Reflecting back, I think my marriage sheltered me from having to be an autistic man in the world.
I met my ex-wife at the age of 24. She was 44. I don’t think that she really set out to mother me. However, the way the marriage evolved may have had the same effect. I was sheltered from a lot of the cares of the world.
All the romantic relationships I’ve had in my life have been with other neurodivergent people. It is kinda funny, because none of us said “Oh, we’re both neurodivergent. Let’s get together.” It just happened that way. It is only now that I know that I’m autistic that I can get with someone else who is also neurodivergent and say “Let’s get together.”
So I came to the USA to be with my ex-wife, and hit the ground running with a job in computer engineering. This lasted a few years, until I found that the people at work were taking advantage of me. I decided that I was tired of that kind of work and wanted to return to school. So I went back to school. I studied visual arts, anthropology, and eventually I went back to graduate school. I managed to get a master’s degree in South Asia Studies, and then a Ph.D. in Religion, focusing on ancient Buddhism and Hinduism in India. Furthermore, I learned multiple languages: Hindi, Sanskrit, Classical Chinese, etc. I don’t remember all the languages I mastered.
During that time I was away from home a lot. I had to travel long distances to other states to get my degrees. I also had to travel the world at times. India and China were my home for a while. Still, I was on a track. If I did these and those things, then that result would happen. I did these and those things, and the result was that I was able to teach for a while… and I hated it. Well, I loved teaching Sanskrit, but everything else was drudgery.
The Sanskrit class was small, and the students were very motivated. You don’t take Sanskrit just to fulfill a requirement, usually. However, the other classes were big and a lot of the students were there because they had some requirements to fulfill. They would have rather been somewhere else. Dealing with those large classes wasn’t fun. I suspect the students sensed my dread. I never read the evaluations they wrote at the end of the class because I was sure that I’d get whacked. My ability to read the social cues that were emitted by an entire class of people was most likely quite poor.
After teaching for a while, I decided not to teach anymore. So I returned to computer engineering. I worked for an outfit in California, remotely. This suited my temperament, as a loner. Truth be told, it also suited my ex-wife. I am absolutely certain that the life of a new scholar of Buddhism traveling the USA in search of a job would have been hard for her to bear. There aren’t many universities teaching Buddhism. We settled on almost nine acres of land. She was able to make friends and keep a garden. If I had been a scholar moving from university to university, we would not have had much stability.
Eventually, the people at the place in California decided to move into a completely different direction than where they were headed, and let me go. Then my cancer struck, and I’m still recovering from that.
So I excelled at multiple fields… but then squandered a good bit of my excellence. The result now is that I’m both overqualified and underqualified for most positions out there. Note that along the way, my ex-wife supported all my eccentricities. I never heard her say that I should snap out of it. This support however sheltered me from having to deal with a lot of the crap that autistic people face every day.
Again, neither of us were aiming to shelter me, but that’s what happened.