Written by Jim O'Shea
It took a crisis in my life at the age of 57 to seek a diagnostic assessment for Asperger’s Syndrome Condition, with my personal and work life falling apart and a several years of suspecting I was somewhere on the spectrum.
Though the results of the assessment were important, as it came as a relief after 40 plus years of walking around with the knowledge that there was something fundamentally wrong, it is what followed from the results that are of far more importance. For the first time in my life I felt I had a starting point, I could make some sense of my past and present, but that is all the diagnostic results gave me, it did not tell me what I could do with this knowledge, this to me is where counselling is so important
I feel very fortunate that the Hoffmann Foundation was able to offer me the opportunity to take up counselling as I needed to explore my inner world and how I interact, or rather do not interact, with the outside world. An inner world haunted by the spectres of fear and anxiety, a world of isolation where I feel a deep need for human contact coupled with a deep unease in the presence of others.
Will I ever be able to relax with another person, be myself, be spontaneous and live creatively, show and receive affection without fear and anxiety, expose that hidden part of myself that has no voice and is invisible to others? I have the opportunity and capacity now, I sit in a room for fifty minutes once a week with someone who I now know understands who and where I am and that there is a way out, this is going to be a difficult path for me as there is something familiar and comfortable about this inner world I have created for myself, I am frightened of letting go of it!
I have also attended an ASC group for several months now; though I find it very interesting, I turn up and say nothing unless someone talks to me. On the last visit as part of a workshop I was put in a situation of having to speak to the person next to me where I had to introduce myself and tell them something about myself, then they had to do the same, he was a young man called T, what I saw in T, was myself 40 years ago and realised how far I have come and what an arduous journey T has in front of him, is there a part of T that no one sees that has no voice? I think so, and he deserves much more from me than for me to sit there cutting myself off from him, I liked Thomas because I felt at ease with him, I know he would never hurt me or mean me any harm.
Are the tears that run down my face for Thomas, or are they for who I was forty years ago or who I am now, all three I hope?
Written by Jim O'Shea