Ready or Not


Trigger warning: I’m not even sure which ones to list here. Just be forewarned.

As I sit here contemplating just how l’m going to schedule my showers for the next couple of days until we get oil again, I’ve got a lot on my mind. I’ll be honest, it’s been a long day. But I chose tonight, because heat or no heat I promised I was going to change, and I don’t take promises lightly. I’m hoping by the time I stop typing I’ll have a better attitude.

Letting go? This isn’t going to be easy. I’m actually scared of some of the things I will need to remember in order to process them and then trash them. I just keep telling myself that I will be such a calmer person once I’ve succeeded in this. I sure hope that’s true.

All of my life, I’ve clung to someone or something to keep me standing. When I was little, living with my single mom for many years, I clung to the thought of how one day my father would show up and make everything okay. I prayed for it to happen.

I even prayed for an older sister which wasn’t even biologically possible and also totally ridiculous…I prayed for it anyways. I dreamed this big imaginary hugging loving family in my mind and as I got older, and my mother married (someone else), I would just lay in my bed and shut the door with the light off to live in my own world.

I couldn’t let go of my dream because I couldn’t accept reality. When I turned seventeen, I started searching for my father online. I knew his name. I called everyone with his last name in the state that I knew he lived in and surrounding states. One day, after I had run out of people, I called a private investigator. I wish I had just let it go.

I wish I hadn’t pushed it. But in the end, I did get to meet my father. Once. I got to hug him and tell him I loved him, which you may not understand unless you’ve been in my situation. But of course, things didn’t work out like I’d dreamed it up to be. I haven’t spoken to him, except through emails, since 2003.

Somehow, I didn’t want to believe that he meant it so many years ago when I said I loved him and he said “I can’t say something I don’t mean” I fell apart. I didn’t understand then that he didn’t know me and I didn’t know him.

I’m going to have to skim over why I had to move out at seventeen, just to be respectful of all involved, but as you can read in my short story section, I moved to California shortly before graduation. I was full of anger and sadness. I felt like I had literally been rejected by both parents in the hardest way I could have ever dreamed of.

After graduation, I moved to Los Angeles to live with a friend. I had no mattress to sleep on and no job lined up but I figured, God will provide. He did in everything I needed, but a mattress was not one of them. I searched the streets for jobs.

I even had an interview in an alley way in Compton. I found out the hard way that sometimes when you’re young and naive, people will try to take advantage of that. After assuring one man that I was absolutely not a prostitute, that I didn’t care if he would pay my rent, and by the grace of God got back home safely- I really started to wonder what my life would become.

I moved back to Boston on Christmas Eve in the hopes of telling someone I was in love with them, only to find out that they were getting married. Life is no romantic film, but I was young (about 19) and I was determined to prove the world I could make it and I could be happy. Even the fact that by this time I had already published my first book wasn’t enough.

I wanted more but I went looking in all the wrong places. I moved to Houston, this time with a live in nanny job lined up, and wound up living in a motel for a little while. I would get another job, and end up back at that same stinking motel. I wasn’t cut out to be a housekeeper for mansion dwellers I guess.

I started smoking cigarettes and started chain smoking those nights in the motel. Men would be trying to open my door or peeing off the balcony outside at night so I would often shut off the lights and sit against the wall and just smoke like crazy until it was time to sleep. I felt like this was it, I am going to run out of money, and I’ll be living on the streets in a couple days. That changed, someone amazing took me in, and I watched her animals to keep a roof over my head.

I had a couple of short relationships that at my age (20 maybe?) I thought would last forever. Generally speaking, they were toxic and I shared plenty of the blame for that. I was angry and tired and I wanted someone to love me even though I didn’t even like myself. One of those relationships was promising, at first. But he was sick and he passed away, and I’m going to leave it like that in this post. I will never forget him. Not ever.

So here I was, back in Boston, starting over again. Like always. But this time I decided it was time to stop running from myself. I had already moved so much in my lifetime, I should have figured that one so much earlier, but I couldn’t let go. Life was going to be fair one day right? Ha. Okay. So maybe not.

There is so much of me that wants to dwell on the sadness because I have come to realize that when I am sad people seem to care. This is not healthy and I realize this but its become such a unconscious habit, that its hard to be self aware. So when I want to feel happy, I somehow make myself incredibly sad to get there because when I need comfort, often times that is when that took place.

Now, I’ve skimmed over a lot, because frankly, its more than the world needs to know. I don’t want anyone carrying it for me anymore. I don’t want pity anymore. Look how far that’s gotten me in life. No, I’ve made some big mistakes but I’m really determined to change.

My diagnosis of Aspergers changed my life. It wasn’t an excuse for any of my mistakes, but for the first time in my life, I couldn’t hate myself anymore. I just couldn’t. It pushed me to learn. It pushed me to start reading about how to grow and start making better decisions.

The one thing that I don’t know how to let go of is my fear of rejection. It shows every single day when I stumble over my words that I’ve rehearsed to say to someone. It shows in my eyes when someone’s tone changes suddenly. It’s written all over my face in the most literal way.

I can’t fix what’s happened in the past. I know this. But I am constantly overcompensating by hyper focusing on how much I struggle with social interaction. Anyone who knows anyone with Aspergers knows that social interaction is not a natural thing for us.

It’s not impossible, just very hard. Every little nuisance is a learning curve. Every single time I meet someone new, I have to learn how to interact with them. Every conversation is a new adventure. How I ever got married is beyond me at the moment. I’m forever grateful that someone was willing to take a chance on me.

Now, I know I’m not worthless. I do have some self respect but I can also see how much there is that I have to work on. Honestly, with AS, I see myself forever needing to learn. When I meet someone that I feel I can trust, it feels like ripping off a million band aids for me to regroup and say “It’s okay. Maybe next time”.

But I’m learning that this is okay. Some people are meant to be in your life forever and some are there to help you grow. My father was one of them. I wrote him an email saying goodbye not that long ago. I still have moments where I pretend that I didn’t. I still have moments where I sit and dwell on the fact that he’s still out there. But you know…he has his own family. It’s time for me to grow up and start my own

I doubt few will actually get to this point in this post as this is getting far too long. But I honestly don’t care. I’m writing this out so that I can see it all in front of me. I love making lists and this is just one long list. Not a list of things to remember, but things to learn from and then let go.

Life isn’t fair and that’s not such a bad thing in the end because it has taught me to be grateful. This is where I want to be. Happiness is so fleeting but I think that if I can just be in a constant state of gratitude, I won’t want to look back at what I’ve been clinging onto so desperately.

Maybe I’ll even find that strong woman inside of me while I’m tossing out these bags. I know she’s there somewhere. The little girl you saw in the photo in my “Can I Hug You?” blog has seen enough and its time to grow up. I feel like maybe I’m ready for this. But ready or not, its time.

Although I will admit, that my teddybear, Amadeus, isn’t going anywhere. Well, maybe on a shelf. Maybe not. I still need to figure out that hug problem first.

One day at a time.

About Gretchen McIntire (formerly Leary)

I am 34 years old, I live in the Raleigh area, and I am writing from the perspective of an individual with Asperger's Syndrome.
This entry was posted in ASD, Aspergers, Autism, GLBTQ and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Ready or Not

  1. LindsayMarks says:

    Thank you for your story. As always, I’m impressed with your poise. Answers come, sometimes over time, sometimes in weird conclusions we didn’t expect. But they come, as long as we keep asking the questions.

  2. Dale Favier says:

    Wow. That was difficult just to read.

    Yes, it’s not like you have just one or two things to leave behind. It’s funny, though, I find that sometimes it doesn’t make all that much difference. A lightness comes, and I can turn sideways, like a bullfighter, and the whole huge thing just goes on past me. If that makes any sense. Sometimes.

    Those of us who find social interactions very difficult, hard to understand, frustrating — sometimes I think that’s a good thing: that actually what’s different about us is not so much that we’re socially inept, but that we don’t have a such a robust delusion machine going, telling us that we understand exactly what other people are thinking and feeling. We actually know how little we know.

    That’s bad for generating quick and easy responses, but it may put us ahead of the game in other ways.

  3. raeme67 says:

    I think you must be a rather sweet person.People who have the chance, often tell it all. Purge it all no matter how unpleasant,they take the opportunity to tell their story by getting back at the “bastards” (hope this isn’t offensive) who used them. You shown great restraint in not doing so. I applaud you for that. You have the right to feel hurt when rejected, that is not unreasonable.

    • Hello again 🙂

      I find no use in hurting those who have hurt me. Well I’ve certain done so in the past, but in light of letting go, I’m finding the person to point the proverbial finger at the most is myself

  4. Pingback: Tired of Thinking | Gretchen Leary

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