Friendship … yes, but no, but yes, but no, no, no! 2
I have friends on Facebook, many of which l have met in real life and some of which l have known for quite a few years. But more or less none of them have l ever spent quality time socialising with on a regular basis. I am not saying l haven’t socialised, just not with any kind of frequency. I talk with them via social media notably FB. And l am happier that way, it is less stressful and in many ways, way less boring!
Despite this, l still don’t fully understand the whole concept and in the last year or so, l have given up trying to comprehend what it all means. I don’t have any close friends from my school years or from my days in college. I have not carried any friends from my first working position. I can make friends easily enough, however l cannot maintain the relationship and in truth once the common denominator has left the equation l don’t see any benefits to doing so.
I understand it all perfectly well as a theory, but the physical reality and actuality of ‘friendship’ in real time – confuses the crap out of me! I treat in many respects, people indifferently. It is not that l don’t care about them. Obviously l would wish no harm to anyone. It is more of a case of not seeing the point. So whilst l have the 6 + 16 PLUS Ruling in place – and this constantly fluctuates – those in the 6 can sometimes only be there for a small period of time, reflective upon what we are discussing at the time, or in other words l don’t really have close friends.
Yesterday l looked at my 6 + 16 PLUS formula on Facebook because in essence apart from writing here in WordPress, that is fundamentally the only place l do socialise, albeit digitally. I don’t do the whole chatty thing in Facebook, l make quite a few re-posts of topics l like. But as to frequent interaction and engagement, that doesn’t happen. I speak to people in there when l want to ask them something, and most often or not, l am so fixated on asking them the topic l have in my head, that many a time l often forget to offer any greetings.
It was as l was examining this for the purpose to this post, that l suddenly realised that my 6 didn’t actually have 6 at all – if anything l think it has around maybe 2.5 people. The 16 part well that is always full, and the PLUS part is okay, but the 6 is mostly empty.
Believe it or not, these posts that look at ‘friendship and being social’ are quite hard for me to write … because l struggle so very much with the whole social thing and it really is a conflict with me on a fairly regular basis. I don’t lose sleep on it or anything that serious, but l do find myself many a time asking – what’s wrong with me? Is it just the Asperger’s that makes me this way?
You see, l look at people on that application with more of a ‘what can you do for me attitude?’ How do l serve you, why do you follow me, why do you even like me? Why, why, why? At my own concession and already admitted to here, l am quite boring in comparison to many others – no, l am NOT being negative to me, just honest with my lack of socialness and my awkwardness. Many a time people have accused me of being shallow, and l am not shallow. I care about people’s emotions and sensitivities – truly l do, but occasionally l can see how it might come across that l don’t.
I might be too abrupt, or too direct, or react differently or not at all to something which has happened in their lives.
A couple of years ago l was invited to my old schools Facebook page – and for me this is like some 40 years ago and suddenly 5 of these old school friends wanted to follow me in Facebook, and so l relented and added them, and yet within a month, l dropped 4 of them, because we were NOT talking and truth be known, the fifth one and l don’t talk either, but occasionally he comments on something.
They never wrote to me asking why l had taken them off my friends list, so in their eyes equally as much as mine, we had changed, well 40 years will do that to a person. I didn’t grow up with them; l knew them not from Adam in the street and if l had walked into them, would not have recognised them.
That’s life, that’s the way it is … muddied waters under a bridge. And yet, those 5 have most of the old school on their own pages, but don’t talk to half of them, so why do they follow them?
When l was much younger, my Father’s career meant we moved around constantly. Home to home, school to school and in some cases, country to country. I was a military brat – Dad was in the R.A.A.F and so that meant we moved from pillar to post frequently. Back then, l was a quirky little soul as was, incredibly shy and struggled to make friends. My Mother placed it down to the moving, we didn’t know about Asperger’s. However, it is easy enough to see the two most assuredly do not mix, and the result was l failed to maintain any foundations.
I had friends when younger, but l was never in one place at times for anything longer than six months. I had 15 homes before l was 12 and 10 odd schools before l was 15. I had lived in Malaysia, practically all over Australia and the UK before l was 14. So in essence, the only person l could rely upon was me, myself and l. Living in a bubble back then was the safest bet and so many thought l was completely the oddball loner. What was the point in trying to keep a friendship going when all you did was move?
It certainly explains to me now, why l have no school friends from back then. And of course l can only imagine that l learned the behaviour to stay distant from others from those days.
Something which still sits with me today – distance and indifference.
During work years, l was incredibly ambitious and only interested in travelling up the ladder, friends and friendships were not a necessity, acquaintances and colleagues were. The old adage of it’s who you know, not what you know. Plus combined with an insatiable appetite for working all hours under the sun in order to progress, it left very little time for socialising which l considered wasteful.
People liked me, people wanted to spend time with me, and l could never understand why? Or what is was they actually wanted?? I had a distrust of people back then, something which has still not left me today. They simply could never understand that l actually really seriously enjoyed my own company.
Even today l still struggle with the whole friendship purpose and point, l prefer acquaintances and colleagues over friends, because that way our common denominator is always fresh. With the latter, you have no real obligation or expectancy of the commitment, it is what it is.
At my own concession l do know l have become more reclusive in the last year, and many would say ‘don’t feed the troll that is Asperger’s’ and l understand that – but l don’t get lonely, and l enjoy being alone with my own company. I have my partner Suzanne, and our dog Scrappy. I know at times it can be hard on Suzanne. This indifference is also present with my own family – we are so very far removed from each other – being dysfunctional long before now.
Does it matter if l don’t have many in the direct 6 of the formula? No, not really, l am content with the way l am, even if it does look at times as if l don’t care about people or their feelings, l do, but if you don’t tell me, how am l supposed to know if we are even friends?
So tell me, does friendship come naturally to you? Do you have to work at it? But equally to other autists, do you find it difficult to manage like l do?