Hey everyone this is Erik Johnson, I want to expand on what I talked about yesterday, having regret growing up with autism, and I talked a lot about my relationship with my dad. And, you know, it really mattered what he thought of me.
As a young boy, highly sensitive, I learned how to hide behind a shell of insensitivity, self centeredness and I didn’t have a lot of friends. But the friends I did have playing, you know, in childhood, we had very close friendships and I laughed a lot, but it took a long time for me to gain trust with anyone that came into that circle.
I am still like that today. I am very apprehensive of who I hang out with, and it takes me three months to six months to really let my guard down and have fun with somebody. Same thing as, you know, when I was a child.
But my dad and I butted heads, because we are pretty much very identical in behavior. And I believe that he had Asperger’s as well, and it is genetic. So we were both very controlling. We are a perfectionist, and we clashed, and he had a very powerful, very scary temper.
Regret Growing Up with Autism
And so I was very sensitive. I was never a fighter. I never fought in school, I basically was picked on. And, you know, my only defense was basically withholding love from people. That was the only thing that was the first weapon I learned in a social environment was to withhold love.
I remember, my dad spanked me really hard growing up, and he would try to play with me and something wouldn’t go right. One time he threw a baseball and I didn’t catch it and it hit me in the mouth, and I just stopped playing. He tried begging me to play again.
Somehow I felt a satisfaction of him begging me to play again, and I was just like no, no I don’t want to play. I’m done. And my mom did that too, she would, you know, she took time off from work one time to play with me, and I was like no I don’t want to, I don’t want to go now. You know, and people could think I was a spoiled brat but really I was trying to get my own power – my own sense of identity, and unfortunately I had to manipulate people at least try to, and withholding love was the only thing I learned.
So my biggest regret today, of having Asperger’s, and I’m still dealing with stuff I did when I was in my teens, when I was 14 I wanted to fit in with the bullies, and so I devised a plan to rip off my next door neighbor’s house, who was in fact my childhood friend.
We played every week hide and go seek and spying on neighbors and just playing on our bicycles and stuff, you know, and when I was 14 I was like let’s rip off the next door neighbor, and I created a list of stuff we could rip off, and I got two friends to do it, to do the house breaking in with me, and we did it, and we only ripped off like four things and then we got busted by the police two weeks later, and that destroyed my family, pretty much.
So I felt guilt and shame for that subconsciously for 30 years. In fact, I made amends with my dad again for that just three months ago. I’m almost 50 years old, so I’m still harboring these things that I did to people in my early teens, and my dad, of course, forgave me a long time ago when he went to counseling, when I was in my 20s and he was fine with everything.
I was the one who needed to forgive myself, and I’m still trying to forgive myself for all the things I did when I was an alcoholic, when I was the town drunk, you know, breaking up with girls without even telling them, just ignoring them, walking away from old friendships because they didn’t align with my current beliefs anymore.
All those things kind of hurt, you know, at the time I thought I was tough, I thought I was a rebel, and I was like you know I don’t need these friends, I’m going to just walk away.
When I started dating an older woman, my first girlfriend was 20 years older than me, and I had some old jock friends and some old stoner friends from high school, and I just literally turned my back and I ignored them. So that was basically my second weapon against people from hurting me, was walking away.
So when I was in my teens, it was withholding love, and then later on when I was 18 It was basically walking away from people, and just being like no I don’t need you anymore. And, you know, it may have hurt them a little but it hurt me way longer, and I’m now realizing that I have a lot of guilt and shame for what I did in my 20s and in my youth.
Now today, I don’t have any friends. I have basically self isolated. I still have a fiance which I’m very proud to be with. We’ve been together for 10 years, but she’s very understanding and she’s very spiritual, she’s an energy healer. And so I can talk to her for real about all of these insecurities and we can work on my problems together – and I’ve helped her a lot with her insecurities, so it’s a good relationship.
But as far as intimacy and things like that, I’m still working on learning how to love someone authentically and not treating them like a sex object, because I was addicted to porn, as well. I was addicted to being a womanizer and being a narcissist, because in my perverted distorted mind I thought that was cool, because I had some very negative role models, you know growing up, I listened to hard rock my role models were destructive rock and rollers, you know, Ozzy, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, these people that, you know, trashed their hotel rooms and drank copious amounts of alcohol. I looked up to them.
Then, in my early 20s, I looked up to alcoholic writers, junkies that wrote novels, You know like William Burroughs. So I romanticize junkies, I never did heroin. But, you know, obviously my role models were very dark. So I’m unraveling all these things that I created in my 20s.
Now, I’m almost 50, and I’m really looking at all of these things and trying to unravel and open my heart, basically opening my heart for the very first time, and it’s incremental. I can’t just open my heart instantly overnight and expect everyone to come running back and we all grew up. It’s going to take a lot of work.
But the number one thing I have to do is forgive myself. And as an ex addict alcoholic, I have a lot of guilt and shame. If you use or have used you probably understand that you probably might have a lot of guilt and shame for what you did when you’re drinking and using.
I’m right there with you. I’m still trying to piece together what happened, you know, it seemed like a blur. Being a drunk for almost 20 years, destroying relationships and getting arrested and walking out of jobs or getting fired. All of that stuff was just a tornado, and during that time I romanticized it, I was like oh it’s so cool I can just walk out of this job and not care, and not caring seemed like the cool thing to do, but all it did was looking back, I was so foolish.
But, as a young boy that was my only defense to protect myself to protect how sensitive I was, was to deflect love and to not give love, and to become hard, at least as hard as I thought. Really I wasn’t hard at all. I was a very scared little boy, even as a 20 year old I was still very scared and I just pretended that I was tough.
A lot of us pretend we’re tough when we’re really not. The true men who are authentically strong are the men and women that can shed tears, easily, and to show their feelings and be vulnerable and to forgive others, to forgive others is very manly. Go into bars and fight and and act like a Neanderthal, you know, having one night stands and getting wasted and cheating and cutting corners, that’s not a man, that’s a coward. That’s a weak coward.
I want to be a real man. And so I’m unraveling. So my biggest regret isn’t having Asperger’s, it isn’t rocking back and forth for 42 years, or whatever 46 years. You know I was rocking back and forth stimming for 46 years. I’ve been rocking since I was two, started with a rocking horse, moved to a rocking chair, And then I just started rocking on the floor while watching TV with my parents when I was eight.
I have bigger regrets than that, I know I robbed 45,000 hours away of my life. I did have fun doing that, I could daydream, I could take back my power. I listened to lots of music, and had beautiful memories with a lot of good music, but my biggest regret is actually hurting my parents, hurting my parents by ripping off that house, and the silent treatment, the silent treatment against my father from the ages of 16 to 18. You know, I, it eventually hurt me more than it hurt him.
And now we have a great relationship. There’s still some issues I have to work on. My dad has forgiven me, years ago, my mom has forgiven me, my sister forgave me. I still have to make amends, but it’s to myself now. It’s not to them they’re fine. I have to make amends with myself.
So I hope this helps. Just go easy on yourself one day at a time, start working on your inner child really start trying to bring out your inner child, because we, You know, we do things to protect ourselves, but in the end it hurts us more. So forgive yourself. That’s the first step in this long process, I love you guys, hit that subscribe button, and we’ll talk to you soon.
Here are more Resources for Autism and Addiction.