I spent the first day of this new year trying to figure out how I will live in the next 364 days. I also spent New Year’s Eve looking at what I accomplished in 2022.
Before I go any further, I must admit that the whole decade before 2022, I was mostly in the caregiver hermit mode. My wife’s health continued to decline year after year, and she was just not in the mood for company. The church that we had belonged to the decade before that had kicked me out because I didn’t believe the “right” things. I openly stated that what we do on the earth to live out what Jesus taught us mattered, and “faith alone” was “cheap faith” as the book of James clearly taught. That got me on the Lutheran pastor’s radar and when I said here on RJsCorner that I believed that the earth was more than 6,000 years old, that started the excommunication process. That hurt my wife deeply and was something that she never got over. The time between 2011 and 2021, it was just her and me. The isolation was soothing to her and exasperating to me. Then in 2021, 78 days after her fourth heart attack, my wife’s life ended, and I was suddenly surrounded by hundreds of people every day. 2022 was the year of trying to cope with that sudden and drastic change.
After my wife’s death and the beginning of 2022, I studied in depth about Aspergers. As a result, I decided that in 2022 I was going to shed all the masks I have donned throughout my life and proudly proclaim to all those around me, that I had significant Aspie traits. I was just going to be me, whoever that is. As the year went by, I discovered that was easier said than done. Those who think they know even a little about Aspergers, see it as a disease which has no cure. Now that it has been merged into the Autism Spectrum Disorder, that belief has been nothing but solidified in so many minds.
The true reality is that some people’s minds are just wired differently than others. I have an IQ of 134, so I am certainly not mentally disabled, but that seems to be something most people immediately suspect when I made my Aspie declaration. Yes, I am poor at eye contact and most social situations, but for the most part, I don’t see that as any significant problem.
2022 was mainly trying to figure out where I belonged in this crowd I was suddenly dropped into after a decade in the hermit mode. There were some successes and many failures, but I think it was at least a couple of steps forward. I haven’t even mentioned my deafness and how that is typically so isolating. I think I am finally beginning to get better at it, but a lot more progress needs to happen in 2023 to make it complete.
Being a deaf-Aspie make me a 1 in 3 million person. That is a lot of barriers to overcome, and I am hoping, or maybe I am just dreaming, that I am up to it. At least now I get a lot more smiles and waves when I greet the hundred or so that I see each day than I did at the beginning of the year. And, I think there are a few of them who are beginning to actually see me as a friend.
I look forward to 2023 in finally becoming one of the full-fledged, and valued, residents in my RetCom (retirement community). It’s going to be a struggle, but the effort is worth it.