WALKING ON EGGSHELLS: A Second Excerpt

A good illustration of the process of my writing this book…

 

 

As part of the process of (self) publishing my book detailing my experiences with having Asperger’s, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, I am posting excerpts of the book on this site on a monthly basis, to get it publicity and to hopefully raise interest.

Having started this last month with a few paragraphs from Chapter One, here is an excerpt from Chapter Two, titled “Shut Up, Derek!”, which describes the times I said inappropriate things and not only never realizing they were inappropriate, but feeling oppressed, like I was denied my First Amendment right, because I wasn’t being allowed to express myself the way I wanted.

Along with describing a pretty bad incident I did and a harrowing near-incident that if successful, I wouldn’t be writing this now.

Here it is:

 

“…I would be expressing myself, using what I thought was my first amendment rights in saying things, and someone would look at me with an annoying expression and say in a puzzlingly angry way, ‘Shut up, Derek!’

And my brain would always wonder, sometimes verbally, why that was said since I had done nothing wrong.

Consequently, I saw anyone who told me to shut up as an enemy, or someone who saw me as one; who hated me – or at least disliked me – for no reason, someone who was maliciously trying to deny me my basic American right to free expression, which around 350 million other residents of these United States have.

It was like everyone had the right to express themselves however they damn well pleased except me, as every instance of someone trying to hush me up made feel like I was in a North Korean prison camp being straitjacketed and chained up like a pit bull, being unnecessarily restricted by what I could and could not say.

There were several of these negative events (people telling me to shut up in not a nice way, like they hated me) that I can recall as clearly as I can recall what I had for breakfast this morning, reminders of how my aspie brain had and still has rendered me as an annoying, insensitive dork with too many people as far as my vocal interactions.

…my reaction to…(seemingly) everyone’s assessment of me fluctuated between feelings of bewilderment over people having such negative vibes regarding me when in my mind I didn’t do anything to them, and anger over these people trying to deny my first amendment right to free speech.

This anger manifested itself by me forcefully saying ‘Shut me up!’, trying to fight the oppression that according to my Asperger’s brain those who were telling me to shut it were trying t do, but even that didn’t compare in the slightest to what I did to a girl one night during my days at SMC (short for Santa Monica College, which is how we all referred to the place), which is SO hard to think about today because it was SO unforgivably heinous.

It happened during an SMC football game – the minor leagues of college football – sometime during my second year there.

 

 

Too many folks didn’t understand me back in the day because of this, which I wouldn’t even know about until the mid-90s and which socially cost me SO much…

 

 

I was commenting about the football players on the field – I don’t recall what I said and I definitely didn’t think whatever I did say was bad at all – when this girl, whom I had known since junior high and was never really friends with in the first place, her seemingly finding fault with everything I said and commenting how dumb it was, told me to…

‘Shut up, Derek. Just shut up.’

Feeling like I was being treated like shit for no reason other than being myself by someone who I felt had oppressed me that way more than once before, dating back six years to that point, I snapped and did something that NO guy should EVER do to a female.

I hauled off and punched her on the shoulder.

You are now free to call me a loser and a punk for hitting a girl; I’ll wait…

Just as you would figure, everyone was understandably pissed off at me beyond belief; I still wonder why I wasn’t suspended from school for what I did.

What happened next was a continuation of me snapping, as I proceeded to go up to the top of the bleachers, which was easily a couple of hundred feet high if not more, and started to put one leg over a wall, intending to jump off. One other acquaintance who likewise never liked me sneeringly commented that I was trying to get attention, which I don’t deny – I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.

I obviously didn’t put my other leg over that back wall and go through what at that moment I had intended to go through, else you wouldn’t be reading this book.

It was also clear that what I was suffering from along with Asperger’s was something which I honestly feel had stemmed from all those people seemingly oppressing, abusing, and bullying me throughout my life:

DEPRESSION.

After I put my leg back on the safe side of the stands, I issued my apologies to the girl who I punched and everyone else, then sat in my seat…but not really giving my full attention to the game the way I normally would due to me feeling lower tan a slug buried sixteen feet under, which I wouldn’t have minded being that night.

 

Pretty traumatic stuff, eh?

While I never hit any girls or women or attempted suicide again, there were more incidents of me feeling like I was in a prison in North Korea due to people telling to shut up for what in my mind was no reason in this chapter.

For details, read the book when it comes out.

BY THE WAY: Next month I’ll post an except from Chapter Five, “The Bullied Life”, which is self-explanatory…

 

An illustration of how I wrote my first draft of WALKING ON EGGSHELLS…

 

 

 

 

 

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An Open Letter To Adolescents Who Are Seen As So-Called “Losers”

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Ezra Miller and Emma Watson from “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” (2012); I SO wish I had friends like these in high school, the way their characters, Patrick and Sam, accepted and befriended Charlie, played by Logan Lerman. Photo courtesy of musingsofabookshopgirl.blogspot.com

 

THIS IS A REVISED VERSION OF AN ARTICLE I DID ON THE SITE HUBPAGES.COM IN 2010.

AS I FEEL THE SUBJECT MATTER IS RELEVANT TODAY AND ALWAYS WILL BE, IN LIGHT OF A NEW SCHOOL YEAR STARTING I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA TO PLACE THIS ON THIS BLOG.

 

If you are a tween or a teenager who isn’t seen by others as popular or “cool”, read on…

Greetings Young People,

Assuming that my calculations are correct, you have started a new school year after a summer that I’m sure seemed to fly by.

I’m also fairly positive that many of you, if not most of you, have been dreading the start of school like the plague because you’re seen by far too many of your classmates as different in the way you look, behave, or in the way you march to the “beat of a different drummer”.

And I imagine those differences have led to some bad times.

You have probably spent years being called a “dork”, a “geek”, a “loser”, or a combination of those names.

Kids may have done some blatant harm to you such as push you into lockers or throw things at you,

The opposite gender shudders at the thought of standing anywhere near you,

And I wouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself sitting all by your lonesome at lunch, or with other so-called “geeks”.

 

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Something that broke my heart every time I saw it, which was quite a bit during my time working in the education field. Photo courtesy of heraldsun.com.au

 

Or perhaps you’ve been the victim of cyber-bullying, where people have called you all sorts of vile things on the Internet for all to see, which seems to be a popular thing to do these days.

Most likely, you’re probably like I was at your age, mostly alone and lonely because you’re seen as strange; hardly anybody wants to hang with you, and the ones who do pay attention to you do so in ways that induces feelings of inferiority and other negative feelings.

Believe me when I say that during the bulk of the seven years I spent from sixth grade through my senior year of high school, I was a lot like you as for quite a bit of my first month of 10th grade I stayed home in bed because I didn’t want to be shunned or abused, which is how I felt many of my fellow students interacted with me in calling me stupid, ditching me, and letting me know in no uncertain terms that they had no desire to even get to know me, let alone become friends with me.

I know how it is to be bullied and disrespected, causing strong feelings of inferiority and depression as a result.

I would also like to let you in on something…

 

YOU ARE NOT INFERIOR IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM WHATSOEVER.

YOU ARE NOT A DWEEB, A LOSER, OR ANY OF THOSE NASTY ADJECTIVES.

YOU ARE A WORTHY HUMAN BEING WHO DESERVES LOVE, RESPECT, AND ACCEPTANCE FOR THE PERSON YOU ARE.

 

Just because you don’t look or act “cool” does not mean there’s anything wrong with you.

I remember when I was a P.E. teacher, there was this ten-year old girl who was made fun of regularly and considered by her classmates as a so-called “geek”. I went up to this girl one day before class after someone had dissed her and said,

“Don’t worry, they’ll be working for you some day.”

Which is often the case as the ones who were so-called “nerds” in school are oftentimes the ones accomplishing great things as adults with their seven and eight figure bank accounts, going to their class reunions in stretch hummer limousines.

 

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I think it should go without saying that the world would be a better place a million times over if every young person was accepted and liked by everyone else like these young folks seemingly are. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com

 

If you don’t believe me, try googling the name Bill Gates sometime.

What I’m trying to say is although you may be having a rough time socially in school and your world in general, know that there are people who care about you.

And not just your mom and dad, either.

Regardless of how bad things may get, please don’t do anything stupid to be “accepted” by changing your behavior to fit in with those so-called “cool kids”; trust me when I say it’s just not worth it because you’ll lose yourself and feel like a phony deep down.

Always be yourself and find friends who’ll accept you just the way you are, warts and all as believe it or not, they really do exist.

Coming from someone who was seen by too many of his peers as a so-called “dork”,  please believe me when I tell you this:

 

YOU ARE PERFECTLY FINE AND DANDY JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.

 

I don’t know how I can make that sentiment any clearer.

So even though life may continue to be socially difficult at times, please do your best to hang in there and stay strong.

Find somebody to talk to anytime you feel desperate or mistreated, anyone who will listen; an adult is an ideal option.

And always keep in mind that you are worthy and you matter, regardless of what those arrogant jerks and mean girls may say or do to you.

Suffice it to say, I wish you nothing but the best for this school year – and beyond!

 

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I like this picture, an image of how things should be. Photo courtesy of scattergood.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fighting Depression: From The Perspective of Someone With Asperger’s

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I like this photo of the clouds, and I love this quote, which describes depression perfectly. Image courtesy of compassinsurance.net

 

“The older I get, the more stupid I feel,

I don’t know what’s going on…

The harder I try, the less people I please.”

– Joe Jackson, “Flying” (1994)

 

I’ve always considered this as one of my all-time favorite songs, because the lyrics describe me and my feelings about my life and life in general perfectly.

I once heard – or read somewhere, I don’t recall – that depression is a trait to those with Asperger’s.

In my case, it creeps up periodically, like it did recently when I simply felt burned out and took a break in the public activities that I usually partake in, choosing to stay home and, save for my online work on my sports fan blog/site, basically vegetate.

Depression has been an issue for what I estimate as three-fourths of my life; I remember not going to school, staying home for a few days at a time due to feeling overwhelmed and socially rejected, in both the sixth grade (due to bullying) and the tenth grade (due to the harshness of being new to high school).

And wanting to commit suicide more than once over the course of my adult life; being that I don’t want to alarm anyone I won’t go into any details.

Even though I’m better now thanks to God, I still have to combat feelings of depression and suicide from time to time as every time someone says or does something to me that causes me to feel oppressed or rejected (again, without mentioning any specific details) invokes those feelings.

I know that more or less everyone has those feelings from time to time, but in my case I’m convinced that the root of this negativity inside me stem from one specific thing…

Having Asperger’s Syndrome – or high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder as it’s called these days – in a neurotypical (non-disabled) world.

This ASD of mine is likewise a root cause of me feeling like I am walking on eggshells every time I go out in public, which can and does induce burn-out in me to the point where I have no desire to interact with people, for their sake as well as mine.

To try to interact with folks and peers while in this state often invites inappropriate behaviors and social disasters; I want to spare people from that.

That was recently the case, as I didn’t show up to a couple of functions that I usually attend.

In fact, I’m strongly considering renaming the book I’ve been working on describing my life with Asperger’s, “MY ASPIE LIFE”, to “WALKING ON EGG SHELLS” as that has described my life so well ever since I was mainstreamed in school for the first time over forty years ago.

I could also accurately call my book “LEFT BEHIND”, as so many things that my peers have experienced and are experiencing in their/our late forties have eluded me.

I know full well that it shouldn’t matter and that I shouldn’t compare myself to anyone, which I agree with.

But it’s still difficult to see folks that have things that adults commonly have that I don’t have (without any specifics), which I feel has put a concrete wall between me and them.

And which is also the reason why, while I don’t consider myself second class to anyone, I’ll always feel that it’s those differences, stemming from the fact that I’m an aspie and they’re not, that will always be the cause of at least a little alienation, isolation, and discomfort in both directions; other people towards me as well as me towards others.

It’s an ongoing battle and will always be one, these feelings of depression and alienation stemming from being an aspie in a non-aspie world.

As well as feeling that no one really needs me; like Peeta Mellark said to Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” when he was talking about how his family would mourn him for a bit if he died, then move on.

But hey, at least I’m still here.

Thanks to God.

 

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I know how this guy feels, because I feel like this more often than I should. Photo courtesy of wrestlersmom.com

 

 

WALKING ON EGGSHELLS: My Social Struggles of Having Asperger’s in an Non-Aspie World

 

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Statements like this not only make me feel better, but feel good in general, knowing that there are people like this who see Aspies this way

 

I remember when I was a 16-year old in high school…

It was lunch time, and I was sitting on some grass outside of a classroom with one of my teachers – a lady I liked, admired and respected – and a few of my classmates, when I made a remark about something during a conversation.

I have no recollection of what I said, but I do recall my teachers and the kids reacting like I just called someone a word-that-rhymes-with-witch or uttered some racial epithet.

Which I was quite shocked about, as in my mind I hadn’t said anything that would warrant such a response; I was like, “What? What did I say?”

That was when the teacher said something in exasperation, like she was sick and tired of me at that moment, that I still remember over thirty years later:

“Sometimes you say the wrong thing!”

It would be another thirteen years before I discovered that the source of all that verbal inappropriateness was my having Asperger’s Syndrome, part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Before that day of discovery in the mid-1990s, however, and even to this day, I had (and still have) the conviction that every time I go out in public – and sometimes when I’m at home with my family – I am walking on eggshells to ensure that I don’t say or do anything that might or would get me into any trouble.

Many instances and incidents of that nature abounded before and since that high school day, so many that to describe them all would result in a book not quite the size of War And Peace, but in the ballpark.

Indeed, one of the chapters of the book that I’m continuing to work on, My Aspie Lifeis titled “Shut up, Derek!”, which details the many times people would get annoyed and direct those three words at me for what in my mind at that time was no reason, simply because they hated me when I did nothing to make them feel that way.

If I made a list of folks who fit that description, I’m sure it would be a few miles long.

Which in those days and nowadays is a source of frustration and at times depression, because these are social nuances that seem easy to most people but are difficult – a twenty on a scale of one to ten  – for me.

Even though I am more aware of such nuances in my late 40s, experience being the best teacher, there are still times when I’m reluctant to go out due to the unintentional (I have to emphasize that) social and verbal damage that I may cause.

I believe it was a significant factor in ultimately being unsuccessful in the area of working for someone else and venturing into the world of online blogging, where I can work in the comfort of my own home and not have to worry about dealing with individuals or being bothered by such.

Just the other day, without going into any details, there was a slight incident that I had to apologize for. Luckily for me it didn’t escalate into something that would have cause post traumatic stress in me as it may well have done in the past.

I won’t take much longer with this post, as I want to save any further anecdotes for my book and the rewriting and editing of it, but let me just state this:

 

Walking on eggshells that way I have had to throughout my life has been a source of varying levels of frustration.

Sometimes a little when I can handle it,

Sometimes a lot when I am out and about and I get an increasingly overwhelming urge to get back to my house as quickly as possible before I inadvertently do or say something I would greatly regret.

 

As was said, it has been a source of depression to the point of suicidal thoughts in the past; thank God I have Him in my life now to get me through those feelings.

And speaking of feelings, while this is not an excerpt of my book, I think this “walking on eggshells” thing will be good to detail, make this book of mine more “real” to the readers.

Hopefully I can find the time VERY soon to go over that “Shut up, Derek!” chapter in particular and see how I can enhance that chapter by emphasizing that.

 

 

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Aspects of Asperger’s, for those who don’t know