I realize that is the title of a Cher song (I think it was released around 1989), but in my case, it applies to how often I wish my life could have turned out differently.
I think everyone has regrets about some aspect of their lives, or wish they could do things over. As folks who have read this blog know, I deal with Asperger’s Syndrome every day of my life. Each day is a challenge, but I think taking the “one day at a time” approach helps tremendously. Because of Asperger’s, social interaction is seemingly harder for me than it is for most folks, although I think I have made strides in that area. If I had to live my life over again, then high school wouldn’t have been as difficult socially for me as it was. I would have had more friends, gotten involved in sports (instead of getting picked last each time in gym class!), and maybe even gone out on a date or two.
I often wonder if the teachers or staff at St. Matthew Elementary School in Detroit or Notre Dame High School in Harper Woods could have intervened on my behalf. After all, they had to have noticed that I was seemingly in my own world while my classmates were having fun and interacting with each other. I was also jealous of my elementary and high school classmates, because they seemingly had more material things and traveled to more places than I did. For heaven’s sake, these were Catholic schools I was attending! I wouldn’t have counted on any intervention from anyone within the Detroit Public Schools system (thank heavens my parents didn’t send me there!), but Catholic schools were supposed to be more caring and concerned about the total person!
I tried talking to some staff about the situation, especially when I was going to Notre Dame, but social life was still extremely difficult. I think from the staff’s perspective, their main concern was that I was succeeding from an academic standpoint. That was not an issue for me, as I attained an approximate 3.45 grade point average while taking a lot of Honors and Advanced Placement classes. In addition, I don’t think much, if anything, was known about Asperger’s Syndrome back when I was in elementary school and high school. Therefore, I don’t think the teachers or staff knew how to intervene for someone like myself. It’s especially easy for me to forget that, because some of the teachers and administrators at NDHS were priests or other religious. I tended to think they had all the answers, when in reality they didn’t. They did the best they could with the knowledge they had.
As far as my NDHS classmates were concerned, on the outside they seemingly had things a lot easier than I did. I certainly wish that I could have done a lot of the fun things that my classmates did. However, I didn’t know what sort of internal struggles they faced – I was too preoccupied with my own struggles! Even now, I have to remind myself that everyone is dealing with internal struggles to some degree or another. Perhaps I am being a little bit too open and honest about it, but for me, writing is a tremendous coping mechanism that helps me connect with other people.
So, even though I wish I could turn back time, the reality is that I can’t do that. I can only move forward and take life one day at a time, and do the best I can with each day.