Sunday, March 22, 2015

My World Has Been ROCKED! Aspies & Special Friendships!

Before you read any farther, watch this video starting right about minute 5:45.

I cannot believe what I heard there! I heard that my special fascinations with people actually make sense, and they actually aren't crazy and insane like I thought my whole life (because that's what I was told!)!!!!!

If they hadn't have used the specific example they used I may not have made the connection. But that was exactly what I needed to hear. I am in awe and amazement and I wish I wish I wish I had known this stuff in school!

As I have previously mentioned, when I was in school, I had a particularly strong attraction to a certain teacher, or a few of them over the years. And as I watched this video it all came back clearly and specifically. I never intended them to be considered "romantic" or "sexual" in any way shape or form. 

However, quite upsettingly, it was specifically mentioned that I must be doing specific things with these poor guys in order to have, maintain, and not necessarily be discouraged in my affections and interest in them. It was rumored there must have been something else going on for it to look as it did. 

Naturally, it didn't make sense to the outside. And honestly, based on hearing here or there, I may have been told it wasn't always understood by the recipient either. For that I am deeply sorry because it seemed to them that my attraction was more than it should have been, and I did not intend it to be! I did play into that, but because that's what I was told to believe. Not because that was how it started out. 

Of course, once the suggestion was made that it must have been romantic in nature, I from then on suspected that they were right and I made a fool out of myself on more than one occasion. (I'm hoping strongly that so many little pieces of paper made their way to the garbage!) I won't say I didn't enjoy myself but as an adult I can look back (without brain damage relating to hormones), I can see how ridiculous some of it was. 

That all being said, I was, and am, attracted to intellect!!! I am strongly attracted to that kind of thing! I like to learn and discuss things, especially if I feel that I am heard. That is one thing that stood out to me - these teachers I adored actually made me feel heard. They made me feel almost as their equal, as if I was as important in my thoughts as they were in theirs. They included me in their world and they joked and played along with me all those years.

These teachers were brilliant people, who taught me more than just school lessons, but about life and people and friendships. Trust me, I learned nothing from other kids about friendships except that friendships can be thrown away when you're done with them. But the teachers, they were my constant source of my love for learning and intellect! They protected me and treated me like a person of value. They treated me like an adult and not just a student. They trusted me with things they didn't trust others with. They told me things that helped me remember to protect myself before I went out in the great big world. Priceless information that maybe they didn't even realize at the time that I needed it so badly. Or, maybe they knew me enough after 6 years to be unafraid to give it to me. 

I wish I had known about this principle of intellectual friendships/obsessions/interests/relationships when I was a teenager. I wish someone had been able to tell me that it's okay to adore my teachers, that it didn't mean I wanted to BE with them, but that it was okay to have, what Tony describes as "intellectual orgasms". I will agree to that description because it feels REALLY GOOD to have a relationship like that. And to be honest, I miss them. 

I'm realizing how most of the people that I cling to in my life, both past and present, qualify for this intellectual relationship description. Each person has a passion that motivates me or greatly intrigues me in a certain way. This is why it hurts to be apart from them or it hurts to lose them to the natural progression of life and growing. 

Just as sexual orgasms bond you to your spouse, intellectual orgasms bond you to your friend. And it has nothing to do with sex!! 

I feel like, in part, years of my life were a "lie" because I bought into what others thought and how others defined my passion for these brilliant people I knew.

And this is nothing that is in the past either!! This opens up a whole new world of why I still find myself fascinated with certain people! I realized that I'm still telling myself what I assumed was true from high school about relationships!! I must be having a crush on so and so because I love talking to them, for example.

It's a lie!! I love talking to them because intellectually I am stimulated by them! Because I love to learn and stretch and grow. Because they make me feel good in my mind! Because they include me in their life and treat me like an equal. Because they know something I desperately want to know or they have a certain personality that I want to be or have in my life. 

The problem has been that I keep people at arms length because I'm afraid I'm crossing a line. Which hurts because the one thing that makes me really happy - interacting with these people who's intellect I adore - I've been avoiding fearing that it means I'm treading on some kind of dangerous ground. 

(I still have to balance that with truly keeping intimacy with my husband alone and not leading anyone else on either because it's likely they won't understand this themselves.)

This is HUGE. I don't even know if Tony Attwood himself would even have realized how important this one little piece is to me, and I assume other aspies as well. 

This is going to be my big focus moving forward for quite a while as I rearrange and replace the feelings that I was told must be somehow romantic or sexual with this intellectual attraction! This is life changing. I can't say it enough. This rocks my world! I will write on this again! 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pulled Close, Yet Pushed Away

I suppose this could mean different things to different people. But, have you ever felt pulled close to someone, yet pushed away at the same time? 

Like, they open up to you and are showing you a part of themselves that you normally wouldn't see, yet at the same time they are holding you at arms length really, because you know they aren't telling you the whole story?

Man, have I ever felt that way. I may have mentioned before that when I feel friends with someone, I am ALL IN. I come to expect that from other people too, and usually I end up feeling terribly confused. I don't know if I should expect to be a friend, or not. I don't know if I should expect honesty and frankness, or not. Above all, I guess, I don't know whether or not I can trust them with my own honesty or not. I don't know which side of the line we are on. ALL IN means that either you're friends or you're not. I've spoken at length about this idea that some people apparently are only little bit friends with someone, and besties with few. Or whatever.

It is all just confusing to me, and I wanted to throw this thought out to the great void here and say that I can't stand it, and I can't figure out what to make of it, and I don't know where to go from here. I don't know what to do, how to approach people who do this, or how to include them in my life, or to determine how or if I'm included in theirs. 

Life is a mess sometimes. Sometimes it's a disaster. My heart goes out to them but at the same time I can't believe the mess that I only see the tip of. Or, rather, I see from my perspective the whole darned iceberg, but don't understand why someone won't describe to be the color, or something.

This shouldn't make any sense, really. I just need to get that off my chest.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

That's What I've Been Saying! -- Too Much Empathy

So here's a great link, more like what I'm saying about Aspies and empathy. Take a read!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

For Aspies, Friendships & Socializing SUCKS - Here's Why

Like many other Aspies, I struggle with friendships. As a child, I'm told and have vague memories of having friends over and ending up at some point reading books and not playing with my friends. I hated being prompted to go play with them, though no one really knew why. (I picture my mom like the mother of Jesus, just keeping these little things in her heart until she found a sensible answer - which she eventually did - even if no one else cared/believed it mattered.)
So, my sister would end up playing with my friends. Though she didn't seem to mind because she liked people. HAha! I don't know, I've never asked her. But she was always the "people person" one.
I would even avoid activities at other birthday parties. One party I specifically remember they were going to watch "Coneheads" - we couldn't have been 10 years old? I knew my mom didn't want me to watch it, and I didn't "get it" anyway, so I stayed in the other room and played Barbies. Quite happily, I'll add. (Sidenote: I have since twice tried to watch it, and I can't even fathom how it could be entertaining. Sidenote: Dan Aykroyd says he has Aspergers too, and it is often said that Aspie humor can be a little out there!)

Another time everyone was going to go snowmobiling, and I didn't want to go. We must have been like 6 or 7 I think? I think I was under the impression that some of the kids were driving snowmobile, and I didn't think it was a smart idea, so I just stayed back. I don't remember what I did, or even if anyone was with me! But I probably enjoyed the quiet! I may have a flash of visiting with an adult, another common thing for an Aspie kid to do. But I'm really not sure if that memory flash belongs in that particular story.

As a teen, I had a group of friends off and on, but twice the "leader" dropped me with no explanation or sensible reason. The first was one of those "about-face" situations that Aspies seem to find themselves in, where you are lead to believe one thing and then BOOM, they pull the run out from under you and turn on you after they just strung you along! The other I still, to this day, have no idea what happened or why. I sometimes struggle with thinking I have forgiven them both, because who cares anymore, but really, I wonder if I have if I can't forget that it happened, and wondering why. (Aspies end up dwelling on things, see? Does dwelling = unforgiveness?) But, moving on here...

As an adult, friendships are no more clear than they were as a kid. It is literally like everyone else got "the book", and I didn't. Believe me, if there was a book, and someone just handed it to me, I would have read it! Because I read books. However, there is a chance I wouldn't have been interested and still not read it, and it's too late now, I don't have time to read! 

Seriously. There are too many rules. And not all the rules apply to all friends all the time. They only apply sometimes. In my case, a lot of rules only apply if you live in a 5 mile vicinity, which no one does.

Listen, I don't think I am high maintenance. I don't need to 'hang out' or do stuff all the time. I don't want to be around people that badly that often. And yes, I get it when people don't have the ability/money to drive to my place,, and that the times I am where they are is usually never convenient, because we don't go out LOL. (Don't even get me started on the fact that you can't even make plans with people because they will NEVER say "Oh, great! I will put you on the schedule and not let anything interfere with this!" Most people will never, have never, unless you're the bestie.)

But still, even though I am not in need of frequent interaction, it is still nice to feel like you matter to people you consider your friends, right? Wouldn't it be nice if they could come through for you when you think they should come around? 

Which is what hit me tonight. These rules that I think apply to all friendships really don't. They must not apply to any friendships. Or only some of them, under some circumstances? I don't get it. I mean, as an Aspie, I am trying to take in information all the time to guide my social behavior, but when the rules don't apply, or only apply to certain people in certain situations, or only apply for certain people, or apply here, but not there, or for them but not me, I get so lost. I'm trying to make sense of the social world by taking in the information from what I see around me. I try to figure out how to act, socially, by seeing how others are acting. Then it goes into my mental "rule book". Of course, by the time I have to access that information to use it, it's no longer valid. Maybe because I'm with new people, or a new situation, or whatever. Still, if you are playing by a rule book that is constantly changing and never the same even with the same people, it can be confusing!

You might think maybe I should forget about the "rule book". You. Don't. Get. It.

Imagine you are on another planet. Literally. You don't speak the language, their mannerisms are strange to you, and you don't know what to do. Naturally, you start taking notes, either mentally or even on paper, about their interactions, any noises or "words" they use during certain interactions, and you start piecing together the puzzle of their language and interactions. However, you spend your entire life doing this, and you never seem to be able to pick out any pattern for any word, interaction or mannerism.

This is kinda like what it is like to be an Aspie in the social world. It's literally like living on the wrong planet. I'm taking notes, and trying to give myself safe guidelines to abide by when socializing, but none of the rules are ever the same! And you wonder why Aspies have to limit their social time. The first 75% of social time is spent decoding the language, mannerisms and social rules of the situation at hand, likely REWRITING the previous edition. This is all happening before we feel comfortable socializing. We probably spend this whole time sitting silently, or hovering over the food if there is any, or even on our phones or something (the perfect social anxiety tool!). 

The thinking is that people with Aspergers have the problem, but I don't agree with that (of course). I think YOU all have the problem! LOL! How can you do that? Make rules, only to break them, or ignore them and not use them? Or make them in one instance, and then break them in the next? What kind of crazy people are you? (Hahaha).

Anyway, I think it is dawning on me that each friendship is indeed unique and different, and when I'm measuring the rules of friendship from one person to another it really isn't fair, is it? However, I have a horrible time figuring out the world without my mental rules, so I'm still completely lost. Now not only do my rules mean nothing, but I have to keep rules individually for every person I know, and even if I do, those rules are bound to change. And those rules might not apply to me as their friend, but only someone else? So only someone else has this particular rule, but I'm off the hook? 

I haven't even begun to think about what this means or how it works. Again you might tell me to stop worrying about the "rule book". But YOU aren't an Aspie, are you? Until you are an Aspie, stop telling me what to do in my own head. Rules help me not end up being called a freak or something. If I throw them out, then I'm the weirdo friend that no one wants to be around because they are too weird and no one understands them. I want to be understood, and not have people ignore me because I'm too weird. I had enough of that as a kid. Which, maybe, is the reason I do all this "rule" crap? 

Like it or not, even NT people have unwritten, unspoken social rules. It's just that you understand what they are, for whom they apply, and when or if they can be broken. And you can probably keep track of different ones for different people. Aspies don't have that benefit of being able to determine all that stuff. So there.

 Maybe that is why I feel so connected to people who's friendship has maybe ran past its expiration date in my life. I miss people, just as intensely as I miss my current friends. Even people I haven't seen or talked to in over 10 years I still want to pop back into my life just like they've been here all along. I don't "get" this whole "friendship for a season" thing. I do understand when I have a disagreement and things get awkward, but I don't understand that some people are okay with that, and I'm the only one feeling awkward. 

Do you have any idea, right now, what it feels like to socialize with Aspergers?