Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm Really Trying, I Swear

Ever since a couple of weeks ago when J. told me that I didn't really act affectionate toward her, I've been trying to make a conscious effort to do better.

Problem is, until I got involved with these two, I had no idea just how fucked up I really am. *Wry grin*

Just as a sort of parallel to demonstrate the issue I'm having, I was reading an article the other day about autism-spectrum disorders, Asperger's in particular (because I'm still a psych nerd at heart). Traditionally, people with Asperger's have been assumed to lack empathy because of their trouble relating to other people.

Now, though, there's this radical new idea out that perhaps these people have MORE empathy than the average person. The reason that they withdraw when they're in a roomful of people is that they're more empathic than everyone else in the room put together, and all those emotions overwhelm them, so they shut down altogether to keep from having to deal with it.

I read some of the accounts that people with Asperger's wrote, about how overly sensitive they are and how overwhelming it is to face people and their emotions and how awkward they feel in such situations. You know what I thought? I could've written that exact thing.

Ok, lemme stop for a second and say I didn't just diagnose myself with Asperger's, LOL. I don't fit the diagnostic criteria. ;)

I just wanted to use that as an example because I know how those people must feel. How you often want to reach out to people, but you just don't know how. How you hide away inside yourself because just being around people and picking up on their emotions hurts, so God knows how much it'll hurt to actually, you know, become involved in those people's lives in any sort of meaningful way. How when you do make an effort to reach out, it feels so awkward and wooden and unnatural. How you pretend that you don't want to interact with people, even though you really do, because it's easier to just keep them away from you than to go through all those pained and awkward motions.

I've been doing my best to try to be more affectionate, but I'm afraid it'll be hard road. I'm writing this to B. and J. to tell them not to give up on me.

My friend B. (not the same B. as the Masterly-type person, though they share the same name) says that while I'm in the 98th IQ percentile of people in this country, I am--and I quote--"emotionally retarded." I whacked him for it, but he's right. (He actually said, "You're emotionally retarded. Emotionally, you're riding a small, yellow bus, licking the windows, with your mittens pinned to your jacket." Now the bastard has taken to calling me "Mittens." Fucker.)

In my defense, I must've missed the whole "how to show people you love them" socialization somehow. Aside from the fact that my mother and her side of the family are a case study in the Axis II personality disorders, mostly Clusters B and C, with a little of Cluster A thrown in there for entertainment (and, yes, that probably includes me as well, LOL), I've just never really been around people who were particularly effusive about how they felt about others.

My Daddy is a prime example. I could probably count on one hand the number of times that stoic country man has ever told me he loves me. It's just his way. But I know he loves me nonetheless. Same goes for Mother. She's a complete and total whackjob in a lot of ways, I know, but I think she's probably told me she loves me fewer times than Daddy has. I listen to other people talk on the phone with their parents and say, "I love you" right before they hang up. That weirds me out. I just...can't imagine.

Same thing with physical affection. Nowadays, because they hardly ever see me, my parents will awkwardly hug me before we part ways. Well, sometimes. But it's more uncomfortable than anything.

Everyone I've dated? Well, I've tolerated them petting and holding and kissing me, even when most of the time I didn't want them to. But reach out for them? Nope. Not my thing.

I'm only pointing these things out to show that I'm this way with everyone, not just my fabulous owner-people.

So I watch B. and J. interact, how easily they touch one another, how they don't seem to feel awkward petting or hugging one another, how they kiss each other quickly on the lips as they pass, how they say, "I love you" without it sounding like something out of a really badly scripted movie, and it makes me feel both befuddled and vaguely sad.

I really don't know how to do that. But I wish I did. And I'm trying, but I still feel like an autistic kid sometimes.

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