Big A, Little a, What Begins with A?

There are three big As that make a my life: Autism, Allergies, and Asthma. I don’t know if it is where I am currently (Orlando, taking my first ever summer vacation) or if shit is just getting worse, but my allergies and asthma have been horrible. In the past week, I have had to use my inhaler at least once a day, usually twice, just because my chest is tight. It seriously sucks because albuterol is not a friendly thing for me. It makes me feel all jittery and anxious. I hate that. I’m just glad I was a good kid and finally went to the doctor and got asthma meds. Seriously, I went too long without them due to financial reasons.

So, right now, I am literally sick on my vacation. Yeah, my vacation is being a bum at my husband’s apartment while he is in class, but it could definitely be more stressful (like actually going out and doing things is).

With all of this, I have felt super autistic lately. I spent a week at my in-laws while Sean had his summer vacation, which is guaranteed to leave me unable to make eye contact. Add to that this entire asthma/allergy drama (currently taking singulair, allegra, zyrtec, flonase and albuterol), sprinkle in the fact I’m moving to Texas in a month, and add a dash of death and dying from someone who should be in my life but isn’t even though I get to hear about him any time I see my sister or dad (really appreciate that!). Sean has definitely picked up on it, as have my mom and the critters (sadly, I am currently critter free as they are at home).

Perhaps I am more sensitive to minor flares because I’m autistic. Maybe, I don’t know. I do know that when my allergies and asthma flare up, so do both my reflux (which could easily be the fourth A controlling my life) and fibromyalgia, and then it all becomes a cycle that one feeds into the other, especially with the reflux and asthma. I won’t go into details, but it sucks.

And on top of all that, today is my birthday. I’m now 33. It’s weird to think how much has happened since I first posted. I still suck at consistency in posting, so somethings never change.

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On Death and Dying

My cat is making me do this. I’m 100% serious. She wouldn’t leave me alone until I turned on the computer. She’s good at taking care of her momma like that, so I guess I just have to get it out.

My sister called me today to let me know she had been up to see our dad’s parents. On a Tuesday. She took the day of work because Jim had a stroke and I guess she felt like she needed to see him today. She called me to let me know he has cancer. He’s dying.

I will just let his be known that Jim and Shirley may technically be my paternal grandparents. Technically because they aren’t my grandparents. While my siblings got to grow up with two sets of grandparents who loved them, I got three total grandparents. I have my mom’s parents, Norene and Jerry (who passed away in 2001), as well as Jerry’s wife, Janis (no, my dog Janyce isn’t named after her). I really don’t know when or why or how it all started, but Jim and Shirley are a big part of my PTSD diagnosis. From as early as I can remember, they didn’t want me.

OK, so I know its not as simple as “not wanting” me. They never liked my mom, so that is part of it. Why they never liked my mom is something I will never know, nor do I think they can answer. As soon as they saw me, the comments were all about how I look nothing like my dad. Yeah, because kids look exactly like only one parent, they can’t be the child of the other parent (OK, so I do look exactly like my mom with some minor features from my dad’s side, but I can point out what comes from where, and its overwhelmingly mom). My dad’s family even went as far as to accuse my mom of having an affair. In this time, my dad never defended either of us, because while he may have been their golden boy of a son, he was a shitty father and husband a lot of the time.

I have memories from an early age of hearing Shirley and my dad’s youngest sister telling my siblings that I wasn’t their real sister, that I had a different daddy. This, of course, was a lie. I am the only one of eight grandchildren to get Jim’s eyes, which a lovely little friend of mine (she just turned 6) told me are teal and beautiful. I also remember Shirley finding any excuse she could to punish me, both physically and mentally. Being diagnosed with autism made it worse. Jim and Shirley both blamed my mom for it. They said it should be beaten out of me. And damn if they didn’t try.

They would have their time with each of us alone at their house, and I was the only one who came home afraid to eat or sleep. I have asthma and food allergies, but I’m far from a picky eater. Anaphylaxis to chocolate was probably the worst, and they would always give me chocolate. Chocolate milk at every meal. They would do it when we would visit, too, with my mom holding me in the back seat while we went home; my dad just saying I was overreacting. I wasn’t overreacting, I was two. My dad is an entire story on abuse without his parents.

So, apparently the idea of having a hyper-verbal, hyperlexic, autistic grandchild was too much for them. My blonde hair was the wrong color. My obsession with dinosaurs was wrong for a girl. Everything about me was wrong.

Over the course of the first 20 years of my life, along with my father and his youngest sister, they made sure that I felt I was unloved and unlovable, that I would never belong to their family, that I was a waste of space. I remember being beaten with brooms for doing exactly what my siblings were doing while they watched and didn’t understand. I remember them trying to stand up for me early on but being punished for it and then being praised for being abusive, my mom being punished for standing up for me.

It all came to a head in 2006, Easter Sunday. I was 20, home from school for the holiday. We went to visit and go to church like every other Easter (except those they had not allowed me at their house, which wasn’t uncommon. I apparently couldn’t behave, because being almost puking sick with a migraine and beating the shit out of your brother who is being encouraged to taunt you is misbehaving). Except this time was different. Shirley “lost” a bracelet. Gold with diamonds, something simple Jim had given her at some time. I was accused of stealing it.

I don’t like jewelry. I have never gotten excited by going into a jewelry store, even when I could buy something. I’m also allergic to gold. There are a few different stories I have heard about this particular

“lost” bracelet. The one I was told first was that the safety clasp broke and it fell off in the parking lot, was found by another church member, and returned the next weekend. That one is probably a lie. Another one is that it fell behind the dresser and she found it vacuuming a week later. I don’t think I believe that one either.

Honestly, the last one seems to be the most true. It was never lost. They were just mad that I was tired and slept and wanted a reason to pick a fight. This comes from things said to my parents and my siblings, separate from each other. The story was never the same. I did, however, get a phone call each from my mom and my sister asking if I knew anything about it, warning me my dad was going to be calling. He did call, and he was mad, though he was trying to fake not being so. He said all I had to do was return it and it wouldn’t be a problem. But if I didn’t, they were planning to press charges.

Yeah, they went there. They were going to press charges with no evidence. My mom lost it. She told my dad that either he could believe me or she would leave. She was ready to go, too. She said I had no reason to lie. I am a shitty liar to begin with, so why try. He said he had no reason not to believe them, that I had lied to them before (according to them, Shirley would regularly call me a liar when I would report anything she did to me that wasn’t right). My sister didn’t know what to do or say (she was just about to graduate with an education they paid for, so she didn’t want to make a fuss). My brother pretended it wasn’t happening and didn’t talk to anyone if he didn’t have to.

Eventually, it came out that the bracelet was “found.” My dad’s sister was still trying to convince them to press charges even though I had never had the bracelet to begin with (this woman, according to the Catholic Church that I am proudly not a member of is my godmother. She’s hated me since day one, so great job there). My mom didn’t want anything to do with my dad, she was having trouble forgiving him for picking his parents over his child and not caring how I would respond.

That was the last time I was at their house. The last time I saw Jim was in 2009, Memorial Day weekend. My dad was in the hospital, critical care, due to being found unresponsive. All they could figure is that he had developed encephalitis as a response to a sulfa antibiotic, which he knew he was allergic to. Yeah, my dad didn’t look at what the doctor gave him or have allergies on file with the doctor he had been seeing for about 15 years. Anyway, I tried my best to be pleasant and helpful. I don’t remember much from what they did during that time.

The last time I saw Shirley was in 2011 at my sister’s wedding. Honestly, if I had known that my day was going to be as bad as it was, I would have turned down being a bridesmaid, might have skipped it all together. Highlights including my dad dancing inappropriately with his youngest sister, someone thinking his mother was his grandmother and his sister was his mother, his sister saying she was my brother’s mother (to Janis, of all people. She got defensive because she doesn’t want anyone claiming her grandbaby if she doesn’t know them), and my dad not even making eye contact with me once or talking to me until they all were gone. He didn’t dance with my mom when it was his turn to dance with the mother of the bride, but his sister instead.

After the ceremony, during the picture taking before the reception, Shirley decided she needed to talk to me. She didn’t have anything to say, absolutely nothing. I just remember being panic stricken, which must of have been apparent because my grandma was quick to come to my aid, just beating out my sister’s mother-in-law, who knew some of the details. The last place anyone wanted me to shut down was my sister’s wedding. I’m glad they were there to save my ass. I was already uncomfortable. My shoe pick had been vetoed for being “too tall,” replaced by ones that weren’t as comfortable. My dress had no margin for error when purchased and I had gained 15lbs in the 4 weeks since it had been purchased. I honestly didn’t want to be there. I refused to drink, even though I was definitely old enough, because I didn’t know if I would be able to hold my tongue against those two women. It wasn’t the place or time for it. There never was and never will be.

I have had to fight myself, tooth and nail, my entire life, to convince myself that I am not what they said I am. I am loved by my true family and friends, by my kids at school, and the most important of all, by my husband. Hell, Bebe told me to write, so I did. All because she was worried. She’s still a cat. This entire time, Janyce has been laying on the floor and Ray has been guarding the door. They don’t like sad momma. PTSD means that I can’t get the bad memories out of my head when it comes to those who are at the root, especially when they are brought up in a way that is supposed to illicit emotion if the relationship were normal. All the emotions run the gauntlet. At least now, its out for someone else to see.

The Pain Is Real

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in pain. Recently, my pain increased and I’ve been working on how to manage it. Chronic pain. The only way to understand what it feels like is to have it. A crazy mix of emotions and sensations can wash over you without a moments notice. Faking it is sometimes the only way to survive.

My pain probably started before I could remember. My mom told me of how before I was even 18 months old, I would strip naked, stand in the middle of the living room screaming then throw up, crumple onto the floor, crying and holding my head. I couldn’t be touched. Migraines. Yup, that was what it was. I have had these types of migraines and they suck. You get hot, like you are being boiled alive, right as they start. I didn’t what any baby would do and screamed. I still have migraines to this day, though they have become a rarity. My own husband has only seen one and that has been in almost two years. I got hot, then cold. My stomach began churning, and I was thirsty. It hurt to hold my head up, to move my eyes. My muscles tense. Sean said I looked like I was having a stroke. My mom reassured him later on that no, it wasn’t a stroke and yes, that is how they look. My migraines look like a stroke to the outside observer. That’s wonderful.

I don’t know the number of high functioning autistics who live with chronic pain. I think it would be an interesting survey, but the problem is finding people who want to participate. Chronic pain is hard to talk about with neuro-typical people, so why would those of us who are neuro-divergant want anyone to know about. We stop blending in, at least in our heads.

I wish I could say migraines were the end of my chronic pain, but the sad truth is that its just the tip of the iceberg. I have fibriomyalgia and its never ending course of neuropathy and neuralgia (nerve pain and numbness, respectively), with the addition of Reynaud’s Phenomenon (reduction of blood flow to extremities) that leaves my fingers and toes blue and icy. I have GI issues that basically mean my guts are inflamed from beginning to end. I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). I also have high muscle tone, which means my muscles really don’t relax like they should, which has been the biggest problem as of late.

The doctor said it was probably migraines when I was a toddler, though he said I was too young to confirm that diagnosis at the time. The fibro diagnosis came when I was 12. I wouldn’t stop complaining of shocking pain in my left shoulder. The doctor even tested me for Lupus because it was almost unheard of for a kid that age to have fibro, though Lupus was just as far out there. At the same time, he diagnosed me with early onset osteoarthritis.Yeah, I can’t win for losing with this stuff. My mom was diagnosed with fibro shortly before I was, so that helped confirm it.

Migraines and fibro fall into the realm of the neurological. The GI stuff, that started at birth. I’ve always had reflux, even after surgery. The muscle tone issue is just random genetic flaw (most likely). The problem with all of it is how I feel pain, because for the most part, I really don’t. I have a reduced sensitivity to pain. You would think this would be a great thing having all of these issues, but it can be more of a curse. If I am feeling like I am hurting, I have likely done serious damage. My mom has the same issue. “I don’t hurt, so I’m fine.” Yup, invisible pain can be a real thing.

Pain is the body’s way of saying something is wrong. Feeling my thigh muscles shred says something is wrong, but the pain sensation isn’t really felt, more like something coming apart, unraveling and tearing. I have never had pain I would rate as a 10 out of 10. Even after reflux surgery, when I felt like I couldn’t breathe, the highest I rated my pain was an 8. My altered perception of pain effects how I rate it. To me, a 10 is not functioning at all. I can’t even cry or move. I haven’t had that happen yet. If I ever have pain I rate as a 10, I’m going to die because my body will have started to quit on me.

I actually did the math the other day and found out I take over 30 pills a day to deal with my issues. Allergy, reflux and PCOS related medications. Mineral and vitamin supplements to combat the deficiency caused by almost a decade on prescription strength reflux meds. Stuff that helps me sleep, and stuff to help me stay awake. Niacin to thaw my hands and feet. And then there are the myriad of different supplements to help handle the pain. Some supplements have multiple purposed (5-HTP helps with sleep, as well as GI issues, because it has an effect on serotonin). Some supplements seem to be for issues I don’t have (like fenugreek, which is often taken by breastfeeding mothers to increase flow. It works to reduce inflammation, the whole point of taking it). I can tell you what each supplement is for as I take them. I can swallow like 20 pills at a time (yet I still gag on tooth paste). I would save so much money if I didn’t have to do all this.

I used to think that everyone lived at a baseline level of pain, that is just how it felt to be alive. I slowly came to realize that no, most people don’t hurt all the time. I remember being 18 and in college and mentioned I needed to pick up glucosamine and chondroitin. One of the band directors (because I was at band practice when this happened) told me I was too young to need that. I had already been taking it for two years.

I have friends who have chronic pain issues. They are all usually surprised by how long mine has been present. I’m turning 33 in July. My first issue, migraines, was documented by 1987, prior to the age of two. I have lived with chronic pain for over 30 years. I struggle knowing that if I didn’t have an altered perception of pain, I would probably be dead because my depression would have won that fight. Pain is a very powerful motivator. Relief is fleeting at times. This all can drive you to madness if you let it. Faking it is real, and sometimes, the only tool available. Continue reading

A Moving Mind

I have been thinking lately a lot about moving. Like, I know I will be moving soon-ish, but it could be in about six months (end of May), in a year, maybe 18 months (next May), or even as late as two years from now. A lot of different factors go into which of these times will be “the time,” but I’m not going to get into that right now.

I realized my brain is already in that moving mode. My house is a disaster area, it has been since I moved in, and honestly, it has been since my mom bought it. I keep stopping myself from cleaning because I don’t know where to start. I also found I have stopped myself from packing things away to free up space a lot. Today I got more storage totes. I’m obsessive about my storage totes. I buy them when I get stressed. Majority are one size (a few are just slightly a different one) with a total of four colors between all the totes. Not going to say how many of these totes there are, but there are a lot of them.

These totes represent a lot more than the previous ones. One is the pack up to take to Florida at spring break box. Some mixing bowls, a vintage stock pot that makes me thinking of cooking when I was really little, tea cups that match the mixing bowls previously mentioned because I had to have them. The representation of moving myself to Florida, neatly packed into a Sterilite storage tote. The bits and pieces of myself that were bought to go to my place, not for my mom’s house. Most of these things pre-date Sean.

Totes full of yarn are a depiction of my anxiety. Numerous and disorganized, a small amount of the contents hopefully becoming something that makes sense. Totes full of laundry because I didn’t have a laundry basket, never put away in the disarray of madness. Empty totes that end up piled with random things, needing to be organized and cleared out so they can be packed in order for them to make sense. Totes upon totes upon totes. They clutter my bedroom, taking over the entire floor space at the foot of my bed. They are in the kitchen, catching the randomness that everything brings. They are in the living room, the unused lost space of the house.

All of my totes represent me, whether I want them to or not. I need to get a handle on me to get these all filled so when the time comes, I will be ready to move. Totes are my life, compartmentalized, with each piece needing to be carefully wrapped in paper, packed away for when it is actually going to be truly usable.

Traveling

I’m sitting here a week away from an epic solo road trip. Its weird to think I will spend over 14 hours alone in the car. I’m driving from Little Rock to Orlando. All to spend Thanksgiving with my husband.

I have the menu all planned out. I have the trip planned out, including a stop to see my aunt in Georgia. I am going to be making dinner for people I haven’t met because I told Sean to invite his friends over. This is my first Thanksgiving married. My first Thanksgiving traveling to spend time with someone.

Sean and I have done two road trips since we have been together. I’m defining road trip as being long enough where you spend at least a full day in the car without really having time to do anything when you get there except sleep. The first was when we drove out to the West Coast and got married on the way. We were in the car for 24 hours before we even made it to Las Vegas. The second was driving Sean to school in September. Those trips were a month and a day apart.

This is going to be my first solo road trip. I have driven to Shreveport and Ruston, Louisiana by myself. Its scary. Its taking me out of my comfort zone. But I guess that is the whole point.

Take Care of Yourself

I was talking to a co-worker, and I said something about coloring my hair. She asked why bother since I always wear my hair up. Since pretty much no one knows this, I have purple hair. Everyone who sees me notices I have purple hair, so it doesn’t matter how I wear it. It got me thinking about how many people don’t think about self-care.

Self-care is defined as any activity that you do for yourself to make you feel better. It can be as simple as making a sandwich, going for a walk or putting on make-up. Self-care is important because it means you are talking care of yourself. Kind of the whole point.

That being said, when she asked why do I bother coloring my hair, it got me thinking. The whole reason I color my hair is because I like how it makes me feel. I first dyed my hair when I was 13. It was a normal color, a shade my mom had in the cabinet because she wanted to see if I really was having a major insomnia episode or if I was faking. No faking was involved because insomnia was the only reason I would sit through her turning my hair pink with light auburn hair color. That was 19 years ago. I have maybe gone a total of two years without dying my hair since then.

So why do I dye my hair? What does it do for me? Well, first, my natural hair color is basically that of river silt: muddy, murky and blah. My grandma used to wash my hair, even if I just washed it, because she said it looked dirty. Dying my hair meant I didn’t have to endure her shoving my head in the kitchen sink and forcibly washing my hair for me with shampoos that dried my scalp out and didn’t do anything to make my hair not look muddy.

The honest truth is, I feel good when I dye my hair, which is kind of what it is all about. Prior to deciding to test the crayola palate when it comes to colors, I stuck to darker shades of blonde and would occasionally venture into the lighter ones during the summer. Right before I got married, I decided to be drastic with my hair. It was a big change so I wanted it to be visible. It definitely is.

My hair is currently purple. I am trying to decide if I want to stay purple, but am more so leaning towards changing the color because why not. I regularly have people compliment me on my hair, from my parents at school to complete strangers at the grocery store. I stand out. My mom and husband have both said I seem more like myself with my purple hair than when I was blonde. Mom even admitted she wishes she could have let me do this as a kid because it would have been a great way to give me confidence.

Its interesting what dying my hair has given me. The biggest thing is confidence. I feel like a more genuine version of myself when I dye my hair. Whether its blonde or blue, pink or purple (all have been on my head before), its the easiest way to feel more like myself. It is something that takes me out of my own head, the place that is the most dangerous for me to spend too much time alone. That is the whole point of self-care: it takes you out of your own head.

When it comes to self-care, you do you. Make a nice meal for yourself if you like to cook, buy yourself a big slice of cake, new lipstick or socks or whatever, you do what makes you feel the most like a more genuine version of yourself and gets you out of your own head. Sean plays with sound equipment and R/C cars as his self-care, though he has started to use cooking to help (as much as a guy who can’t cook can use a microwave). Just remember, if your self-care is eating a whole pint of ice cream, try one of those new low calorie ones so you don’t have to figure out another self-care routine to keep the weight off.

Going the Distance, Part 2

In three weeks, I set off for Florida. Not to move there, but to be able to spend Thanksgiving with my husband. We are currently separated, so this is a big deal. No, we aren’t separated because our marriage isn’t working. He’s in Orlando for school for the next two years, and I decided that I would be too much of a distraction if I went with him.

He’s going to school for something he can’t here in Arkansas, Stage Production and Show Management. We talk every day, Skype most days. He’s working hard and making his way through the program. I’m very proud of him.

His decision to go to school is because of me. He was working at the local Hobby Town (a hobby franchise that does models and R/C cars and the like, no yarn or such here), but the store closed, leaving him grasping for straws as it went down. We have no hard feelings towards the owner because he tried to find a buyer, and sometimes things just don’t work. He had been talking about getting married for a while, so I said in March that we would get married in August in Las Vegas. This was before the store closing was announced, before anything other than me babysitting my nephew on school breaks.

His goal is to be able to make it where I can be a stay-at-home wife/mom/whatever. So he’s almost 15 hours away, sleeping alone. I at least get Ramon, the cat, who is by far the best cat ever, and he’s just about to turn six months. Not working isn’t something I want to do, but I appreciate his goal of having that be an option for me.

I have had so many people tell me they couldn’t do it, be away from their significant other for so long. I have had a lot of people tell me to call if I need anything because of this. I always tell them thank you, that I really do appreciate it and that if I need them, I won’t hesitate to reach out. Oddly enough, I haven’t felt lonely yet, at least not how people would expect.

I’m a distraction. I very well know that for Sean I am a serious distraction. I’m the one who pointed this out and even fought with him about it because he wanted to say I wasn’t. Originally, I had planned to go with him. For about two weeks when he first started to look into going to school, I was going with him. Then reality set in: I have a job here, I have a support system here, we don’t know where will be going at the end of two years, and I’m not leaving my pets behind for two years. In the grand scheme of things, two years really isn’t that long.

Why am I a distraction? I’m loud, obnoxious even. I demand attention unintentionally. I’m kind of like a cat. I need a lot of stimulation because, well, sensory processing disorder is a real thing that persists into adulthood, as does depress and every other part of autism.

Why is it better for me to stay away? Well, I can get the needed affection where I am. Yes, I miss my husband. I miss being with him and all the little things like sleeping with someone who isn’t the cat (no offense to Ray here, but he’s just a cat). My kids at school give me so much that I don’t feel a need to search out sensory stimulus all the time. I have nine boys in my class, which only has 11 kids total. All nine are Ms. Laura’s boys. Six of these kids were in my class last year. Only three of them were new to the school this year. These kids don’t let me have time to be stuck in my head. If I do, someone is going to bite or hit someone else (remember, these are toddlers), and its only down hill from there.

That being said, I have three weeks until I leave for Florida to see my husband. I have an entire Thanksgiving meal planned out. Some of his friends from school are going to come because there really isn’t enough time to go home for most of them, and its more worth saving their money to go at Christmas. We are having our first Thanksgiving be a Friends-giving because I figure we won’t be living close enough to any family for it to be a family holiday for a long time, so might as well start our own traditions. He’s just excited because I plan to fill his freezer with turkey.

Going the Distance, Part 1

So, I got married. August 12, 2017. Las Vegas, Nevada. A random wedding chapel near the office where we got our marriage license, like literally a block away and the guy was standing in front of the office asking people if they were getting married. We had just spent 24 hours in the car, driving from Arkansas to Nevada. And it was perfect.

I was exhausted because we found out I drive the most when we road trip because I don’t really sleep in the car. And it was still perfect.

I managed to do something some people with autism only dream about. I fell in love, and with someone who actually reciprocated those feelings. I never dreamed of getting married, no prior planning, no dress obsessions, no real expectations of what it would really be like to get married. My impulsive nature took over and it was done after just a little trip planning, a lot of figuring it out when we got there.

Sean and I met on a dating site. I went on a lot of dates and got my hopes up too many times because I had a tendency to settle very quickly and told myself not to expect too much because I didn’t deserve much. Childhood abuse does that. I saw no value in myself even though I could be heard screaming it. I have a history of changing myself to be more like the guy I’m with, whether becoming a gamer or an anime nerd instead of just a mild fan of those things. But Sean was different.

We got married 17 months to the day after our first date. I almost didn’t go on that date, in more ways than one. Like I said, I went on a lot of dates, a lot of first dates. I had gone to see a friend up near Fayetteville (and I owe her a visit, which she needs to hound me about so I actually do it) and posted a make-up picture on my dating profile. All of a sudden, guys messaged me a lot more, which is usually what happens when you post a new picture. A lot of ignores and a few messages back to nothing, as it goes with all of that. A guy, an engineer, Indian as per the type I have gone on a lot of dates with, cute with a great body because, hey, Skype. Yeah, I was supposed to have a date with him on March 12, 2016.

That date never happened. Sean had messaged me a day after that guy did. I had a tendency to do the first come, first serve thing with guys who would message me when it came to dates. Well, that guy canceled, Friday, about 7:30pm. We were supposed to have a lunch date at noon the next day. Did the maybe another time thing when you don’t agree to work over (yeah, his manager asked if he could work late and he said yes, so his loss). I had tried to blow Sean off a few times, but found myself responding to his messages anyway. I told him about the guy canceling. He made a big deal (all via dating app messaging) about how he would never do that. He then proceeded to tell me that I could come out with him that night if I wanted.

I’m going to stop right there for a minute. Making plans when you have autism is very weird. If someone isn’t direct, you start trying to figure out if you are reading too much into it, what is this supposed to be. I had no clue. Having had a lot of times that guys have done the passive thing and I didn’t get it, I straight up told him if he was going to ask me out, he had to ask me out. So he did.

And that is when the excitement hit. First dates were something I always got excited about. I mean, I’m a people watcher by nature, so this is as in depth as you can go for people watching. I’m going on a first date with an Asian guy, a first but figured it was going to be an only date and I would just tell my future kids I dated almost every race before marrying their father. Never had a date at a bar either. It was all excitement until right after I filled my car with gas.

And then the anxiety hit. Like a ton of bricks. Driving 20 minutes to a bar I had never even heard of. Pull in. My breathing has been getting a little shallower with each mile, each minute. What in the hell am I doing? Car is in park. Get out my phone. I don’t have the guy’s number, so I wait to see if I see anyone who looks anything like him. And I’m paralyzed. I can’t move from my seat. All I can do is message him in the app that I’m outside waiting. I message Austin to tell him where I am, who I’m supposed to be meeting, all the details because I’m having a full on panic attack. I had just convinced myself to go home when he finally messaged me back.

He tells me he’s going to come out and get me. I’m waiting for a guy who is about 5ft10 to come up since that is what he put on his profile, and well, autism is good for honesty and bad for expecting that from others. He’s all of 5ft6. He comes and talks to me at my car that I have finally managed to open the door of. A full 45 minutes after we were supposed to meet. After talking for a little bit, I manage to regain movement in my legs and get out of the car. We stand outside for a bit longer because I’m still trying to breathe, and then he finally convinces me to go inside. This place is a karaoke bar. I can’t tell you anything he sang that night, except there were a lot of cheesy romantic songs, which I found out was his usual. I just sat there, drinking my water and talking, with this goofy acting Asian guy starting at me.

We talked, a lot. Got near closing time, and he asked what I wanted to do. I said we could go somewhere and get something to eat, ending up at IHOP. Until about 5:30am (OK, it was daylight savings, so the time is only slightly exaggerated. That really was the time when we left) . He made me guess his actual name because he didn’t trust people not to stalk him (surprisingly, it was justified after I met some of the people and got to know him better). And he just kept staring at me. That night I found out he was adopted from Korea when he was a baby. He doesn’t eat bacon (because he is a weirdo). And he drinks Mtn Dew like there is no tomorrow. It was probably the most interesting first date I had had in a long time.

It feels weird to write down the story of us when it comes to a relationship. I know a lot of people who have had panic attacks on first dates. The entire things started outside my comfort zone (I mean, a bar, its loud, I don’t know anyone), but ended up at a place I’m comfortable because of how many happy memories I have relating to IHOP. What I thought was going to be a blip wasn’t.

Let’s Try This Again

Its been a while since I’ve really done anything, so it is probably best to restart like it is all new. Here it goes:

Hi, my name is Laura. I’m 32, married and a teacher in a toddler classroom at a preschool. I also have Autism Spectrum Disorder. I surprise a lot of people just by being me. It’s still weird to me that I’m married, but feels normal at the same time. When I am at school, my kids are my world, and they amaze me every day. But no one seems to believe me at first when I tell them I have autism.

I’m hoping I can address some of the things that have become a big deal in my life that I have just neglected recently (OK, so for a few years. I’ve been seriously slacking here). There are a lot of things going on with my marriage that leave a lot for me to talk about. There is my job, especially since I was working direct care of adults with developmental disabilities when I started this, and now I work with developmentally typical children. Having ASD and doing these things is something not many people think work well together.

I’m not what people think of when they think AUTISM!!! I pass for normal majority of the time. The truth is, I figured out I had ASD at the age of 27. My mom finally admitted that I had been diagnosed with it when I was four shortly after my 30th birthday. What’s funny about that is I have memories from that time and can recall the doctor who diagnosed me (a developmental pediatrician in the same office as the family doctor I saw. My doctor recommended I be evaluated because of abnormal behaviors for my age). I remember my parents fighting about my diagnosis. I remember my dad’s family saying it should be beaten out of me. I remember way too many things.

I have actually been open with all of my parents as appropriate about having ASD. They have all been accepting and think its great that I am so loved by their kids. My kids. I always refer to the kids in my class as my kids, I’m their daycare mama, and their real mamas love how I see their precious babies.

Yeah, so I’m going to do my best to get back to this AA meeting as often as I can. Autistics Anonymous is good for the soul, or at least for working through what I have stuck on my mind.

Long Time, No See

Its always interesting how things turn out. Its been a long time since I’ve posted anything. I guess I should start from the beginning again:

Hi, I’m Laura. Its been a long time since I’ve been to this AA meeting (Autistics Anonymous). Almost two years to be exact. A lot has happened in that time.

Since I last posted, I’ve changed jobs, watched my nephew grow, and even started something that so many high functioning autistics (HFAs) long for, a serious romantic relationship. There are times its surreal.

Changing jobs was a big deal. Its hard to leave something you know for the unknown. It will be two years this summer since it happened. I no longer work with adults with developmental disabilities. It was really hard to leave because these were people who had become a family to me. I am now a teacher at a preschool, spending my time in the infant room, snuggling babies though still changing bottoms.

My nephew is something else entirely. While I write this, he is upstairs taking a nap because I get to spend all of Spring Break with him (even though its almost over). He is almost two now. He is hyper and loving. There is no fear that he has autism, which was such a relief.

The last big thing is probably the most surprising still, even to me. Sean and I have been together for over a year now. He challenges me to be who I truly am. He amazes me every day, even though some of those things make me want to kill him.

Part of why I’m able to write this now is that I got a new computer. Its been almost three years since I had one of my own. I’ve had a lot of things on my mind lately that I have wanted to write about, so it was about time I actually stepped up and paid for one. Hopefully, I will be posting again on a regular basis.