Friday, June 16, 2023


This is a series called "Finding Kansas Revisited" in which I read my book for just the second time and give you a glimpse into why I wrote the chapter and what I think of it now. If you haven't read it yet, Finding Kansas is available on most book sites as a physical book, or a download.  

It's February 2005, and the last online friend I had has gone to sleep after a long evening of playing ToCA Race Driver 2 on the Xbox. I look at the clock, it's past 1AM. My routine at this point in time was either bowling two nights a week or racing people over the Xbox. That was it. I had secluded myself from everything else as the impact of my diagnosis was now rippling into all aspects of my life. I was stagnant and I thought I'd always be. My frustration was growing and growing as hope for any sort of life seemed to be eroding away. What was happening? Why was I alone? What had happened with my relationship? No one knew the story and I couldn't talk about it, so I did something I had never willingly done; I headed to my computer and sat down, opened MS Word, and wrote her name as a title and began.

As I read this chapter, I was astounded to see just how much I've matured as a writer. I also feel a bit sad for the reader in that a lot of this chapter got cut for this book. The original version of my book was self-published, and I may have been a bit long-winded (very long winded actually as I think this chapter was 20 pages single spaced), but I feel it still captured the angst I experienced during this era.

The thing that struck me the most was my inability to move on. The terminality of my words was how I felt, I can remember clear as day, but the thing that I noticed while reading was that I have learned to let go. I have learned to let go. I'm not sure how I did. I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but I know I have. 

Another thing that shocked me was the notion that I was trapped and unable to break the cycle. Before I read the chapter, when I would think back, I'd say, "it couldn't have been that bad", but as I kept reading, I realized that it was. For the reader that isn't me, you might come to the conclusion that I was no better than Charlie Brown attempting to kick the football with no success. 

This chapter is the essence of the struggle some may have on the autism spectrum. I didn't know it then, but I was chained by routines. Routines were life, change is bad, and communication was impossible. With Emily, I couldn't communicate my hopes, fears, thoughts, and dreams for the future. Because of this, failure was going to be a guarantee and by adding a new diagnosis of autism, and it was destined to have a nuclear meltdown of a breakup story.

What I didn't understand then, when I wrote it, was that my experience was that of being human. Learning through failures and pain is part of being human, it's something everyone goes through, but it felt, for me, that this was going to define me forever. If failure is a guarantee, why try? For some reason I did keep trying and went on dozens of first dates with few second dates. Then, in 2013, I met my second girlfriend. That relationship lasted about two years, which then it fell apart, and again I became trapped in a repetitive cycle of misery.

Things have changed. The growth and the moving on I thought was impossible happened. I'm engaged now and our wedding is going to be on September 16th. The night I started to write; I'd never have been able to comprehend that I'd someday write that "I'm engaged." 

Would I change anything? I don't think I would, and that includes the dedication of the book that went to her. Why? It was and is the fact that I became an author and speaker because of her. The +90,000 people that have seen me in person and the millions I have reached on the internet would not have happened if not for the pain I went through during that relationship. 

I hope others can learn this fact that things do get better, and the pain of the past can become a strength of the future. While I may still think of time that, "Everything is now", things can and will get better. After all, things got better and come September 16th, I'll be married. 

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