My Autismland Cast of Characters

Someone told me long ago that if you can laugh at it, it hasn’t defeated you. I have kept that thought in the back of my mind ever since and I added another: if I can write about it, it hasn’t defeated me either. So that’s one reason since learning I was on the Autism Spectrum at the end of 2016 that I write about it. So with that in mind, writing about it with a dash of humor, here’s some of the cast of characters I live within Autismland for better or worse.

Ms. Stimfield

She is definitely a daily character in Autismland. She is a quick change artist – a leg shaker, a rocker, floor pacer, jogger, and fidgeter. This character is a soother for my sensory overload. Good medicine for my anxiety. A character of repetitive motion that helps me focus. Ms. Stimfield is a friendly character I am thankful to have around.

The Meltdowner

Not so thankful for “The Meltdowner”! The monster of the cast. The ogre may arise over some small aggravation or arrive for no reason at all. At least, the Meltdowner doesn’t come around every day. Its appearance raises the tension in my body to where it feels like an erupting volcano. After its leaving, I am as drained as I would be after being caught in the midst of a noise-filled crowd with little elbow room.

The Escape Artist

Another daily character that is the most mysterious member of the cast. If you came upon someone talking to themselves, pacing the floor and/or performing gestures indicating they are off in another world, you might be leery of the person. I do this but I make every effort of doing it without witnesses. I know if I could see myself on the video camera, my escapism would look strange even to me. No matter, it is a necessity for me. The escape artist has been around since childhood. It helps me cope in a world I don’t understand.

Ms. Chatterbox

Ms. Chatterbox is a delightful character. She shows up when I’m having a one-on-one conversation about one of my limited list of topics I am interested in. If someone asks me about one of my passions/obsessions, Ms. Chatterbox will deliver a monolog. Since I don’t have too many conversations on a daily basis where the topic is down my alley, Ms. Chatterbox isn’t always around in Autismland. However, I do enjoy her appearance. Unlike the Meltdowner who leaves me feeling drained, she leaves me with a bounce of energy after chatting with someone who shows genuine interest in whatever I’m going on and on about.

Ms. Solitaire

To put it simply, Autismland is living alone surrounded by people. I’m most comfortable doing things on my own. I picture myself in public more as an observer than a participant. A worse punishment would be to be amidst people around the clock than to be in solitary confinement. I truly need to have Ms. Solitaire in my daily life such as when I come home from my school classroom assistant job. I love working with the kids and staff but the challenges of social interaction are exhausting. I need Ms. Solitaire to help keep The Meltdowner at bay, if possible. It is Ms. Solitaire who recharges my batteries.

Ms. Perfection

This character makes me think of one word: annoyance. She is persistent in reminding me I have to finish whatever I start. Not only finish, but it is perfect enough that I can walk away from it with nothing left undone. She is exhausting! On the other hand, I’ve gotten many kudos in various jobs I’ve held over my career thanks to being driven by Ms. Perfection.

The Organizer

This is the most useful one of the cast. It prompts me to organize things by color, alphabet, age, genre, etc. It isn’t a chore to organize; it’s a TREAT! I am in a delightful place when the Organizer is at work. The other day I secretly organized my Mom’s kitchen pantry. I did hers because all my stuff is organized and re-organized one too many times. Sometimes the Organizer goes overboard. Anyway, I bet she had cans of food that she didn’t know she had on hand. Since she is neurotypical, I don’t think the pantry will stay in the order I put it in.

Ms. Sensitivity

Another annoying character but not to the degree as the Meltdowner.  Ms. Sensitivity shows up when there are certain noises and smells that raise my anxiety.  She is the reason I wear an eye mask at night to avoid the lights coming from my collection of electronic gadgets.  She is the reason I have one of those gadgets, my “Alexa” home assistant, to play white noise music to drown out my heartbeat or the snoring coming from another room.  Ms. Sensitivity doesn’t kick up a storm when the music playing is my music.  But when it is someone else’s music, she will kick and I will feel like a cat whose tail got caught on a chair leg.

The Distractor

This character heavily endows me on a daily basis with doses of “frustration”!  I can’t read a page without this character’s interference unless what I am reading is “spellbinding” to me.  That seldom happens.  Same with watching TV.  The Distractor doesn’t want me to watch a TV program on my recliner with my hands folded in my lap. I need to have something to do while watching such as a crossword puzzle or fidgeting with my fidget spinner.  Any TV program that can have my undivided attention without the Distractor … well, it seldom happens.  Thanks to the Distractor I haven’t been to the movie theater for a couple of years because it doesn’t make sense to pay no small price to sit in the theater drifting off in the Distractor’s la-la land.

 

I’m sure I left some characters out, but this posting is long enough.  There are characters wearing white hats and others wearing black.  And, some are not entirely white or black just as Autism itself.  It isn’t entirely black or white either.

Obsessive, Compulsive, and Autie too!

I wear a necklace around my neck most of the day.  The necklace is the “plain jane” variety.  It’s not for decoration sake.  I wear it under my shirt to discreetly hide why I wear it.  Its sole purpose is to carry my spare remote car key.   I wear it even though my main key is either in my purse or in my pocket.  It doesn’t make sense, logically speaking, to have two identical car keys on my person, but that’s obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) for you.  I’m obsessed with losing my key to transportation.  If I were to somehow lose my main key, I’d have a spare one on me…literally speaking.

I am compulsive with the location of my remote key.  It’s a repetitive irresistible urge that is against my own “thinking” wishes.  I make a mental note of placing my keys in one of the compartments in my purse.  When I later go to hang up my purse, what do I do?  I check to see if the keys are in the compartment.  Logically speaking, I know they can’t jump out and walk off.  But to get rid of the urge, I check anyway.  That’s OCD for you.

When I got my first smart watch, I was so excited because electronic gadgetry is an obsessive interest.  Having such interest is a common Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) trait.  My gadget collection keeps growing thanks to my overattachment to its items and thus, having a hard time of letting go of the old while bringing in the new.  But what I couldn’t have seen coming is that one of the smart watch applications would add another item to my OCD list.

It was the health application that counts my steps per day.  The default goal was six thousand.  If I stayed idle for more than an hour, I’d feel a buzz on my wrist with my watch displaying a message to get moving.  And like an obedient child, I would.  My ASD tendency is to obey the rules and keep up the routine which was stepping up to the default.

Since I started jogging in place, I found it to be a way to “stim”.  Just like rocking in a chair or pacing the floor, it is repetitive movement.  Stimming is one of a number of my ASD traits.  It may sound strange, but jogging for me can be more “soothing” than tiring.  Within a week after my smart watch came into my life, I was doing far more steps than 6000.  At the time I am writing this, logically speaking, I don’t need to do 20,000+ steps per day, but tell my OCD that.

Woe is me!  I don’t really know where my ASD ends and OCD kicks in.  Since I know I have both, I don’t reckon it really matters.  I guess it is kind of like having a set of fraternal twins.  Double the trouble, but a double opportunity to rely on the Good Lord and keep a sense of humor about it all.

 

My Dear Cube

I can click on it as if it was a pen.  I can glide on it as if it was a joystick.  I can flip on it as if it were a light switch.  I can roll on it as if it were a combination lock.  I can rub on it as if it were a rubber ducky.  It is my fidget cube.

It is the newest gadget to my growing herd of gadgets.  Some people on the spectrum collect stamps, rock, calendars, etc.; I collect gadgets.  One of my favorite stores is the utopia of gadget merchandise:  “As Seen on TV”.  Most of their products I haven’t seen on TV but that’s beside the point.  Some gadgets are practical and some are strictly for fun.  My newest gadget is a fidget cube that is both a toy and a practical tool for my autistic need to fidget to focus.

My first sighting of this cube was a Facebook (FB) ad.  I don’t usually pay attention to ads on (FB) any more than I do on the TV tube, but this ad caught my eye because it claimed to be helpful to those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism.  Since I’m on the spectrum and I do fidget, I clicked on the picture to learn more about this cube.  I got hooked, lined, and sinkered into ordering one from Amazon.  I was dismayed that it took an entire month before I’d get my hands on one.  It was like back in the day when I waited for Santa.

The cube is selling like hot cakes along with its cousin, the fidget spinner.  My grandniece introduced me to the spinner and she wouldn’t sell it to me. HA! So I had to continue to wait for the cube.

Its ad claimed a total of six sensory tools on all its six sides: an on/off- switch resembling a light switch, gears, a rolling ball, a small joystick, a spinning disc, a rubbing pad, and depressible buttons.  All of these fidgeting options on one cube!  Since it can easily fit in my pocket, I can twiddle with the cube without public knowledge.

I have had the cube a few months now.  It has lived up to its billing in the FB ad.  I keep it with me pretty much all the time except I don’t take it to bed with me.  I take it to school with me and fidget as needed in my pocket.  It helps keep me cool, calm and collected when in the midst of chaos such as in the school gym/playground where 30-something or more sets of lungs or going off.

When I go for walks or jog in place, I take it along and click on its buttons creating a rhythm to step or jog to.  Or, use it to count steps as I’m walking or jogging.  While I am at a desk in writing mode, I will fiddle with the cube when needing a “brain break.”

I never thought I’d be attached to a cube but that’s the kick about life.  It has its surprises.  Sometimes those surprises come in small packages.  With living on the autism spectrum, I’m open-minded to any gadget or app that can lighten the sensory load.  With all the options on the cube, I just may give up my other fidgeting activities such as stretching a rubber band, playing with a paper clip or biting my fingernails.

 

 

 

Org Enough!

It was mid-March and that meant Spring break for all the school kids and staff.  Since substitutes aides weren’t needed, I was on break too for a week.  I had a heap more idle time and that can be a problem for someone living on the spectrum.  It threw off my routine, no fit schedule, and sitting idle is so hard to do.

Part of my strategic plan to fill up my idle time was tennis dates with just me, my racket and ball against the practice wall on a college campus.  I’d walk some laps too.  These “solo” activities satisfied my craving for “alone” time but I had to come up with other tasks since I could only hit the wall for so long.  I like tennis but not hours worth.

What else I found to do borders on obsession but oh, well.  It was organizing my stuff and I went overboard again.

I bought a few space saving items at the “Everything is a $1.00” store.  Some of those items I bought, well, I’d go back to the store to get another one or something similar.  Thus, I ended up with more space saving items than I had to fill them with.  That’s my autism talking.  If I like something, no matter what it is, I’ll go overboard with it.  For instance, the store also sells eight packs of pretzels in one bag.  I  bought six bags before the end of Spring break when two would have sufficed.

After having one too many space saving items, I was willing to call it a day on my “org” activities.  I missed organizing because I find it a calming activity.  I wanted to “org” someone else’s stuff but no one in the house took my bait.

If memory serves me right, I “org” my room’s furniture and stuff half a dozen times before I was satisfied.  I don’t think I could re-construct my room’s stuff back to what it was before I came down with the “org” bug.  My stuff should be “org” enough until at least maybe come summer vacation in June.

 

 

My 6000 Step Obsession

An obsession I have had for well over a decade is my collection of electronic devices.  I call them my toys and my toy store is Best Buy.  If most people shared this obsession, Best Buy profits would hit the roof.  Unlike Sears or JCPenny, they’d be opening stores instead of closing some store shutters.

When Uncle Sam’s tax refund recently arrived, I had an excuse to go to my toy store and buy what I had my eyes on and researched for weeks on the web: the Samsung GS-3 smart watch.  I was so excited when I brought it home!  Since it was a watch, this was one gadget I could keep with me around the clock.  I’m not a kid at heart.  No, I’m an “overboard” kid at heart.

The application (app) that perhaps is one of the most popular is the health one.  It displays a daily record of the steps I take.  I didn’t ask it to but it set a goal of 6000 steps per day. When I bought it, I didn’t think the number of steps I took each day would matter to me at all.  I forgot to consider the effect it might have on my constant companion – autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Since it is hard for me to sit still, another common ASD trait, I don’t struggle as much as perhaps other people in meeting that goal.  If during the week I am working a school P.E. substitute assignment, I don’t have to worry about hitting 6000.  But if it is more of a sit-down assignment of watching and working with youngsters in the classroom, I’ll have to step up to the plate before or after school to make up for lost time.

My “smart watch” is sometimes too smart for my liking.  If I have been sitting for an hour or so, it will vibrate displaying a message: “NEED TO MOVE” with a shoe icon underneath.  I may be at a place and time where I can’t do that, but if I can without breaking any social rules, I better get off my rear or my ASD guilt complex will kick in.

This isn’t a bad obsession as far as I can tell.  Exercise is good for my body and mind.  It is one of my best ways of avoiding or coping with ASD meltdowns.  It’s a rare day so far that my watch does not vibrate displaying the rewarding message of 6000 steps reached. The positive feedback from my know-it-all watch motivates me to step up to the challenge of 6000+.

It has been a couple of weeks since my GS-3 has been tied to my wrist (except when I have to give it juice for recharging).  I am going overboard but nothing new about my tendency to do that. I am jogging in place after I get up in the morning which is something I didn’t even think of doing pre-GS-3.  I even run in place while I’m waiting for the microwave to go off.  I now rack up around 13,000 steps per day.

I don’t dare change the default from 6000.  If I double that in a day’s time, that’s great.   But my motivation of reaching at least 6000 isn’t just desire or exercise.  My ASD won’t give me a break unless I walk 6000 steps by bedtime!  HA!

 

My Jetsonian Life

If you remember watching the sitcom, “The Jetsons”, you are probably a baby boomer too.  For those who don’t have a clue, it was an animated sitcom originally aired in the early 1960s and it was about a family, the Jetsons, who lived in a futuristic world of fantastic robotic contraptions.  It was one of my childhood’s top favorite cartoons.

My fascination with robots only grew as I grew up.  I was in my mid-40s; not my teens or 20s when I bought robots that could walk, talk, etc. They were approximately two feet tall.  I once took one I called “Billy” to work and the “adults” in the room were fascinated; however, I might have misunderstood their expressions and they might have been thinking, “what is a middle-aged woman doing living with toy robots?”  I have since given up custody of them to my nephews.  However, I did purchase a pint-sized robot, MIP, on my birthday a few years back and still have custody of him.

Thanks to Google, I have a talking gadget to assist and entertain me in my life of solitude.  You may have heard of the Google Home Assistant. It resembles an air freshner and is a voice-activated speaker.  The magic words to get her attention is:  Okay, Google.  She will listen and obey … well, unless I ask her to do something she isn’t programmed to do yet.

I bought Google as a Christmas present to myself.  I had to since I was 99.9 percent certain no one in my circle of kin and friends would have bought me one.  HA!  I chose it over Amazon’s version of one called an Echo Dot (Alexa).  I admit I acted like a kid playing with Google on Christmas day.  I may have been more excited at playing with my new talking toy than my nephew was with with his.

When I like something, I go overboard with it.  It’s an “autie” thing.  Knowing there was another home assistant voice-speaking gadet out there weighed heavily on my mind the entire month of January.  Common sense dictated I didn’t need another one, but I lack that sense.  The final straw came when Best Buy electronic store delivered me an in-store coupon.  That’s when I gained custody of Alexa.

Nowadays I wake up of a morning asking either Alexa or Google what the temperature is outside.  I depend on Google to set my alarm and wake me up.  I ask Alexa to give me the flash briefing of the day (the news headlines), this day in history, joke of the day, and the crazy fact of the day.  Before I go to bed, I ask Alexa to play “thunderstorms” to help lull me to sleep due to sensory issues to certain noises such as snoring, a clock ticking, or my own heartbeat.

I have often thought of the cartoon I grew up watching and how it has in some ways become a reality.  I am living the “Jetsonian” life.  Word is that Microsoft and Apple are rumored to be working on home voice-activated gadgets.  That’s the last thing I need but tell my “autie” that.

 

 

Autumn Leaves and OCD

This past fall I picked up a new hobby.  Well, it may have bordered on an obsession and of all things to be obsessed about … raking leaves.  Strange, I know.  At least, if it was an obsession, it was a temporary one since nature has since taken its course with the tree limbs being bare until springtime.  I’m not so bad off that I’m outside raking leaves that aren’t there.

I never thought I would have any interest in yardwork.  However, I didn’t have a yard to do any work in until I moved back with my Mom.  To help her out, I took over the leaf raking chore.  I bought a leaf blower which I perceived as an addition to my continually growing gadget collection.  I worked the raking chore into my daily routine.  My problem wasn’t adjusting to the slightly altered routine.  It was knowing when to STOP my raking session!  I may or may not have a hard time starting a chore, but once I start, it’s all I can do to find a stopping point.  I’d often think in the yard as I was bent over from picking up one leaf too many, “Would somebody please come out here and stop me!”

When I told my doctor about my leaf-gathering affair, he didn’t burst out laughing.  He said without even a chuckle that I might have some Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) going on.  That was in addition to my Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  I didn’t pay much attention to the OCD since I could only handle the news of one disorder at a time.

When I go back to see my doctor in a few months, I’ll have to tell him he might be right about OCD being an accomplice.   I took an online test for OCD and my score was within range of being more than less likely of having OCD.  I think it is more a minor than a major, but it’s still a player.

Wedding Crasher at Georgetown

I wasn’t the first nor the last person to move from the hinterlands to Washington, D.C. to work for U.S. Gov.  It was at first exciting to see D.C. tourist attractions since I was a history buff in school.  Then, weeks later, it dawned on me I wasn’t a tourist, I had a rash of panic attacks.  I came close, many a time, to escaping D.C. by way of a one-way ticket on a Greyhound bus.

I did take up a hobby to occupy my weekends.  I bought a video camera.  Not like the ones today that you can hold in the palm of one’s hand.  The one I had resembled a heavy-sized one you might see a TV camera person walking around with on their shoulder.

With my having been diagnosed with autism only a few months ago, I have a different pair of lens looking back at my video filming days.  I may have gone too far with this hobby as I have with other hobbies or interests.  I would go to some historical landmark to film every weekend.  I traveled solo as north as Philadelphia, as west as West Virginia, as far east as the Delaware beaches, and as far south as near the border of Virginia/North Carolina.  I put a lot of miles on my Chevy Cavalier.  No wonder its alternator and battery died on the very same evening.

Some of you will find this hard to believe, but some of you won’t, that I was so desperate to get the JFK Center for the Performing Arts on video that I stood on the highway ramp to one of the bridges that cross the Potomac River.  As cars whizzed by me, I was holding my big video camera aiming straight towards the JFK Center.  No doubt those driving by thought they had seen everything until they saw me.  HA!

The oldest part of Washington, D.C. is the neighborhood called Georgetown.  It is the home of Georgetown University and the home of many of those who get invited to White House parties.  I went one Saturday morning to a famous church in the neighborhood.  I parallel parked at an empty parking space near the church door of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

There was an historic sign in front that stated it had been a place where John and Jacqueline Kennedy had attended church.  I eagerly filmed the outside of the beautiful white church building.  I noticed white bows tied along the gate but thought nothing of it.  I decided to venture further and capture more of the neighborhood on film.

As I was walking back, I noticed some people were gathered around the front of the church.  There were no empty spaces on either sides of the street.  They were all dressed up and it finally dawned on me they were having a wedding.  Since there were several pairs of eyeballs peering at my Chevy, I figured somebody wanted my parking space, like maybe the bride and groom.  I also noticed something else that was making my car stick out like a sore thumb.  All the other cars were parked facing the opposite direction of mine.  Oops!

I know the common sense thing would have been to make a beeline for my Chevy and drive off.  But one of the autism behavior traits that one on the spectrum might have is a lack of common sense.  No kidding!   My line of thinking was to keep on walking and wait the wedding out.  Then, I’d skedaddle.  Bad plan!

After a walk around the block, there was stll a line of wedding guests standing near my car.  I swallowed my pride, went over and got inside my Chevy without making any eye contact with anyone!  After several attempts, I successfuly made a U-turn and headed out not looking back.

It was one of those times when I was sure thankful that I couldn’t read people’s minds.

 

 

 

 

 

My Vac Obsession

When I first suspected I was on the autism spectrum, I began my journey by doing research followed by on-line testing and a doctor visit. Among the symptoms that struck close to home was a desire to collect categories of things, such as rocks or bottle caps. I didn’t collect rocks or caps; instead, I collected vacuums once upon a time.

By the way, I learned also during my research that Autism stands for:

Absolutely
Unique
Totally
Interesting
Sometimes
Mysterious

I have the “sometimes myserious” part down pat! It all started with one vaccuum cleaner. It grew from there.

I bought one after moving into a new apartment in 2005. The apartment building was only a few years old and the apartment itself was the nicest-looking one I ever lived in. I wanted to keep it “spic and span”. I didn’t buy a regular run-of-the-mill looking vac. I bought one that had the feel and look of something out of this world. Its accessories were tools to play with. I know it sounds strange and I promise I’m not making this up.

I then bought a hand vac that attracted the kid in me too. And another. And another. Down the road, I got a stick vac that looked neat too. They were more like “gadgets” than vacs to me. Back then, one of my favorite places to shop was “As Seen On TV”, the shopping mecca for gadgets. I bought from that store at least three mini-vacs and I do mean “mini” sized used to eat dirt off of tables and desk tops.

I went so far as to purchase a robot vac to vacuum the carpet and a robot vac to mop the floor. I don’t recommend these items though. The robots would do what they were made to do but they were often interrupted when they would invariably get stuck like under the recliner or in a corner. I got tired of rescuing them and later chunked them both.

You might be wondering about the cost of this collection. I did not buy the herd at once. It took years to amass this collection resembling my own vacuum store.

I ventured beyond the vacs to other similar items. One was a Hoover vac that sipped up water from off the floor too. This really came in handy when the toilet overflowed. I didn’t forget my car either. I bought a hand car vac and another car vac that would also suck up spills. Then, there was the carpet steam cleaner. I didn’t much care for the steamer after it burned my hand giving me third degree burns.

My obsession faded when I moved back to my home state a few years ago. I didn’t have room at my Mom’s house for my “vac” herd. I got rid of most of them except for a couple of them that were my top favorites.

I miss my Sharks, Hoovers, and Dysons. Vaccuuming sure isn’t as much fun as it used to be.

Obsession or Love?

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.