Autism, Addiction and Me


I was born in 1955. Way back then there were basically 3 types of “kids”: just the regular let’s play hide-an-seek, build a fort, throw rocks, ride bikes, ring doorbells and run, make random calls and ask if “Ben Dover” was home (caller ID ruined that), get muddy, mercurochromed bloody knees and elbows, be home by dinner time kind. Then there were the “weird” kids. Now, this class broke down into the “weird” in an eccentric kinda way which made you kinda cool and then there were the “stay away from little Johnny” kinda weird which wasn’t so good, and everybody had at least one friend who fit the former and knew one of the latter. Today the latter generally hold elective office or work at the DMV.

Finally, there were the “special” kids (special being the term used in polite company). Now, I know a lot about this class, for you see, I’m a member. As a child I struggled to “fit in,” be “just one of the kids” and I lived in terror (strong word but completely accurate) of the “short bus” which transported them to school and home again. My generation pretty much walked to and from school. The only time a parent picked up their child was if they were injured beyond the school nurse’s ability to patch them up or they were sick, projectile vomiting kinda sick or did something REALLY BAD, like invade Poland. So, every day when the short bus would pass me, twice, I would freeze up inside, deathly afraid of being found out. I was seven when I first began considering suicide.

I was adopted at six weeks of age and unbeknownst to my new parents, I was “special” as well as being a sickly child; my heart stopping more than once before I was 9. As a result, my father felt cheated out of the son he envisioned having, and though I supposed he tried, it was abundantly clear he would have traded me in for a different model if given the chance. Mom was Mom. I could have been on death row, guilty as sin, and she would have been there patting me on the arm saying, “its OK honey, the Governor will call since I know in my heart you are a good boy.” But I couldn’t talk her or anyone about what I was feeling and experiencing, hell, I couldn’t even put it into words for myself.

I didn’t know why I was different, but it was clear I was. I would watch the interactions of my playmates, confounded as to the ways they related and responded to each other, and they did it so effortlessly. I’d hang in the background, try to be a part of without really being noticed, especially for the wrong reasons. And I watched a lot of TV looking for clues.

I had a hard time making and keeping eye contact and would often look off to the side when talking to someone. I would say “inappropriate” things (not like bad language or such, well, OK, sometimes, my mind just makes connections which make perfect sense to me, others, not so much) and had no clue as to why they were inappropriate. I would get that hated scrunched up nose narrowed eyed “say what” look and know I had somehow messed up.

In the early 60’s IQ tests were the rage. When the sealed envelopes with the results were handed out in my class, everyone got a white envelope, well almost everyone, mine was manila in color. That day’s walk home was filled with thoughts of suicide and ways to do it because I knew this was it. I left the envelope on the kitchen table (the thought never crossed my mind to disappear it) and waited in my room resigned to my fate. When Mom opened it all it said was the school wanted them to make an appointment to come in for a conference. My Dad was pissed (yep, that is the word he used) because he would have to take off work and was sure I had done something I was covering up. I maintained ignorance, thankful for the reprieve, dreading what I thought I KNEW was coming. The day came and I attended the meeting with the Vice-Principal as well. They were told I was, wait for it, ABNORMALLY intelligent. I don’t know what else was said after that, for I had shut down and blanked out. It was in the car driving home when I came back around to my father saying, “that was a huge waste of time.” I waited for “the” talk I had been dreading, but it never materialized. I went to school the next day as if nothing had happened and it was never brought up again. I really don’t know why they had my parents come in, this was before GATE or programs for gifted students existed, I think they were just as perplexed at what to do with me as I was.

At a very early age I decided the best course of action was to try to “fit in,” so I dedicated myself to mimicry. I would surreptitiously watch you: your facial expressions, the tone of your voice, the words you chose, how others reacted to you and how you reciprocated. And I practiced and practiced. You know how people say they have done something a “thousand” times? From that point (around 7) through High School I spent thousands of hours in front of the bathroom mirror rehearsing the things that came so naturally to you, until it became second nature. I taught myself to “fit in,” to act as if, even though I didn’t understand the underlying why’s.

And life went on. I looked at what generally qualified as “normal” (not surprisingly a lot of that came from TV) and started checking off the boxes. In time my fear of being “found out” diminished, but I was still a little “weird” which was kinda OK in High School. I played sports, got a girlfriend (relationships took my acting to a whole new level, and I still sucked at them), had a small circle of friends and was bored out of my mind. I drove my teachers to distraction by rarely turning in homework but acing tests. My poor mother on numerous occasions had to fight with instructors to pass me. I wouldn’t have graduated High School if not for her. She was 5’1 & ¾” as she would often proudly state and maybe 110 pounds soaking wet. One her favorite momisims was “dynamite and poison come in small packages,” she was a force to be reckoned with.

What really made High School tolerable though were the drugs and alcohol. See, if you were loaded or drunk you were expected to say and do inappropriate things. It would be forgiven with the blanket, “oh, he is just f#%ked up.” Talk about a get out of jail free card. As you can well imagine, drugs and alcohol became constant companions and close personal friends. Time passed and I kept checking off boxes: I got married (poor girl), bought a house, became a father and had the beginnings of a career in business management, because that is what “normal” life looked like, right? Things were good, at least I thought so, right up until they weren’t. My reliance on intoxicants turned on me and I ended up out of control, alone, broke, in dire straits physically and mentally. Then at 30 years of age I sought help and have been free of active addiction since 1985.

When I first I entered the community of recovery I was amazed. They talked about secrets and being “the actor,” of hidden feelings and motivations, lies and destructive behaviors. I felt like I was home at last and I let my guard down a little. Though I am still a part of this community, this feeling lasted only a couple of years until I had to face the truth, though I had much in common, I was still “special” and proceeded to work to “fit in” once again.

You see, I’m Autistic and all that implies. Hyper focus, given to routine, poor socialization skills, difficulty in forming and maintaining relationships, the whole eye contact thing (I have been practicing that for over 55 years and I still get it wrong) and so on. I am “high functioning” with (if you believe the tests) a high IQ. Sounds good, but to me it’s like being the car in the junkyard with the best paint job and good tires. I know, I know, just stop it. You must admit though it is a pretty good line. Shhh…just between you and me, the whole IQ testing thing, today I am pretty sure all it really denotes is someone who takes IQ tests well. Just sayin.

There used to be a thing called Asperger Syndrome, which pretty much described me. It is not a thing anymore though, which kinda sucks cause Asperger sounds like you’re having a burger made from snake and only real men eat snake burgers, I could see John Wayne or Errol Flynn eating a snake burger and liking it (remember, born in 55).

It wasn’t until President Kennedy came to office that the approach to mental health and how we address and work with children who are “special” began to change. In the ensuing decades a new world of resources and understanding has emerged, and had I been born a decade or so later, my life probably would have had a very different trajectory.

There are myriad of ways we can be defined, if we allow it. I am not DISabled; I am just other abled. I see the world through a prism of colors, sounds and textures different than you, not a good thing or a bad thing, it just is what it is. On the upside, having studied people’s expressions (micro and macro), vocal inflections, body language, etc. since I was a small child, I have an uncanny ability for “reading” people and predicting behavior, especially those who suffer from addiction.

Today, maybe it has to do with getting older, but I don’t care anymore about “fitting in,” I want to spend the rest of my days free of the fear-based restrictions I placed on myself and be honest. I met a young man recently who was Autistic, I asked him how he was coping with life and fitting in. You know what he said? “Screw’em.  If they don’t like me for who I am, I don’t want them in my life.” I cried.

We all have gifts and talents, are part of the grand fabric of life, the tapestry of colors truly a wonder. All here to teach and be taught, no one without or lacking value. Today I see the world through a new pair of glasses and though the music in my mind is somewhat different from yours, it is all part of the great symphony, every note of value, even those off key for they provide the impetus for change and growth. The key is, and always has been, love, and from love acceptance and respect.

So, if we ever meet in the “real” world, whatever that is, I may say something a little off key or be a little too blunt, but don’t take it personally. Oh, and I am told I can be a little intense so there is that. It is just me, being me, no longer in hiding, and chances are excellent I will probably say something that will make you laugh and though I don’t own a 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible I am an excellent driver.

Mindful Diligence

Living on the Spiritual Basis requires diligence, mindful of what are we planting (or allowing to remain) in our spiritual garden (consciousness). To be free of the fear driven life we need to ask ourselves regularly: Am I trying to impress others, curry favor, perhaps falsely believing, hoping, if they think I am okay, I am? That true happiness lies in the approval of others? Have we surrounded ourselves with people quick to co-sign whatever we are selling, while avoiding those who may ask uncomfortable (honest) questions or point out obvious truths we may not want to hear? Perhaps even employing a little “guilty with an explanation” reasoning when attempting to justify a bad decision or some selfish behavior?

Living on the Spiritual Basis teaches us that the unexamined life leads only to futility and frustration, a life filled with fear-based thinking and action, burying us in the bondage of self. So our path is simple, if not easy: we must perform a daily inventory of our spiritual garden and when we discover a “weed,” and we will from time to time, we honestly address it through prayer, asking to be shown the truth and what corrective action is required. If it is a troublesome pest, one that seems to keep sprouting up, we discuss it with a trusted spiritual advisor or friend, someone who will tell us the truth, even at the risk of the relationship, for the truth will set us free. Gratitude is an action, and grateful people are happy people, so always thank the Miraculous for this marvelous new ability to see mistakes and character flaws and the continuing willingness to be free of them, a day at a time.


© Vincent Lee Jones All Rights Reserved

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Promising The Moon

Promising The Moon

In truth, many wish to enjoy a “certain” reputation they know in their heart they don’t deserve. “Handsome is as handsome does” sounds a bit simple minded but it states the truth of this well. A consistently ill-tempered person may indeed wish, even long to be loved and cherished, but their very actions make this impossible. I have often heard, perhaps you have as well, the refrain of a friend or acquaintance of someone acting badly float the idea they really meant well, are basically a nice person, have a “heart of gold” and are just going through a rough patch to explain away their ill-treatment of others. Nonsense: Handsome is as handsome does. Actions always trump intentions. Consider: The thief who buys a loaf of bread for the poor with his ill-gotten gains is still a thief, has the heart and mind of a thief and unless changes the way they look at things will never be free of fear, ultimately reaping all the negative rewards, secular and spiritual, living as a thief always produces. 

Living on the Spiritual Basis our serenity, our freedom in Spirit, our peace of mind and heart, is determined by our actions. To be happy, joyous and free we must walk the way we talk or risk suffering mightily at the hands of hypocrisy and is not history littered with stories of those who failed to heed this truth or worse attempted to circumvent it by convincing themselves what they were doing may have been wrong, but “the ends justified the means?” The greatest self-inflicted tragedies in human history began with this evil concept. 

We can wish to moral, loving, kind and self-sacrificing, but who we really are is determined by our actions, and our reputation always reflects this. “Measure a man’s worth by his actions alone. For the devil also promises the moon!” Avijeet Das.

© Vincent Lee Jones All Rights Reserved Miracles Of Recovery, Overdose Death, Alcoholism, Wayne Dyer, Drug Addiction, Zen, Emmet Fox, Opioids, Heroin, Einstein, AA, Healing Path Recovery, Drug Rehab, #Drug Addiction, #Drug Rehab, #Healing Path Recovery, #Heroin, #Opioids

My Mama

My Mama

That new age sage, Forrest Gump, famously said “Sh*t happens.” And it does, sinner or saint, everyone encounters difficulties in life. Some self-inflicted, many just happenstances, the key being how we react when they come. A wise man said to me long ago “Everyone takes a turn in the barrel.” The problems begin in earnest when we start to believe the “barrel” or the rough patch we find ourselves in at the moment is permanent. “Seasons of dryness” happen to all, the reasons why of secondary importance, the action we engage in when we become aware primary. When driving if we come upon a patch of bad road, one of the signs invariably directs us to “slow down.” We are never directed to speed up, drive harder or redouble our driving. Most importantly the same holds for the spiritual road. We don’t struggle or try to fight our way through since Living on the Spiritual Basis requires us to cease fighting everyone and everything. Tension, anxiety and fear have never solved a single problem in the positive, so we relax and allow the Miraculous to work in our lives, for in truth, this too shall pass.

To be clear, action is required, so pray but keep it simple. In times of trouble simply “God is with me” is a powerful prayer and is sufficient if it is all that can be mustered in the moment. What matters is our willingness to continue praying, placing the burden on the shoulders of the Miraculous; the seat of all knowledge and power, for it is too much for us alone. Additionally, by getting “out” of ourselves in service to others, even if it just going out to pick up trash at the local park, pays dividends far beyond the effort expended to quiet a troubled heart (and taking a walk in the park is never a bad thing). By keeping our gaze focused on solution; prayer and service, in time, just as with stretches of bad road, the trouble will pass, the road will smooth out, the ride stabilized and our gaze in due course will shift from the roadbed (the trouble) back to the unlimited horizons of Divine Love before us. “My mama always told me that miracles happen every day. Some people don’t think so, but they do.” Thanks Forrest.

© Vincent Lee Jones All Rights Reserved Miracles Of Recovery, Overdose Death, Alcoholism, Wayne Dyer, Drug Addiction, Zen, Emmet Fox, Opioids, Heroin, Einstein, AA, Healing Path Recovery, Drug Rehab, #Drug Addiction, #Drug Rehab, #Healing Path Recovery, #Heroin, #Opioids

Building, a day at a time

Building, a day at a time

“Live, one day at a time.” But what does that really mean? Living on the Spiritual Basis the meaning is simple and profound: The only time we can be present for God, the only time we can stand in the presence of God, the only time we can be of service to those about us, the only time God can be present in our lives is in the present moment. So be present for God, for God is always present for us. Yesterday a memory, tomorrow a promise, today, this moment the only reality. This is the bedrock of Living on the Spiritual Basis, and upon this rock a wonderful spiritual life is built, one day at a time.

© Vincent Lee Jones All Rights Reserved
Miracles Of Recovery, Overdose Death, Alcoholism, Wayne Dyer, Drug Addiction, Zen, Emmet Fox, Opioids, Heroin, Einstein, AA, Healing Path Recovery, Drug Rehab, #Drug Addiction, #Drug Rehab, #Healing Path Recovery, #Heroin, #Opioids

Fear, the Thief of Serenity

Fear, the Thief of Serenity

To progress spiritually, to grow in consciousness, requires effort, work on our part. Additionally, no one can do another’s spiritual work for them anymore than we can eat a meal for a friend. To live free of the fear driven life we must cultivate open mindedness and remain willing to explore new spiritual experiences.

Self-centered fear is a thief, lurking in the shadows, cunning, patiently waiting to strike, to steal our peace of mind and serenity, leaving anxiety and depression in its wake. So, we ask in prayer and meditation that any notion any part of our lives or thinking, any shadow, is unseen by the Miraculous be removed. Of course, in truth, nothing is or ever was hidden, but we need to state this in prayer while affirming it in meditation, so any lingering thoughts that anything exists outside Divine sight will be smashed.

In this way we learn to live in the light, for in truth darkness only exists in the shadows we cast when attempting to live at odds with our true self and our birthright as children of the Miraculous. Living on the Spiritual Basis everything is illuminated, so when we err, for we all do, this simple reliance on Power Greater Than Ourselves as we have come to understand it, will take us to better things, forgiven as soon as we ask, our course of action made clear and unmistakable.

© Vincent Lee Jones All Rights Reserved Miracles Of Recovery, Overdose Death, Alcoholism, Wayne Dyer, Drug Addiction, Zen, Emmet Fox, Opioids, Heroin, Einstein, AA, Healing Path Recovery, Drug Rehab, #Drug Addiction, #Drug Rehab, #Healing Path Recovery, #Heroin, #Opioids