I have never claimed to be perfect and having a case of Asperger’s tends to exacerbate these imperfections (at least according to public scrutiny). But there are plenty of private imperfections that cause me immense shame. I know I could be better and these quirky weaknesses tend to rage against my adulthood.
For some reason, I have always had a great deal of trouble keeping things clean. It never starts off as messy and the process is painfully gradual. This is the way most disasters occur. Credit card debt…grotesque weight gain…drug addiction…and messy cars or rooms progress with the speed of a tortoise from hell. My former nickname for my silver Toyota was, “The Mobile Landfill.” The only reason the front passenger seat was clean is because the garbage had been continuously thrown in the back. When I did have a guest it was shameful. At times, I was also ashamed to be a role model for the boy with Asperger’s I mentor at the Poughkeepsie Children’s Home. How could I side with his staff about keeping his room clean when I could barely do this with anything in my own life? At long last, I decided I had enough and bought the largest box I could find at the post office. Alas…my car sits in the driveway as a recently-polished gem and the box of debris sits in the basement. I am positive that most of the box contains useless papers, but will still go through it someday to figure out what is quasi-valuable. The car was defeated and the mess had died. But there was a more formidable disaster waiting to be conquered.
Most nights I ended up sleeping on the couch, which is probably why I also starting going to the chiropractor for most of the summer. But it had become somewhat hazardous to navigate a path in my own bedroom on account it was filled with garbage and bags of newly-washed clothes that had never been put away. Not all of the boxes were mine and over a period of a calendar year, my mother had turned my personal space into an unofficial storage room. But MOST of it was my own doing and I had nobody to blame but myself.
In the movie, “Limitless,” the protagonist played by Bradley Cooper is a procrastinating writer living off a book advance and in his own filth. One day he takes a free pill with a value of hundreds of dollars. An alien, electrical potency erupts in his brain as he starts writing his book just days before the publishing company’s deadline. The book is written in just a couple of days. Another sense came over him during the same time period. “I suddenly realized that I had to clean the house,” he says. The apartment quickly becomes spotless with his newfound motivation. I did not take a fictional pill, but the same light went off in my head the other day!
My electrical impulses of motivation started firing at around eleven o’clock at night the other day just out of the blue. I looked through the doorway at the pathetic state of affairs and realized this had gone on long enough. Furthermore, I had run out of lame excuses that seemed justified due to my public speaking schedule. Now…here was a block of time without any significant commitments that would allow me to move heaven and earth.
For the first time in many months, my block of space looks like someone else’s bedroom. And there is nothing BUT space! The “room” technically sits in a huge box in the basement along with my “car.” But it is finally clean and I am “square with the house.” The challenge will be continuous just like any other aspect of newfound self-improvement. It is difficult for those with Asperger’s syndrome to maintain a sense of self-esteem and mercy in a world that fails to delegate either. For now, I am able to look at myself in the mirror and clean out some of the neurotic anguish cluttering up my own mind! Furthermore, I have shed the chains of hypocrisy when lecturing the boy I mentor about being more responsible. That is enough…for now.