To the untrained eye, I look like just another person in the carpark.
It takes me three attempts to park my car the way I need to. I shut the door, lock it, test that I’ve locked it, scan the distance between me and the supermarket for hazards, then commence the Walk.
Look down. Look up. Breathe. Heel then toe. Heel then toe.
Promotion people at the entry. Don’t make eye contact.
“Good morning! Can I tell you a bit about -”
I don’t know what to say maybe I’ve already donated can’t you see this is unexpected and therefore not something I can really deal with back off back off back off!
I walk straight past. Make sure the trolley is clean. And it begins.
The incessant beeping is like a heartbeat. Fast. Irregular. Echoing through my head and governing the speed at which I build anxiety and panic.
Fruit. No blemishes. Clean. Not sticky. Selected from the back to minimise the number of hands it may have contacted, and the number of times it has already felt the sting of rejection.
Bread. Must be multigrain. Preferably not square. Milk. Expiry date needs to be an even number. Lid must be tight. Hold milk bottle upside down twice to ensure there are no drips. Put in the trolley, upright. Chicken for the dog. A full list, checked and double checked.
I know how this bit goes.
Greeting, enquire as to their health, make a generic comment about weather. Thank them, wish them a good day. Go to the car.
Until I was diagnosed with Aspergers I thought everyone had the same need for routine. I thought everyone had the same struggles that I did, but that I was just useless at dealing with them. That my inability to deal with these common struggles were what created within me the anxiety and depression and feelings of general uselessness.
But then I was set free from that.
Aspergers told me how my brain works. It explained why I needed structure and to build routines into my day. It explained why seemingly small things were so important to me. I understood why I needed - not wanted, but needed - things to be certain ways.
They say knowledge is power. It is indeed, and knowing who I am, with my Aspergers, has given me the power to work with myself to conquer the things that used to rest their heaviness upon my heart and take away my joy.
Because now, my heart is my heart. It is owned by me, not by my thoughts. And if it takes three attempts to park the car in a way that means I can do the shopping?
Then my weird little heart is happy. And essentially, life is too short for anything but.