed because the audience isn’t getting underneath all the protective layers I have so I don’t get put into situations of arriving at unwinnable intersections. Oh yes, there are those and those are the worst. In my 2nd book there will be a title called “Zugswang” which is a German word and is a chess concept which states that, when it is a player’s turn to move, there is no good move. No matter what move is made it will be the wrong one because every possible move will weaken the player’s position. This, in a way, is Asperger’s at its core because we may be put into situations where we must act and regardless of walls or red lights the end, regardless of what is chosen, will result in hardship.
After one of these hardship moment’s it is difficult to move on because there becomes a heightened sense of danger with future interactions with others. The walls become taller, the red lights become harder to cross, stagnation sets in, and the dastardly fail-set mindset takes hold. Fail-set mindset? This is the true enemy I face and what that is would be this; if one tries and fails one would often try again hoping to improve upon the first effort. However, for a person on the autism spectrum, we are often one and done. When we try, and fail, our different concept of time (past present and oblivion which states that “whatever is now is forever”) takes over and the ability to see that improvement is possible doesn’t exist. Is there progress? Yes, but I’ve never believed it even though I’m living proof it does.
Will these walls ever come down? Will crossing against the light in the dead of night ever become easier? I’m not sure. I know that I still face this battle of wanting a major social life and yet being deathly afraid of having a major social life. It’s unique that what I want is what I also fear. It’s unique that what I’m comfortable with, and that is being alone, is what I don’t like. At times having Asperger’s is like being stuck in a circular maze and the only route, which is caused by all these tall walls, is a path of circular stagnation. Perhaps it’s the routine of it all, perhaps it’s the fear of what’s on the other side of these walls and the fear of what it would be like to have someone actually traverse the walls and get on the inside, but as with the previous posts this week there’s so rather deep stuff in this blog and if you haven’t lived this, or known a person that has, I don’t know if you can appreciate the duality of wanting and fearing and the sad bliss there is in isolation. If you do understand I hope that these words have explained it in a way that makes sense. I believe the walls can come down, I believe that there can be beautiful days ahead, but I also fear the vulnerability that comes along with having a friend, or a relationship, because control is lost. There’s control being stuck in a circular maze as one accepts their fate. I haven’t accepted mine yet and I want out and someday maybe this will happen, but as for now it seems the flaming heap of wreckage is the only outcome I know.