We are all fighters.
And I will never deny that fact.
To deal with whatever pain you experience day after day, minute after minute, hour after hour (physical, mental, terminal) means you have some kind of strength within you to keep going. It means you’re not willing to give your life up to something that wants to take you hostage. The people who have been through your pain, who can share in your pain, know the exhaustion you put yourself though and they smile and they say you’re strong. They say you’re resilient. They say you can make it because you’ve been making it. And all of their words are beautiful and heart felt and you trust them.
A connection makes all the difference.
So what of those of us where connection has never been felt? What of those of us who use humor to interject ourselves because we have no other way of communicating? Those of us who get confused on when to say something, what to say, and how to say it? Those of us who consistently misinterpret someones tone of voice or facial expression to be malicious or crippled with ill intent? Those of us who have suddenly come to realization that this issue has caused a pattern of problems throughout their life?
What of those of us who have the crushing feeling that they’ve been copy-catting their way through life?
What does that mean? It probably means different things to different people. To some extent, we all copy someone else. We adopt each others mannerisms and ways of speech when we’re in a group. We see an outfit on someone and want the same. Some people call it being unoriginal, but I call that type of copying admiration–you like the outfit, it’s cute, so you buy it to also look cute.
To me, copying is a way of protecting myself. It’s not done for fun. In fact, I loathe myself for it deeply. In a conversation I copy the answers and mannerisms of the people around me not so they will like me, but so I don’t reveal how completely clueless I am in the rules of the flow of conversation. I don’t care if they like me. But I care if I look like the socially inept fool I am.
In the midst of two other people, I will not speak. Not because I don’t have something to say but because I’m not sure if it’s right to say. I’m particularly not sure when it’s appropriate to interject.
This makes the conversations I do manage to have very artificial. They’re sticking their feelers out and I’m slapping them down by accident because I’m blind to them. I speak few words because of this issue. I’m brief and speak very quickly and often quietly.
I’m an observer. I watch how people converse, how they joke with each other, and I’ve pretty much analyzed all I can. I’ve got all these stray pieces strewn across the floor and I’m trying to come up with a formula that fits them together nicely. For example, in high school I noticed one big thing in conversation is eye contact. Not making it is weird, making it too much is also weird.
So I come up with an approximate time to stare at someone and an approximate, and appropriate time to look away. A good two or three seconds is alright, more if you’re still thinking of a response. It’s good to keep eye contact with someone while they’re talking because it shows your attention level, but it’s generally average to glance away once or twice while you’re speaking so it doesn’t become this creepy staring contest.
I still stare too long because I’m not sure if looking away makes me look more awkward or not. So it’s something I’ve been trying to understand since I was 16.
The missing link is in the flow. I don’t know how to keep a flow or stay on topic. Someone asks a question, you answer, what comes next? Why does anything have to come next?
I feel people think I’m not interested in them because I don’t ask about them. But I never knew I was supposed to . . .if someone wants me to know something about them, why don’t they just say it?
I go silent often and people find that rude.
These are things I’ve thought about for the last year or so, things I’ve been recognizing in myself that I feel are the root cause of my social anxiety (next to my mistrust of people’s intentions, which probably stems from the fact that I can’t see anything but malice in their expressions or their words).
It came up today during supervisions. My supervisor asked me what could happen in the house that would integrate me into the team (I could take that one of two ways: 1) she wants to know how to improve communication throughout the team or 2)I’ve been recognized as the outcast I always am). She also asked if I even wanted to be part of the team (but she didn’t say it in a mean way, I don’t think).
I’m going to choose not to be offended, because experience tells me that wasn’t what she was aiming for, but it feels like I’m going through the same thing over and over again with the people back in grade school who constantly said “you’re too quiet, what can we do to make you more involved in the class?” or “can you participate more please?” or the people at one of my old jobs that said “we’re going to work on making you open up and have you work with [enter coworkers name] to make you a little louder on Thursday”.
It triggered me subconsciously I think and I put my guard up automatically.
I said I did want to be part of the team. And I don’t think I lied. But I see how they operate, everyone is open with each other and it flows nicely and I don’t fit. I’m highly aware of that. I said I didn’t know what anyone could do. I wanted to say I have trouble making connections but I got lost in my speech as I often do, so I don’t really remember what I said.
It was something rehearsed, something I always say in response to these types of things because feelings are hard for me to distinguish when it comes to people. So I recite the feeling that is most common, that I hear most often, that makes the person the most happy, depending on the situation.
But personally, I go blank. The only feeling I’ve ever experienced from people is mistrust and anxiety from not understanding how they operate. So how could I answer a question like the above?
When she asked me whether or not I wanted to be apart of the team, I studied myself carefully. And felt a pull in neither direction. Blank. That was probably really awkward because she had no idea why I was silent.
Anyone from any job could have asked me that, and my reaction would be the same. This is where I feel people misunderstand me: my feeling blank isn’t a testament to who they are as people, it’s a testament to my own feeling.
I don’t see why that is so hard to understand.
These people are not evil. Their not mean or horrible. In fact, they’re the best set of people I’ve met in my short life. But they are human, as most are, and that simple fact keeps me from relating. I’m distanced. Always have been.
So where do I go from here? I don’t know. This happens every job I go to, every class I’m in, every group I work with, every casual or focused conversation I have . . . it never changes, and it never has. Perhaps it will one day.
And I believe in order to change things, I need to understand this more clearly. I need another opinion. Even if that means spending 230 dollars on a 90 minute psychiatric opinion.
If you follow me, you know very well I’m not fond of “professionals” because of their lack of experience. But I have lack of experience being human and they have an abundance of it.
I have ideas from past psychologists and my current one. But perhaps it’s time to get a medical opinion as well, just something else in my arsenal of “tools I’m using to find myself”.