Saturday, September 23, 2023

Asperger’s, and the Meaning of Love

It’s been a week. It doesn’t quite feel like I should write the line of, “I’m married” yet here I am, on a plane with my wife, headed on our honeymoon. 

I’ve spent the last week trying to write about the wedding day, but it’s a blur, and it’s been too emotional to write about. I’ve been perplexed as to why I’ve been unable as I’ve been able to write about every other fantastic event, and not so fantastic event that’s happened to me. But this? This is different. Boarding the plane, I finally understood why. 

Before the wedding, many people told me that “the day would be a blur” and it was, people told me that, “don’t lock your knees or you’ll pass out” which thankfully there was no passing out. What they didn’t tell me was that I would experience an emotion unlike any other. A realization of what it means to love, and the often impossible thing for me in thinking about another person.

The hardest part to explain to those that don’t understand Asperger’s is that, at the same time, I can have the deepest of empathy while not thinking about another person. It’s opposites, isn’t it? This deep caring of others while not thinking about others at all. 

Thinking of others doesn’t come naturally. It’s difficult to explain without sounding like an egotistical self-centered jerk. This isn’t the case as there isn’t a conscious effort to tune out others, but rather the programming in the brain isn’t there due to the extreme amount of processing my brain does on everything else.  Also, it may be part of a protection mechanism as it can be overwhelming to think of another person, and all that comes with it with emotion, hopes, and dreams. With that so, that makes the next part of this story so extraordinary.

Kristen, my so to be wife, was about to walk into the church. The moment everyone had tried to prepare me for was at hand. The priest, a couple months prior, said, “the moment you two stand at the alter, hand-in-hand, will hear the most marvelous words any human can hear as you here ‘I take you, forever.’” Forever was almost here, and as I saw her enter, she looked angelic. I was taken off-guard, and my entire life flashed before my eyes in an intense tsunami of emotions, and this made me process emotions I often push aside.

With each step she took closer, I became more ill-at-ease as I felt the love I feel for her. I knew I did love her, and I hope you don’t take this post as I, “what? You just realized you loved her right then and there!” That’s not the case, but for us with Asperger’s, we often will try and not fully acknowledge or feel emotions due to the gravity they put on us. They can be unfiltered, consuming our existence, therefore it’s better to have them in the background as we try and outrun them. When getting married, there is no running away, and instead of wanting to hide from them, I let them in. 

She was now at the alter. Her had handed her off to me, we walked to the alter together, soon to be as one, and when we looked into each other’s eyes there was no desire by me to avoid eye-contact. We were staring into each other’s soul and I had the deepest of yearnings to never make her sad. It’s such a simple sentence, but this thought is as one I’ve never had like this. This isn’t to say I’ve had opposite feelings of being uncaring should I make someone sad, but this was a preemptive sensation; one of that, should I make her sad, I’d be doing a disservice to the universe. 

Love has been a mystery to me. Read my book Finding Kansas and you can get a glimpse of the struggle I had trying to make sense of what it meant. I worried it was an impossibility for me, but as the dam broke and it couldn’t outrun feeling the emotion, I found out that its something I shouldn’t run away from because it’s the greatest feeling, and the priest was right. Saying my vows, and hearing hers, were the grandest words I’ve ever heard, and understanding that I can experience love deeper than first imagined gave me an understanding of the meaning of love, and I can only hope I don’t try and outrun this feeling.

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