Driven to Anxiety

Driven to Anxiety

I thought I would be happy to get back into the groove of academic life after my eight-month break from school, but unfortunately I’ve transferred to Florida Atlantic University in worse emotional shape than when I left Broward College with my AA degree in hand. Why? Although I’ve become more socially engaged, my anxiety has somehow managed to come back to ruin me–not just in mind, but in body and soul as well. For over two months, I’ve had heart palpitations, headaches, upset stomach, muscular spasms, and more recently pins and needles. I can still function just fine, but my body would still be in optimal condition if not for the following issues looming over my head.

  1. My incomplete novel
    • I’m just one hair strand close to done with writing my first novel, but I just needed some inspiration from Law & Order: SVU to finish the last chapter or two. I promised myself I would finish the book by the time I got back to school, but it seems I kind of let myself down. If I had signed my soul over to a publisher, then I would’ve had it finished, edited if need be, and placed it on  the shelves of Barnes & Noble a lot faster.
  2.  Driving
    • On Friday, September 9th, I passed my driving test and acquired my driver’s license. While I am grateful that I worked so hard to get the ultimate ticket to social freedom, I should’ve done this a lot sooner. Right now, I’m driving to and from school with my mom in her mini-van, and so far I’m doing remarkably well. My parents got me a new car on Halloween, but I have to put off driving it by myself for a few days.
  3. The possibility of someone ending my new relationship
    • Kristoff is just the most amazing man to ever come into my life. He’s smart, funny, affectionate–and he was in my church’s youth group back in high school (even though I don’t remember talking to him much). Unfortunately, someone on Facebook wasn’t too happy about the fact that I found love during the summer and he didn’t. That someone was my college acquaintance, who I’ll call Juan. About a week into the Olympics, Juan messaged me on Facebook asking me what I did this past summer. My answer was very simple–“I went to Vegas, went to SuperCon, and I found love.” The last part pissed Juan off to the point where he bitched at me for spending so much of my time with Kristoff and not him, to which I responded, “He’s a good guy! I even practiced some of my driving with him!” (Okay, I probably didn’t type that last sentence, even though it was true. Either way, that conversation has been long since deleted.) Juan got pissed off even more, saying that I sat our friendship on the sidelines as was the case with all of his other friends when they got into relationships. I decided he went too far, so I blocked him immediately. A few weeks later, I talked to Juan over the phone and told him that me having a new boyfriend doesn’t give him the right to yell at me. I assured him that he’ll find somebody to share his life with someday, but he has to do some growing up first. Juan apologized, and I never spoke to him again since. What Kristoff and I have is beautiful, but I’m scared that someone will do something that will bring our relationship to a screeching end.
  4. School
    • Attending university may cost a lot of money–and thank God for financial aid–but it shouldn’t have to cost me my mental health. In Broward College, I was able to focus in class and complete my assignments without any issues. Now at Florida Atlantic University, because I’m now a junior, the workload has become a little unbearable, especially because I’m taking one class that’s not exactly required for my major. On top of that, the majority of the journalism classes I need to take are held at the main campus 45 minutes from home, and my mom isn’t exactly ready for me to attend classes at that campus next semester, which means I will be forced to take two classes next semester and two classes during the summer (if my financial aid will even cover that), or I’ll have to take two online classes (which I don’t want to do, not after what happened with Intro to Ethics). If my brother is able to go to a medical school far from home, why can’t I attend a campus that has all the classes I need for my major? This brings me to my final point.
  5. Double standards
    • This practice is highly prevalent in Hispanic families: sons have more social rights, whereas daughters need to be overprotected regardless of their maturity level. Even though I’m autistic, I’m quite mature for my age, yet my mother insists that I shouldn’t participate in the some of the same activities as my brother based on the simple fact that I’m a girl.
      • My brother can go on trips to Orlando, New York, Vegas, and pretty much all the other 50 states with his friends and his girlfriend; I can only do so with my family.
      • He can work while he’s in school (although he’s unemployed now because most schools forbid Master’s students to hold a job); I cannot.
      • He can go sleep over at his girlfriend’s house if he so chooses; I cannot do the same with my boyfriend, even though his apartment has a guest room available.

These problems have been causing me great anxiety for over two months already, and I’m afraid I won’t relax until I take care of most of these issues. Why anxiety chooses to afflict the smartest people on the planet, especially autistic people, is something I cannot fathom. It’s a bitch, but I have to fight it so I can be fully happy again.

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Wishes for My 22nd Birthday

Wishes for My 22nd Birthday

It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and while I should’ve been doing something to celebrate his accomplishments on peacefully integrating marginalized groups into society, I’m sitting at home with the sudden realization that… Holy shit, my 22nd birthday is precisely two weeks from today!

My 21-year-old life hasn’t been all that’s cracked up to be due to all the bullshit that crossed my path in the past year (See: Different Strokes). I still can’t fully drive yet, so I feel like I got my learner’s permit for nothing; I’ve been single for over a year and a half; my social has been crappy (except for hanging out with my brother and his girlfriend and my family, but such is an Aspie’s life); and I’m about 20 to 40 percent done with my first novel.

I want 2016 to be MY year, I really do. But I really need God’s help to make my 22nd year of life (and beyond) as bearable as possible. Here are some of the things I wish to happen after I turn 22. I want…

A.) To practice my driving more often so that I can take the driver’s exam and obtain a LEGIT driver’s license.

B.) A boyfriend who can accept me as I am and support me through all my trials and tribulations.

C.) To spend more time with friends I haven’t seen for ages.

D.) To finish my first novel and have it published, and further hone my writing skills along the course of my career (which hasn’t begun yet, but still).

I really just want to get the hell out of my comfort zone and experience as much of life as I possibly can. It sucks having to stay home all the time.

 

The Siphoned Heart

Originally written February 13, 2015

 

My first love was five years my senior,

Yet he and I were exactly alike.

Autistic—Asperger’s, mind you—with

Big hearts of gold; encyclopedic

Knowledge of video games, animation,

History, and politics; and a wish for world peace.

But the love we had for each other

Was beautiful. I loved him

Just as much as he loved me.

One summer night, all that changed when

He told me, with a sullen look on his face,

That our romance had to come to an end. I believe he

Never meant that because—and please

Don’t write me off as crazy—a Heartless

Stole the heart that loved me and

Replaced it the heart that wanted

Nothing to do with me romantically

At all.

To this very day,

My mind has been racing

With thoughts of running the world over,

Keyblade in hand, to find the dark villain

Responsible for stealing the heart

Of a man who loved me so dearly, and

Take it back. Only when I return the

Golden heart to my man will

He love me again, because his heart

Belongs to me, not the romance-hating

Devil that is our society.

New Year’s: Cleaning Out My Room, Longing for a Social Life

Six days into 2016, everybody is out delivering the promises they have made for the new year–committing to intense physical activity (the most common New Year’s resolution), smoking cessation, alcohol sobriety, financial responsibility, travel, the works. Meanwhile, I’m just freeing my closet space by giving away clothes that I haven’t worn for what seems like eons. My definition of eons in this case means over seven years since I moved to a neighborhood minutes away from my friends but, in my mind, very far from me because of my inability to drive and the lack of means to do so.

I have a lot of clothes for someone who doesn’t go out as much as the average young adult, and it’s sad to see that I’ve taken advantage of my mother’s kindness by not wearing some of the old clothes she bought me years ago that look brand new and have been worn at least twice, if not less. I try my best to wear some of the recent outfits, like the white denim hoodie vest from Guess with a black camisole top, shredded jeans and black booties that make me look like an action movie star. Otherwise, I just wear graphic t-shirts from Hot Topic, the Disney Store, Macy’s and Walmart with black or gray sweatpants.

I told my mom that I want to be able to give away the clothes I want to give away no questions asked. One of the reasons I don’t take the time to go through my closet for clothes to give away even when I want to is because Mom inquires to no end, “Does that fit you?” and “How come you never wear that cute top?” I couldn’t conjure up a better answer other than, “I have worn that [top] at least a couple times.”

Maybe the better answer should’ve been, “I haven’t been as much of a social butterfly since Jack broke up with me, that’s why my closet’s so damn full.”

I want to be more sociable from this year forward. I saw a movie on Netflix the other night called Stuck in Love about a family of writers in which the patriarch, Bill Borgens, obsesses over his ex-wife after she cheats on him with a younger guy, an experience the eldest daughter, Sam, based her first novel on. When the youngest son, Rusty, catches his father reading his journal, Bill tells Rusty that he needs to really experience life in order to be a better writer. I’ve kept diaries and journals–even typed one–since the 3rd Grade, and although my entries were mostly about my experiences in school, I believe I have honed my writing skills by writing in those diaries on a daily basis (or at least every two days since it sometimes took me forever to finish one entry at a time).

Now that I have finished my associates program at Broward College, I can focus on finishing the novel that I have been working on since the summer of 2014. Since I’m going to be a novelist, I need to do two things: read novels as voraciously as possible, and get out of my house more. The latter is as equally important as the former because without any actual life experience, the life of a writer will have no value.

What can I do to better myself as a writer?
Apply for a job at some of my favorite stores? Possibly. Find a new boyfriend? Maybe. Hang out with some girlfriends I haven’t gotten to see for ages? Definitely.

Whatever I do, I’ll be able to take in all the experiences in order to inspire my future novels. I really don’t want to be a hermit and be stuck with a mountain of old clothes the rest of my life.

Disney Movies Made Me a Hopeless Romantic

At the end of every fairy tale, we hear these three words: “…happily ever after.” But why does it seem like happily ever after isn’t lasting as long as we believe it should, especially in the 21st century? That’s what I’m trying to figure out myself now that I’m in my twelfth month as a lonely woman.

My very first Disney movie was, if my memory serves correctly because I was extremely young, Sleeping Beauty. Princess Aurora is spirited away to a cottage in the forest by the Three Good Fairies after Maleficent casts a spell on her as a baby. She’s given a new identity, Briar Rose, and for sixteen years she lives her life happily with absolutely no knowledge that she’s a princess. On her sixteenth birthday, in an ironic turn of events, Aurora (a.k.a. Briar Rose) meets Prince Phillip, whom she is betrothed to by her parents, King Stefan and Queen Leah, for the purpose of uniting their two kingdoms, and they click right away. Rose is heartbroken to hear from the fairies that she cannot meet Prince Phillip again once the truth about her royal heritage came out. Meanwhile, the prince retreats to King Stefan’s castle to tell his father, King Hubert, about his encounter with Aurora (without revealing her name because she hesitated to even say it in the first place). The Good Fairies bring Aurora back to her castle, where Maleficent lures Aurora to her sleeping death by making her touch the spindle. The Fairies then find Prince Phillip to break the spell by kissing her back to life. Once Aurora is awoken by her very first kiss, she dances with the same prince she met back in the forest in front of the entire kingdom.

Sleeping Beauty introduced me to the concept of true love, which I interpreted as: If I happen to like a certain guy, he’s my true love. Unfortunately, the guys I was interested in when I was very young didn’t think the same way about me–or other girls, for that matter. When I was 12, I had a crush on this boy Trent (not his real name), who was three years my junior and the little brother of one of my brother’s best friends. Trent and I attended the same elementary school together, and almost every day until I entered 6th Grade I would go over to his house and play Sonic Riders with him–mostly because he needed my help with beating certain levels. The funny thing was, I didn’t even develop a crush on Trent until I was vacationing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I conjured up a drawing of me and Trent standing next to each other, and wrote a letter saying I missed him. Trent was un-phased by it. Five months later, I decided to write a love letter to him in the form of a card. I was very nervous to give the card to Trent in person, so I told Trent’s brother to give him the card for me. Trent’s reaction when he received it? Minimal conversation with me to none at all. I was stunned, but thank God I didn’t go psycho over it.

Enter the spring semester of my freshman year of high school, and I meet Jack (not his real name), the son of my middle school counselor who’s married to my high school counselor. When I discovered that Jack was as big a Sonic fan as I was, we immediately clicked. We were friends first due to our ages at the time: 16 and 21. I had to wait till I turned 18 to date Jack, but he was infatuated with me regardless. On November 9th, 2012, our third date–the first two dates were chaperoned at a pizzeria and at Halloween party in South Beach, respectively–after we saw Wreck-It Ralph, Jack gave me my first kiss and said, “I love you.” My stomach was filled with butterflies, but Jack admitting his feelings towards me made me feel so happy.
I finally found my Prince Charming!
Jack and I did everything together–attend anime conventions (at least one), cosplay our favorite video game characters, hang out at Barnes and Noble, talk about social problems, even ice skating on my prom night. I believed that our romance would last forever.
On May 20th last year, five days before my flight to California, the moment I thought would never hit me happened. At a local Chili’s, Jack said, somberly, that he felt like an older brother to me and that he had absolutely no idea who he was anymore. We went back to being “just friends,” but we no longer see each other. Now we just text and tweet to each other. (Just recently, we started playing Dungeon Fighter Online–just in our own homes since it’s an MMO.)

Jack leaving me shattered the “true love” mentality drilled into me by the Disney movies I watched as a kid (and still do today, on occasion). It made me feel like everything Disney taught me about love and relationships…is wrong. But then again, the time period in which the animated films took place ranges from the Middle Ages (or earlier, since Mulan took place in the Han dynasty) to the 20th century, so the status quo on love and relationships may have changed in that long stretch of time. Still, Jack breaking up with me got me into an emotional (not to mention mental) tailspin, ruminating over why he had to leave me, what I did wrong in our relationship, and how I could get him back, if at all. At the same time, even now as I’m writing this, I’m trying to learn to push these Disney fairy tale notions of love out of my mind and let Jack go. Maybe he will come back to me, maybe he won’t.
In the meantime, I hope that any guy who comes my way will have the same love, compassion, and understanding as Jack expressed toward me.

Red Paint

“What’s wrong, girl?” Skye asks me as she’s eating her macaroni and cheese during A Lunch.
“Drake’s cheating on me,” I tell Skye, forcing my voice to come out of my silent sobs.
“That’s impossible. How could Drake be cheatin’ on you?”
          I point to the windswept redheaded boy at the lunch table in front of us, his arm wrapped around the waist of a girl with her straight dirty blonde hair tied up in a ponytail. I caught Drake with that Hollister-clad girl by his locker this morning, embracing her and leaning his head to kiss her neon-pink lips. I gasped in horror as I saw Drake in the arms of someone that wasn’t me.
          “Drake, who is she?” I asked, a tone of horror still lingering in my voice.
          “Oh, Ami,” Drake said as he stepped back from the girl, trying to regain his composure. “This is Sabrina. I caught my eye on her last night on Facebook and thought to myself, ‘My God, she’s so pretty. Hell, even prettier than Ami!’ I was going to dump you after talking to Sabrina in chat room, but the image of her beautiful, porcelain face took over my brain. No wonder she’s the most popular girl in school.”
          I looked at Sabrina, who smirked at me as she leaned her back against Drake’s locker, which was five doors down from hers, twirling her ponytail. “So, she doesn’t give a shit about your infidelity towards me?”
          Drake shook his head.
          “How could you do this to me!?” I screamed at Drake loud enough for the other students in the hallway to turn their heads and watch my dilemma unfold. “I’ve done you no wrong!”
          “True, you didn’t do anything wrong,” Drake said as he ran his hand through his sea of red locks. “But Sabrina has convinced me that I would rather go out with a siren like her instead of a brainy Aspie like you. I’m sorry, but it’s just the natural order of high school dating: beauty over brains.”
          I had the urge to slap him across the face for turning into a discriminatory bastard towards me, but I refrained. I walked away from him and that blonde wench he called a “siren,” and let my eyes build up with tears all morning. All. Freakin’. Morning. (I couldn’t even pay attention to anything my teachers we’re lecturing about, for God’s sake!)

          Skye puts her hand on my shoulder and says to me, “Ami, I understand that this is very hard for you, but there has to be some way you could cope with that boy’s cheating on you.”
          “I don’t know, Skye,” I whimper. I blow my nose into a rough napkin packaged with the plastic spork and knife. I wish I brought my box of Kleenex tissues because the napkins at my school feel like sandpaper, but it would have to do. “Drake and I have been together since we were freshmen, and I never thought that our relationship would end with him having an affair with that—that bitch!” I hope Drake didn’t hear that.
         “That’s how most high school relationships run their course, unfortunately,” Skye says. “Next to going to different colleges after graduation. Besides, Drake probably might leave that Sabrina chick and go to a university millions of miles away from the one she’ll apply to, anyhow.”
          As Skye continues to lecture me about the maladies of high school dating, I look around the cafeteria and see a WET PAINT sign printed in red on the wall near the vending machine at the entrance. My brain stops the waterworks by bringing to mind an awful yet brilliant idea.
          “Skye, I just thought of something.”
          “What?” Skye chirps.

          “You know how in Kill Bill, The Bride tries to get revenge on the title character and his henchmen for leaving her for dead on her wedding day?”

          “You’re not gonna literally kill Drake, are you?”

          “No, I have a revenge plan of my own.” I take a red Sharpie out of my backpack and poke the clean part of my white paper tray with it. “This weekend, I’m gonna make Drake run red… with paintballs.”                                               Skye’s face becomes puzzled. “But, Ami, how are you going to get Drake to play your game of paintball? You’ve never even set foot on the paintball field before. And you’ve never even followed through with the revenge plots you told me about whenever you got pissed off at somebody.”                                           “That’s because I think about the negative consequences that would result from my vindictive actions and refrain from committing them,” I reassure Skye. “Don’t worry, this paintball plan is the one revenge plan that I’ll definitely follow through.”

********

It’s finally Saturday, and Skye and I are waiting for Drake to come over to the paintball field. Yesterday, Skye suggested I wait till I got home to call him—“Think of it as your final phone call after the breakup,” she said—and ask him if he would like to play paintball with me and Skye. He agreed, and said that he would invite Sabrina to tag along for the game. Perfect, more fun for revenge paintball, I thought.
          Skye’s wearing camouflage jeans, a plain white T-shirt that grew dull with age, and Adidas sneakers. Not the smartest choice of an outfit, but it’s too late. My outfit is the ultimate camouflage package some girls would die for—a tank top with angel wings on the back, a bandana, fingerless gloves, and jeans. Not to mention, black Timberland boots. The clock on my smartphone screen reads noon, and Drake and Sabrina the Wench arrive straight on the dot. Drake is sporting the same black Bike Week shirt I got him from Daytona Beach during spring break last year and khaki shorts. Sabrina is a sight for sore eyes—she’s wearing an emerald green crop top that’s revealing her butterfly belly-button piercing, khaki capris, and blue Converse shoes. I place my hand on my forehead in disgust because Sabrina’s outfit is the dumbest outfit I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
          “Glad you could make it, guys,” I say to Drake and Sabrina as I smile reluctantly.
          “The pleasure is all ours,” Sabrina replies. “Of all the fun activities I want to do with Drake, paintball seems to be the best choice. I can’t wait to get shot with every color of the rainbow! Just don’t let the paintball touch my hair, though.”
          Wow, for someone I thought was a conceited girl who deems paintball an uncouth recreational sport, Sabrina must be really stoked about this, I think to myself.
          We all go on to the reception desk and grab our masks and paintball guns carrying our choice of colors. My gun is carrying blood red paintballs while Skye’s gun is loaded with orange and yellow. Drake is carrying sky blue paintballs in his gun, and Sabrina has a supply of emerald green paintballs. It’s actually very surprising how there are different shades of every color to choose from.
          The paintball field is perfectly set in a wooded area, with trees to serve as shields in the event a plastic or wooden wall is out of reach. We stand out in the open with Skye and I facing Drake and Sabrina. While I want to give both of them a mean look–especially Drake–I smile because I prepared a little surprise for them for the end of the battle if not sooner. “Are you ready for the paint-filled bloodshed?” I ask Drake.
          “Bring it on, Ami,” Drake replies with a grin.
          I count to three and we split up. Skye and I run toward the tree with an orange X sprayed on it, declaring it our home base. Drake and Sabrina go the opposite direction. Skye taps my shoulder. “Ami, are you really sure you thought this through?”
          “I’m positive,” I tell her. “As soon as we see those infidels come near here, we take them by surprise.” Five minutes later, I see Drake and Sabrina walk toward our base. Skye and I wait three seconds. Then we jump out and start shouting war cries as we shoot at them. Drake starts shooting at me, but he’s not aiming at my shirt–he’s aiming at my mask. He’s trying to blind me! Thirty seconds go by and Drake’s blue paint blinds me completely. His last shot knocks me down.
          Skye rushes to my aid. She wipes the paint off my mask with a maple leaf. “Are you okay, Ami?”
          “Yeah,” I reply. “I wasn’t exactly expecting that to happen.” I sit up and discover that Drake and Sabrina ran away. That’s the dumbest strategy I’ve ever seen–blinding an opponent and then running away! But I’m not gonna sit here all day and take that sort of bullshit. If they want to fight dirty, I’ll show them fighting dirty.
          I reach into my pocket and show Skye my ultimate weapon: the Big Bang Paint Grenade. “Where the hell did you get that?” she asks me, shocked at how I was able to get my hands on something that expensive.
          “I got it at Sports Authority on my way home last night,” I say. “As the name implies, it explodes just like a regular hand grenade.”
          “What are you going to do with it?”
          “Oh, you’ll see.”
          After trekking through the forest paintball field for what seemed like half an hour, Skye and I spot what looks to be some kind of wooden pueblo shed. Through the window, I see Drake making out with Sabrina. “I knew it,” I growl. “Drake shot me blind just so he could run away with that wench and make out with her!”
          “Good Lord!” Skye exclaims. “So, Drake really did want to get rid of you. He wasn’t cheating on you after all.”
          “It doesn’t matter, Skye. Drake is gonna pay for what he did to me.”
I aim my paint grenade at the shed window. Then I throw it through the window and wait five seconds for the biggest explosion in the history of paintball. Red paint splatters all over the place, some it surging out the door and the windows. “MY HAIR!” Sabrina screams with terror.
          “Who did this!? Drake shouts. I walk over to the shed and look at the shirtless Drake and the bikini-clad Sabrina, their exposed bodies covered in blood red–just as I expected. Drake’s eyes pop open. “Ami!? But why?”
          “To teach you a lesson,” I reply with my arms crossed. “When you leave a woman scorned, she’ll do everything she possibly can to make your life a living hell. Now I leave you two to clean up this mess.” I turn to Skye. “Skye, we’re outta here.”
          “WHAT THE HELL, AMI!? WHAT THE HELL!?!?” Drake screams. I ignore him, my mind giving him the middle finger.
          Mission accomplished.

To Love, or Not to Love?

To love, or not to love—that is the question:
Whether it is nobler for my heart to suffer
The bullets of the uncertain future of my relationship with the man I love,
Or to armor myself against the storm of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To love, to part—
No more—and by part we say to end
The heartache, and the thousand complications
We lovers are forced to endure at the hands of
Our damned society. To love, to part;
To love—perchance to stay. Yes, that’s the issue;
For what’s the point of staying with my man
If he’s at a crossroads, trying to choose whether
To love me like the romantic lover he is,
Or to love me like I’m his little sister
For the sake of making a living without such a distraction as me.
It seems the Devil made my beloved lose his way,
Making him erase me from his mind and his heart.
If that is true, then why couldn’t he just stay dead
After Christ, my Lord and Savior, defeated him?
It’s because Satan wants to make
The life of love a living hell,
To build a wall between me and my beloved,
And to keep us separated forevermore.
I wish to fight the Beast in the name of Jesus Christ,
So that I can win back my right to stay with the man I love
And so that he’ll never come between us ever again.
My beloved means the whole world to me,
And I really want to stay with him for all eternity.