Being friends with me
Howdy y’all! I have been neglecting my non Dutch readers, so I thought I would write this special (and difficult) topic in English. I do hope the Dutch blog site followers will be able to read this as well, as I have chosen a topic that will consume a lot of my energy. But I wanted it to be written, so in the end, it will all be worth it.
I have always had difficulty with people, with social gatherings, with pretending to fit in. Because I never truly felt like I did fit in, I always felt different. Like I was wearing goggles that prevented me from seeing the world like others did. Or, maybe more positive, I could see things others could only dream about. Yes, having to live with an Autism Spectrum disorder, as they call it here, has pro’s and cons. I really love that I can sometimes see things and enjoy them more than others. But when I try to share it with others, it can be difficult, because even if I try my best, sometimes non ASS people just don’t get it…
I can get lost in the colors of the clouds during sunrise and sunset. I can see the most beautiful things in the shapes of the clouds. I can fully dive into something, wanting to need to know and understand it all, and a minute later, I find something different to dive into.
But what does this have in common with me being friends, being a friend, and also needing a friend? Well, me experiencing things differently can be quite an obstacle. It can get me into very awesome discussions, where I try to paint a view of my world and someone else tries to do the same for me. Opening the non ASS world a bit for me, while I give some ASS insights from my point of view.
But, I am bad in social events. I might not get the joke, and react in a non accepted way (as I can take stuff very seriously when I can’t understand I am reacting on something said with sarcasm), react too late, react in a silly way. Sometimes people think I am joking and laugh. I have learned myself to laugh along, so I could hide my confusion. Sometimes, later on, I could ask someone why people thought I was joking. And a few times people have been able to explain. But it can hurt me to see and hear people laughing when I made a serious reply to something. In the beginning I always thought people were messing with me, that I was the joke of the social event, that I was not to be taken too seriously.
I am bad in faking interest in things I am just not interested in. I have difficulty being happy for someone when it doesn’t really interest me. I am not trying to be a jerk, to be a bad friend, but I “just” don’t have it in me. People who take the time to get to know me better know this of me and don’t judge me for it.
But when I am in a group where not everyone knows, people do react to me when I am not jumping with joy for the new shoes (which I find disgusting) of someone I barely know… I can’t fake liking something I don’t. Some call me too honest for my own good. But if I would lie, I would have to remember all the lies plus, it would not be honest, it would not be me answering to something asked. Some people steer away from me because of this. They hesitate asking me things because I give my own honest answer. Other people always ask me things, just because of it. But I do believe I have lost people I saw as friends because of this. I don’t want sympathy, I just want to show you that having to deal with people can be mighty difficult.
People that aren’t on the spectrum already have difficulty in daily life, in dealing with other people. And they generally see things the same way, experience things the same way. I do believe when I started blogging, I wrote about seeing things black and white instead of experiencing a full colored rainbow. It can be a great help sometimes, where I either agree for myself it is right or wrong. Then I hear others about that issue with so many other opinions, that I get lost and would need a navigation system to get me home.
But when the options are only black or white, there is also a feeling of missing out. When I see people being able to grasp the opportunities that, for example, purple, red or even gray has to offer, when for me, that is a no-go, it can be painful and disappointing. Of course I would love to be able to have a great roundabout of choices at times, I think it could also overwhelm me and make me so confused I end of choosing many of the paths which aren’t right for me to begin with. So maybe that black and white world is also a kind of protection for my well being.
But when you are a “normal” or “average” person (notice the ” “, it is not to be read in a negative way!!!) it can be really hard to switch to “my world” or “my point of view”. It works two ways. For me, your world is dangerous at times, because it offers more than I can handle. Or because my way of doing things isn’t the preferred way for the most of people, so it is often seen as wrong and needing to be corrected.
That is why I love the word acceptance, autism acceptance. Awareness is good, but acceptance is better. I, for one, don’t want a cure. I do not think of it as a decease, I see it as my way of experiencing things. And, in a way, I sometimes can show people that doing things differently is not the same as doing it wrong. It might be even better doing it my way, opposed to the “normal accepted” way of many others.
But being friends can be challenging enough, and when it’s with an Aspie, it can bring you even more challenges. But I for one do believe they can be worth it. I know I can sometimes forget to ask you how you are. I know it can be too difficult for me to have contact with others, even though I do love it when people show interest in me. I know I can get into fights over having a different opinion, a different point of view and also over feeling misunderstood. But I am also willing to learn from you, I want to understand your view of the world while I share mine with you. I can fight for you, even when you don’t need it. I can be strong for you, even when I am feeling weak myself. I can have huge breakdowns, I can be triggered by silly little things, I can get mad at myself for many not so obvious reasons. But I still think that, even with all my difficult sides and different views, it can be worth it. It will take time, love, patience, understanding and above all a true heart but in the end…
I am sorry I lost a few dear friends during the last couple of years. I can get sad when people think I “use” my having ASS as an excuse to do many things… But it is never an excuse, but it can be a reason, an explanation. Not all I do I think about, some things “just” happen, like I am on auto pilot. Like it can be for many of you, or so I am told. You are used to doing something your way and, because it works for you, you never realized that other people might take offense or think it plain stupid. Sometimes I say things that are inappropriate, but when no one explains, when people just say it is bad but not why, how can I learn from it..? Just being told that it is not right, not done, offensive, that just isn’t enough. I need to know the WHY because otherwise, I will not be able to learn from it. As I experience the situation differently, I need more guidiance. It is not that I want to be stubborn, pig-headed or rude. I do want to learn, but no one really learns anything when they are just told of, an explanation is really so important. And it is no matter if you need to think about it, but let me know and when you found the right words, confine in me and teach me please.
Looking back at pictures with the friends I lost, one of them died unfortunately due to the bad C, it can make me both happy and sad. I do miss the good times we had together, the laughs, talks, discussions… It takes me a lot of time and energy to let someone get close to me. So when I really see someone as a friend, I would do lots for them. I trust them and I want to be there for them any way I can. I know I have made mistakes, I said things, that contributed in losing friends. And that makes me sad. That I missed their signals of something being wrong between us. That I wasn’t there enough for them because I was too caught up in my world, in my this-and-thats, that I did not see their need for a friend. I have no idea if any of my lost friends still checks out my blogs. I have no clue how they would react if they would read this. But from the bottom of my heart I would want to say that I am sorry that I was not the friend they needed me to be. That I did not get their signs, that I was to caught up in my own things, that I missed out on them. I know it will not let me get those precious people back into my life, but I do know I made mistakes and errors and I am willing to admit it.
There are many “buts”, there are many things I am not good at, there is still so much to learn. The difficult, social, things might need explanation over and over, but it does help me. It is hard to behave differently when you need to think about it, when it doesn’t come naturally. Being friends with me takes time, effort and sometimes a good fight. But I do believe I can give something back for it, even is it is not always what you need. As I wrote, I am willing to learn, but then you need to permit me to make the mistakes and learn from them. And not just dismiss me because you think I am rude and I should have known, could have known, am using my autism as an excuse to behave badly…
That said, being friends with me is quite a challenge. It is quite a challenge for me to support friendships. To be there for someone else, and not get caught up in things that should not matter at that moment.
If you want to ask anything about this topic, feel free to post a comment below. All I do ask is, be polite and respectful. I am different, I dare to talk/write about it, I want to both learn and educate, but I want to feel respected for who I am. Thanks!
Thank you all for reading through all of this. Hope you are having a good day. Much luv, LW
PS. more of my nature pictures can be found here: Flickr.