19 January 2018

The balancing act

The past few weeks have been rough for me. Things happened. I was told that I made people uncomfortable in the things that I say or how I react or how I carry on a joke or conversation. And some relationships ended. And all I could think is...what did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? More importantly...should I change? Can I even change at all? Holy shit, can I change?? And some people are going to read this post and thinking I'm asking for sympathy or that I'm trying to justify my actions or that I'm trying to run away from the problem. But I'm not. I'm writing this post to get out what's in my head and out into the world.

When I found out that I was on the Asperger's spectrum it made so many things make sense. Why I do things the way that I do. Why I react the way I do. Why I act the way that I do. And some people probably think that I use it as an excuse for the mistakes I make or the social faux pas I commit. That's...that's not the case. Or at least the way it is in my head. Because what's in my head is that...I process information completely differently than most people and I can make connections that other people don't see or don't understand. And I can't always explain it because I don't have the "education" or "experience" other people do, but I know, I KNOW, that I'm right. And I know it because the connections are there, the pieces of the puzzle just haven't been turned the right way yet for other people, but they will. And I know that I'm smarter than most of the people I'll meet in my life. And it sounds like I'm trying to be an asshole here or bragging, but...but I'm not. When you hear descriptors for people on the spectrum they are generally associated with high intelligence for a reason, our brains function differently. My brain is like that opening sequence in the Matrix all the 0's and 1's going by at speeds faster than light and I can probably comprehend about 75% of, but the rest of the world is moving at 45% and for me to be able to function, I have to figure out which of the 30% to ignore and push out of focus and its hard. It's easy to get distracted by the bit of information that sees a bird flying in the area and suddenly I see a connection between flying and how beetles swim and I wonder what the correlation is there and just as suddenly it can be gone and I've missed half of a conversation. And that's, that's, where the problems are.

I...don't understand how human interactions work. I just...I don't. I don't fit in, I don't know how to fit in. All throughout my life I've had people tell me that I push people away or that I'm like a robot. I try to open up and then I only discuss things that I like or that I know enough about to teach a class on and then I'm overwhelming people with a tidal flow of information where they can't speak. I'm told that I don't smile enough, so I try to tell funny stories because its the only way I know how to smile since I don't understand half the jokes I hear. And then sometimes I cross some boundary that I didn't realize existed because I repeat a story that was funny to me but it's called bad taste humor. I'm sarcastic to a fault because its the only thing that makes sense to me sometimes, but I carry it too far because all I'm trying to do is connect and I don't know how other than to be sarcastic. And all I want to do is connect and be like everyone else. To fit in, to hold a normal fucking conversation and be a part of a group. To have friendships and relationships and everything else that everyone else has and I don't fucking know how. I...I can't. My brain just can't work that way.

People have told me that all I do is take and take from them. Or that I'm not paying attention to them or that I ignore them until I need something and it's all true! Just...just not the way that they think it is. Or the reasons that they think. Remember when I said it was like the matrix earlier, 30% more information than what everyone else does? Day in, day out its like that. When I sleep it's like that. When I dream its like that. When I wake up it's like that. The constant flow of information in and out. I have to constantly slow my brain down to function. Someone else on the spectrum described it recently as tunnel vision and its true. I get stuck in the tunnel focusing on what I need and see until friends enter the mind again and then I reach out. And that's where the taking comes in. I take information that they give me, things they say, things they do, it goes into my brain and becomes part of something. I missing things. Partners. Weddings. Births. Deaths. I don't see them. I miss them. And I can catch up, I can apologize, but there's only so many times you can do that before eventually people cut you out of their life and say that they're done with you.

One of the things about being on the spectrum is that it's a cursed blade that cuts both ways. I get the social flaws of being autistic, but the ability to recognize it and not do a damn thing about it. I know when I make mistakes. I know when I screw up. After a while I can piece together what I did and shouldn't do again, but...it doesn't work that way. I can't make up a rule in my head to say "don't do x again" because inevitably I'm told that it is ok, so that rule has to become "don't do x again unless y condition is met." But then it becomes modified again. And again. And again. And soon enough the rule is "do x, but only if y and z equal q, but if y and z equal u do x1, but if a is present then do variation x1-2-4, but if c and a are present do...." and it goes on and on and on. And my brain can't process that...and I give up. I stop trying.

All of this to say, there's a reason why a lot people on the spectrum are described as anti-social or "weird" or "strange" or whatever else is used to describe us. To describe me. It's because at some point we all tried to fit in, we all tried to be normal and could never do it. We can fake some things to a certain point, we can use some techniques, but by and large...it gets old to get left out. To not fit in. To not understand what's going on. The one thing in the world that we can't figure out is how to connect with other people because our brains don't process that information like everyone else does.

And so I ride a line. If I cross one way I go out into the world and try to be a part of it. Never quite understanding what I did wrong and never able to fix it or change it. I make friends. I lose friends. Heart smashed. Heart repaired. Repeat. I can cross the other way and stay within, but always longing to have relationships and friendships that I'll never know. Which way does the needle fall? Why way do I go?


Anonymous said...

Relationships are complicated for most people. Do you have the ability to be empathetic? Maybe that's a problem for you and makes things harder in those connections.

You say you take. Can you change that? Is it possible to learn different behavior? Or you could find other ways to cope. Or find people who don't care if there is an imbalance between the give and take.

As to those you've lost, have you tried reaching out to repair the relationships? If someone felt taken advantage of, you could show you didn't mean to do that by making a step towards fixing things. Give them something of yourself.

Andrew said...

...I'm not the biggest fan of the tone of your comment, but I'm going to answer it the best that I can without being rude.

Yes relationships are hard for most people, but you're missing what makes it even harder for me as I literally do not understand how they work. I don't recognize social cues that other people pick up easily, I don't understand how conversations work or why they don't work the way they do in my head. The fact that I give a shit about what other people feel or think answers the question regarding empathy.

As for those that I've lost...yeah. Yeah I've tried to repair and...

And this post isn't about repairing relationships or developing new ones...its to get whats in my head out. To put out there how I feel so that maybe one person gets something out of it. Understands someone else in their life better. Understands themselves better. Understands me better....

Anonymous said...

There was no tone intended.

It sounds hard to be inside all of that. Or have all that going on inside your head. I only asked about empathy because sometimes people on the spectrum have problems with that. Either feeling too much or not feeling it at all.

I'm probably on the spectrum too and have problems relating to people. It's rough. Hardly seems worth the effort most days.