Except for the story about getting drunk, these last three stories are both very personal and very heavy. One of the difficult questions I have had to wrestle as a writer is deciding how open I want to be about the personal details of my life. In my view, openness is absolutely essential to deliver the message that I want to convey. I want to:
- Let neurotypicals know that there is a lot more to people on the spectrum than they realize and that they are potentially missing out by not including these people in their lives because they do not understand they way in which the think and behave.
- Tell those who are on the spectrum that their lives need not be anything less than successful in the way that they choose. You can be on the spectrum, but this need not define you.
With most self-help books, the #1 question that I have as a reader is:
"Why should I spend my time reading what you have to say? Who are you? What do you know of what you speak?"
I do not have an actual on-paper diagnosis that says I am on the spectrum. But what I do have is:
- The letters from the BC Children's Hospital in which they stated that I had a schizoid personality and severe social deficits.
- Results from online tests I have taken that indicate that I am indeed on the spectrum.
- A lifetime of experiences that I have compared to what I have read (extensively) about the Autistic Spectrum and concluded that there is no way that I couldn't be on the spectrum.
The only reason why my message would have any value at all is if I have managed to succeed despite being on the spectrum. I have made some very bad choices in my life, as you can see and suffered greatly as a result of those choices. But, as my future stories will show, I have also made some very good choices, and while I may not be rich, I am now doing what I love every day, and I am about to marry a very lovely woman who treats me like gold.
However, as a reader, I do not believe that my writing will speak to you unless I show you just how far I sank. Somehow, "I had a troubled life." just doesn't quite cut it. My story is a smack-down, no holds barred honest account of my experiences that were pivotal in my life and my development into the person I am today. While I have done a lot of things that I am not individually proud of, I am not ashamed of the overall direction that my life has taken. I might well be making myself unemployable by publishing this stuff. But hopefully that will not be an issue.
The second two stories illustrate what a mess my life was between late 1990 and 1991. Both of these stories took place within just a couple of months of one another, and in between there were at least 5 or 6 attempted relationships with other people. I was absolutely insecure of my own worth and convinced beyond doubt that I was not worthy unless I could win the love of a woman. And so that was what I set my very mis-guided sights exclusively on at that time. The Near Marriage, illustrates the glaring contradiction that those of us on the spectrum can display on occasion: one the one hand, I was able to show astute judgement when it was clear that the whole thing was a sham, but at the same time I can be naive enough to think that I can meet someone from a different culture at a dating agency and have it end well.
All of this was taking place while I struggled with an addiction to use of the sex trade. I knew that what I was doing was both wrong and that it was probably hurting my chances of finding a healthy partner. I was gambling with my health, even though I was using protection and I consider it an amazing miracle that I made it through that period of my life without getting AIDS. I have been completely free of that addiction for many, many years now, to the point that it is a distant memory that I can look on with wonder.
What I have not written about yet is how I went from being the carefree little kid who ate dirt and ran around naked, to being the insecure, depressed addict that I was at 18 and 19. That will come, as will my account of my first marriage, which was really the first time that I turned my life around. It was a period of great progress that lasted for almost a decade, ending with near ruin and resurgence.