Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I've been thinking a lot more about being aspergers-ish. Actually, nearly all the posts in the 2nd edition of Aunt BeaN's blog were on this topic, which is why I didn't save them-- they seemed a lesson in how to bore my gentle readers to death. But I'm still thinking about it, so here's another one. Apologies in advance for being self-absorbed.

I've always thought of myself as introverted. I could put in a lengthy list of examples, but I probably don't need to convince anybody. The new thing I've been noticing recently, though, has more to do with how other people are-- i.e., how different I am from other people, and how the ways I am different confuse other people. For example. I consider someone a dear friend if we get together once every 3-4 weeks and have a deep and/or wide-ranging conversation about what's going on in our lives, what we've been reading, politics, whatever. What I'm discovering is that other people consider that to be an acquaintance. Their close friends are the ones they talk to several times a week, sometimes every day. Sometimes several times a day.


Just thinking about talking to the same person more than once a week stresses me out. What would we talk about? The things that change on a day-to-day basis are things that aren't worth talking about, in my opinion-- with some obvious exceptions, of course, like a friend who is going through a particularly trying time or illness. But I'm noticing as I watch other people, especially women, that this is how they connect. They talk to each other about the little mundane details of their lives. The new recipe I tried last night, my aunt is in the hospital again, one of the kids has a cold, I got a new rug for the hallway.......... OH! I get it!

But I can't DO it. I can't bring myself to talk about little everyday things that seem boring and banal to me. But other people do it all the time. I listen to them. I even like listening to them, as long as it doesn't go on for an hour and they don't expect me to respond in kind. But when it comes my turn to say something, I just kind of sit there and STARE at them, like NOW WHAT? Because I honestly can't think of a thing to say.

The complication of this that I've become aware of recently is that many of my friends (whom I consider to be very good friends) think that I must be better friends with someone else, because I don't talk to them very often. My friend at church thinks I'm better friends with the women in my neighborhood, because I only see her once a month or so. My friends in our neighborhood think I must be better friends with the women at work because otherwise I would call more often. My friends at work think I must not be interested in being friends with them because I never call them outside of work. (I won't presume to guess what the women in my women's group think since they might actually read this.) When the truth is that just adding up the once a month (or so) that I've talked to each of these women (and every day to the women at work) makes me feel so overwhelmed socially that I just want to go hide somewhere for a week not talk to anybody.

I can't figure out what to do about this. I've considered making an announcement: "You know, I'm a really introverted person, so if I don't call, it doesn't have anything to do with you, it's just me. But if you ever need to talk about some really big issue, I'll be right there." But I don't think that's going to help. Because the truth is that the pre-requisite for getting called for the really big issues is that you were there for all the little ones, too. In other words, I don't know how to be a good friend, in a way that other people see as being a good friend.

The odd thing, though, is that on a number of occasions, I've been sitting in a group of women, all chattering away, and I'm the only one that notices that someone's feelings have been hurt. Or I'll be the one that remembers some little thing someone said a couple of months earlier. It's not that I'm heartless or insensitive, or at least not usually. It's just that I'm not good at "social reciprocity," which is the technical term for what normal people do with their friends, as opposed to doofuses like me. Which is why I have a lot in common with the asperger's folks, even though I'm a lot different, too.

nuff said.
Aunt BeaN
who is off to hide in a closet somewhere

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