Maybe, Someday, Somewhere, Sometime

[Sleepless nights come all too often lately. I just cannot shut my mind off long enough to get to sleep. All the tactics I learned over the years to defeat the beast of insomnia do not seem to work. In the past, I’ve tried music, I’ve left the TV on, I’ve even had a white noise app installed on my Apple TV so there’a some ambient noise in the background. None of it works anymore. I don’t have any medications to rely on anymore to put me to sleep and so I stay up thinking. I think…]

As I continue to explore this new realm of perception and understanding of the world around me, no longer considered an NT, but an Aspie, I spend time thinking about the church and how my experiences, my research, my thoughts, my reading, and the people who have comprised the only family more dysfunctional than my immediate family: the church. The church is a whore and has more than sold herself out as we have found out over the past couple of years as their true colors bleed red along with white and blue nationalism and Exceptionalism in long streaks from their self-inflicted, self-righteous wounds.

Go lick them. You’ll get no sympathy from me.

I should back up. That’s really not the point I’m trying to get at (if I’m trying to get at any point at all; I’m not sure yet).

I’ve been thinking a lot about church lately and where my place is. It’s not just that the mere thought of stepping into a new church filled with a bunch of people I don’t know sends my anxiety through the roof. It’s not just that I don’t like small talk and shallow conversations. The one thing I want, the one thing I’ve never found for more than a short period of time at any church I’ve ever belonged to is acceptance.

I want to be accepted for who I am. Why has that proven to be so difficult?

Admittedly, before I found out I had Asperger’s I was insufferable at various times because of my rigidity and stalwart stances on various topics on which I, admittedly, had done a lot of research on. In the case of the Bible, I have a degree in Biblical Studies where I had hermeneutics and exegetical methods pounded into my skull for the 2-3 years I was taking classes that were aimed towards the focus of my BA. In short, I spent a lot of time not only the word but doing comparative literature and a ton of reading and research on various topics I’m convinced nobody but an aspie would find interesting. It’s what we do.

I had several discussions with my pastorfriend about speaking truth in love because I pissed a lot of people off in my tenure at my former home church. It was never intentional, though; it was my standing up for what I believed was right, whether it was a biblical topic or calling someone out on what was certainly flying in the face of what I read and studied in my Bible. I was to the point and blunt, something I found out when I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, was how I communicated truth. Blunt and honest. I value honesty still.

Sometimes, it still gets me in trouble, though.

The truth is, I long For time spent with people whom I have some common ground with. As much as I like the people I spend a lot of time with (mostly coworkers), the ability to keep up the facade of being content and comfortable, even with my anxiety in check, is starting to wane. It’s draining to try and be a people person when you’re not one by nature.

I’ve found it’s harder and harder to find people I’m comfortable around all the time. I can probably count on one hand the number of people who currently fall into that category. It’s what Foy Vance refers to as a “closed hand full of friends”. Even with my tight grip on those people, I feel like some of them slip away because I honestly do not want to be around people. It has taken a day, sometimes longer, to recover from a day of work. There are certain days where I run into a mental roadblock when asked about going out.

It’s similar to the roadblock I run into when I think about going back to church. There’s a new church plant near here affiliated with another church I attended and enjoyed for the most part until a huge fiasco involving people (go figure) and things they said about my family. It’s hard for me to forget those things. It’s hard for me to forget a lot of things. It’s why I can’t sleep some nights. Too much thinking.

Then there’s love. I’ve found I do not process this like a Neurotypical, which is not uncommon based on the reading I’ve done on the subject. Aspies love differently and so how I show what some people call “love” may take a different shape or form than what an NT is used to. Only in the last few years have I even thought about uttering the words, “I love you” to friends I care about. Even then it’s extremely difficult for me to compound the deluge of emotion, empathy, compassion, caring, devotion, and everything else into the loaded three-word portmanteau. It often seems like it’s not enough but, for me to explain every facet of it is truly impossible. There’s too much going on in my head at once for me to elucidate the complexity of it all.

So, like speaking in a language that others can understand, I hesitantly use the phrase my dear friend Heather tried so hard to force me to say.

I love you.

Off topic again. I must finally be running out of steam.

At the current moment I’m at a loss as to what to do. In therapy, we talk about how I need to be more social and learn how to better respond to standard social cues, especially small talk questions like, “How are you today?”: a question I often get asked at work and to which I rarely have a decent answer.

Lately, I’ve learned just how hard and for how long I’ve been trying to she social actor. This is something else that I run into often in a church. The forced socialization and the people jumping into the shallow end of the pool of conversation. I keep to myself mostly at work, focusing on counting by multiples of five while I am filling prescriptions. I sometimes wonder if anyone really notices but most of me doesn’t care.

I think I’m worn out. I’ve been praying for guidance on this issue off and on. Where should I go? What should I do? Why does everything have to be an uphill battle? i can only hope it’s leading to something that puts me in a position to use the strengths I have to help others.

I realized long ago, and constantly have it reinforced, that I was not put on this earth to fit in. I have always been an outsider, always on the outside looking in. It’s depressing sometimes, and difficult to maneuver but that’s me. Finding out it was because of how my brain developed and that there’s a name for it was just validation of what I already knew.

I think my biggest problem is that the church is supposed to be a place for everyone, especially misfits and broken people. I often feel that’s me all over. Yet I’ve been maligned, gossiped about, and insulted by people who believe in the same God I do. The cognitive dissonance this causes has been enough to keep me out of church more or less for the last couple of years. Nobody seems to have a good answer to my question and God seems to want me to figure this one out on my own.

I just hope I find a home somewhere. Sometime.

Now Playing:
Artist: Blaqk Audio
Song: “First to Love”
Album: Materials

Emily, what did you say when he said, “Follow me”?
What would you give to live your tragedy?
There is no price he needn’t pay
You give yourself away

She said, “No one’s ever sent me flowers”..
As the tears filled her eyes
With the tears, she denied them
She said, “No one’s ever sent me flowers.”
“You’ll be the first I leave
Because I’m always the first to love.”

Emily, what did you do to become part of me?
I’d do anything to be your tragedy
If only my thoughts could bring you to break
You’d give yourself to me

“I’m always the first to love…”

Post Hoc


“When was the last time your heart felt wide open?” She asked.

I was at work. A strange place, I know, and it puzzles me still. However, the chance for random occurrences increases exponentially (or maybe geometrically. I’m never sure which one) when new people are constantly introduced into your environment. It’s like the cliche of throwing a stone in a pond and watching the ripples. Only, this is more like throwing a handful of gravel into a puddle of rainwater in a street gutter.

“Chaotic?”

Yes. That’s an apt description.

“What happened?”

I could not tell you for certain what happened or any sort of causal apparatus that could have attached itself to that particular moment in time other than the relationship between customer and the service we provide. It’s an every day occurrence; people come and go but I’ve never really thought about the reason why or the rhyme scheme contained within.

Anyway, I remember this girl’s face. There is something soft about it. She’s a regular and, even in the short amount of time I’ve spent working there, there are some familiar faces. Some people just stick out more than others in my mind, though I can hardly ever remember their names.

“What was so special about this one?”

There was this intangible quality to her at first. It takes a moment to process my impressions of people sometimes, I’ll admit. She had soft facial features, a gentle smile but there was a weakness about her. I don’t mean that in a bad way; maybe vulnerability is a better term. I Don’t know.

She smiled up to her eyes despite, maybe, seeming like she had grown weary. Her eyes were unmarked by age or makeup, which is astonishing anymore these days. She was soft-spoken and polite, though hesitant to ask for anything she wanted, like she was afraid of being denied some basic service, even the one she had paid for by coming to my store.

“Why did that strike you so?”

That’s an explanation I’m still searching for myself. I think about these kinds of interactions long after they’ve passed. It’s part of my wiring, I suppose. I just keep playing those few minutes over and over again in my head. I wonder what makes a person the way they are; how they develop their personality into something that seems so meek yet endearing in some way.

“Is there something that bothers you about the meek types?”

Not always, but often. Being soft-spoken myself, I don’t necessarily have a problem with it. However, I do find myself cringing at certain social faux pas. Those who are anxious or nervous, they have common speech patterns and give away their tentative nature through the use of “um’s” and delays in answering.

I guess it was about the moment this girl spoke to me that I felt that overload of empathy I don’t always understand. I knew there was something there, something that affected the social capabilities of this woman but, in a work setting, you can’t really ask, nor do you have time to, ask customers personal questions. Certainly not a long dialogue to hear someone else’s life story simply because you have the urge to hear it.

That’s the problem with having asocial tendencies, I guess. I deprive myself of human contact long enough that when something strikes my radar, I can’t help but let that empathy flood into every circuit of my mind and I want to know who someone is.

I wish I wasn’t so jaded and cynical about people sometimes.

“What does that have to do with it?”

Trust. It’s hard for me to trust anyone. Ever hand yourself over to the care of someone else’s hands only to have them ring the emotion out of it like a towel? Not only have it occur once, but over and over and over again until you really don’t know what to believe and who is being sincere? Most people who talk to me anymore only do so because they want something from me. They’ve lost all interest in me. Or maybe I’ve lost interest in them.

Maybe there’s no loss of interest on either side of the equation. Maybe I just don’t know what I’m doing anymore.

Dictionary Entries And Clock Faces


There’s not a dictionary in the world
With a definition for the word, “love”
Noun, verb, and sometimes expletive.
There are just too many uses
Explanations and excuses
For this semantic domain
That scrapes the the rock surface
Of my heart
The reason the busker sings a sad refrain

I try to stay away from staring
At the television screens
That teaches us all that
For every single guy there’s a bevy
Of swans that that were never ugly ducklings
With roses in their teeth
I need to find a little reprieve
From this cultural obsession
That we’re meant for indiscretion
It twists me up and forces my retreat

Remembering days going by
With the dismissing wave
Of the clock hands
Nevertheless, I try to understand
That time is just a countdown
And we’re never going to cut its pace

Construct to deduct life
Attached to dollar amounts
Useless things we spend
What we earn, how we live
I’m just reaching for
A lover or a friend

Yesterday is here again
You’re teaching me how to inhale
And exhale the emotions
I can’t calculate
Mirror or reciprocate
It’s clear as the cloudy sky
Outside my windows now
I can only see so far
But not the end.

I dropped a raft into a sea
Of salty tears and sweat
Rolling rapids of my regrets
Avoiding rocks left to run me aground
My heart still pounds everyday
At the thought of the sound

I don’t believe in fairly tales
But I watch a lot of movies
Where the weird guy
Gets the girl and she upturns his world
I thought I had that once
But I flipped only to land
On my chivalry with shivering hands

My skull is a glass case
Where you can see the jumbled
Chains and cables
Wrapped around crystal balls
That only see the past

And some of them still show your face
I thought I loved but
Upon reflection in the mirror
I realized I despised
The man that I had become
My goal is to leave a smoking gun
In case you return for evidence
Of your past crimes

Burn it to the ground like a barn
Gather the children for the ugly swan song
We’re just livestock in a small pen
And I don’t think I’ll feel that way again

Dear, my friends… [An Open Letter]

Dear friends, acquaintances, readers, passers-by, and whomever else it may concern,

It has been over a year since I travelled to the psychologist’s office to receive the results of a battery of tests I had to endure to gain some insight on myself. When all was said and done, I was given a total of two major diagnoses based on DSM-V criteria:

  1. Major Depressive Disorder, Mild recurrent with anxious distress features
  2. Autism Spectrum Disorder

Along with diagnosis number two, the more important of to this letter, came the following information:

  • Social communication requiring support
  • Restricted, repetitive behaviors requiring support
  • Without accompanying intellectual delays
  • Without accompanying language impairment

I think everyone on some level has some idea of what Asperger’s syndrome is, but I want to be clear because everyone, literally everyone, with Asperger’s (now part of the Autism Spectrum as of 2013) is different with a few diagnostic criteria in common.

  1. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by 1) deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth-conversations to reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect 2)Deficits in nonverbal communicative behavior used for social interaction ranging from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication to abnormalities in eye contact and body language or deficits in understanding and use of gestures, to total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communications. Finally, 3)Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships, ranging, for example, from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts, to difficulties in sharing in imaginative play or in making friends, to absence of interest in peers.
  2. Restricted, repetitive patterns fo behaviour, interests, or activities, as manifested by at least two of the following: 1) Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech, 2) Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behaviour, 3) Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus 4) Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment. (Atwood, 2008, p. 11)

That’s the clinical language surrounding it. If you made it this far, perhaps you’ll be willing to go a little further with me…

Most of what is listed above is true for me. For 30 years I didn’t know any bit of the way I acted was atypical aside from the fact that it made me an outcast in junior high and high school which made me very cynical after I graduated. Throughout that period of time I was also battling major depression on a fairly regular basis with little or no relief from medication, though I was tried on plenty of them.

A trip to the psychiatrist’s office in 2006 led to a diagnosis of some sort of mood disorder at first but then was changed to Bipolar II disorder. This led to more medication. Some of which I am still on, though in lowered dosages. The ensuing ten or so years have been hell, dealing with the side effects, the mood issues, the anxiety, and the depression on top of the social stressors I encountered along the way. These included losing two friends unexpectedly, almost losing a third to suicide, and a failed reconciliation with my biological father. Along with that comes a fear of abandonment because of the aforementioned bio-dad, which is the reason I have not pursued a relationship in the last 5 years or so. Feeble attempts have led to my being ghosted on more than one occasion. It just seemed the whole time, even before I was re-diagnosed, that I was not a good fit with most people.

Admittedly, there was a large amount of clarity that came when my diagnosis was updated to Autism Spectrum Disorder (colloquially: Asperger’s). The way I was growing up, the way I am now all make a lot more sense. To this day I still have issues communicating effectively either because I can’t read the tone of voice being used or because I take questions that have an expected response, like being asked my opinion on a new band someone really likes and wants me to like as well, and I don’t give the expected response by being super excited like they are even if they are visibly excited right in front of me.

If you know me at all, you know I love professional wrestling. I can already hear your collective groans as you read this. However, my obsession fits in well with the, “Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus”. I don’t watch the big names all that much anymore, but I have found a wealth of independent wrestling on the internet. I know the names of moves, I know the history behind some of them, as well as wrestling history in general.  I can tell you who trained who. I can identify the different styles used, and I even named my solo music project after an abnormally named pinning combination, The Magistral Cradle.

So, now, at the age of 31, I am living alone and going to school to get a BS in Psychology in hopes of getting into an MA program in Applied Behavioral Analysis, focusing on working with children on varying parts of the Autism Spectrum. I’m at the perfect school for it and I have the mind and compassion for it, I think. When I’m not doing school I’m on my feet for 4-8 hours a day as a Pharmacy Technician which, having Asperger’s, is surprisingly smooth sailing because a lot of it is just repetitive actions, phrases, and tasks. Now if only I could find a job with more hours and pays better. But that’s not really why I’m writing this.

Aspy’s, as we are lovingly called, are a lonely bunch for the most part. Every day is like a dress rehearsal, accompanied by generalized anxiety as well as anxiety when an activity or task is disrupted. Even when I’m doing something controlled and repetitive, I have to contend with the idea that, at a moment’s notice, my task will change based on the customer volume. I have medication to control it and it works well, but there’s still that conditioned response of hesitation and reticence that has to be overcome

I am lonely sometimes. I live in a small studio apartment that supplies all that I need for living situations and usually I am content with reading, writing, composing music, or just watching a movie by myself. People don’t enter the equation much when it comes to my thought process. My therapist urges me to seek more social interaction, which is probably the greatest difficulty I have right now. Yes, I have people I call friends but, as an Aspy, there is an inherent difficulty in my knowledge of how to maintain those friendships. Just as I am rigid with certain routines, I can be rigid with my definition of friendship and it’s hard for me to wrap my head around anyone else with a different understanding.

Not to mention, the perception of social cues and voice inflections is almost lost on me. I have to intellectualize both my emotions and yours when we talk which is why I’m not always quick to respond or to come up with answers to thought-provoking or introspective questions.

What I’m saying, I guess, is I really do miss people whom I consider friends but never see. I don’t know if I come off with this persona that I don’t like being around people all that much and so it’s considered doing me a favor by not including me in social activities or get-togethers or if those people just aren’t as good friends as I thought. That last statement is not an indictment but an admission of agnosia. I legitimately do not know and, even more so, cannot discern the answer. I just know some days I just lay in my bed with my eyes closed and sink into a world of my own creation, creating scenarios and having conversations with people, none of which is real. I don’t want to do anything, so I just let my mind wander.

I want to be part of your life. I think I have a big heart and a lot to offer even if my actions betray that sentient. So, my goal in writing this is to inspire you to try to understand what it is I deal with on a daily basis and the things I’m still trying to learn about myself. I still have not learned to adapt. I’m still discovering sensory hyperactivity responses, like chaotic noise, or abnormally bright light. I know not everyone understands that. I know not everyone understands why or has the patience to understand me when I say things bluntly or matter-of-fact without regard to the other person’s feelings. These things might offend you or make you mad. Please know it’s never my intent.

What I’m getting at is, if we’re friends, I’m still here. I’m still on this new journey and I wish you’d come along with me, maybe help me figure out what it means to be an Aspy in a sea of Neuro-typicals. Let’s have some fun. Just, please, don’t try to change me or fix me. This is who I am. This is who I was created to be. Just love me for that and things will work themselves out, I’m sure.

Until then, a certain song comes to mind whenever I feel out-of-place or like I’m on the outside looking in:

Not inferior, just different,

J

Long Lost Letter

I wrote this letter 7 months ago and had forgotten it existed until now. I’m sharing it because there’s a lot in here that I don’t know if I’ve ever shared. Those that know me will likely know who this was written to but the name has been redacted anyway.


I don’t know if this is something I’ll ever shake completely.









Home is Where You Should Fit in Your Skin


I grew up in a family that grew into Jesus
At around the same time I did.
In a lot of ways, they are probably
The strongest Christians I know
Though we all have our faults
And we would be the first to admit that
Our faults:
They’re the things that make us human
And show our real skin
We are the church not in the
Formed from a mold off the assembly line
Kind of way

Our convictions were not mass-produced
You can see it in the way the don’t fit
Quite friendly into the seats
In the church I was baptized in
That I baptized my brother in
That my sister was baptized in

And we’ve seen this response
From people before
In other buildings, in other
Worship centers
With coffee cups and
The same unbearable
Contemporary music that all sounds the same

Words cannot describe how much
I want to punch David Crowder in the throat.

The Bible tells us
The church was built on outcasts
And every day, normal people
So, maybe if my experiences
Had been a little difference I might be willing
To cut some people a little slack

Believe me
We’ve all tried to show some grace
To the people who have said mean,
Offensive, bigoted things
Behind the back and to the face
And my parents come to me
For words of wisdom on how to handle
Not feeling comfortable in their own skin
In the place where all should be welcome
And we are all gracious around sin

God, damn those people
Who make my mother feel small,
My father apathetic,
You didn’t make them this way
So what gives your followers
The right to do it?

You, in your wisdom have adjusted me
With a very high-strung sense of right or wrong
Think trip-wire, or claymore mine
Add to the tension,
Hope you live to regret it
And I can’t be kind anymore.

I refuse to swallow one more bitter pill
In the attitude of “truth with love”
Because that is a set of bald tires
With a nail in the wall
It’s easier to overwhelm and sabotage
Then listen to anything at all
That might mean you’re espousing hate
And you’ve put my family deeply centered in the crosshair

Church, I have grown tired of your abuse
You’re a whore, I know this
And I’m supposed to love you
Which is hard
For someone who has never really
Understood love fully
And lost the only person who could really
Explain it in a way that made sense

You wonder why I’m angry.
Call it hate, call it intolerance,
I don’t really give a flying fuck anymore.
Thought I lacked a filter?
Well, the censors are out
Of the office for a while until my nerves settle

“Oh, but we need unity in the church,”
Then start being more like real Jesus
And less like the one you get from talking heads
Because blessed are those who
Don’t put people’a lives on chopping blocks
For gender, race, socioeconomic status,
RELIGION,
WHY DO YOU HATE PEOPLE
OF DIFFERENT FAITHS?
IS IT BECAUSE THEY’RE MORE FAITHFUL THAN YOU?

You are your brother’s keeper
That’s what I believe and that’s
What drives me every day
While others declare war on culture
They haven’t even taken the time to understand

My parents are braver and bigger than I
At least they’re willing to go back
Because I’m the one who reaps the whirlwind
On purpose; I stand for them of my own accord.
I haven’t been with you, church,
Longer than I can remember
But there’s no baby with that bath water

My struggle is in finding the answer to the question:
Is it possible to ever go home again

On the Church


Today I grieve beyond measure as I see the horrors unfold within my country. I have been asking myself, “Have I been asleep this whole time? Am I only now awakening to the evil and hate people are willing to inflict on others in the name of an assumed superiority based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender? I thought myself fairly well-educated about the hatred people were capable of but I look at the reported acts of violence, the racial slurs, and the rhetoric being spewed forth by people who are supposed to be the salt and light, the hands and feet of their savior and I am appalled, distraught, and dismayed at the reports of their actions.

To the church: you have made it very hard for me to love you. You have proliferated so much of what is now a national phenomenon of hate, discrimination, and contention that I have been content to stay in my apartment and just ponder how anyone who believes the Bible, the teachings of Jesus and the Saints, can be capable of ripping off a Muslim woman’s hajib and telling her to put it around her neck and hang her with it or leaving a note for someone in the LGBTQ community that they’re going to burn in hell. The spirit of God is not in you. Don’t hide behind God as justifications for your actions or your hate.

It’s hard to know where to belong now. I have felt a great alienation from the church because of the unfortunate ties to conservatism which, to me, is a tradition that needs to be broken and fast. Conservatism in a lot of respects is regressive to the message of Christ because, in my experience, it drives people to policy and platforms that serve individualistic purposes. I die a little inside every time I hear someone say, “Why should I have to pay for X with my tax money.” To me that is tantamount to Cain asking, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In case you weren’t aware, I’m a registered Independent, Progressive Liberal with bent towards Socialism. I know absolutely no one in the church who would agree with my stances and that’s fine. This has also made me a target for the contingent of conservatives in my home church on more than one occasion and I do not take my stances on anything with a grain of salt or without thorough research.

It’s heartbreaking to love someone who can’t accept you for who you are. It’s impossible when it’s somewhere you should belong.

I’ve tried. I’ve tried so hard not to give up on the church but recent events have seriously made me rethink my stance on this. Is this the straw that broke thee camel’s back? I don’t know yet. I need more time to think. For every act of hatred, for every bit of invective released from the mouths and hearts of people who call themselves followers of Christ, my willingness to engage and be part of the body corporate becomes less and less. We all know the church is a whore but now she has turned to a whore who sold herself for the lowest bid and the highest risk: hate. The church has become a pack of murderers in their hearts and I don’t know what to do despite not wanting to just stand back and watch the whole show as our country is setting itself up to burn.

My shoulders are heavy with sorrow. I am all raw, exposed nerve and I’m doing my best to find a way to heal this. It’s not supposed to be like this.

It’s not supposed to be like this.