Hi, I'm [insert my real name here]. I'm in a 12 step program. For a good chunk of my life it's been a blessing, in that it's helped me develop a number of behaviours that I needed working on, as well as having a crap ton more social interaction than I would have without being eligible for being in such a program. As of right now though, it's feeling a good bit like a curse and I'm not really sure how to resolve it or if it can be resolved while I still live here.
OK, so one of the most complicating factors in getting my diagnosis was the fact that I've been fairly social over the years since I've been in this 12 step program. If I want to maintain myself, I pretty much HAVE to be around people at meeting, and have been so for almost 20 years now. I didn't really talk much for the first few years I was doing it (ie age 16 to about 20), so it might have been pretty clear at that point that I had Asperger's (that point was 1991 though, still 3 years away from AS showing up in the DSM-IV.) It was a very slow process, but over the years I was able to become a great deal more social, though it was still very awkward and confusing to me. Through working the steps, I was effectively practicing a form of cognitive behavioural therapy that forced me to step outside my comfort zone.
First problem: as I got older in this deal, it was becoming clear that something was amiss, as that was how I came to realize that I had zero understanding of body language, and that such a thing even existed. As a result of that new-found knowledge, I've completely racked my brain trying to understand this "foreign language" and piece together things from my past to try to understand them. That hasn't worked out so well at times, and I've had a tendency to withdraw ever since. The world much a much simpler place, easier to take in, when it was just relying on what people had to say.
Second problem: one of the key steps in trying to "decipher" (through a process of meditation) what the next right thing is that I'm supposed to do, to help make sense of what is happening in life and what has already happened. 20 years of trying this, and it simply isn't working out. I don't have a fucking clue how to make heads or tails of anything that's going on around me. I'm not sure if this an AS thing or not, as some psychological testing taken when I was a kid showed I had severe deficits in cause-effect relationships. This isn't a new thing, in that I see something happening and I have no clue what it means (or if it even means anything.)
So these two problems aren't making my life in a 12 step program any easier. I've been around it long enough to be considered an old timer that new people could look up to, but my life experience has not been typical of "someone working a good program." I don't share my experience very well when it's my turn to share, I've led a life that could hardly be considered "responsible" or "being accountable" due to the sleep issues I've had over the years (that some have said are a "result of not working a good program.") When it comes down to it, I just have a major lack of life experience, especially anything considered a reasonably successful major life experience (no kids, no long term relationships, no job, no career, not even living a life that could be considered living independent from my parents.) Why the hell would anyone look up to me and what what I have, when I have nothing more than not engaging in a certain behaviour one day at a time, for almost 20 years.
Don't get me wrong, as I am NOT knocking this 12 step program or 12 step programs in general. I think they're great, especially since I would be even worse off had I not done those steps. This is just me venting a bit, that I want to be more like the people I see in meetings around me, but I don't know how to be like that. I think I'm on the right path to it, but until then there is just this disconnect between the time I have under my belt and where I am in life.
For now, I'm trying to focus on some aspects of Asperger's, trying to handle them differently than when I was trying to (essentially) fix the problems I had due to AS by working the 12 steps. It continued to frustrate me that things didn't get any better, and were actually getting worse the longer I wasn't getting better while still staying sober. It took many years to figure this out the hard way, but it's obvious now the steps can't fix everything. I hope to alleviate the frustration I've had by focusing more on other ways to deal with AS, and see if they can't be much more successful than the steps.