Dancing in the Grey – Life with my Asperger’s
© Rory Matier 2015
Please Note this book was written in 2015.
The views within these chapters are mine and may not necessarily resonate with others on the spectrum – however bear in mind the quote by Dr. Stephen Shore .. “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”
Chapter 8 – Ep 12
Quiet l am, quiet within, don’t see my face,
Yet outside l see those trying to push the pace,
But l lingers, calm in my resolve,
Yet still they push, waiting for my pill to dissolve,
Push, push, push is all they can do,
Coaxing, prodding, pushing want to see the real you!
Anger within is hard to tease, and l am not yet in wrath mode,
Can take a lot before l finally explode,
People can be so damned annoying at times,
Up in your face, giving it all the lines,
Just want to see a little trace, they say,
To see that l feel emotionally,
Why push me to the damned brink?
Rage within if out will make you stop dead and think!
Perhaps it’s not best to push the anger within out,
Tensed now, still they prod, and still they shout!
Wanting me to show my true emotional colour,
They say, come on they shout, let’s see the power!
Mentally walking away, this is not worth it,
Yelling they are, upset that l am not combative,
Shoving, pushing, and pushing always do they push!
Eager to see me break, and release the black rush!
Knowing that l too have one, but keep it hidden,
Looking to sample the fruits of my anger, it is forbidden,
In my face, will not let it be, now come the taunts,
Punching me deep inside, spitefully painful comments,
Nay l will not be led like a horse to these waters,
Coaxed like a lamb for the table to the slaughter!
And they still ride the coaster from hell,
Resorting to shameful utterances from the shit well!
Why do some people insist on such cruel games?
Not happy with life, and finally resort to mental pain!
Onto another for the sake of the fact that they can,
Releasing their hostile aggressions in an abusive slam!
Wanting to make you share also within their damning misery!
Push, push, and push, coaxing, taunting, teasing, seriously,
Making you listen continually, up in your face!
Shouting, yelling, abusively hurling insults in disgrace,
That you do not bend nor bow to demands!
Or listen to the rage within that wants to command!
ENOUGH, my control is slipping and my anger is here,
Is this what you wanted to now cower in fear?
That you push me to the very limits of the rage!
Wrathful l am now, anger within out of its locked cage!
Rattled by your constant yelling’s of nothing,
Just to hear my anger within yell with the same sting?
Aggravated by your hostile intentions of wanting to fight,
Inconsiderately drawn it out just to see its bloody might!
Happiest are you when you push me beyond my control,
Gleeful in my pain, and jeer me when you see the blood boil!
Yet when l finally explode with a shattering impact,
Push no more do you, coax me not, and just back track!
Mentally my brain has reached its final seething point,
Why are you so upset? Is the rage, the anger within a disappointment?
And for what was this all for, so you could see that l had strength?
Responded l have, at your stupid pushing’s and now l am at arms length!
Listened have l to all the names under the sun,
That you have conjured up for fun,
And now that you have seen the explosion from within,
Calm you are, thankful that my thick skin can weaken!
And now you walk away saying that you are misunderstood!
But you have ruined my day, which was otherwise good!
© Rory Matier 2010
50 and Aspergic, not Stupid and 4
This is probably one of the greyest chapters l have had to write so far, as a concept ‘friends and friendship’ is pretty much a black and white subject, what makes it confusing is my interpretation and expectations. The simple facts are l don’t always understand the actualities of the people involved. And as a result l quite frankly do not get it at all!
“Friendship is nothing other than the practice of maintaining a decent and pleasant commerce with someone. Is friendship no more than that? Friendship, it will be said, is not limited to those terms; it goes beyond those narrow boundaries. But those who make this observation do not consider that two people do not, without being friends, maintain a connection that has nothing incorrect about it and that gives them reciprocal pleasure. The commerce that we may have with men involves either the mind or the heart. The pure commerce of the mind is called acquaintance; the commerce in which the heart takes an interest because of the pleasure it derives from it is friendship. I see no idea more accurate and more suitable for explaining all that friendship is in itself and likewise all its properties.”
Diderot’s Encyclopedia 18thC
It is said that our world is comprised up of numbers, and l think this is true, we can not survive without numbers, society is made up of numerical sequences, one of my favourite patterns is ‘6 – 16 – 8’, each individual in society is a 6 – 16 – 8 in many respects. My debit card is comprised of numbers, notably which make that sequence. Sort code, account number, digit number, expiry dates and so on., birth dates are 6 digits, we have house numbers, telephone and mobile numbers and the list goes on, yet in the eyes of my banks, creditors and debtors all l am to them is not a flesh and blood person but a series of numbers – 6 – 16 – 8 – that is my identity – l am but a small cog in the wheel of society, and l am fine with this as it is logic.
If only society as a whole was this logical, sadly however it is not. It is however comprised of many hidden complexities that involve not just people, but the emotions and behaviours of people. In earlier years it was these two alone that l struggled the most with, people and their emotions, thankfully l cope better these days.
Conspiracy theorists would search for patterns in this formula – the hidden protocol of society – which involves clever communications and interactions and awkward greetings, the jovialities of friends and their kinship, the intricate understanding of a people’s thinking – sympathy, empathy, emotionally correct, sharing and caring, relationships, gatherings and so on, for this makes for the term commonly known as ‘sociability’ the ability to be social.
Many, might like others before them assume l am anti social, and l am not. They will have suggested or thought this because l am not overly bothered about having friends or indeed maintaining long lasting friendships. From my point of view, l personally prefer the term socially selective, as that sums up my entire persona concerning this subject – l choose when to be friendly and actively social and when l do not wish to be.
I do not deny that there have been times in my life when l have been more crowd shy than l am today – living for a few years in the caravan certainly paid no dividends towards a friendly outlook. I was after all shut away from society by my own making, and chose to remain that way for almost my entire duration at that residency. However it was not simply my days alone in the metal box where l first started to display anti sociality towards people, it began when l was married to my ex wife. She believed it was due to my continued stress and the breakdown l was experiencing at the time.
I willingly admit to the facts that l prefer my own company to that of others, l am not afraid to spend time alone with my own thoughts as many others are. The days of my hermit’s existence took it too far, l will not contest that, however that was just accepting the disorder and how it specifically affected my psyche. Understanding that was far more important to me than understanding what was going on with other people.
Years ago, l had to wear masks on a daily basis in order to survive the world in which l lived, pretence and mimicry made up some of my day, tensions and stress, followed by anxieties made up another part, working alone was by far much easier as l could be myself. It is not that l did not have friendships, for l did, it was not that l was perceived as completely and frequently quirky around them, only some of the time, but they put that down to my personality, it made up my identity in their eyes, they had no comprehension of any masks l was wearing. For that matter neither of my parents were l believe aware of the masks either.
When l was younger l was only too well aware that whilst l fitted in, it was not as smoothly as the rest of the society l lived with. I had to find a way of being accepted and slipping under the net and using comedy was my ticket inside. If l was funny, then people laughed with me rather than simply at me. People liked me, why should they not? I was polite and affable, and it was not that l disliked anyone, it was just that l found many of their ways confusing and in many respects to this day l still do.
I like my world to be quiet, silence is not my enemy.
If l am going to be brutally honest and this may confuse my own readers literally because of my previous writings, it is not that friendship confuses me, as a concept l do understand it very clearly – however the difference is for me specifically, l do not ‘carry’ friends from one major phase to another in my life, l move on and do not collect or hoard those people – a purpose has been served for whatever period l was in. This does sound very cutthroat, but it really isn’t, it’s simply practical.
And in essence it is not that l have nothing to do with many people from a time ago, l still have what l class as ‘stragglers’ in my friends’ list – people l may have known for a good many years long since the initial purpose of our friendship began. But they are not constantly in what l refer to as my ‘six’ – as in directly in front of my day. I do not ‘speak’ to them in the classic sense; most conversations or comments are restricted to my Facebook Wall in comparison to say a night or day out together or in a group. Over the years from my school days onwards, l have had hundreds of friends, but do not have any long term friendships – people l have known since l was young, or from any particular age group.
I think there is a very big difference between friends and friendships and perhaps it is my understanding of the concept which confuses me or more than likely the two terms are not separated by society, so they only see friend and ship together as one word and this may take into account both ‘just friends’ and true friendships?
I had friends when at school and in college, when l worked in various industries, including those from the small scale socialising l did participate in, l made friends during my online gaming days. You can have casual acquaintances, colleagues and friends and then friendships. I have a Facebook Wall, and on that Wall have less than 30 people at all times, currently it resides on 22 and that will fluctuate up and down, but will never exceed thirty.
Of those 22, l often ask, where do they fit in with my life and friendship?
They are all electronic or digital friends as in; they are accessible on my computer. Of that l have met 10 in real life and the remaining 12, l have known from as little as four years to a maximum of fifteen, but none of them are best friends. I do not have any best friends in the traditional sense of the word. People that you can share quality time with and enjoy doing so. This is not saying that they are not good friends; in fact a few of them are close friends. The close friends would be willing to listen to me if l needed to speak to someone. Of the people on my Wall, none of them live close to where l am today, so there is no chance of just popping in or over for a visit. Ok, so l live on an island, so ‘popping over’ if they do not live on the same isle is not that easy, l understand that, but before l lived here, only a few actually visited me as was.
And of these friends l perhaps have what l class as a full friendship from maybe seven and some readers might think, ok so seven friends what is the issue? The issue is that whilst yes they are friendships, and a small percentage of them are considered ‘close’, l do not have a proper friendship with any of them, because l find that l struggle to maintain a traditional and classic friendship that many Neurotypicals take for granted with other Neuro’s.
The 22 on my Wall are from all walks of life and have come from my business [now closed] and as such they are ex clients, a few by association of other people who used to be friends and have since parted company with me, but their associates are better than the original friends ever were and a smattering from my gaming days.
I become confused with the term friendship if there is no common denominator to be had, usually l have two common denominators a friend and an interest shared. Sometimes the initial interest that brought us together has gone and a genuine friend and maybe a friendship has developed and we have remained friends afterwards. As l have got older l have got more confused and become worse at trying to understand the whole concept itself.
People are not numbers l know this, but l view people in a number format. Of course Facebook is only a social networking system, but it is the ideal networker for me, as in reality l can maintain friends and ships without any real contact. Would l spend physical time with all 22? No, not all of them, a few yes l would if able and l have spent time with some of them. Of the friends l do have, the only common denominator l have left now is ‘being friends’ we share like minded humour and discussion points, philosophy and when necessary specific politics, but at this present time no ‘special interest’ is a denominator with any of them apart from the fact that we all have a Facebook Wall and post.
Suzanne has a Wall of her own, but we are not friends on each others Walls, why would we be, we have different interests and friends, it is not that we do not share interests, but we see each other daily, we are friends in real life and more, and therefore have no need to share our Walls.
You get out of your Wall what you put in, for me personally my Wall is a journal of my thoughts and thinking at the time. Many of my posts make sense to me and it matters not if they make sense to others. It is not often l just post what l class as specifically ‘social trivia – such as greetings, rants and ravings although it is not unknown. I do tend to post a lot of quotes of inspiration to me, and l too am guilty of posting sloganisms [a popular sport these days of many users]. But l tend to think about my emotional mood of the day and then specifically look up a quote to suit my needs. In some respects l treat my readers to more of a forum posting that a mere networking snippet. However if others wish to comment on my mutterings by all means who am l to stop them? That is after all the very purpose of Facebook ‘Post and comment’. But in the main, it is not that l post specifically for my friends, but for me, it is my Wall. I know at times that some of my posts may be thought to be aimed at certain friends on my Wall, and at times some people answer is an almost ‘miffed’ manner. But this usually is the result of them feeling concerned that l am ‘having a go’ at their own personalities, and many a time it is not that way – but sometimes – it is!
My true friends upon my Wall not only know me, but they know who and what l stand for in terms of beliefs, they know of my personality and its various quirky traits. They know l can be quiet, moody and some times deep in thought. They do know that if they wanted to chat l can be there for them, equally they or should know that if l am not speaking directly to them it is not me being anti social or selectively social, it is just me, being me. We do not share a classic traditional friendship, but the one we do share is important and at least true and non disposable. We may not share physical time together, but do we need to, to be friends?
I have on occasion spent time with some of them and enjoyed their company as they have mine, but they also know it is not a regular event with me and as such don’t expect it. It becomes more confusing when certain common denominators leave the equation of friends. The common denominator should be friendship? That is what it is all about.
Friendship is about sharing quality time with a person or persons and totally enjoying the times and experiences. A balanced equilibrium is to be placed from each party to the next, and in many ways is to be reciprocated. You are to feel pleased for each other in times of celebration and sad for the other when grieving or some other upset in their life and when they are happy, so are you and like so for when they are sad. So the confusions l have with it all, is based around understanding why people make such a big deal of the two words and the stupidity of joining them together when they have no reason to be twinned.
Of those 22 people on my Wall, l like them all for a certain amount of factors, but the common denominator and ultimate goal is about the centre point to being friends and perhaps a friendship begins? I do not dislike any of them, and those with whom l have no shared interests or even friendship l simply remove, as our time has passed. After all, if there is no shared denominator then why keep them? Many a time the social acquaintances on my Wall will display humour, interest or entertainment value and sometimes discussion, so therefore their presence is worthwhile. They will occasionally add valuable content to my own writings and this can make me think and l do like to think.
It does have to be said that I am not really interested in their banal day to day troubles – although usually l can emphasize. But l can still become confused by what some people do. Although perhaps it is not a case of confusion, but maybe over analyzing the concept and this produces my confusion? I don’t honestly know the answer, but the amount of times l find myself thinking about it all and getting confused, says something. The whole subject of friendship can actually award me a headache of sorts, equally the amount of times l have attended this chapter produces the same results – always the same, ‘How is it in black and white l get it, but l don’t get it all?’
Whilst playing World of Warcraft, l gamed with some online players in a ‘gang or group’ status, we shared the experiences of leveling and so on. The gang occasionally visited the dogs and l when l lived in the caravan and twice when l lived in the bungalow. They were good company both online and l enjoyed their visits. However l often wondered if l was to leave the game, would the friendship continue once the main common denominator was absent from our online friendship? I predicted that this might be the case, but became confused by my own predictions, because in essence, friendship is the common base, so the removal of the game should not affect it?
However when l did leave the game, the friendships have been reduced to only an electronic Facebook friends’ status with no genuineness and this too despite a prediction it might occur leaves me bewildered. It is very complexing for me and l wonder if that is the disorder aspect also making this more bewildering? Before as a gang we used to enjoy Skype calls and such [albeit when all in game] with them, but now, it is purely commentary in the network system. Now that l do not play the game itself, it is like there is nothing left to discuss of any quality. So if it was only the ‘game’ that encouraged a so called friendship for several years does this mean that there was no real friendship actually present? Because if there was, would it be unreasonable to think that it should still continue?
I do not miss the Skype calls so much, at times the constant frequency of it all was becoming too much and l used to not wish to be involved. That is not saying that these days, it would not be a bad thing to hear from them occasionally ask for a call in Skype, and not just think of me as an electronic networking friend.
I have read that those affected under the banner of ‘spectrum disorders’ do struggle with quantifying friendship, l am no different. I can live my life without friendship from others, l know l can, perhaps it is easier to write than live it – but l know that l can, not meant to be read as a form of selfishness, but the fact that l can live my life independently from not just society but also people and ‘friendship’.
But l think it comes down to a continuum of pointers, am l supposed to ‘put in what l expect to be given back? Of course, but l do not do this, l think personally l am an absolutely lousy friend to have, in so far as, it is very hard for me to remain interested in sustaining and maintaining a friendship of long standing without the presence of a major interest. I have expectations of the concept where perhaps l should not have them and as such become disappointed in others when they are not met. Yet who am l to criticize others when l am not putting in what they would expect from a normal friendship?
I think that Facebook and other applications is a falsehood of so called friendship. It is a social networking concept only, people may have friendships involved, but l become confused by how some people seemingly feel the need to continually add more people than they could possibly be friends with. I have seen Walls with 900+ people on board, and these have not been group or society, or work promotion or branded Walls, but actually personal ones? How is this possible? How can one person successfully sustain 900 friends? Are they lonely? Or is it simply a case of being greedy, maybe even vain and perhaps it might be slightly narcissistic behaviour? Personally l think it is a case of people collecting or hoarding people only, sure l may only have 22 people, that is ample enough for me online, as l certainly could not attend that same number in real life. But the average Wall’s patronage is around the 200 mark and that still appears steep in my eyes. But some of those may be family, maybe even work colleagues and so on, whereas l have neither of those present in my day to day activity. Of course we must not forget friends by association, some of my best online friends are via that format.
Many a time you will never experience a complete response to your posts by all of them, due to their commitments in life elsewhere, and at best perhaps the most you can hope for is 15%. I have conducted tests to verify this and yes on average a 10-15% response is about right. Despite the fact that l use the application as a personal journal for my ramblings, l do often ask myself if the friends l do have post sufficient information for me to respond to? I know most people don’t ask this themselves on a regular basis, although you do see it occasionally as they will have a decluttering of their own friend’s lists. In all l get around an average of 15% response in 2 of every 5 posts and over the month all of my 22 have posted something which l can respond to directly, so therefore l know that l am keeping them amused as much as they do me.
However l do know and willingly accept l over analyze the concept and am simply unable to get to grips with its fullness, it is therefore my own fault of sorts. I have a number of social skills some of which are excellent but ‘social interaction’ is not one of my top ones. The final conclusion here is that l am the victim of my own consequences, and l think that is the Aspergian in me.
Maintaining a long standing friend and developing a longer standing friendship requires skills l do not possess nor am particularly bothered by – it requires talking on a regular basis and not just about a shared interest l might have, but of their own interests which l am usually not bothered by. It requires listening and whilst l can do this if they are being overly negative it irks me. It requires sharing and caring and of course a certain degree of empathy, and yes l can do these things and l am getting much better than l used to be, but still l struggle. I can be overly cutting with sarcasm and too flippant with facetiousness and this is not always well received and other times l can be too detached from them. Quite scathing of my character almost an assassination, but sadly it is true.
I have friends and loosely defined friendships, they are on my Facebook Wall, some of them are important to me and others are either stragglers or associates from previous time windows in my life. The ones that mean something to me irrelevant to whether we share an interest or not are the ones l care about, l think that is the best l can offer and l hope they know who they are, because l will not always tell them this.
My family moved around a lot due to my Fathers’ various career pursuits as a security specialist, be this when he was in the Air force in Malaysia and Australia, to his work with GMH in Australia, to his time eventually in Mobil Oil in the United Kingdom.
In the mid to late sixties whilst schooling in Malaysia, l have vague memories of friends of my age bracket, who lived in the same street as l and attended the same school in Penang. Mostly the sons and daughters of those who like my own Father were part of the R.A.A.F.
Some people l know, have held lifelong friendships with those they knew from their early schooling days, l am not one of those people, l have no brothers in arms from those days, my fondest memories are not of friendship but of the country itself, moments which became deeply etched into the mind of a six to seven year old.
Banana trees with their fruits a deep green in the mornings and by the next day black, of the most incredibly colourful sunsets that filled the skies with a luxurious radiance, of skittering geckos across your walls in the evenings, of high humidity during both the day and night, of monsoons that were like miniature tsunamis’ especially in the drains outside, of mosquito nets and pills the size of old coins and slowly burning coils, or of the pungent sickly smells of the durian fruits in the market place, of the succulent flesh of the opened spiky rambutans, kampongs and their folk, shrimps drying on long tables in the hot sun, butterflies the size of side plates energetically dancing on the wind, tropical fish alongside mudskippers in a sea that you could not swim in, cobras swimming in the monny drains, malaria a killer disease that claimed those we knew and not forgetting boils and strange illnesses. These are just some of the things l remember clearly from those times, l have carried those memories throughout my life, moments of clarity, but of friendships from then, no!
l as said have vague recollections of people from then, and most assuredly have no idea what has become of those people. People come and go all the time like passing ships in the night, in many respects people are of no consequence. Again l ask, is this too harsh? No, l do not think so, the people that matter to you are in your life, they are of consequence, and for me they are in my six.
For me, the mid sixties to the early seventies were times of things not people. In Malaysia it was the days when Americans and Australians were stationed there or on R&R from a none too distant warzone known as Vietnam, the days when servants to the residential areas of the Air Force were known as amahs and not slaves. But of childhood friendships, l can remember only a few names and after we left as a family l never saw nor heard from them again, nor worried nor cared as to their outcomes, yet my Father still has correspondence and friendships from those days.
Despite a certain difficulty in ‘fitting’ in with the crowd when young, it was not impossible for me, l was well liked and considered to be an amiable young lad. Perhaps to a certain extent my Mother was correct in one respect, that as we were never in one place for a long period of time, it was harder to fit in with my peer groups before we were all going through the upheaval of moving again to some other pasture? But l am unsure of this also, when we finally settled in our family home in Surrey, l made friends there and yet l never carried any of those to where l sit today.
I don’t care enough for people maybe that is it? Having said that, l do care for the people in my life that are important to me and l love, like my partner. She is my friend, we have a friendship and a relationship and that can be enough. I do not suffer from loneliness, so that also helps. And yet when l lived in Lincolnshire, l developed a good friendship with my Portuguese neighbour and yes it was a friendship, l miss him. His English was terrible as was my Portuguese, he was older than me by a good fifteen years, but despite the language barrier, not only could we communicate, but communicate well. We were able to laugh and enjoy the times we shared as friends and because of the differences between our two tongues, there was none of the chat l class as boring to contend with. I send both he and his wife the occasional email to keep in contact with them.
These days l mix with more people than in years gone by, l have no real need to strike up friends status with any of them. I do not have any gaps in my life that need friends or friendship to fill, just for the sake of it. I do not belong to any clubs or societies, l do not actively participate with any organized gatherings. I own a dog, and as a dog owner and walker, both Suzanne and l meet various people, and we can extend greetings and hold small conversations because of the common denominator. Suzanne does not have many friends, like me she has a Facebook Wall with electronic friends on there also, but she has got a certain percentage of long standing friendships also, people she has known and carried forwards progressively in her life to where she is today.
The most confusion l think comes from people who say they know you and are your friends, and they will insist that the two of you are in a more enriched friendship than truth displays. These people l refer to as Frenemies! Neither friends nor enemies, but perhaps confused as to what is what? I can know people by association, be this via other people l know or through work, but if l do not know them, then how can we be friends?
You witness a lot of this activity in Facebook, people requesting a friendship because of association, and many people readily accept these people into their privacy without a care in the world. If someone you did not know approached you in the street and said to you, ‘Oh l know whatsaface like you, can we be friends too?’ No one in their right mind can say to me now that they would jump up and down with pure joy at the prospect, the real emotion would be look upon this fool as an oddball! And yet in Facebook, people do this all the time?
I have been sadly caught out in the past of being manipulated by so called friends, or hoodwinked. I can safely say these days l am simply no longer as trusting as l once was, but only because l have been burned too badly before, that finally l am not that naïve to some people. NT’s somehow are so much more adaptive at seeing through the falsehoods of others than l, but also because of this skill, they are equally able to manipulate these very same falsehoods to their own advantage. It is not that l eventually can not see the hidden agenda in some, it is just that by that time usually l am in a spot of bother because of the so called friendship, and this is when l have acquired the labels of gullible and naïve to peoples’ intentions. My Mother at this point would class me as vulnerable. I am way too trusting for my own good at times, and believe what people say, under the guise of ‘friendship’, l become annoyed at myself because again l have been fooled.
The sparking of a friendship is not something that happens quickly with me, so it is not like l meet someone new and suddenly we are friends, l usually meander around the issue, and most of the time if they are genuine they will attempt to further initiate contact with me, but l can be awfully stubborn to new changes, and treat new people the same way.
I think l am a terrible friend to have if l am honest, l hardly ever initiate conversation, l never have, if someone speaks to me, l will answer. But l will not go out of my way to call people out of the blue just to say hello. If l am to call upon anyone, l have to have a proper reason and being social is not one of them. Whilst l have changed [my Portuguese friend being the example], it is not so significant for me to specifically go out of my way to contact anyone for the sake of it and to just say a random ‘Hi, how are you doing?’
Usually if l am contacting anyone l have a motive, sounds callous perhaps, again it isn’t. I don’t like to beat around the bush, although these days l usually remember to say ‘hello’ first before plunging into my reason for contact. I can break away from people very quickly, and then treat the day that follows as if they were never part of it. In the past five years alone, l have performed this action to at least a dozen people. As l am aging, l have decided the way forwards is to have fewer friends in the first place, and the people l do have albeit electronic, are in the right location – the Internet. My 22 may grow in the years to come, but it will not exceed 30, because 30 even on the Internet is more than enough to cope with sufficiently. And for what l need friends for, entertainment, discussion and humour, who would need more?
I do not speak to my friends daily, l have no desire to, l like my own privacy and space, and at times their need for social communication is damningly annoying, and it can over whelm me. I have been a loner for so much of my life before the disorder label awarding that l guess to a certain degree it’s the only safe way l know, sadly however from past experiences this stretched into my relationships. Thankfully l am in a relationship now where l can discuss and talk about everything going on in my mind without fear of judgement or reprisal.
I never remain friends with any of my ex’s, and usually for very good reasons like hostile and acrimonious partings. At times they have insisted on the friendship, but l think this sort of talk just adds insult to injury.
I am a patient man, but not as tolerant as l once used to be, and stupidity and deliberate foolishness irk me, especially when it defies logic. Now l openly will say that at times l can be as dumb as a box of rocks, but even on my dumbest days, l am still no where as stupid as some! I do easily forget that many people do not think the way l do, l accept that readily, because l do not think the same way as they do either, so it is only fair. But thinking like this does not stop the frustrations l experience with many people, more so from friends! Whilst l know and accept people do not think like me, l do expect them to understand logic when it is relevant to a topic they may have raised with me deliberately.
I am not in the habit of receiving many of my friends to where l live, it has on occasion happened, not here, not yet. But when l used to live in Lincolnshire l had a few visits. But l have no true desire to go and visit friends of mine either. I have done it in the past usually at the insistence of ex partners who requested my time for these gatherings. Unless l know someone really, really well, l almost instantly feel ill at ease the moment l enter their home. These gatherings or outings are performed for social pleasure, but most often or not involve talking about topics that don’t interest me in the slightest, idle chit chat that usually has nothing to do with anything important – well not involving me at any rate. If a great subject is raised, that has some solid foundation to it and l can actively contribute, then super, other wise, these occasions can fill me with a certain dread.
What truly surprises me at times is that although l studied psychology in the past, l have found people to be the most confusing species around and quite boring. I could be perceived as being boring also, l am accepting of that fact, and have been referred to it a few times in my life. But with social gatherings if in attendance l learned early on, to not actually say anything, it is safer. I can hold my own in most topics, and if l don’t have anything of value to add, then l don’t pretend to understand it, l can only say simply, sorry l don’t know.
Over the years, many people have asked me for my advice on certain situations, and back then l would simply tell them what l thought. But found out uncomfortably that many a time people DO NOT actually seek the honest truth to something’s, they seek sympathy to their plight. Sadly l can not always award this.
I have come to the conclusion over the last 20 or so years, and arrived with definition more recently, that NT’s require more friends than Aspergians do, we can survive with way less. Equally as l have already mentioned, if we lose friends we will only worry for a short while, where as the NT may worry for quite some time about the connection ending.
Aspergers is not a box of chocolates, it can be a sad, depressing and lonely disorder, and it is never great feeling in a state of constant worry and apprehension about how people perceive you. I used to struggle with this for many years, these days further down the line from my diagnosis and acceptance; l no longer truly bothered by what others may think. Truth is, quite frankly l no longer give a damn what they think!
Before Suzanne came into my life, and as such opened my eyes up to some parts of the disorder l was not fully aware of, l hardly ventured out socially or otherwise. If and when l did, l could only manage quiet locations with very small people traffic. These days l am much better, l can manage larger areas providing they are spacious, and if the latter then can also feel more comfortable with heavier traffic. I can meet new people without feeling threatened, so if a friend was to be secured in real life and not via the Internet, then it would be in a relaxed environment. However as l have said, she acts as a kind of Linus Blanket for me, paving the way for progression easier.
People like me, that is a fact, l may not be the best friend you ever have, or l might be the only friend that is true to you. They like my funny stories and the way l can deliver them in mirth to make them laugh. They admire my honesty even if they don’t always wish to hear it. I somehow can make people feel comfortable and instantly relaxed in my presence apparently, perhaps that is because of the ability to portray the story teller role so well. For while l do not actively wear masks to shield my emotions any more, they are sometimes present when l am nervous, and gradually they slip away to reveal me the more relaxed l become.
I look at my smaller and ever diminishing circle of friends, yes diminishing, for 5 years ago, it was larger than it is today, but l have lost friendships during the discovery of the true me again, and when l look at those losses realise that l am far better off without them than l ever was with them.
For many years, l was part of a pack, my dogs were my best friends, l could talk to them about everything and sure l am not oddballish enough to think they could speak back to me, but in their own way they did, as any true dog owner knows and understands. My pack of 10 years ago was much larger, and sadly and gradually over the years it has diminished through their deaths. In the caravan it was Dora, Scrappy and l alone. We got through together what life threw at us systematically. They had been by my side since they were both puppies, and we always looked out for each other. They say that dogs are mans’ best friends, and l do believe this to be true. Sadly we lost Dora in March 2014 and her loss in my life still saddens me bitterly, as l truly lost one of the best friendships l had ever known that day. Scrappy and l, and now Suzanne are the new pack.
Some of my friends say that they share a good friendship with their parents. I am not sure about mine. Over the years since leaving home and growing up, there has been more distance between myself and my own parents than others might experience with their own. Too much bitterness and anger has been shared between us as a family. The end result of all of this is perhaps sad and simple, we are all family, albeit dysfunctional, but we are not friends. I can visit either parent, but can only tolerate being in each presence for short periods of time. Sure l may have forgiven past errs but l will never forget them. I was at one time very close to my Mother, but in recent times this too has waned, we are still close, but not as we once were. My Father and l are closer now than we have ever been, but he is not a mate. And as to my Sister, we are only related by blood, there is no lost friendship.
My partner is an NT, and whilst in our early days together as a couple she could confuse me just as much as my friends could. When l set her the challenge to think like an Aspergian but not actually become one, admittedly l was somewhat stunned that she managed to research the subject matter very thoroughly and l believe only did so to better the chances of our relationship, because at her own concession if it was just to be friends alone, there would have been no need to study this disorder as we [Aspies] can be quite maddening.
However l can not forget that she is after all not Aspergian and that she can not think all the times like me; it is only natural for her to think like an NT. After all before us, she lived her life in the Neurotypical society, l am the only diagnosed one she knows, so perhaps it is understandable to forget that, when we are together, l am more of the NeuroAspie than full on Aspie.
In my final note for this chapter l will recount a conversation we both had early last year. It began simply enough about my lack of lustre for socialising with my friends or the neighbours, and then progressed into whether we would actually live together and what kind of impact it would have on our lives together. By this time l was already becoming very confused, did she mean for me to change my ways in so far as socialising if we were to live together? I said that if she had friends around to the house l would not be rude or impolite to them, but if l was expected to stay for banal conversations regarding the soaps, the ‘weather’ etc, l would make some excuses and leave the room.
‘Oh yes but l would not make you stay for their benefit, and yes l understand your horror of small ‘useless’ chat darling’.
Still l was confused, so she did not wish me to change my ways yet something was being unsaid, what was it?
This conversation got deeper and deeper and more confusing, and ran on for around thirty minutes with me becoming stressed by the so called ‘simplicity’ element of her topic of socialising. When she noticed my stress, she said that perhaps we had best drop the conversation, and l ended up by saying, well what was this conversation all about then?’
‘Oh just that if we lived together would we go places together and spend time together, or would that be too much for you?’
I was stunned to be honest, how absurd a question …
‘Of course we would bloody be together darling who else would l rather be with if not my partner?’
‘Oh l just did not know, l think l may have handled this topic rather badly actually, perhaps l should have said that to begin with?’
‘Yes you should have said that to start off with my love, l am 50 and Aspergic not stupid and 4!’
So although now as a couple, we think the same in many ways, back then, it was still quite confusing. My take on friends and friendship is not just confusing to me, but was also confusing to her.
The end result for me personally is quite simple, l do not need nor have the desire to be the life and soul of a party, l can be a bah humbugger when it comes to the likes of social gatherings like Christmas and so on, and l have no wish to hoard people like many Facebook applicators, l am more than happy with the small band of friends l have currently and am in no rush to expand that ring unnecessarily, it is as l have said not the concept l am weary on, but the people inside after all.
Time will tell on this l feel, it always does. I change so frequently these days. Every three months or so l am a different person to the last three months. It is currently 2015, l have changed since l wrote my first book in 2012 significantly for the better. I have been with Suzanne for two years and in those two years she has balanced me out dramatically. Where will l be in four to five years time? Maybe l will have a completely different outlook towards friendship? I doubt l will be completely different, but maybe if l am really truly lucky l will have a bigger circle of Internet friends, they are so much easier to manage and maintain!
I want friends, but not always friendship, l want to keep people at a distance because sometimes too close it just plain uncomfortable and all too familiar. I need contacts l think. I want friends only when l want friends and l think that is where the confusions arise – through me. Perhaps that is the Aspergian way l do not know. Many Aspies have no friends and can not make them through shyness, but in the end it all comes down to the method of Facebook – you only get out, what you put in!
‘Less people you know, less shit you have!’
Chapter 9 – Ep 13 – Soon