By the time I was nine, I was seeing a psychiatrist weekly. It was not until my early 60's that I came to the conclusion that I had experienced Asperger's Syndrome all my life, and had never even heard the word before. Although self diagnosed, my childhood and youth showed me that, this nearly unknown condition that had been a terror to my youth, had also been a boon to my spiritual "development".
The occasion for seeing the psychiatrist at such an early age, was a sudden fear of going to school, that I could not understand. I loved school as a child. I loved to learn, but the social side of school, even in the early grades, was terrifying to me. Initially, it was recommended to my parents to force me go. So there were long scenes of me, having been locked out until I came home after school, crying at the door and begging to be let in. The terror of going to school was so bad, it ruined my other time as well, because I would be thinking about it nearly all the time. Finally it was decided to get me a home teacher, and see a psychiatrist for therapy. The trips to the psychiatrist were a great relief from the terror of school.
I consider it lucky to have had the opportunity to look deeply into my self at such an early age. To be able to do self inquiry at such an early age was wonderfully liberating. It was discovered that I was above average intelligence, as many Asperger's folks are, but my social inability was taking up so much of my waking hours that I had little time for anything else. But, in any event, I do not want this to be my life's story, I want to make the point that those of us who have had occasion to look deeply into our selves, our behavior, and our life from "the outside" have had, perhaps, a leg up.
I often find it hard to discuss my "awakening experience" because, in most ways, it seems I have always been "awake". One of the aspects of Asperger's Syndrome is an obsession, or at least a strong interest in some field of study or hobby. These interests can sometimes be off-beat or esoteric. Mine was always spirituality. I lived in a world apart as a child. Not a sad world, but a world filled with love and light. By the time I had spent a year or two in school, I was terrorized to the point I would hide all day rather than face speaking to someone. But beside all this madness, there was an abiding trust in, first God, but then eventually, just trust. Yes, even in the "agnostic" period of my teens and early twenties, I lived my life on trust. So it is difficult talking about a single "experience" as an awakening, as I have been largely awakened, even in the throws of apparent madness.
Seeing a psychiatrist at nine nipped in the bud a lot of "dodges", and rationalizations that many of us go through as we grow. Many of us ware some sort of mask much of, if not all of, our lives, never realizing it is these very masks that hide the true self that we so desperately seek. When you see madness all around you from the start, it is easy to reject it for a peace you see less clearly, but no less real. This is why, in so many cases, people, particularly "normal people" have such a seeming struggle "grasping the nettle" and doing what is necessary. It often requires literally, a "life changing event"; a death, a birth, a decent into madness, something that shakes you out of your "normal" view of yourself. Earnestness, that drive that pulls and pushes in turns, comes from a surrender to that place of peace that sees less clearly, but knows the real. Only when madness comes to your door, do you recognize it as madness. The safe quiet place of nothingness is rejected until the sights, sounds, and voices of the mad world drive you to earnestness.
As I struggled out of my childhood, I had found enough "others", some struggling themselves, others helping the struggling ones, but both coming from a position of unconditional Love. It is these to whom we want to turn for pointers. Those who have escaped all the madness and live in the peace of Love never-ending.