Featured

Journal of an Aspie

A personal account of life, written by someone with Asperger’s Syndrome

Hi there.

I’m going to be doing my best to keep this anonymous, so I won’t be giving out my name or similar details, but there are a few things you should probably know about me

I am male. At the time of writing this sentence in particular, I’m 24 and I live in the UK. Most importantly (and the point of my having this space to begin with) is that I’m diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s a kind of Autism. I won’t go into it to heavily here, you’ll learn much more as you read and as I write more about my life. I felt like I wanted to write (or that I HAD to write), because there’s so much misinformation out there about Autism in general. I feel that, as one of the lucky ones who can communicate in a somewhat clear manner, I should do my best to try to teach people about us as much as possible, as some of us simply don’t have the capacity to do that.

Now, this page should be considered a home page of sorts. This is the page you should absolutely be reading first before reading any of my other works.

If you’re here looking for family-friendly reading, then brace yourselves, because I fully intent to bring up topics many people, Autistic or no, feel uncomfortable about. I’ll probably say some things that a lot of people don’t like, or don’t want to hear. I won’t be taking those back, nor will I be censoring myself. I chose my own, personal writing space for a reason – the other platforms I’ve used to educate people in the past have tried to censor me, and I feel that is very much at odds which what I’m trying to do. Consider yourselves warned, dear readers.

I should add that I’m not intentionally trying to offend people, or anything even slightly similar. I’m not here to insult certain groups or individuals, though I might come close. If you’re the kind of person that hears someone tell a racist/sexist joke, or whatever it may be, and then automatically makes the judgement that said person actually believes in the relevant ideology, then you’re just plain wrong and need to get yourself properly educated. Simply put, don’t be an idiot. Question what you’re reading, at least do a reasonable degree before having an over-the-top emotional response to what I’ve written. Otherwise, you’re just going to make a fool of yourself. Don’t be that guy.

Hopefully, that should cover the basis of what I’m here for and what you should expect. Now it’s about time you read what I have to say. So click on, grab some refreshments and open your mind. At least a little…

The Legendary Pasta Story

If you’re someone that knows me personally, then you’ve likely heard this story before. It’s my go-to when it comes to describing the Asperger’s experience, and is at least partly the reason I’ve been given a space to write in the local newspaper for two years (I wuit so I could write this blog instead), as well as an appearance on national TV, an appearance on national radio and another on local radio. I think that’s enough to qualify this story as “legendary”?

It all began when I was 20 years old. I hadn’t cooked for myself for a long time. It had always been a long-standing issue for me. I’ve always had trouble learning to cook and generally following instructions. I struggled with the subjects at school when I had to follow instructions, like in science classes, because they weren’t presented in a way that was compatible with the way my mind works. Recipe books fall under this.

I knew pasta was a fairly easy thing to, and it was something I’d done before. Why not try, right? My mum was out of the country for a few days, and I had to fend doe myself. I followed the instructions I was given to the letter – and that was where the issue lied.

The thing with Asperger’s is that many of us take statements and instructions very literally. If the recipe book tells me to do something, I will do it as written. So, when the book tells me “drain your pasta” I will drain it, right there, where I’m stood. Onto the worktop, onto my feet. Pasta and boiling water falling to the floor as I make the sudden connection that I should have drained my pasta IN THE SINK.

I should probably assail your fears first and foremost – I was unharmed. I was wearing shoes and the water missed me, splashing onto my shoes instead of me. I was fine. What did happen was that I learned something. Not only did I learn about draining hot water in the sink and to be more careful when following instructions, but I learned about instructions in general.

Something I’ve noticed is that written instructions are rarely presented in a way that’s friendly to the neurodiverse. Take cook books, as they’re the topic at hand. They use all sorts of vague language like “braise” or “whisk” or “knead”. These terms are not defined. So, as a person new to cooking, we use a book to help us, and all it does it make us more confused. It throws terms at us that aren’t explained, and then that leaves us feeling isolated. It’s as if these things are written from a position that assumes anyone reading the book already knows exactly what every technical term is and how to replicate it. Would it be too much to ask for a visual guide on how to knead bread dough in a baking book? It makes the books so much more accessible to beginners – and people who have difficulty with instructions.

Finally, if the question of “what happened to the pasta?” remains in your mind… I cleaned it all up and made a sandwhich instead, immediately posting the story on social media to all my friends because it was hilarious to me. It still is.

Aspie Dating

I’m going to preface this by being up front with you, valued reader. I’m a single man, in my mid-20’s and yes, at times, I do feel lonely and want someone else to be with me. Friends alone sometimes don’t cut it. You know what I mean?

I’ve attempted to put myself “out there” before, but anyone who knows me in person will know exactly how awfully that ended. It’s something I can only describe as “a blunder” and I won’t ever go as far as considering that again. I am, however, still looking. After talking to an (equally lonely) friend and giving some advice to try an online dating site, I decided to follow my own advice. It’s always been a policy of mine not to follow my own advice because I apparently give terrible advice, but in convincing this friend, I somehow managed to convince myself too.

I’d actually tried signing up to online dating before. It was one of the big ones, and I chose that one because my mum was on there and told me it was good. I got half way through the process of signing up and it required pictures. This was a brick wall so tall, Donald Trump would be green with envy. You’ve probably guessed, but being the socially inept guy that I am, there aren’t many pictures of me, to say nothing of pictures I’ve taken of myself. I needed at least 4, and I found… one.

A year later – yes, you read that correctly – and I’d finally hit that minimum of 4 pictures to upload to my profile. Thus, I finish the sign up process. Filling in my profile wasn’t too bad. It was painful putting my interests down, because I just knew my prospects were dwindling by the second. “Philosophy, The sciences, History”. I knew it just from writing those that I was screwed. Despite that, I bit the bullet and gave in. It was at this point everything took a turn for the worse… or hilarious. You decide.

Anyone familiar with the internet or computers in general may have heard of bots. They’re basically very simple AI programs that do whatever task you’ve assigned to them through their code. The first few messages I got on my account were from some of these bots. They consisted of images of very attractive women in revealing clothing or less, with all kinds of enticing language in their profile. Pretty clearly too good to be true. I may be lonely, but not so much I’d fall for that crap.

I also discovered that the site is pretty crappy too. It’s US-based, but when they opened themselves up to the UK market, they didn’t tweak anything to suit UK geography. That means that the minimum search distance is 75 miles. At the thinnest points, that’s the whole length of the country and well over half at the widest! This means that I can’t search for people nearby “in my city” because the range is much too low and it defaults to an almost national level search. So there I am, looking at the profile of someone that’s piqued my curiosity, only to find they’re somewhere in Scotland. Very helpful, website. Especially so, when, as an Autistic person (I’ll be tying this in shortly, be patient with me), my family are very concerned with letting me travel further than I do for work to meet anyone. Travel anxiety that comes with being Asperger’s also doesn’t help. This is an anxiety that stems from being in unfamiliar environments which are – at their core – not variables we can control or predict like familiar environments.

Not being able to get information out of someone is also very unhelpful. As the profile of another person is basically just presented as a picture you click on, all first impressions are based on how the person looks. So of course, I’m clicking on the profiles of people that are physically attractive to me. It is not great when that person’s “hobbies and interests” is an exact copy/paste of the website terms and conditions! I can promise you, hand on heart, that this is a real thing that I found and it was indeed the catalyst that led to me wanting to write about this whole online dating experience.

Finally, we get into the Asperger’s-related bit. This is the one thing that really stood out to me. There were a multitude of tests you could take that would tell you what kind of person you are, what kind of person will work best with you and so on. These were all multiple choice tests – but they were not, in any way, made with the neurodiverse population in mind. One question stood out to me in particular. It asked “I pay close attention to a person’s body language when talking to them.” If you have an understanding of the Autistic mind, you’ll instantly be able to see what’s wrong with this statement. We really struggle to read body language. We are almost entirely oblivious to it, and even when we do make an active effort to read a person’s body language, we are regularly wrong about what we infer from their behaviour. So, when the four possible answers to this question are “This is very much like me”, “This is a bit like me”, “This is not much like me”, “I am not at all like this”, I’m forced to answer with the latter. So now, I had no choice but to give an inherently negative answer out of context with my own person. Then, when I get the results, it flags that question to me as “particularly negative”. It’s insulting when I’m told to “work on this” because it’s “very important”.

This was the standout example, but there were others. The test results identified areas in which I either had a low opinion of myself or needed to work on, which might be fine for the majority of us who are neurotypical – but for those like me, these are traits we are born with and can’t just change at the drop of a hat.

It’s become quite clear that online dating is hard enough already, irrespective of our differences. That’s why I described the site the way I did – I wanted to point out the stuff everyone has to deal with before getting down to the things that are especially difficult for those like myself.

So, of course, this raises the next question – “why not use a site just for Autistic people?”

The reason to me is simple – we live in a world of extremes. Many services that cater to the disadvantaged, whatever that may be – caters to those most severely effected by their differences. Those of us who are in between, and just need a little help but are otherwise fine are left by the wayside. I’ve experienced this constantly with support services. I ask for help, get signposted to wards a service and they assess me, only to come back with a “sorry, you aren’t autistic enough”.

I’m looking for someone similar to me. I want to be with someone that’s either neurotypical, or neurodiverse but needing minimal support – like myself. I fully expect that if I were to go on an “Aspie dating site” then I would find… neither of those. So, what do I do? Honestly I have no idea.

I could cry about there being nothing that caters to my needs, but I absolutely don’t want to become one of those kinds of people, so I won’t be doing that. I could also continue what I’m doing by using the generic site I described up above. Will that really bear fruit? What other options are there that I don’t even know about?

The answer will probably come to me – eventually. For now, I’m going to remove all mentions of being autistic from my profile, because feedback so far has been less than positive…

Fear of Taboo

In recent times, I’ve taken an interest in naturism.

I know this sounds completely unusual. Bear with me. If you haven’t figured it out by the title already, I can and will link this to Asperger’s somehow. I got your attention though, didn’t I?

Having used my opening line in the most “in-your-face” way possible, I’ll explain my reasoning. It’s going to take a while, but we’ll get there. This whole line of thought came to me in conversation with someone at work. This person knew of my Asperger’s and had a general idea of what that meant, but they were behaving awkwardly. It was clear that she was unsure of how to approach the issue (at least the one that was in her head) of communicating with me, and this was making her hesitate. In the end, I had to be the one to get things rolling, and once a conversation had started, she settled in and began to behave more like she did with everyone else. She told me she was relieved – she didn’t want to ask me anything about my Asperger’s and wanted to avoid the topic because stuff like that is usually a touchy subject with people.

In short, she was saying it’s a taboo. I hate that word. I really do. Taboos are one of the things that frustrate me the most.

Based on the observations I’ve made over the course of my (to date) 25 years of life, I’ve learned that the overwhelming majority of people prefer to skirt around taboo subjects for fear of offending someone and facing backlash as a result. The most common three are disability, race and sex. We’ll return to the latter of those shortly.

Rather than tackle these subjects head on and do something about them, society at large prefers to turn a blind eye, or bury its head in the sand. The issues persist and fester, until it becomes something that has to be faced directly, but now it’s become such a no-go topic that everyone (in the general sense) is too reluctant to go near it, and proper discussions aren’t had. The next step is censorship. Either the topic itself is censored so nobody has to think about it – sex is an example here. The other option is that so many rules around what you can/can’t say on the topic end up in place that anyone trying to debate it properly has to be so careful with the self-censorship that they don’t actually articulate themselves properly because their use of language is so restricted. Race falls into this category. Ever had a conversation with someone who hesitated when deciding which word to use to refer to an ethnic minority? There you go. Social censorship of taboo subjects in action.

This is where the Asperger’s comes in. By definition of being somewhere on the Autistic spectrum, these topics are a minefield of social misdemeanours that we can’t help be stumble directly into because the “rules” around taboo subjects are by definition of taboo – implicit. You don’t talk about these things, so you don’t talk about why you don’t talk about these things or how to go about talking about them if it’s necessary. We’re being expected to obey those social rules that we are, by nature, oblivious to and need help navigating. The irony of the day being that the help we need is refused, because that means approaching these topics which as explained above, is a big no-no and makes people feel bad. It’s a vicious circle that needs to be broken by open discussion. We need to know where we stand if we want to have any chance of integrating into society – LIKE THE NEUROTYPICAL PEOPLE EXPECT US TO.

Needless to say, I don’t like this state of affairs one bit. We need an open discussion on them. Not only because people like myself require a degree of openness to have any chance of knowing the rules to follow, but because civilised discussion is how these things work out. You’re never going to get racial equality if you don’t talk about race – yet even the slightest use of language, even if it’s meant in a positive way – that can be misunderstood, will be misunderstood and the person speaking that way gets branded a racist.

Now for the bit you were actually here to read about – the naturism. (Let’s be honest here, you were interested in this bit, weren’t you?) I refer not to people who enjoy nakedness in their own, private space, but about communities of people who all gather together without wearing anything. Think of your nudist beaches and nudist colonies. Those kinds of communities.

I got the idea when talking to my mum about holidays we’d had in the past. When I was 13, we went to the south of France in the middle of summer, and visited some beaches. There are a few beaches in the area that allow topless sunbathing and we visited one. My dad, being the prude he is, wasn’t too pleased. Teenage me didn’t have any objections at all. Laughing about how my dad reacted when he finally caught onto where we were made me connect the dots and it’s how I reached the conclusion that I did.

As things are right now, sex is another taboo subject. It’s much more approachable than race is, I will admit. What is important to note, however, is that nakedness is seen as an inherently sexual thing and thus, must be avoided and treated as such. The topic – and people’s bodies – are left covered up, save for a few exceptions like works of art.

These colonies and beaches do the opposite. They put it right in your face where you can’t avoid it. There is no way of skirting around the subject. You have to face it directly. If you don’t like that, then don’t be there. Otherwise, everyone involved is in a state of collective agreement that “this is okay”. They’re forcing us to acknowledge it as the status quo in their community.

I like this attitude. By being more accepting of nakedness as a non-sexual thing, it allows the subject of our bodies to be approached in a more direct and constructive manner. People of all shapes and sizes gather together, without fear of being pushed away. These are inherently accepting communities, and ones that have been able to push the concept of “taboo” aside and make that once difficult thing into a part of the everyday.

Why can’t we do that for race? For disability? For illness, physical or mental? People don’t talk about their feelings because it’s taboo to do so. Support groups and similar collections of people are like those beaches and colonies for their own, chosen taboo and are places in which that necessary discussion can be had. They are, in my mind, healthy environments that are conducive to progress and societal wellbeing.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m going to go streaking any time soon – or ever for that matter. What it does mean, however, is that I believe we live in an unhealthy and unsustainable way. I believe that the only way we’re ever going to make the future one that we’re proud to pass onto the next generation(s) is if we get our act together and stop burying our collective heads in the sand. Race and sex are still contentious topics to this very day, and that’s because whenever they come up, everyone involved goes on the defensive, without even understanding the long-term harm that causes.

I long for a world in which we can be open and honest with each other without fear of being reprimanded for trying to approach an issue at all.

That Lonely Feeling…

I’ve since had my chance to rant about some things I don’t like, so it’s about time I start writing in accordance with my namesake. I’ve been thinking about this topic the past few days, and I think I’ve found a good way to put it into words. This is, at least to me, how it feels to be Autistic, or more accurately; how it feels to have Asperger’s Syndrome. For the purposes of ease-of-reference, and to make it fully clear this is my own feelings, I’ll refer to this simply as “AS”, an abbreviation of Asperger’s Syndrome.

I’ll be painting a mental image from here on out. It’s made up of two groups. Imagine a race around a small track. Small enough that if the person at the front is significantly faster than the rest of the participants, they can loop around and “lap” everyone else. Those participants are one group, and the other group is made up of spectators. Every person or individual is in both groups simultaneously. You are a participant in your own race, and a spectator in others. Think of that race as a metaphor for life. Your race is your life, and other people are the other participants and spectators. It doesn’t really matter who is where. If you’re at school, the other participants in that race might be your class or your year group, while the spectators would be your families and teachers. This a dynamic image. As your life changes, so do the people in the race, and those watching. This is a metaphor describing an emotion, so it doesn’t have to be logically sound. Please understand that.

Now, onto the race itself. As this is your life and you live your own life from your own perspective, we can view the race the same way. I won’t say what it’s like for everyone else, I’m not like you, after all. For someone with AS, especially those like myself who have been hailed as “gifted” all their lives, in this race, we’re the frontrunner. We are in first place, and we are really, really far ahead. We’re so far ahead that we’ve looped around and are now coming up on the person in last place.

This is where the problem begins. We reach that point very early in the race, and the people in front of us take up so much space that we can’t get past. We are so far ahead that the rest of the group has absolutely no hope of ever catching up, but we’re stuck in the back behind someone way slower and are forced to match our pace. To spectators joining mid-race, it looks like we’re dead last, and the slowest of the bunch, so they treat us that way. Other spectators who have been there from the start (usually family, to use a real-life example) might try to explain that you’re up front, but these new observers can’t see that from looking at you, so they don’t believe a word.

Meanwhile, you, yourself are feeling frustrated. You know you’re way ahead. You want to let loose. You need to use your full potential because it’s so rare that you actually get to. You can’t because the people in front of you are preventing you from doing that. They have no idea of what you’re actually capable of doing, so they have absolutely no comprehension of how you feel. Those people just keep on running at their own pace, and don’t make any room for you to get past. Either that, or they might see you as a hostile competitor and actively block your way. That can happen too. The way of our world is inherently competitive now, after all. The job market is an example of that.

What we, as people with AS need, is an environment in which we can thrive. The exact details of what that entails is entirely individual, so I won’t go into it. We need those people in front to get out of the way so we can properly overlap them and run at our own pace – which often means running at a much greater speed than everyone else. The issue is that this usually relies on one of those spectators stepping in and making those other race participants move aside.

To continue with the same mental image, this has one major requirement and that is that we need to be noticed. We need to be recognised. For someone to step in and create the conditions we need, that person needs to understand that we’re actually being forced to match our pace with everyone else. That’s rare, but when they do come alone, people with AS excel like no other.

I won’t vouch for the truthfulness of the following statement, but I personally believe it to be true. There are some theories out there that people like Alan Turing and Albert Einstein had AS. They are examples of what can happen when we are given that environment that we need to prosper.

Right now, I’m running that race. I’ve been stuck in the back for a long time now. I’ve been shut out of my career of choice, because the spectators thought I was in last place, and I’m living with that frustration of not being able to do much but keep pace with those in front of me. It’s a lonely feeling. I live my life in hopes that one day, the way will be opened and I can run as fast as my abilities will carry me. To that end, I write.

Dreams Taken Away…

I’m not living the kind of life I want to live right now. The kind of life I want(ed) to live was taken away from me, by force, by people who have never met me. All because I don’t fit into their system. It can be traced back to my birth – the day I was born Autistic.

A key piece of information to this story is that I didn’t get my Asperger’s diagnosis until I was 20 years old. Most people get their diagnosis in fairly quick at childhood. Those are usually the people with the more obvious, severe cases of Autism, wherever they are on the spectrum. I was “lucky” in the sense that I’m kind of borderline. I can quite easily pass myself off as someone that isn’t Autistic at all. I prefer to disclose as early as possible because it saves everyone a lot of trouble later on. Being diagnosed at 20 is a big deal because I’m done with education at that point (ignoring uni, but you’ll see why later).

Now, someone even with my relatively low-severity case of Asperger’s can get help through school and college. I didn’t get any at all. We suspected I might have Asperger’s – ever since I was about 17. But because I didn’t have some crappy piece of paper saying I was entitled to help, I couldn’t get any. So, as you might expect, I spent my first two decades at life with a big disadvantage that I couldn’t deal with – because OTHER PEOPLE have to do it FOR YOU. This meant that, even though I stayed on an extra year at college, finishing at the age of 19, I had to do everything to hard way and, surprise surprise, my grades weren’t good at all. I still passed my courses, but I got D’s across the board. I don’t think I even managed a single C.

I didn’t go to university (because even if I wanted to, I didn’t have the grades for it), and that was largely down to me not wanting to. I knew what I wanted to do in life, but couldn’t find any courses related to what I wanted to do.

That thing was something, anything, related to military strategy. Ever since I was less than half my age, I wanted to win wars. I wanted to win battles. I wanted to be that guy, on the back lines, with the map planning formations, tactics, timings, the works. That was the thing I enjoyed the most in life, to the point that I dedicated my entire being to learning everything there was to learn about it. This is the Asperger’s for you. Ever heard of “special interests”? They’re a very common trait in Autistic people. They take an interest in something, and pursue it to the point of obsession, to the exclusion of all else. That includes eating, drinking and sleeping. Concentration levels go through the roof, and we become living encyclopaedias on our chosen topic. In secondary school, while my peers were talking about useless crap like who won X-Factor this time around, all I was thinking about, 24/7, was how to win wars.

So, it goes without saying that this is what I wanted to do with my adult life. In a turn of what seems like stupidity to the untrained observer, I chose to stay as far away from the army as possible. I have reasons for that, but they’re not relevant, so I won’t go into them here. Just know that joining the army like any regular foot soldier was not an option.

Not seeing any university courses to aspire to get into, I didn’t study too hard for my A-levels. This suited me best, as I was struggling too much to have any chance of getting the A’s I’d be in need of anyway.

Fast forward 3 years and I’m jobless, at a course to help me get a job. By this point, I’m diagnoses with my Asperger’s, which was how I got onto this course to get me a job. I decided to look into uni again (though I was mostly forced to) and found a course by proxy of looking for a job. There was a recruitment program being run by GCHQ, the national security body and it sounded exactly like something I’d excel in. Problem was, it only accepted people with one or more of 5 listed degrees. I picked the one most easy to get into and visited the university to enquire about it. They even gave me an offer, lowering the required grades by 1 each, from AAB to BBC. With help that I could now, get, having been diagnosed, this was achievable! Yay!

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

To get those grades of BBC, it meant doing my A-levels again. I was 100% okay with this. They said it could be any subject of my choosing, as this course (counter-terrorism!!!) was so specific that there were no subjects like it you could take at A-level. So, I went back looking at my previous colleges and any others that might take me on.

This is where the hypocrisy of Autism support services come in. We started with my original college. Partly because I knew what subjects they offered, partly because they were close to home, and partly because with my prior knowledge, re-taking them shouldn’t be too much of a problem. I was refused a place. Why? Because I wasn’t eligible for support. The reason I wasn’t eligible for support was because I already had A-levels. Ones I’d earned BEFORE my diagnosis, when I wasn’t allowed to get the help I needed because my Autism wasn’t “official” enough. Apparently, being diagnosed after getting a qualification means you’re disqualified from taking it again with the help you should have had the first time round.

Me already having A-levels meant that the college couldn’t get funding for my support. So they wouldn’t offer it, unless I payed for it myself. Including the course itself. I had to pay for the course because I was over 19, the maximum “normal” college age. What was the college charging for these, you ask?

£3,000 per course, per year. I’d need to do 3 courses, so that meant £6k per course, so £18,000. Out of my own pocket. I only just have more than that much in the bank now, and that’s after working for almost 3 years and very rarely spending any money at all. I couldn’t take out a loan for these either, because they were at college level and not university.

There’s a word for all this. You know what that word is? I call it BULLSHIT.

In light of all this, I went back to the university. We asked what we should do, explaining the situation. You know what they did? The worst thing possible. They withdrew their offer on the grounds that if the college(s) were not willing to give me a place, then I’d be a liability at the university and therefore shouldn’t be offered a place. There, right there, I had my lifelong dream torn to shreds right in front of me. These people had never met me, they had never seen what I’m actually capable of. Yet, among them, they were able to take one person’s aspirations and deny them, as if they were somehow the authority on the matter. Meanwhile, the very person they were denying had absolutely no say throughout the whole thing. Let’s bullet point the chronology shall we?

  • I went to college, from 16 – 19. I struggled, like I did at school. I barely passed my exams, but came out with some A-levels.
  • I got diagnosed with Asperger’s at 20 years old. Remember, this is something you’re born with.
  • I wanted to go to uni, and was given a chance. There was a faint glimmer of hope.
  • I had to go to college again. I didn’t qualify for support because I already had A-levels I’d taken before my diagnosis. A diagnosis of a LIFELONG CONDITION.
  • I’d have to pay for my courses. This meant I couldn’t afford to take them, or would end up £18k in debt to do so.
  • The university withdrew their offer. Had they not, I’d still need to pay £27k for tuition, which means EVEN MORE DEBT. This is before the university tuition prices went up. Remember that? The thing the coalition government promised they wouldn’t do?
  • So the end result of this would probably be me having to pay approx £50k in tuition fees off. About 50% more than the average person. All because I was diagnosed as an adult.

You smell that? I do to. The unmistakable smell of BULLSHIT.

Take note, dear reader. In that chronology, at which point did I have any input in the process at all? As the person who would be doing the courses, as the person who would have to pay for it all, as the person whose life this would shape, what choice was I given? Absolutely none. None at all.

To think people wonder why I’m such a dark, bitter, and angry person on the inside… Is it really that much of a surprise? Really now? Do you seriously, honestly believe I can just accept that as “one of things things” or “not everyone gets things their way all the time”. No, of course I can’t. This was my life goals we’re talking about.

It’s stories like this that make me say the following; “Pessimism is a learned behaviour.”

The Worst Day of the Year

It’s mid – late January right now. That means it’s Febuary next month. Febuary means Valentines Day, and that sucks.

What are my plans for Valentines Day? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Ever since my mid teens I’ve come to hate this day in particular. Arguably, it’s for a petty reason too. I’m just horribly bitter about it. Happy couples make me want to jump out of a window onto a pit of spikes. Recently sharpened spikes at that.

Of course, as a young child, I either loved it, didn’t care, or was indifferent. I was too young to care. Once I got to becoming a teenager, and knew about all the things that VD meant (and all the good things that would come with it), that’s when it started to annoy me. The reason is simple; because despite wanting to, I simply cannot partake in what the rest of the world seemingly can with minimal effort.

At first, I was living under the delusion that I had just as much a chance at romance as the next guy. It took a good few years to realise that it wasn’t the case, and that I was doomed to a life of solitude whether I liked it or not.

My general public persona is one that is supposed to be easy to get along with. Someone that’s likeable so that I can fit in with the rest of the world. I’m putting on that act because I wouldn’t be able to survive in our social world without doing so. There are still a few Autistic traits that show up from time to time, but they’re relatively harmless, and the people around me (mostly people at work and family) understand that, and chalk it up to just being a part of me. The issue arises with opening up to someone. If I were to take an interest in someone and successfully enter a relationship with them, or if they were to take an interest in me, that would mean dropping this front I’ve put up. The problem is that the person I’ve presented myself as and the person I actually am are so far apart, that you can only realistically say that my public persona is a big lie. Can I really accept the feelings of someone who has fallen for my public persona?

I can’t. I’d feel far to guilty that the person they think I am, or want me to be doesn’t really exist, and never will. Would that person accept the “true” representation of me? A sane person would turn their back and distance themselves as much as possible.

Now, imagine that there was someone out there who could accept that version of me. Would I be a good partner? Of course not! I’d upset them without realising it, then not notice when I have, so I wouldn’t even put it right, or try to – because I don’t know what I’ve done! My Asperger’s means that I find it super difficult to pick up on those unspoken social cues that clue you into how a person feels. I’d need that person to tell me straight that I’ve done something. The problem with that, is that there are so many people out there that find it so difficult to talk about how they feel, that they simply choose not to. That leaves us in a situation where one of us is emotionally hurting the other without even understanding what they’re doing, while the other half doesn’t want to bring it up. You tell me, would this relationship last? I don’t think so either.

There’s also the fact that I like my space. I like my own room, I like my own bed. You know, all of that. Being with someone means sharing that space. Now, it’s not that I want to keep everything I have all to myself – that’s not what I’m trying to say. It’s that I don’t think I’d be able to survive without a space for me to be entirely alone. I like being alone after all. I like it a lot. I wouldn’t want to share a bed with my partner. I wouldn’t be able to handle it. What girlfriend or wife would be perfectly happy with her partner not even physically being with her for 75%+ of their time together. I remember now. Absolutely no-one.

It’s because of things like these that make me think that any prospective girlfriend would be better off without me. I know what kind of hell my very existence would put them through, so to save them the pain of it all, I think I’d just either not bother getting closer to someone I like, or turn myself down on their behalf, because the poor soul doesn’t know what they’d be getting themselves into.

Virtual reality is a thing. Maybe, just maybe, in my lifetime, it’ll improve to the point that I don’t have to worry about any of these things any more. Maybe then I can attempt to be happy. At least in VR, I’m not ruining anyone’s life by being a part of theirs…