Life coaching, take 2… ACTION!

I had my 2nd virtual visit with my life coach on Monday. It’s been 2 weeks since my last visit, but those 2 weeks were actually pretty good, all things considered! I’d been up all night, so I was even wide awake for this 7 AM visit. I felt I actually WANTED to talk to him! Then, about 45 minutes before I was supposed to log on, I felt a strong desire to talk about my friend that passed away in 2014. For the sake of the story, let’s call him J…

J had been my best friend and roommate for going on 12 years by 2014. I sacrificed my friendship with every other member of our group over him. You see, I was the only one that truly enjoyed his company. That story is for another time, but needless to say, I sacrificed a lot to remain by his side, and I didn’t regret any of it! I say all of this to hopefully impart how much this man meant to me, and how much I cherished our friendship.

Then came March 14th, 2014 when he passed away in his sleep due to a drug overdose. It wasn’t only that J passed away; I was also the person who found him. That one event fucked me up beyond belief. I couldn’t think about him, as every memory of his got tainted by what I saw that night. To this day, certain colors will still trigger a PTSD reaction in me. It took me several years before I could look at a picture of him without some negative reaction.

Since coming to terms with being autistic, I think back to my relationship with J, and I realized something… J was DEFINITELY neurodivergent, and I’m ~99.99999% sure he was autistic. Now, I know you can’t diagnose someone remotely, but given the circumstances, I think I’ll be okay making this assumption. There’s hundreds stories I could tell where J would show autistic traits. I think that’s why him and I got along so well. To everyone else, he was a pompous asshole. I’d seen more behind his mask than anyone else, including his wife. We actually had several conversations about how his wife will never know him as well as I do!

Why bring up J in a post when I’m supposed to be discussing my life coaching? Well, this particular morning, I WANTED to talk about him! It took 8 years, but I finally forgive him… Let me explain.

As I said, I’d lost contact with all my friends around that time, save J. A large part of that was BECAUSE of J. When he died, I suddenly had no one. I love my partner, but I know he couldn’t keep up with some of the conversations J and I had. In one day, I had lost my best friend, the one person I could talk frankly to, and my only other connection to the outside world. I think I resented him for it. I think, it wasn’t that he died. It was that he took all of that from me. I was so pissed at him for the longest time…

For whatever reason, when I started to think about him on Monday morning, I realized something. Emotionally, there’s no difference between the way J felt around 2014 and the way I felt 3 months ago. I was ready to quit. The pressure and energy needed to maintain that mask is exhausting, and I’m sure J was tired of it himself. He just got married a year prior, and I think the pressure of masking around his wife 24/7 finally got to him. He got heavily into opiates and started stealing them from his mother-in-law.

Suddenly, it made sense. I no longer hated or resented him… Instead, I felt bad for him. Since realizing I’m autistic and dropping my masking, I’ve been happier than I’d been in… ever! I still have a lot of shit to deal with (more now, as seeking assistance isn’t easy), but I’m actually looking forward to the future! There’s so many stories about J that I refused to think about in order to avoid my PTSD triggers. Suddenly, ALL those stories came flooding back! I realized I CAN think about J without breaking down! It wasn’t what he took from me. He was in so much pain. I wish we knew about this back then so we could have gotten the help we needed before anything like this could happen.

Anyway, what was I talking… er, writing about? Oh yeah, my life coaching! I booked for 30 minutes, and I’m pretty sure I used at least half that time just info-dumping everything I know about J. What I didn’t realize for the last 8 years was that with J passing, I could no longer get that conversation and connection I desperately need! It was when I started to explore the autistic subreddits that I realized I actually DID need a connection with others! This was a HUGE revelation for me!

Generally, I can think fast and BS my way around most conversations. It just takes a ton of mental energy to do so. When talking with J, I could hold a conversation that didn’t feel forced or scripted. It’s only been within the last few months that I felt that again while talking to other actually autistic people.

One thing I told him about was the origins of PyroDrake. This is yet another story for another time, but I created that persona initially for an RPG, then as a coping mechanism. I could ‘switch’ to PyroDrake at any time (which I now realize was just me lowering my mask). This was something I didn’t think I would tell anyone! When talking about PyroDrake, a question popped into my mind: What am I going to allow myself to do now? I’ve been so far out of my comfort zone showing people a side of me that I hid away from everyone. For so long, I held so much guilt and shame over my feelings and natural actions. It feels so good to let that all go (for the most part anyway), and just be myself. For now, I am going to allow myself to stop masking in public. That’s actually a scary concept for me, but I think I’ll be okay…

We talked about a few other daily activities, and what I do in my spare time. At the end of each session, there’s one question my life coach likes to ask: “What can you do for yourself today?”

Answer: Actually cook and eat something good.


I’m so new to all of this. I think I’m still trying to get comfortable in my own skin. Then there’s the doubts that keep creeping in as well. Shit like, what if I’m wrong? What if this is all in my head? What if I’m not autistic enough? Will I be found out and mocked for this? When these thoughts start to spread, I just remind myself how much pain I was in prior! I’ll purposely tense up and start masking just to prove to myself that a painful physical reaction like that would be hard to fake.

A trait of some autistic people is an inability to miss someone. Even when someone I love as much as my partner is away from me, I really don’t feel a pulling or attachment in the way he describes it to me. I think that may have confused me, as I always felt like I missed J. When the woman who raised me got sick, I was so scared I’d end up like I did when J passed. Except, when it happened, I felt relief. I felt guilty that I felt relief, but she was done. She did what she had to do, and then she was done. Now, she’s no longer in pain on a daily basis. As it turns out, I resented J, and I needed a connection with someone to replace what I lost.

I can honestly say: J, I forgive you. I’m sorry we never got to take this journey together. I cherish every memory I have of you. You were my best friend and soul mate. I love you, J, and I will never forget you.

This is the first time I’ve spoken of J in length in 8 years. It’s nice to be able to remember without triggering flashbacks. PTSD isn’t something that goes away easily (or ever, from what I understand), and I’m sure I’ll still have my bad days, but as far as everything is concerned… I feel so much better! I can look at this as J’s final gift to me. Thanks, dude! In the end, I guess he pulled through one last time! 😊


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