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Saturday, July 21, 2012

an apology of sorts


I have wrestled for years with a personality glitch called Asperger's Syndrome. For most of my life I had no idea I stand out like a sore thumb despite all the effort I put into 'passing', which I'd been forced to attempt as a child. There is no way I can pretend to be normal. The more I suppress and self monitor, the worse the subsequent headaches and anxiety get.

People initially latch onto me because I'm 'fun'. They grab the ball and run with it, thinking it's a game I create. I used to have no idea what the heck was going on in relationships like that. Friends love me, sooner or later we tangle over something I think is really stupid or trivial, and they leave. Simple math.

Eventually I figured out that I'm not allowed to be myself. It's all fine as long as everyone thinks it's a game, as long as I'm fun. My joyful quirks are a breath of fresh air in their lives or something, and it doesn't occur to them they are using me as a plug-in, like a validation video game scoring points. I get pushed, poked, and prodded with sticks like a cat in a cage, and I don't think they have a clue they're doing that. A whole lotta stuff rolls off because I really don't know what's going on, but when I've had enough, even when I think I'm drawing polite boundaries, it all blows up.

I have spent the last 5 years seeing a psychologist, specifically to work on communication skills. I've been working hard on eliminating and paring down reams of print when I have thoughts. I don't like to talk on the phone, and I don't last much more than an hour during any kind of friendly exchange. Several professionals, including the psyche guy, have expressed surprise that I was able to hold the jobs I had as long as I did. Even more surprising is the fact that I've won customer service awards.

I have an aggressive personality and easily intimidate people, even when I think I'm being nice and having fun. I didn't realize this for years. I've spent the last couple of years in almost total seclusion, apart from family stuff, working on the idea that I can let go of compulsively needing to explain something I'm thinking, or even being the speaker at all. I am learning to ask pertinent questions of whomever I'm with, and just quietly listen.

I actually like people quite a lot. I like them the same way I like dogs and cats and chickens and horses and stuff, each individual having its own personality that makes them unique from the group they are in. I interact very well with animals and children. My problem is mostly interacting with adults. I have to learn to get the hang of each person's individual interacting skill set or I wind up like the guy with the model train set, accidentally running two trains into one another in the tunnel and exploding the tracks.

During my reclusive seclusion in my 'cave', I pretty much wiped out nearly everything I'd ever created on the internet, which turns out was quite the little empire. That was one of my favorite hobbies, besides raising chickens, one that I'd like to get back into. While I'm at it, on the advice and some insistence and now actual surprise from psyche guy, I'm going to make everything public and just deal head on with my 'stuff', that dirty little phrase called interpersonal interaction.

Truth is, I need people. I am a very alone person, incognito in a big crowd. The more attention I inadvertently draw to myself, the more I withdraw, this last time until I literally set an automatic self destruct sequence on my own ship, as it were, and I bailed. I spent the last year pretty much off the grid and loved it. And then just missed death hurtling at me in the dark by an inch. It was pretty scary, and very weird to think all the next day and week that I'm alive because of a fluke now. I so was close to not being here anymore.

That changed a lot of stuff. I've come much closer to death than that a couple other times, actually, but for some reason this one really changed a lot of stuff. If I don't feel like I'm done on this earth, it's my fault from now on if I don't GET done. Whatever it is that I'm feeling the need to get done, it's happening now.

And it's so big, it's exploding all over the internet out of me.

I had a friend get after me for wasting time a few years ago. I never waste time. It only looks like I waste time. To me, 'wasting time' is taking the time out to have personal relationships with people, because that means I have to stop the 8 directions I'm going in my head and focus on one person. But you know what? That's important. What good is my head and all the things in it if I haven't shared that with anyone else? We are all here for each other. I don't understand what people want from me, but I know what I need from other people.

All that time I wasted is trying to congeal into something tangible. If you don't get what I just said, don't worry about it. I love you anyway.

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