Dear Blog – “Oh the Irony of Humour!”
I have so much to write with this series, three at the very most Dear Blog episodes but l cannot put them all into one episode or even a fuller post like this, so l will have to write them up over time, they cover too broad a range of topics so three singles is way better than one overly long and confusing post. This is long enough …. you have been warned!
Yes l know what you are thinking … it hasn’t stopped you before!! Yes l do write long posts, but this would be too long for even me and l might fall asleep, wake up with drool on my keyboard and none the wiser as to who l was and what the hell l was actually writing about!
I read and commented on an interesting post the other day written by Gary Just like that Tree where upon he was discussing in many ways ‘ the aloneship of Asperger’s’, in so far as for many of us on the spectrum, we prefer our own company and the company of our closest over being overly social elsewhere and hanging out with other people.
As a post l could relate quite well to the content both for today and in my yesterday’s, – many people believe me to be a very social person, and the reality is ‘actually l am not’, l don’t even really pretend to be social, if anything l am extremely selectively social, l know who l like and who l don’t and l don’t pretend to like others for the sake of it – but l am very polite and l am exceedingly diplomatic at times and l could be standing in front of a person l absolutely detest and l am so laid back, you would never know it!
When younger, l was very much the loner, l preferred my own company more than the company of others. Many a time all the way up to my later teens l was referred to as a ‘lone wolf’ who did loner things. It was just easier … but as l became older l had to start to change. With my careers l had to wear a lot of masks to cover up how l really felt and many a time after large social gatherings l was fried to the inner core and had to take ‘downtimes’ and l performed this action with dancing and raving.
If l was hyperfocused on something that l was extremely passionate about and or remarkably enthusiastic about it, my strength of passion would drown out all the negativities and l found l could become so absorbed in what l was doing that people ‘just happened to be there as well as me!” but l wasn’t being specifically social.
As a motivational trainer, l was hyperfocused on providing as much enthusiasm and motivated positivity during trainings that is what got me through. Sometimes l was so passionate l got carried away and my managers would have to remind me that l was training ‘others too!’ The fact is l don’t really do ‘people’.
But l was in the people business and l had to remind myself of that daily .. my managers reminded me that they were paying me a lot of money to be a ‘people person’. I never doubted my job, l was bloody good at my job because l was hyperfocused … it was a great job … it would have been bloody brilliant job if there were no people, but oh of course wait a moment! That for me is the irony of humour there!
People, the people and peopling were why l was there! I wasn’t social with them, l was teaching and training them to be more positive.
Of course back then, well l was considered quirky and l had a lot of twerks and quirks and more than a bucketload of idiosyncrasies … but it was the 80’s and the 90’s, you could get away with more then than you could today and by this, l mean employers were not like they are today … back then managers and big bosses wanted unique!
But also back then, l had NO IDEA l was on the spectrum … my official diagnosis didn’t arrive until 2008 by which time l was in my forties and at that time, l had been feeling undecidedly stranger since l hit 35 years of age, ten years previously!
So in 1998, l remember l woke up one morning and thought “I feel a little odd?” But l thought nothing of it, l was being paid to be wacky and different, maybe l was simply recognising that in order to attain a high salary – you needed to be a little ‘off the wall? I remember also waking up in 2003 one morning and thinking , “Why am l still feeling odd and why does the world no longer make sense to me and gees l am starting to NOT like being around people!!”
But in 2003, l was already distancing myself away from people … l didn’t know why, but l was. I preferred my own company more and more and as l had never been one to carry friends throughout the years .. well l didn’t have many, although my wife [ex-now], had a lot and l was constantly being made to be social, which burned me out even more than normal. I was still working full time in 2003 and would be working for the corporate side until 2006 and at that time l was an NVQ Retail Trainer. Which amounted to training ‘youngsters to become retailers’ Of the classes l taught which numbered 15 – 20 trainees l would say on average only 10% wanted to be there!
At the same time, in 2003 l had just started my own small mammal business and had literally just acquired a massive 35 commercial store supply contract nationwide UK, so l knew deep down that if l didn’t want to work with people directly … well actually, l really didn’t have to. But l continued until 2006 when l was just too burned out to keep working with people daily and decided to work with animals only. I was way happier!
As said, l don’t ‘do people’ in the flesh and blood, l prefer to do my socialising within my bubble and l know l have said this before, but l am way more social behind my screens than l am in the society throng. The reason being, that l can control the overwhelmingness of everything … too much noise, too much distraction, too many people and the list goes on and do prove just too much work.
Now naturally, l am of a very amicable disposition … l am a very friendly person and many people like me, no really they do, sometimes l am as confused as you all are about it as well? I mean why? But at a push, it’s because l am not rude to people, l am polite and diplomatic, l cannot see the need to be an absolutely arrogant bastard for the sake of it, although over the years l have been referred to as that and why? Because l was starting to become very distant to people when l wasn’t being paid to be social.
I like my own company, l don’t get lonely and l don’t often get bored because l work damn hard at not getting bored!
But l found that the whole social expectation was overrated. I don’t have many real life friends and it doesn’t bother me … as said, l find friendships online much easier and more social than l find the whole going to the pub, going around for dinner and talking about the most banalist of issues unexciting. I want to discuss and talk and read and be entertained with lots of things … l need a lot of stimulation and most people – friends – are not stimulating!
[Not all, l have a lunch tomorrow with Suze’s cousin and husband – the cousin is an ex teacher and an extremely quirky and funny person! Her husband is on the spectrum – brilliant fun is always had with fantastic conversation!]
On my blog, well l have diversity and choice and selection and like minded people and we ALWAYS have something to discuss. So online friendship or virtual friendship is way easier to manage and appreciate.
However, as distant as l am from the whole society and population issue, in more recent years l have had to compromise and become a little more social, for a few reasons … 1] my own health and mental wellbeing and 2] because Suze whilst not a Madam Party Animal herself, is NOT on the spectrum with me … there is trust me an entire post on partners in love with spectrum partners somewhere in my future because it is an enlightening read, l feel my ex-wife would have liked to been privy to all those years ago – it would not have saved us as a couple, but it may have made her life more easier to live with or live with her weird husband!
So since being with Suze l have become ‘a tinsy bit more social’, in so far as mixing with people that we know as a couple and mostly her family. I don’t really do family either, l mean l don’t do Christmas, l don’t do real people, l don’t do family, l don’t do socialising l am more than a bit of a bah humbug at times, at my own concession – l just know what l like, who l like and what and who l don’t! I am fifty bloody six and if l don’t want to be social well l don’t want to be social is my usual credo!
I find many people false or to be liars, l find them to be confusing, they have hidden agendas they hide behind, they are judgemental and above everything they are either pompous or bloody arrogant and that list belongs to the good ones! I know l am cynical and l have at times trust issues and l can be terribly naive, l don’t lie and l can be too trusting and l TRY to always see the good in people despite knowing the dreadful truth and this makes me, a relatively kind person, cannon fodder for some real manipulators. I don’t deny that of all the shit in my life a lot of the third degree burnings have come from people who l trusted in.
However, all that aside – l read Gary’s post and l could relate to it all too well and l could empathise with both his emotions and the feelings of his son with regards the offer of attending a social village gathering on the weekend! That cold sweat sensation that sends rivulets running down your armpits at the very thought of mixing with people you don’t know!
Low and behold, Tuesday of last week, a small invite was pushed through our letterbox, from the couple at the top of the road. Since moving in, Tom and Barry have invited us to their soirée’s over the years since 2017 and not once have we managed to attend. They are a lovely couple and really friendly people and very social. The last one we missed was the late summer garden party this year and that was because Suze was in hospital and l was too stressed out thinking whether she would ever leave the hospital alive, and so l had to once again not attend. But this time, we decided to attend, even if just for an hour we would show our faces so as to say thank you.
BUT, in the end, the sweetest irony of all occured – it was only me that attended the evening Christmas party – Suze declined on the grounds of Scrappy in the evening would be way too disorientated if we both went out for an hour. I couldn’t not go, as l had gone around Tuesday and said ‘Yes we would love to attend, but it will only be for a short while and then l explained the situation with Scrappy’. They were both understanding.
I tried to convince the non Aspie of the house, that an hour wouldn’t hurt Scrappy, and that we both could do with a break from the stress, and we might enjoy ourselves as a couple … we haven’t been able to do a lot as a couple since Scrappy started to downgrade. We have always been very wary about going out … but the stress of living with everything is phenomenal, you may not think l am stressed, but l am, and it has started to really affect my physical and mental health in the last four months. I am not depressed, but l struggle with finding my mojo daily.
In the end, the real Aspie of the house, the one who doesn’t do real people, doesn’t like socialising, is not overly keen on going out and meeting unknown people attended for just under two hours … l even yes, l did, shaved the inside of my nose and ears – that’s not the term and for the life of me l can’t think what is! But l had forgotten about when going out, that one needs to look presentable and l do, but if l am speaking to people perhaps hairy nostrils and ears don’t look good!
Did l have fun?
No, not really … I could think of fifty things that would have thrilled me more, l was the second youngest there, next to Tom who l think is fifty, most of the others were in their 70’s and 80’s and talking politics and not my politics and not even really yours, they were talking their politics, elderly politics on non political politics! I am basically an environmentalist politically speaking – 99% of those last night, are not. I spoke to two of my neighbours, one who lives right next door and we talked of an assortment of things, Scrappy, Suze, and the neighbours many ailments as well as my Aspergers in social settings and where were my ear muffs??
I don’t wear ear muffs l said …. Well how are you with all this noise? Well l am hyperfocusing on you but l am aware of everything going on around me for sure and l proceeded to tell her what all 19 people were wearing – that’s how l cope l said, and l’ll not be here for that long. The other lady l spoke to about garden hedgehogs …. it was truly rivetting. At least she was a fellow environmentalist!
After 90 minutes, l was left sitting by myself, watching everything going on around me … l could have donned a social mask and got up and bothered to talk to people about all sorts of things and pretended to love it – but l didn’t. It didn’t interest me – but l did have a few moments to think about a few more important and pressing things.
Life is too short to do shit you don’t want to do, or don’t feel comfortable doing and that l was perhaps too bubblefied and that l did actually need to get out more and do the things l wanted to do, with Suze, and by myself, and that l had allowed my Aspergers over the years in many ways to rule me … don’t misunderstand, l know my boundaries, my limits – but l am after all only 56, l still have a whole life ahead of me and there are so many adventures l still want to do.
So, maybe getting out even for 90 minutes last night, was actually a good thing, thinking on it.