Tag Archives: life

Approaching mid-life…or am I already there?

A week from today is my birthday. My 49th birthday. This past year has been an amazing year, with any highlights. Awards from HRC for the things I have done, being a part of history in Oregon as I helped get the Youth Mental Health Protection Act passed (this is the ban on conversion therapy for minors) and eventually even having the honor of standing behind Governor Kate Brown as she signed the bill.

My life is lived in circles, many repeated places, but the experience each time around always depends on the quantity and quality of lifetime investments I make.

Last June, I returned to live in the city of my birth, still with a little bit of trepidation about my work situation, but with much more confidence in myself and the decisions that I made–an equal amount of reflection of my past experiences and attitudes and conviction in everything I do.

I am once again thinking about my life and career and future loves. I know that my current work contract will end in early August and I am unsure if it will be renewed. At the same time, I recently stepped away from some of my leadership roles in the community, while I figure out what is next.

I have hinted to some that I might contemplate a cross country move create even more change in many ways. I know the job prospects are very different elsewhere and in certain places, like Washington, DC, there are many other opportunities for social justice and political involvement that might be a good change.

Then, there is a man I have met who also happens to live there. I won’t discuss much about that, other than I am currently enjoying getting to know him. I won’t try to guess how this will turn out, other than I know that I will have a great new friend.

Next week, on my birthday, I am unveiling a new set of photos I am calling “Not Human, Born Perfect”. This is a very new and different direction for Mae and the photos I display will be only the beginning of this project, as I plan on freaking 41 additional images, telling stripped down stories of LGBTQ people of all races, ages, and body types.

49. The start of my 50th year on this planet. I really do not feel that old, but I have to admit that I don’t know what it is to feel like ‘that age’. I have so much life ahead of me, even if I have recently spent a lot of time reflecting on the life behind of me. I know that even better things will come, even when I shake things up a little.

One year of living honestly

The title might imply that I didn’t live honestly before, but I actually tried.  The title is in reference to this, where I revealed that I had recently learned that I am living with Aspergers Syndrome, on the autism spectrum.

Where I might have failed in ‘honesty’ was in not having the knowledge or tools to present myself to others as a whole person, fully aware of my presence.  I know now that there are many things I did and said where I was not fully aware of myself.  I now know where my known limitations are and I am even learning how to pay attention to my trigger points.

What do I mean by trigger points?  Well, for instance, when I have explained a solution to something or a debate point and the other party still does not understand or see my point after a couple variations of explanation, I have learned to let it go (no, don’t queue the song..)  When I have said something that I thought was important (because, really, anything I say is important and shouldn’t be ignored), and realize that no one was paying attention, well, while it still greatly disturbs me, I know now that I have to just let it go and let things move on.  Really, it is difficult, but I have far fewer times when I want to march out of the room in frustration and actually I’ve been told that I appear much more at peace and much more pleasant to be around.  I know that I feel much more confident in everything I do and definitely finally know what it truly means to be present.

While I can attest to meeting more guys, going on many more dates than before, I still find myself single and as I approach the age of 50 in a little more than a year, I really am starting to feel alone than I have in the past.  I tire of the comments from well-meaning acquaintances that I will eventually find the man I’m supposed to be with, because really none of us know what will happen in the future.  But as I approach 50 and find myself alone, I think back to a conversation I had with a friend many years ago.

My friend had asked me, “What’s your scary age?”

I asked what he meant and he said it was the age that I’m most afraid to reach.

While I really never have had any issue with age, mine or anyone else’s, I told him, just out of the air, “50–but at that time I will have been celebrating the 10th anniversary with the guy I will be with for the rest of my life”.

Of course, that never happened, and as I get closer to that ‘scary’ age, and I’m still single after all these years, well, I have to honestly say that it disturbs me.

But, I understand it somewhat. As long as I was unaware of how I pushed people away with generally how I presented myself and as long as I was unaware of why I was told many times that I was too stiff or too emotionless, then I do understand how guys who were looking for that perfect guy and never took the time to really get to know me, then I understand why those didn’t work.  I am still holding out hope that someone will come around, but in the meantime, I am working on strengthening my friendships, even while I see many of my friends getting married (since gay men can now marry the person they love in Oregon) and therefore focusing their energies more on those relationships, as appropriate, than on their other friendships. But those things I understand.

I also understand when some people who used to invite me to parties no longer invite me.  They haven’t really spent time with me since I have learned that I have Aspergers, so I understand why they might not want to spend time with me. But another thing I’m learning is how to move on.

Hopefully those people who matter will see that (for those who have not yet seen it).  Good things will come. Great things will continue to come my way. I have an amazing life ahead of me, no matter what.  And it is even better now that I know how to work around something that was previously an unknown weakness.

Life from a different perspective for a new year …a coming out of sorts

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Whenever I was asked to talk about my life and describe who I am, I often spoke about the person I was at 5 years of age. Being the only left handed, eyeglass wearing child was just the beginning. I knew other things were different and I knew that I thought differently from everyone else.

After all these years of ‘thinking differently’ and sensing a common disconnection from most people, I was challenged this year to finally move beyond that 5 year old lost boy. After all, I’m not 5  anymore, and I have achieved so much, so to hang on to the child I was, due to the unanswered questions I have about who I was, does a great disservice to who I am today.

But the question is still unanswered. I know that I react to issues differently. I know that I solve problems in a different way. I know that some people think I’m without emotion. I know that smalltalk and ‘goofing off with friends’  is such a foreign concept for me. I know that sometimes in group settings, I connect patterns of responses and then take things extremely personal when I determine that I receive more negative response to my ideas from anyone else. I remember conversations from six months ago, and remember who said what and what decisions were made. I then know when those same people change their minds and it has always baffled me to find out that they don’t also remember the reason for the decision in the first place.

So, yeah, it really is my problem and I cannot really move forward without determining how to fix myself. After all, I can fix every other problem, so why can’t I also fix myself (if, in fact, the problem is me and not everyone else).

It really came as a shock when a close friend told me that several people who I consider mentors asked him what was wrong with me. It seemed to a couple of them that I might be autistic or something.

So, yes, I can now tell the world that I do have Asperger Syndrome. This really is difficult to say, but it also answers so many questions for me. As a person who prides himself in problem solving, I finally have that one puzzle piece that I have been seeking for all these years.

As I was challenged to put that five year old boy behind me, I can finally begin to do that. I finally understand so much more about myself and I can much better recognize my behaviors and responses.

I can end the year knowing that the five year old boy was smart enough to know all the ways he was different, but also be strengthened in knowing that the five year old kept me searching for the solution to the one puzzle I could not solve.

I can begin the new year with a new understanding of myself and so many new possibilities. I no longer have to hold myself back from any achievement. I can do anything.