I’m not a bad friend 

As you’ve already guessed, being discovered to be on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum has been a huge relief for me, in multiple ways.

Being an Aspie confirms what I’ve felt all along: that the way in which I might come across and be perceived is frequently not at all how I intended to be.

I remember being elated to form my first few friendships.  Suddenly, I had a precious few of what I had yearned for: friends.  Real, live friends.  Other people who thought I was cool enough to justify their spending time with me.  I almost couldn’t believe it; it seemed to amazing to be reality, as though I was in the middle of a long and utopian dream.

I was shocked at myself, then, when I grew weary of the phone ringing.  I shouldn’t be exasperated!  After all, these were people who wanted to “play”, in the early years, and in the later years, “hang out”.  I was the last person who should curse the phone when it rang and my mom would call up the stairs “it’s for you!  It’s (so-and-so)!”

Why on earth would I respond with a grumble?  I wasn’t mad at them. But it was still an intrusion, and I couldn’t decode it.  I had no legitimate reason, and so I admonished myself.  Bad me.  Beggars can’t be choosers, after all, and just a year or two earlier, I had certainly been a beggar in the Friends Department.

For years, I chastised myself for being a sucky friend.  I certainly didn’t feel like a good one.  Good friends don’t ignore the phone when they’re pretty sure that the call is for them.  Good friends don’t hide in their bedrooms and pretend to be busy.  Good friends don’t avoid the people who care about them.  Especially if they were starved for friendship before.  Who does that??  I scolded myself.

What made the situation even more confusing and challenging was that I couldn’t pin down the reason I felt this way.

Discovering my spectrum status was like flipping on a light switch and illuminating a whole house.  One of the side-thorny aspects that suddenly emerged from the shadows was my extreme introversion, which compelled me to hunker down and plead with my mom to “tell her I’m busy”; I now understood.  It became so clear to me.

I didn’t suck at friendship after all.

Realizing that I’m on the spectrum meant that I was not a bad friend.  I was not a cold person.  I was not an inadequate chum.  I was attending to a need that I didn’t consciously realize I had: my alone time.

In a way, I want to apologize to those friends.  I know I did nothing wrong, but neither did they, and I’m sure they felt a little put off by how I acted.  Following my instincts or not, I’m sure I jilted a few people.  Probably not more than a few, but a few nonetheless.

Here’s what my message to them would be…

I might not reach out and say hi for weeks, maybe months, and occasionally, even years. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care. It doesn’t even mean that I don’t think about you every day.

I may be blunt, or blundering, or offensive, or occasionally, even hurtful. But that doesn’t mean I’m trying to shock you. It doesn’t mean I’m trying to put you down. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you, or even love you.

I might be tough to decode. I may be confusing, perplexing, or downright strange. But that doesn’t mean I’m playing mind games with you. It doesn’t mean I’m being coy. It doesn’t mean I’m not trying to communicate.

I might be home bound on weekends. I may appear to be antisocial. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hang out with you. It doesn’t mean I’m ignoring or avoiding you. It doesn’t mean I’m cold.

I might talk a lot, sometimes about the same thing. But that doesn’t mean I’m trying to show you up. It doesn’t mean I think I’m better than you. I’m not consciously trying to prove myself. I’m not trying to rope you into a contest. I’m not trying to imply that I’m better than you or that you’re lesser than I. In fact, I’m probably only trying to share, to help.

And if I take my thoughts a leap further, I come to realize that I’m actually…a good friend.

I’ve never backstabbed anyone.

I’ve never broken anyone’s confidence.

I don’t fight dirty during a conflict with a friend; I don’t make it personal.

I don’t hog the center of attention.

I genuinely care, even if I can’t find the appropriate words or form the right facial expressions in time.

I can discuss different viewpoints without devolving into disrespect when faced with an opinion I might not share.

I’m not clingy.

I’ve never stolen–or attempted to steal–a significant other from anyone.

In fact, I’ve never stolen anything.  Friends can trust me during a sleepover.

I would still totally do a sleepover.  Who says there’s an age limit on that?

I’ve never judged a friend for anything they’ve confided in me, nor have I ever used it against them.

I don’t lie, as a general rule.

I don’t abandon friends; in fact, I’ll–eeek!–phone my closest ones.

I’m pretty easygoing.

I like to help.

I’ll even help you move.

I don’t bombard friends with forwarded emails or any other type of communication.

I try to respond, though, when friends communicate with me (returning messages, etc).

I’ve never put peer pressure on a friend to experiment with something (hell, I’ve barely experimented myself).

I encourage and support friends to pursue their dreams.  I give them ideas if I think they could use–and want–them.

I might be a different kind of friend, but I know I don’t suck.  I might not be extremely social, and I might not always have enough consecutive time (or energy) to get into a longer conversation, but I do everything I can.  I’m choosy and selective about who gets in to my inner circle, but once I establish a friendship, I’m in it for the long haul. 🙂


Related Posts:

What Your Asperger’s/Autistic Friend Probably Wants You To Know ~ November 1, 2016

The Fondness Spectrum ~ March 17, 2017

Making Friends ~ December 15, 2016

Friends on the Asperger’s/Autism Spectrum ~ February 28, 2017

Asperger’s/Autism Is Asperger’s/Autism, and Antisocial Behavior Is Antisocial Behavior ~ February 18, 2017

‘Coming Out’ To Friends and Family As Asperger’s/Autistic ~ November 13, 2016

When Asperger’s/Autistic People Appear Soulless ~ October 28, 2016

Invisible Division ~ School Life as an Aspie/Autistic Girl (The Condensed Version) ~ September 21, 2016

Please ~ Don’t Make Me Use The Phone ~ February 1, 2017

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60 Comments

  1. I’d much rather have one or two friends I can trust & be completely myself with than a whole crew of people. I hate drama , mind games and senseless BS. And sleepovers? Heck yeah! Count me in. I’ll warn you that I occasionally snore. and drool😕 NOT a pretty sight😂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I have such a hard time dealing what I find to be an “intrusion”, even when it comes to people I love. And for the longest time, I didn’t understand why. For example, I see my room as my own safe space, like I’m sharing my soul with it? It’s really hard for me to let people barge in, when they can be anywhere else in the house. But if you’re allowed into my room, then I really do trust you with my life.

    Being given a DX (or just realising you’re autistic) is so important when it comes to understanding yourself, which then lets you explain your own behaviour & needs to others.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Totally agreed 😊. I feel for you 💐. You’re not alone! 💞 What you described is really common, from what I have seen (and personally experienced!). I can definitely relate 😊. For me, the intrusion can be spatial (they’re invading my space) or cognitive (I’m deep in thought, and they interrupted that thought). Both are often extremely aggravating! 😘. I dissected my experience of the cognitive intrusion in a post from last fall or thereabouts, called “The Freight Train Brain”, which might be relatable in that case ❤️. A similar phenomenon might apply to the spatial intrusion as well, although I hadn’t thought about that before 😊. Thank you for bringing that up! 👏🏼❤️

      Like

      1. Thanks for your answer! I’m going to try to find that post. I’m somewhat newly diagnosed, so I’m still in a getting to know & understand myself post-dx phase. I’ve always gotten really upset when I experience what you call cognitive intrusion, but I’m not sure of why and I do not have the words to explain to the person who interrupted me. It’s very exhausting as well, emotionally draining but it also takes me a very long time until I can concentrate on whatever I was doing before being interrupted.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Oh my, yes! 😊😊. You’re definitely not alone there ❤️. Anonymously Autistic also has a wonderful blog post on the subject from not too long ago; “autistic confessions…” something about the irritability she feels when she gets interrupted.

          Welcome to the “tribe”! (Although some people despise that word; if you do, please ignore it 😊). In a way, it’s kind of like finding long lost brothers and sisters 💖. So happy for you! What counts, though, is how do You feel about it? 🌷. Are you doing ok?

          I think the irritability issue arises from a slower task-switching ability. The way I see it, we tend to dive down deeper into a subject or train of thought, and when we get interrupted, we’re forced to cease one activity and begin another, and during this time, our thought-cloud goes “poof!” And scatters its debris everywhere. The person interrupting us gets what they want (I abhor random questions from other people during my independent work time) and then we’re left to pick up all those pieces and reload our previous thoughts into our heads. The other person doesn’t have to–and can’t–help us with that. It’s all on us, and we never asked to be interrupted in the first place! At least, that’s my theory ❤️

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thank you for the warm welcome! I use a very similar metaphor when I try to describe how I feel when I get frightened by a sudden noise (but now when you mention it, also works when talking about interruptions), although I compare myself to a pillow and scattered feathers. I wasn’t able to share experiences like this, and actually have people understand me before I got my dx and found the lovely autistic community. It does feel like I’m finally home & that I’ve found my people at last. I feel much better about myself post-dx, I understand myself better and I’m more at peace with myself. On the other hand, I’ve been made aware of ‘less positive’ sides of myself and I find that very frustrating. I used to like being able to hear what people were talking about across the room (I learnt a lot of secrets back in school that way), but now I know it’s because I can’t filter noises so when someone is talking to me but I’m unable hear it because someone is unpacking things nearby I now get upset. My life has become quite worse post-dx, since I’m suddenly experiencing institutional ableism & the hell that is Swedish bureacracy. Btw, I apologise if nothing of this makes sense, it’s 3 am, I’m really tired and don’t remember how to language.

            Liked by 3 people

          2. Thank you for sharing your story, luv! 😘😘. You’re extremely welcome here 💚🌷. And everything you said made 100% sense to me! You did just fine 💖. My only question is, why aren’t you asleep, my lovely? 💜. Are you insomniac like I am? Gosh, that can be so challenging! I can relate to being awake late at night, for sure!

            I love your recent post on allies! Excellent piece, extremely well-written 😊

            I’m so glad you feel good about knowing your status! What you described is very common indeed 😊. I’m so sorry that your life has become worse – the bureaucracy can be a nightmare! This is true among many regions; you’re not alone in the frustration 💐. You may go through periods of different emotions regarding different people or periods in your life; this happens, and it can take some time ❤️. Please feel free to contact me any time! My window is always open 💞💞

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Thanks for being so nice ❤ I should have really started to socialise with the autistic comm before now, but I didn't feel ready & waas worried I'd seem too NT.
            I'm at my most energetic around 10-1 at night. It's nice sensory-wise, & I really need the alone time. But then when I actually go to bed it usually takes 1-2 hours to fall asleep, there's so many thoughts that refuse to stop. I think this is very common for autistics, no? Do you have any tips? My asthma's also bad atm + possible spring allergies. Laying down becomes such a pain.

            I'm glad you liked that ally-post. I have pretty bad experiences when it comes to allies, so I'm wary (it usually goes:
            ally: racism is wrong and must be destroyed.
            Me: I totally agree. White people need to learn that..
            Ally: White people? You think race exists? You racist!!
            And sadly autism parents don't seem to be much better. :/

            Liked by 2 people

          4. Whoops, hit enter too early (is anyone else’s WP app acting strange today?)

            I might have some tips, although I struggle with the same thing, and it’s a work in progress 😉

            My biggest help thus far has been my weighted blanket. Awesome!! That helps with the sleep 😊

            Like you, I also have issues with histamine; I find (odd as it sounds) acupuncture works really well (if they get the right points). And I like quercetin as a supplement, too. Vitamins C and D also tend to help me. But your mileage may vary; histamine is an interesting animal, different factors involved in each instance ❤️

            Ugh, agreed very much with the racism vs autism analogy!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. You expressed it fantastically ❤️

            Liked by 1 person

          5. I got a weighted blanket. It’s great because I don’t wake up as often anymore, but it sadly still takes such a long time to fall asleep. It also makes me stuck in my weird nightmares, which I’d wake up from before. XD

            I think I’ll read up on acupuncture. I mean, if it works for nausea and pain this isn’t a far stretch.

            Even though different oppressions occurs for different reasons, oppressors usually use the same silencing tacts & complaints. >___>

            Liked by 1 person

          6. Ugh, nightmares suck 💐💐. Been there, done that 💞

            I thought of something else, too (!). Stress hormones, and their 24-hour rhythm. Those little buggers can keep one awake at night. Stress might also manifest as nightmares. For this, I find that certain types of down-tempo chill out music helps, as do meditation or focus, and also short bouts of physical activity (doesn’t have to be very strenuous) during the day 😊

            But yeah, that acupuncture is really cool. I’ve personally used it for a lot of things, and it has really helped (!) 🌺

            Hope you see brighter skies soon, my lovely 💜💜

            Like

  3. I’d say, when it comes to people I’ve formed a close bond with, I’m generally not bad at keeping in fairly frequent contact. But I do have times where this doesn’t happen. Reading your post I was thinking of one time a few months back, a friend was accusing me of shutting her out just because I was distant for *a few days*. She happens to be a person who requires *a lot* of energy to interact with. Presently we haven’t spoken in awhile because of an issue she took with me. I am unclear how close I’ll be able to allow myself to be with her if/when she reaches out again.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Well there are a hand full of people I can be a good friend to without feeling as if I’m wearing myself thin. The person I referenced in my comment is just someone who I’ve deduced has needs in a friendship I probably can’t meet.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Super clingy, super needy people probably have needs no one can meet. Unfortunately in my experience these type of people have issues they need to work on within themselves. It’s sad. It’s good for your own health that you recognize that you can’t fix them. GO YOU!!! 💐👏💞

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Amen to that – some people have a lot of deep-seated issues that have never been resolved, and they inadvertently place the burden of making them feel validated and secure on their friends. Not fair, and not healthy. I find that that job is better left to a professional, who can help them work through those issues. Not easy, but usually necessary for people like that ❤️

            Liked by 1 person

        2. Yep, agreed 😊. Some people are just impossible. I think of them as bottomless pits; there’s no way to meet their needs, because their needs are so intense and energy-consuming. I heard a wise tidbit a while ago: “if giving 100% of yourself isn’t enough to be 50% of (any kind of) a relationship, then it’s not worth it, and it’s best to back out.” Or something like that 😊. I’m glad you preserved yourself 👏🏼❤️

          Liked by 1 person

      2. So true!!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. Yep, a lot of people (in general) can tend to forget that. They think that they’re obligated to be available 24/7, and to tolerate practically anything (even BS) from other people, and while that’s a noble gesture that is usually well-intended, it often backfires ❤️

        Like

    1. Awww I’m sorry that happened to you, girl 💐. People think we’re on-again-off-again, but that’s not the case. We make awesome friends ❤️. But the potential for misunderstanding always looms present. I hope that this person comes around. If not, (and I know this sounds cliché but I don’t mean it to be), it’s the other person’s loss, because you rock ❤️. Some people simply aren’t flexible enough to see the gold nuggets within us 💖

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think we are incredibly misunderstood. I’m actually loyal to a fault. If I consider you a friend I will fight tooth and nail for you. I’m not always the best at showing that but it’s still true.

    That said, being my friend does have some terms of service for lack of a better word. If I need to be alone, I need my space respected. We don’t have to agree on everything and you have to realize that I often come across as mean in debate when I don’t really intend to so don’t take it personally. Lastly, and I think it’s stupid that this has to even be mentioned, but no criticism of the way I dress. I’m very hot natured and I need ventilation or else I’ll go nuts. All of my current friends have no problem with my short shorts but I had one friend who’d refuse to hang out with me in public because she was embarrassed to be seen with a guy dressed in them. There’s a reason she’s no longer a friend.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. Comfort, comfort, comfort or I’m gonna be cranky, cranky, cranky! I was planning new ink then my psoriasis started flaring on every little scratch🙁 now I’m terrified of a pretty new tattoo ruined by scales. My body hates me😕

          Liked by 1 person

    1. I like your terms! I think that having them and being aware of them is healthy. It tells the other person you won’t take crap from them 😊. I have similar terms; one of mine is a hard-and-fast rule about head games. If I did something wrong, I want to know. Be gentle as you tell me, because I’m easily hurt and very self-conscious, but do tell me. Don’t give me the cold shoulder or start ignoring me suddenly and make me try and guess what I did wrong. Don’t say, “nothing” when I ask what’s wrong. Just come out and say it, as diplomatically as possible 😊. That’s my biggest one. There are others, but that’s often the sticking point, mostly with NTs, but occasionally with a few people on the spectrum, too. Luckily, not often, though, since I tend to be selective about who I allow to get closer to me ❤️

      Boundaries are totally healthy, and I think they’re necessary, too. For the wellbeing of all involved 💞

      Liked by 2 people

  5. That cold shoulder & nothing thing is soooo passive-aggressive and I can’t stand it either. Grandma won’t play that (snap)😋 BTW, sorry for hijacking your blog😏 in my defense, Ben got me up at 2am and I was a little delerious. I’ve had a little happy-nappy & I’ll behave now😃 Probably 😝😎

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol 😂. No, please, keep going! I’ve been totally enjoying the interaction and giggling to myself with the conversations, and nodding in agreement with the opinions expressed. Loving it! This blog is for all y’all 😘💓

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Seriously though, feel free to shush me. In high school my senior English teacher got so tired of telling me to be quiet he made a 5×7 index card that had “Angie Shut Up” on it & he would hold it up til I noticed or someone told me.😂😂 I always tell Ben, Shut Up isn’t nice, say Be Quiet Please, but either will work on me😘💖 Glad you got some giggles😃 I am entertaining at times. I’m just a big ol goofball😆

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I have always struggled with the whole wanting alone time thing. I want way more than others seem to. Usually seems to put most people off if not right away, then, somewhere down the road. I don’t like feeling I am hurting them. In fact, that is the last thing I want to do. But, at the same time, I want to tend to my needs. And, then, of course, my interests are usually weird to most neurotypicals so trying to find things we enjoy doing together are always a challenge, as most things I am invited to are pure torture mentally, socially, or physically-or all three on some occasions! lol. The few occasions social situations do arise that I push myself to take on ( usually for others’ sake) I have just about always had to paste on a smile and fake my way through whatever they like, as trying to share what *I* like rarely EVER works out. lol. And the masking I can only handle so long-less and less the older I get, or, perhaps, the more self-aware I become. Then, of course, we mustn’t forget my major trust issues! When you’ve been stepped on so much of your life, it becomes that much harder to want to venture out. So…deep friendships, however much I’d actually like to have one or two, seem nearly always out of my grasp. Sigh. But, sounds like you are the kind of friend I’d love having. Sincerity of heart and understanding are tops to me. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh lord, yes! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. I see myself in so much of what you said 💖. Especially the trust issues and the masking/acting! Omg girl, I would *totally, totally* hang out with you in offline life, any time I could!! You’re the exact kind of friend I’d be honored to have, and treasure close to my heart as well 😘💜💜

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Friendships are about finding a good balance and most importantly, someone who “gets” you. Making good friends is a lot like dating in my opinion and it’s harder now days, people are more closed off. I truly value people who are loyal and stick around. I tend to be antisocial at times too and get social anxiety some times.

    Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your comment! Totally agreed, my friend! So very true; people are (or at least think they are) a lot more complicated these days 💜. Those who are loyal and steady are the best! 🌷🌷

      Like

    1. Thank you very much! 😊. Ah yes, I remember age 11 being a really tough year 🌷. I really admire you as a mum, and I don’t just say that lightly. You and your son sound like an awesome pair, even from what little I know about y’all at this moment 💖

      Like

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