Monday, April 29, 2013

Helping You Out - Aspies Give Information

I am the kind of person who wants to help. There are several topics that I have spent a lot of time studying, researching, dedicating large portions of my time to, therefore I know a lot about them. There are other topics I know and care little for and don't know much about them.

When a friend has a problem, I take it seriously. I care about my friends. I feel my information could be helpful to them. Whether its a problem understanding something, or a problem doing something, if it lines up with one of those topics I know something about, I'm the kind of person who is excited about what I know, and I want you to know it too! I want you to get through whatever it is you're going through, and be happy, feel better, whatever.

So I share, or sometimes apparently overshare. It has come to my attention in the past couple of years that sometimes, dare I say even most of the time, people honestly do not want the information I have. This is heartbreaking for me in many ways.

 There is a huge bucketful of different feelings I have about these situations. 

First, I think there is a desperation. Often when I am trying to explain something to someone, the words don't come. I don't know which words to use, or how to explain what I am thinking in a way that not only expresses what I mean, but does it in a way that is not offensive. Aspergers makes many people speak very directly, and I have an extremely hard time finding ways to speak the way NT people do, in more indirect ways, so that they understand me without going overboard with feeling offensive or insulted. It is very hard for me to "play the game" of saying something indirectly so that my directness and bluntness isn't mistaken for insults. Most NT people do not realize how much "game playing" goes into conversation. For someone like me, (and I feel many Aspies are the same here), it is a disaster to have a conversation with a NT person. It ends up feeling like a lot of drama, and its utterly confusing. Why waste so much time saying 100 words when 50 does the job? Do people realize it? I don't think they do.

Of course, mixed with this is the second feeling: fear that they will take it as an insult. I have never in my life directly and specifically set out to offend someone with my information, but it has happened over and over in my life. Then of course, the person is so angry with me they won't listen to or believe me when I say that it wasn't my intent. I feel I was being rational, and presenting my information simply and in a straightforward way, all the while hoping they will not take it the wrong way. 
I have a lot of fear of this, but despite my fears, it does not stop me from offering information to others. My fear and feelings do not stop me from sharing what I think is right/appropriate/necessary (or whatever is appropriate per situation). There is a quote I have seen quite often that relates to this kind of situation that goes along the lines of "I care less about feelings than I do about the truth" and "I would rather tell the truth than worry about hurting someone's feelings". I think that is one of the characteristics of Aspergers.

 Again, it is very hard to "play the game" so that I don't come off as offensive, but at the same time I know that there is information to give for a situation and I feel it is important enough to share the information, therefore I somehow stop feeling the fear of saying it, even though it sometimes makes my words seem harsh. Still, I have learned to at least TRY to "play the game" in my 30 years of life, so I do try to make attempts to make my information clear and polite. Still, even as polite as I think I am being, I'm apparently proven myself wrong more often than not. It is mystifying.

Does any of that make any sense? 

That leads to another group of feelings, that of hesitation, confusion, and frustration at myself for not being clear enough. I can write and write and write on some topics forever. Usually these are the topics I am currently most interested in. I keep writing trying to explain and re-explain what I am trying to say, and I end up writing BOOKS of information down in the simple attempt to make sure that I am not confusing, or to make sure I am being clear enough to be understood. Sometimes I will present the same information in several different ways in an attempt to make sure I am being understood. However, after the fact I wonder if I have even made a dent in conversation because so many people see long posts and just say that there is no way they have the time to read all that! I am very good at separating my conversation into paragraphs that are shorter, because that is what helps me to be able to read long posts by others. Even for me, if a person just writes a long long paragraph, I have a hard time reading it. My eyes start jumping all over. So I am aware of those kinds of things, hoping my posts are easier to read than some, because I separate. I still know that I can go on too long about some topics, and I think that for the most part, at least I am not argued with, because the length is too much for people to care to read. Blessing or curse? I don't know.

Now I will get to the heartbreaking feelings. When someone rejects my information, especially when they have misunderstood what I have said, I am very upset and heartbroken. I feel disrespected. I feel as if they do not like me enough to accept my information. I feel as if they specifically reject me as a person. My information is a part of who I am. I have spent hours, months, and years on some topics. The information I have gathered is important to me, and especially with certain topics, I feel that the information is critical to either that person's well being, or the well being of someone else. It intensifies with the helplessness of the person. Some adults can be in seemingly hopeless situations, but with animals or babies, you'd better watch out because the intensity is sky high on helpless animals or babies! My information is pretty well researched, I wouldn't speak so strongly on them if it wasn't, and it is to my very core a part of who I am. Therefore, rejecting my information is like rejecting me as a person.

I want to give anyone reading this clarity on one thing however: I am not all or nothing (or at least I try not to be). You do not actually have to follow or agree with my information. That might come as a shock, I know. However, I know that the few times that people have said "Thank you!" or "That's fascinating information, I will look into that!", I have felt very respected and my information (and therefore myself) very validated. Again, even if my information is not followed, or even liked, simply responding this way helps me to feel heard. When my information is simply rejected, I do not feel heard.

As I am writing this, I realize that this is probably not limited to Aspies. I think that ALL people want to be validated and respected, don't they? Everyone wants someone to thank them for trying to help, even if its not the kind of help they want. I think it is more about having proper manners toward others than just learning how an Aspie thinks about things. Just like me, many people feel strongly about their information as well. So maybe its less that I'm an Aspie and feel X about people rejecting my information (which is tied to myself in my mind), but more about constantly running across people who have no manners or consideration for someone else.

Then I wonder how I manage to have that many friends that really can't be friends with me if they can't even be respectful and kind. Even without taking into consideration the idea that everyone wants their opinions respected, who I am as a person should be respected just as much as they expect me to respect them as well. Just because I don't express my information in the right ways does not mean I am less deserving of respect. How often I am belittled and "lectured" because I should "know better" than to say something like that! In my mind, I said it correctly, but apparently to the hearer I didn't.

I feel like I have blabbed a lot about this, and I have been getting distracted during this post, so ask for clarification I guess if anything is muddled. But I hope I am making some sense.

1 comment:

  1. Oh boy of boy do I feel you. I could have written this years ago.

    This is how I deal with it.

    I quote studies and results rather than if you do X, then Y will be better.

    I say, well, in this study, people in your situation that did X tended to have Y result. This takes any tone of opinion out of it. Kinda like "oh I knew a guy in the same situation and this or that worked".

    Also the way I figure, if they come to me, they know me, and they know two things. I'm direct, and I'm usually right (because I, like you, research things to death).

    Anyway, try not to make yourself crazy over this. Som' times you just have the let the NT's figure things out on their own. I know its hard to watch, but its the only way som' times. And that is not your fault.

    Great post! :)