I'm at peace with myself for the first time in my life as I write this. I'm not done. I'm not settled. I'm not successful. I have, however, found a measure of peace. It's the first time I've felt that way. Ever.
I have not overcome my disability. I don't believe that that's really a thing that people do. I think that the people who claim to have overcome their disabilities are actually just powering through a lot of pain and frustration and trying not to be touched by it. That's not me. I'm touched by everything.
That's part of the problem.
I'm going to tell you a story now. It's going to take some time. It's about a fictional character that I like to call Neurotypical Mike. Neurotypical Mike was a character that I played for a good twenty years of my life, until I was about twenty-six years old. I can still remember when I started to create that character: it was when I was four years old. I wasn't playing as Mike full time until I was about six and I started Kindergarten, but I had to start working on his mannerisms and his way of expressing himself earlier than that, because it was very clear that Michael was not going to be allowed to do certain things.
Mike and Me -- The Early YearsFor example, Michael did not get to call himself Michael when he wasn't around family. No matter how many times he told teachers and other kids that he was Michael, they had decided that they were talking to someone named Mike. It used to make Michael cry when they did that, but as time went on and more and more people decided that they knew Mike and that Mike was fine with being called by a nickname, they simply ignored what Michael said he wanted. Eventually, Michael stopped trying to talk to them.
Michael Stops Talking
As Michael got older and Mike got more completely constructed, the boys noticed that a lot of the things they used to do were starting to change. For example, their mother stopped babysitting for other people's kids and started taking them to visit neighbors with kids who were their own age. Those kids wanted to separate the boys and the girls, the older and the younger, and so Michael and Mike followed along. They wanted friends, after all, and their friends were doing those things.
Somewhere during this time period, the boys also had to stop playing Little League. They had aged out of Tee Ball, and now they were not allowed to play with girls on the team any more, which meant that the games were pretty evenly divided between standing in the middle of right field and having things thrown at them. Mike was willing to stick it out so that he could try to get better, but Michael started having screaming nightmares about being hit in the head that only got worse after he was actually hit in the head while they were at bat.