Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dreams, Dreams Trashed, and Other Events of 10 Years Ago

I am a milestone centric person and I always have been. How many seven year-olds do you know that cried when the year changed from 1989 to 1990 because, "There will NEVER be a "198X ever again"? And don't get me started about 1999...

So anyway, the anniversary of the most incredible and yet darkest era of my life is coming up. 10 years, this week, I learned that, for October, I'd be going to Las Vegas to be an instructor at a race car driving school. Awesome? Oh yes! You see, 10 years ago I was on my way to being a professional race car driver and becoming an instructor just reinforced that fact.

When October comes it will be difficult (but just like 10 years ago I have a special life event planned which I hope to announce soon) but it just wasn't the trip to Vegas that was important but also the quickly deteriorating relationship with Emily. And not only that, once I got home at the end of October my life would never really be the same. The person I am now was born when I returned home from Vegas. When I arrived back home my dad stood on the front porch and waived a checkered flag which was fitting because, unbeknownst to both of us, an era of my life was ending and a new life was beginning.

Later, in November, the process of being diagnosed began and after my doctor told me, "good luck" in regards to what Asperger's was I was relegated to looking it up on the Internet (big mistake!) and the start of December marked the start of the saddest 15 months of my life.

What added to my pit of depression was the quickly crumbling racing career. I had a sponsor and had a deal signed with a team, but the team proved to be a couple crooks that just wanted the sponsorship money without providing services and my sponsor left the sport leaving my outlook on life rather dim. Well, not dim but a lifeless void that had more pull of light than a black hole.

My 10 year writing anniversary of the first time I willfully wrote, and the first chapter that ended up in my book, will be February 2015. Essentially, for me, 2004 was a wash. I didn't do much because, well, why should I? I had this diagnosis that, according to a website on the all knowing Internet, stated that, "a person with Asperger's will never have a job, never have friends, and will never be happy." With such a dire destiny what was the point in trying to overcome it? What motivation did I have? The only thing that mattered was racing and that was becoming less and less likely so why should I even try?

I stayed that way for 15 months. It was somewhat cruel that life would let me get a taste of my dream as, how many people can say they were an instructor at a race car driving school and getting paid good money to drive fast? Also, that was my first experience living away from home. Now granted, I was staying with one of the warmest families I've ever met, but I was still away from home. Then, after my diagnosis I felt I lost that ability to ever live on my own again, I lost my dream of being a race car driver that I had had since the age of three, and I now had this diagnosis which meant I would never be "normal" and would never have the chance to be happy.

Life works in odd ways, though. If it weren't for that era 10 years ago I never would have written and obviously, if that were the case, you wouldn't be reading this. I wouldn't be a speaker, and I wouldn't be able to share just how dark of a viewpoint I had and yet I came out the other side. It took a long time, but here I am.

Every aspect of my life is going to feel slightly more special as all these 10 year anniversary dates are hit. In fact, in October, it looks like I'll actually be in Vegas so perhaps I might make a stop to the track that I instructed at to relive the person I was. I never could have imagined that October 2003 would be such a dream and yet the closure of a dream and the start of something I never could have dreamt of. When I hear people tell me that they, or someone they know feels hopeless it is hard for me because of two reasons; one, I know exactly how it feels and secondly I know there is little I can do in a straightforward fashion. My dad tried to get me to read Temple Grandin's books but I wanted nothing to do with it because, "how could anyone understand me?" My mind was closed on receiving information and if information were presented I'd do everything I could to vacate the area. Eventually, after writing, I became receptive and I learned I'm not alone and this fact, alone, was ginormous. However, I sort of had to learn this on my on terms when I was ready and that's what I hope I do now. I've got almost 900 posts now, and a book, so if someone is ready to learn who they are and that they aren't alone I hope they can find my material instead of the hopeless material I found. Here's the thing, had I been racing and taking checkered flags first on the race track I wouldn't be doing this. I'd never have acknowledged the fact during my 15 months of supreme depression, or have open to letting my mind think that good things were coming, but that checkered flag my dad flew in the air when I came home from Vegas marked the beginning of who I am, and all the work that I'm doing and I couldn't be happier otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. I was just listening to my favorite director, Kevin Smith, this morning on the way in to work. He basically works in comedy and he had a guest on his show, Jimmy Norton from the Opie and Anthony show. During their conversation Kevin commented on how the best comedy always comes from the darkest places in a person's life. He explained that the best comedians can step away from a terrible situation and say to themselves, "this will make a great story some day." I think you're able now to look back on those dark points in your life and use them as teaching tools for yourself and for others.

    This blog also brings up a question I've been meaning to ask you. So, for a large part of your life, up until 10 years ago, you knew there was something different about you, but you didn't know what it was. 10 years ago someone put a name to it, Asperger's, and since then you've been dealing with that. Do you see a distinction between those two parts of your life? Was it harder to not know what was wrong or was it harder to know but read all the negative comments you did about it? Just curious.