The Hardest Years…

I suppose the title of this post has different meanings to different people.  From recent comments, it is used to describe the “post-truth” era that many seem to think we are in.  To many, the hardest years are the ones that they are currently living in.  Being a history guy I have a longer view than that.  But this is not at all what this post is about. 🙂

These are the first words from a quote from Helen Hays shown below

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I couldn’t agree more. At the tender age of ten, I had just taken up a Jack London book entitled “White Fang”. That was my first serious look at the world beyond my front door.  It opened up a world I had never imagined.  Due to circumstances, I was pretty mature for a ten-year-old.  My narcissistic mother had just abandoned me, my younger brother, and my dad for greener pastures.  I didn’t really know what was going on but imagined it was my fault. I knew my life was going to be quite different than it had been.

canstockphoto8329344.jpgBetween ten and seventy were episodes that challenged me. I struggled to pay my own way through college by working forty hours a week in addition to a near full course load. I knew my social skills were lacking but I never realized the extent until years later.  I would become deaf at the age of forty and was laid off at the age of fifty-four.  Thankfully I had saved enough money and had enough years of employment to earn a significant pension.

It was not until the age of seventy that I finally decided that my hardest years were behind me. Social status no longer meant anything if it ever did. I simply didn’t care what others thought of me. The age of seventy was indeed at the end of my hard years.

Thanks, Helen for helping me realize that fact.

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Autism and Meltdown

canstockphoto13659526.jpgBeing a person with some strong Aspie traits, I just don’t handle stressful situations well.  Fortunately, I don’t totally lose it as the word meltdown infers but I quit acting like an adult and instead am a panicked kid. In autism studies, these episodes are called meltdowns so I will call them that for the purposes of this post.

One of my most prominent stressors is criticism. I am plainly oversensitive. I often perceive my wife’s criticism as calling me a complete idiot. When those situations occur I frequently go into at least some level of meltdown. I start shouting back about how she doesn’t think I can flush a toilet without screwing it up!  Usually, when the episode is over I can evaluate what happened with a more adult view but that doesn’t ameliorate the damage done to both of us by these episodes.

From the studies I have read I know that over time, these types of situations alienate friends and peers. They have also caused marriage problems and even divorce.

My meltdowns for sensory episodes are less frequent as I just don’t allow myself to get caught up in them. Instead, I either avoid the causes or quickly flee the situation.  I don’t like crowds and especially people standing behind me. For that reason, I often shop in the off-hours. My photography helps with crowds.  I tell myself I am there to document the event and therefore manage to control my uneasiness more easily.

I know the severity of my personal meltdowns is much less than others on the spectrum. I am grateful for that and sympathetic to others who are worse than I.

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The Cutting Room Floor

“You are not alone” is one of my Ten Pillars of life. The thought is that no matter what adversities you face, there is always someone who has had them before you and they can help you learn how to cope.

Asking for help is a hard thing to do for many of us. We just don’t want to admit to ourselves that we sometimes struggle through life, let alone broadcast that fact to the world! It takes a brave person to do that. One of those brave people is Michelle over at the Green Study. She recently came out with a heartwrenching post where she told the world about her problems with depression and the history of psychiatric problems in her family.

Here are some of her words in relation to the recent celebrity suicides:

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I constantly struggle with my deafness, my Aspie characteristics and sometimes depression. I thank the Lord that I am not overwhelmed by these things as many are. I feel an inordinate need to show the world that they are not alone. Someone else struggles as you do.  Just knowing that might help them pull back from the edge and seek help.

One of my hardest personal struggles was the period when I went deaf at the age of forty. I knew deafness was coming but I still was totally unprepared. When it did happen my ear doctor basically told me that he couldn’t help me anymore so just go away.  I felt abandoned! I went through months of depression until I finally discovered the organization called ALDA (Assoc. of Late Deafened Adults).  They helped me realize I was not alone.

Thanks, Michelle for letting others know that they are not alone with their problems…

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The Best Thing About The Worst Time…

2018-05-10_16-38-21.pngI think just about all of us can pretty quickly recall some of our worst times in our lives. For me, one of those times was the damage done to my wife when the small Evangelical congregation we belonged revoked my membership due to my failure to align with the belief that, among other things, the earth is only 6,000 year old and any seeming proof otherwise is just God trying to trick us.  My wife, who was recuperating from cancer surgery, was devastated by the rejection but even more so by the sudden loss of so-called friends there.  It would be the last time we ever had contact with most of them. The friendships that we thought were pretty deep ended up being very shallow!

I think experiences like this are somewhat common to most of us and as the quote above says they show us the true colors of everyone. Other similar but less stressful events were when we were forced to move to the east coast in order to fill out my pension.  We left friends who then just drifted away.  Retiring is another example. We for the most part forever leave friends who we have known for sometimes decades.

At least for me, it keeps me anchored to the fact that we are pretty much on our own in this world. Friendships, which are mostly pretty shallow, come and go as circumstances happen. That is just a fact of life it seems.

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I Am A Rock…

2018-04-18_17-23-20.pngSince I was a teenager in the 1960s, one of my favorite musical groups was Simon & Garfunkel. One of their most popular songs was “I am a Rock”. Due to my Aspie traits, I was somewhat of a loner back then so this song just “spoke” to me.  My mother had abandoned me a few years before, so that probably had something to do with it too.

The song is basically about a desire to avoid pain and heartbreak. In order to avoid being hurt by relationships, the subject of the song refuses to make friends or fall in love.  Of course, this approach to life is very isolating and painful in itself. The last two lines are evidence that this way of living is more dreadful than the alternative of being hurt.

It would be several years before I fully understood that no one is an island and no one is especially a rock.  But, it was kind of nice to think that others had gone through what I did during my turbulent teenage years. 🙂

It has been over thirty years since I last heard this song, but I still keep a copy of the lyrics along with many others and read them on a regular basis.

 

 

Waiting In Line…

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canstockphoto35801773.jpgI have never been a person who patiently waits in a line. It has always seemed like a total waste to me. I will most often do anything to keep from having to stand behind other people. Now that I have taken the “One day at a time” approach to life, I want to live what I have left of life as fully as I can. Waiting in line is just not in that scenario.  And as Will said in the quote above many things just aren’t worth the wait.

Most of my grocery shopping occurs during the early hours when the store is almost empty.  I can order just about anything from Amazon now and have it on my doorstep within two days. Why drive an hour round trip to search through aisle after aisle trying to find what I am looking for and then wait to pay for it?

At an even higher level, I have come to more fully understand what the mantra “Simplify” means. I try to always stop and ask myself “do I really need this?”  Many times the answer is “No”.

Of course, there are times when waiting in line has to be tolerated. One of those times for me was when I wanted to get something off my bucket list. That something was a week at Disney World. Even though I visited the park during the off-season the lines were still pretty gnarly.  I loved my time there but will never do it again. 🙂

A Nice Change…

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Since this is my “aging week” here on RJsCorner, I will flat out tell you that I am thoroughly enjoying my “golden years” and yes they are proving to be golden.  All my life I have fretted about the future.

  • What will I be when I grow up?
  • Is there some other occupation that I was really built for?
  • Since I am a weird person, should I remain a bachelor?
  • Should I try to get another job or just retire?

So many questions about life when you are young. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute of my time so far. Well, almost every minute. But I often suffered to one degree or another with depression.  I perceived myself as always dreaming of more but accepting less. Those worries and frets are finally behind me.  From here on out, all there is left to do is enjoy it and I am determined to enjoy each and every day as it comes.  One day at a time is my new motto in life.

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Turning Back the Odometer…

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canstockphoto38063363.jpgI like old cars and I am kinda proud of passing on some of my experiences in life here on RJsCorner. Yeah, there are things, actually quite a few, that I would like to have been different but even the undesired things are an important part of my life’s experiences, that looking back have made me who I am.

If I hadn’t been deaf I wouldn’t have the level of empathy that I do. If I had not grown up in a single very stoic parent household I wouldn’t have the understanding of such things as I do. As another quote from Will says “Adversity builds character”. It made me who I am and I am quite proud of that fact.

I see so many people today that try to turn back their odometers.  They get hair transplants or cosmetic surgery to hide their years.  I can truthfully say that I am proud of the way I look. It does indeed show I have traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.

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