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Asperger Lostness Is Where I am Truly Found

By A.J. Mahari

Asperger Lostness is by its very nature completely involved and absorbed in itself. When in its grips only, all life can feel like and seem like an imperfect extension of oneself. It is a state of being in which one is impervious to the nature of the rigors of humanity. Disconnected. Unaffected. Overwhelmed. Always trying to escape an endless bombardment of sense-numbing stimuli.

Life is full of comparisons. The ever-present and equally as aloof and meaningless everyone else - some invisible majority out there that is likely compromised more of our own ísupposed toí or judging thoughts than anything else drives these comparisons. Comparisons between men and women; between Eastern and Western lifestyles; between religions; between races; between young and old; between healthy or normal; between autistic spectrum (ASD) and Neuro-Typical (NT) and on and on and on ad infinitum serve only to protect some ill-defined societal concept of what is acceptable and functional as a precise an enduring legacy of the avowed bullying mentality that the majority must adhere to pre-determined ways of developing, evolving, and being in this world. Ways that by the very nature of the NT majority, are NT ways. NT ways that negate the value of ASD ways.

The only reason the paradox of ability and disability exists is that according to, again, that aloof and rather meaningless everyone else those who are defined as able and are contingently valued are defined as some majority. This is a majority rules regardless mentality driven by what is best for society. It does not address the individuality of the human spirit. This societal dogma decrees anyone who isnít directly in its service as unable or disabled.

In those who are on the autistic spectrum, though often viewed merely as disabled, we see often profoundly gifted human beings tossed aside by the dominant (NT) culture primarily because of difference devalued and judged. If difference were simply allowed to be and to flourish as such in its individual grandiloquent merit the world would joyously celebrate all that those on the autistic spectrum have to offer and to contribute in the ways that they offer and seek to contribute. Gone would be the letís-fit-the-round-peg-in-the-square-hole mentality that produces a dominance and oppressing spiritual and emotional tyranny upon all on the autistic spectrum.

Does this sound too severe?

Iím sure it might if you havenít experienced it from the inside out. From the inside out, sitting as one with Aspergerís Syndrome (AS) who would be defined as disabled and devalued as not as worthy as a result I am in the process of undoing all that I have internalized negatively and been taught about how I donít measure up.

For anyone on the spectrum who is cognitively aware of what it means to be other and to be outcast socially or otherwise I want to clearly say that it is high time we, each and every one of us, take back what is rightfully ours Ė each one of us has value and worth because he or she simply is. Each one of us needs to learn how to value and esteem him/herself for who they are right now. No judgments. No conditions.

If I had a nickel for each and every time Iíve turned myself into a processing pretzel all stressed out and feeling worthless because I am not like everyone else Iíd be filthy rich. Iíd still be different, but when one is filthy rich and different even on the basis of what is often an abhorred and ostracized antithesis one is then seen merely as an interesting though enigmatic eccentric.

What I have finally learned is that I am who I am. Admittedly, I have been my own worst enemy and most critical judge over time. Iíve sat and watched the social life-of-the-party types hang out together and felt less than. Why? Because I always thought thatís how I was supposed to be Ė more social, more this or that.

I think that as kids we are all treated as if we are going to live up to the expectations of family and society. When you end up being different than those inherently presupposed expectations the messages that you are given by others about not being good enough or being weird, or what have you, one then takes on these core beliefs about oneself.

Since I was diagnosed with AS at the age of forty I had a lot of years to live being weird and different and certainly not fitting in -- wherever or whatever it is that we are supposed to fit into Ė which yielded me a lot of years to give myself very critical, devaluing, negative messages about who I was, who I am, what I like and donít like, what I do and why I do it, what I donít do and why I donít do it and so forth.

I have found, through the process of cognitive therapy, that what truly has imprisoned me, aside from not knowing and understanding I had AS (for years) has been the negative core beliefs I developed. The negative experiences I had growing up (some had nothing to do with having AS) alienated me from who I authentically was. The more I embrace who I authentically am, no matter what that may mean or look like to others, the more I am actually beginning to feel grateful for having Aspergerís Syndrome.

I like the way I think. I like the way I process information. I like the strength of my intellectual self. I like the unwavering and enduring prowess that profoundly propagates my passionate purpose when I can exist judgment-free in my own narrow focuses of interest.

When I am in my aspie zone (world) isolated, insulated, very much an experience, journey and unfolding of the power of one, while others might be socializing, I am most relevant in the utilization of my God-given gifts blessed to be leading my version of a purpose-driven life no matter what my life may look like or seem like to others.

It is in this new and growing knowing that there is peace and joy in being me. Long hard fought for. Long strived for.

The more I am one with having Aspergers the more I find enough comfort, familiarity and predictability in my world to be able, when I chose , to reach out more and more to the NT world. Though I can only do or take the NT world in small doses for various periods of time.

Donít misread this now. I am not devaluing anything about being NT. I am instead sharing my growing inner-celebration with what it means to be on planet AS and to feel worthy and okay at the same time Ė peace and self-acceptance.

A big reason I believe I have grasped this peace and self-acceptance now is because I have such a deeper understanding, (hard fought for) finally, of the paradox of who I am. I am introverted more often than not and I find such joy and comfort in pursuing my own narrow interests by myself - yet I also seek to be known and seen because I am. I am somewhat driven (at times) to know others and be a part of the world in which I live just in smaller doses than most who are NT. This, however, is feeling more balanced to me even though I still remain more driven to be alone, to do my own thing, to create, to explore, to examine and yes always to process.

The other wonderful benefit of self-esteem and valuing yourself as you are, AS and all is that you can take a little time away from your special focuses and interests to spend a little time doing. It is wonderful to be and to ponder that being. It is even more wonderful to experience that in the yin and the yang of paradoxical balance (aspie style of course) between worlds, AS and NT worlds, inner and outer worlds.

While we all need to grow and change in life for many reasons I profoundly believe that as parents seek to teach their Asperger children certain skills or ways of coping in the NT world they should work equally as much at discovering and celebrating the unique individual and awesome gifts of AS and support their childrenís interests and goals.

To learn enough to better cope out there is awesome. To try to undo an aspieís very essence is to fly too close to the sun. It is to burn what are valuable gifts and God-given purposes. It is to dangerously tinker with a spirited and meaningful soul.

We arenít all meant to be alike. We arenít all meant to pursue the same things. We arenít all meant to see or experience life the same ways. There is value in all experience. There is value in mere acceptance, unconditional acceptance of yourself as a person with AS or of the aspie in your life just as they are because they are who they are.

Parents, if you give your aspie child the gift of acceptance and self-esteem as they are growing up they will come to this inner-peace many years before I did and it will save them an unbelievable amount of torment and pain.

It is in and through all of what I refer to as my Asperger Lostness that I am truly found. Asperger lostness can only envelop you if you donít learn compensatory strategies in order to cope with the NT world. Compensating is liberating, tiring but worthwhile.

When you donít have to live as tightly closed up to protect yourself from all in NT life that seeks to overload you, you can then begin to explore and discover the multitude of all things NT-like in life in ways that are other-driven. It is possible to be less absorbed in self and oneís own world.

It is possible to open up to feeling things in tandem with surrounding humanity. Connected. Affected. Still overwhelmed. Better able to regulate the bombastic stimuli of every day life in manageable doses.

I have mapped out ways to navigate the social and emotional realms of NT life and I am now confident enough to deal with what I donít get until I find my way to more understanding as I continue to relate to others. When I am true to myself, true to who I am, what I need, what I value, what my purpose is then I am truly found.

I could not know this authentic me without knowing and understanding this astoundingly esoteric force majeure that is Aspergerís -- a God-given gift.

© Ms. A.J. Mahari April 13, 2005

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as of April 13, 2005