I am 58 and still single, never married, and was recently diagnosed as having the autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I accepted the diagnosis with absolute relief! The burden of the unknown as to why I am so out of step with my companions has been taken away.
On the positive side, I have a passion for writing that I probably wouldn’t have if I wasn’t autistic. My stickler for routine gets me to work on time, my chores done, and my bills paid on time. My attention to detail instead of the big picture explains why the top two favorite jobs of my career perfectly matched that trait.
But there’s a dark side. The spectrum isn’t a rose garden without thorns. It wouldn’t have syndrome at the end of it if it did.
I sometimes envy my brother who has two grandchildren to spoil. Since my diagnosis, I have wondered if things were different, if I didn’t have ASD, would I might have a husband, children, and grandchildren. I’m not ruling out marriage since one should not say never. After all, stranger things have happened. If someone had told me back in my teen years that I would move halfway across the country and work for “Uncle Sam” for over 22 years, I would have told them they had the wrong person.
I know what it is to go on a date, but I don’t know what it is to have fun on one. My dating history is shorter than my average shopping list. I hit my peak in first grade. I had my first kiss in first grade and it my idea. Poor Tim! I think the teacher saw us because later she gave a lecture on “don’t kiss in the classroom”. I recall telling my grandmother I had 8 boyfriends in first grade. I think my autisitic imagination was working overtime. HA! Whether I had 8 or 2, my romantic life went downhill from there.
I did try a dating service in my 40’s. I guess I did it because I wanted to be in step with my peers. I wanted a picture of a fella on my desk at work too. Maybe I was in love with being in love. Most of the dozen or so guys I did meet, well, I only met once; never saw or heard from them again. Would I join a dating service again? NO! Now it did give me practice of meeting new people, but once it was over and done with, it had the opposite effect. I could be content if I never met another stranger for the rest of my life. I did gain a collection of “bad date” stories to write about; on the other hand, I lost $2000 to the dating service.
There’s only been one guy in my entire life that I was nuts about. His name was Robert; Bob for short. We worked for the same employer. Over the years, even though we both moved around from one job to another, we would invariably cross paths. Much to my delight but probably not so much to his.
When we worked at the same building, I’d hope each morning I’d pull up in the parking lot the same time he did. My heart would skip a beat if I saw him or his car whose license plate I knew from memory. I’d catch up to him pretending I happened to bump into him. If love is walking a distance in the below-freezing cold with someone and wishing the walk was longer, then it was love.
It took me more years than it should have to accept the painful truth he wasn’t nuts about me. I didn’t go so far as to harrass him like calling and e-mailing him every day, but I’m sure I was a pain. Sort of like my little brothers were to me growing up. I don’t regret it though because at least I found out I could be nuts about a guy who I still have the upmost respect for.
Maybe it was an obsession. Some of the friends I confided in either flat out told me or hinted at it. One friend got so exasperated with me that she cut off ties. I admit I’ve had some wild obsessions. Some of them so wild I wouldn’t tell a solitary soul about them.
There was not a day I wouldn’t think about him. At times, I got so tired of thinking about him, but I couldn’t help it. Looking back, I did some of the silliest things to get his attention. I took anything, a smile or a wave from him, as encouragement.
It was painful but yet, it was a beautiful feeling. I remember wishing I could bottle the feeling up so I wouldn’t forget what it felt like. He was in my prayers throughout that chapter in my life. My prayer wasn’t that he’d look at me, but for an answer as to whether he ever would.
A few years after he transferred to another office location, I wrote him an e-mail. It was a nice letter updating him on my life since I last saw him. My last line was that if he didn’t write back, I’d understand. He didn’t and that hurt at first. But it didn’t take long for me to be grateful that he didn’t. It was an answered prayer. I wanted to know the truth and I had it at the right time … when I was able to accept it. I thank the Lord for that.
Unfortunately, I took up another obsession but this time it wasn’t with a guy. It was someone in the public eye whom I would never meet. That’s another story, but it seems like when I put Bob in a back corner in my heart, I had to replace him with something in the center. I’ve been working on that obsession for nearly 12 years. I’m better in that I don’t think of the person . That’s progress!
If it wasn’t love, it was the closest I ever came to it. I don’t know how I would have handled it if he had been nuts about me too. I might have run for the hills for all I know.