Apr 10, 2012 0 Share

Lessons on Being A Grown-Up


Illustration of parents and two children in silhouette against colorful sky.
iStockphoto

Growing up, I always had a vision for what my adult life would look like. I would have a career, I would fall in love, get married, and have children—LOTS of children. I would provide those children with the opportunity for the “normal” childhood that eluded me. Of course, not knowing at the time that “normal” was beyond the realm of what I was wired to attain, I did not necessarily have a plan as to how any of this was going to happen. But somehow, I knew that it would. This certainty, I think, in retrospect, stemmed from my tendency to either trust wholeheartedly without any rational basis for my trust, or not trust at all, even when all evidence pointed in the opposite direction. I tend to look at this now as part of my Aspie makeup that can either be used for good or evil!

Fast-forward from the dreams of childhood to the adult world, present-day. I am not sure if I would have been better off knowing my place on the autism spectrum before I started this whole “adult” thing some years back. In looking at the life I have right now, first and foremost are my children. They are everything to me, and had life not played out as it did, their very existence could be called into question. So in hindsight, although I know unequivocally that much of the recent collateral damage my autism and related … issues … are generating would have been greatly reduced had I recognized my strengths and weaknesses at an earlier age. Had I known that my wiring made certain emotions difficult if not impossible for me to express—or even feel—or that my ability to read nonverbal cues would be put to the ultimate test in the parameters of a marital relationship, perhaps I would have made different choices. Had I started sooner in my quest to understand what makes me tick and how to use those Aspie powers for good instead of evil, would I have reached a point where I would not have been so set in my ways that some fundamental, necessary changes and choices were beyond my grasp?

I could quite simply drive myself over the edge with “what-if” questions, and much of what I have learned about how my brain works in recent years involves seeking to minimize the amount of collateral damage I am inflicting on myself. So rather than punish myself for not succeeding in some of the areas I thought would be oh-so-perfect when I was a quarter-century younger (give or take) I would much rather use what I have learned about myself to keep history from repeating itself. Another lesson I have learned of late is how very many of the choices I have made, actions I have taken, and words I have and have not spoken, are absorbed by the young people in my life. So in the midst of what might look like chaos, sanity is struggling to emerge victorious, as I enter a new phase of my development as an adult on the autism spectrum knowing that regardless of whether I can or cannot trust anything else in my life, I can trust myself. And if that is a lesson I can pass on to the young adults in my life, then I truly will be using my Aspie powers for good instead of evil.