30 December 2015

The Aspie's "I don't understand"

This is going to run of those rambling type posts, because right now...well the subject is still an open wound for me. Raw and hurting over some things from this past year.

But I have to post about it. In part, because, well not talking about it is a horrid thing, but also I want to help people stop and think for a moment about some interactions they've had. Even if it's just for a moment, to think about how it might be from the other person's perspective.

I try to talk openly about what its like for me being on the Asperger's spectrum. In part to better understand myself, but also to help others understand what it's like. A big one for me has been, that I don't always interpret/understand/read social cues or social norms well.  I'll say things that, well....other people would know or just read the situation and know not to say. Me...not so much. I had three great friends in college (Michelle, Michelle, & Vanessa) that were really good about poking me and nudging me and helping me learn the basics of relationships/close friendships...everything that I missed out on from not having a lot of people to hang out with growing up. I don't think they knew just how much they helped, but they did. They also helped a lot, by just accepting me for being me.

Since I was diagnosed as being on the spectrum, I try to tell people upfront about these issues and say "Hey, I'm probably going to say something at some point that comes off the wrong way. I really don't mean it that way, so just let me know so I can learn from it and not do it again." And the reactions have been...well mixed. Some people will say "You're putting the onus on other people! You can't do that! It's up to you to know!" To which my response is...How? I mean, there's not a manual for me to read and study called "Living with people" or a movie, or a TV show, or anything like that. And one thing I have learned is, its different for everyone. I can learn the broad guidelines, which I do know, but for individuals? Man...its rough to pick up nuances without someone saying "Hey, I know you can do that with other people, but please don't do it with me." So I do try to ask people "Hey, let me know that this is the line I can't cross with you." I can only learn from experience.

The worst one for me though, is people that say "Oh sure, I love being honest! And I have no problem telling you." But when it comes time...they  don't. They think one thing isn't going to matter, so they let it go. But then a second thing comes along, and a third...and a fourth. And they still say nothing until it explodes out of them! Like a bomb falling. And it ends things. Because while things can be rebuilt after a bomb explodes...its hard. And the foundation is rocky and rough. And I get it, really I do. Its hard for people to say that to someone, because they don't wanna hurt them. But I can tell you from experience that not saying it...its so, so much harder. Because when that end comes, the bomb can be big and the shockwaves can spread.

And that's part of what happened to me this year. A bomb dropped. And it was an atomic size one. Because this person and I shared secrets with each other. They first, and then I second. I said things that I would say to a close friend, because that's what I took us as. They trusted me and I trusted them. I said things that made them uncomfortable. They said things that made me uncomfortable, but I didn't say anything because it wasn't a big deal to me because they were a friend (and still isn't a big deal.) But they didn't tell me when they were uncomfortable by things that I said. And while I could tell something was wrong, when I asked they would say no. Then the bomb dropped. And the shockwaves went far. And are still spreading as best as I can tell.

And I understand its hard. I wish we had both made different choices. I wish they could have been more honest with me before the bomb dropped and after, it might have made the shockwaves smaller. I wish I had gone with my gut and recognized signs that were there and listened to them. But I didn't.

The raw part of the wound though...that's come from after. People for spreading rumors, half truths, and outright lies. For shoving sharp objects into the gaping wounds I have, seemingly for their own enjoyment or cruelty for kicking someone when they're down. For continuing to not be honest about what they needed, wanted, or expected. Mostly though for not listening when I said "I didn't mean it" and "I don't understand."

And those are four hard words to say. I don't understand. Because I don't. I still don't. I understand parts of it, but not all of it. Not what caused the bomb, not what caused the shockwaves to be so huge, and not what caused the outright...hate that's come from it. And I didn't mean it. Whatever it was. I know a lot of people say it when they get caught doing something, but...really...I didn't. A lot of people may say these words when a relationship ends. Its part of normal life, I get it.

But for me? Being on the spectrum? Its 20 times worse. Because I don't know how to not make the same missteps next time. My brain instantly goes to wall up and close off mode. To stop making friends and to stop talking to people altogether. To not say anything. To go into deep depression of struggling just to survive and not ending my life. And that's where I've been.

I'm still here. I'm struggling everyday not to be overcome with emotions and memories. I'm struggling to keep standing. I've had friends, many of whom I only know online, that poke and prod and make sure I'm still there. That say "Hey, I'm worried about you. Please let me know you're ok." They've made having a pity party really fucking hard, because my brain goes "No one likes you" and then they show up saying "Hey, I like you." Best party crashers ever. And I'm learning just how much of myself I can keep putting out there without being destroyed by bombs. Its hard. Because my brain wants to do the all or nothing, there is no in between. But I'm trying.

But please, please, please for the love of the universe. Stop. Listen. Talk. Bombs go off everyday. Keep them small. Let the shockwaves be miniscule. Don't be a rumormonger. And be a good party crasher.