(My) Asperger’s / autism and trust 

Once upon a time, I trusted everyone.  The cashier at the grocery store was the perfect audience for a monologue about my rock collection.  When I got my hair styled for Grade 2 school pictures, the stylist was fair game for stories about my kitten crawling all over me and sticking her butt in my face.  I was even surprised when, after proudly telling my mum how my hair appointment went, she reacted with mild horror when I revealed the subject matter of the conversation that had transpired.

Apparently, you’re not supposed to talk about things like that in public, to strangers.  ((Another) note to self…)

By then, I had (painfully) discovered that kids my age were not Safe.  They didn’t like me.  I had much more success with adults (except for teachers, of course).  But other adults were benign; they never made fun of me.

Then, various situations occurred, all of them too minor to recall specifically, but I remember slowly learning that you couldn’t trust everybody.

That always came as a surprise to me.  What do you mean you can’t trust everybody?  Aren’t most people good inside?

All I knew was that I was.  I never intentionally hurt anyone.  I didn’t play pranks or spread gossip or talk mean about anyone behind their back.

Didn’t the rest of the world operate the same way?

I was increasingly disheartened to find out that, No.  It didn’t.

And then, the unthinkable happened.  I won’t reveal many details (they’re public–and infamous–enough), but my family, namely my parents, were the victims of a fairly significant legal scandal.  The perpetrators had been what we thought were close family friends.

The whole thing was a sham, a setup, an illusion.  We’d been played.  To the tune of a half million dollars.  Our family wasn’t exactly made of money.  I’m shocked we didn’t lose our house.  I’m shocked that the stress didn’t tear apart my parents’ marriage.

It was a coat-penetrating cold February afternoon when we traipsed through the headquarters of the suddenly-defunct company.  The Glamour Shot photo, taken only the month before, that this family friend and business partner had requested, stared back at me from the bookcase shelf, right at eye level, as if my pre-betrayed self stood there, innocently taunting me.  I felt like a shadow, hollowed out and gray.

I was 15.

That marked the day I became “guilty” of fulfilling the second half of the stereotypical Asperger’s/autistic black and white thinking; I had flipped the switch, from Trust Everyone to Trust No One

And from that day on, I didn’t.

To me, the world had become a desolate, unfriendly landscape of potentially hostile locusts, waiting like Venus fly traps for you to sail over them a little too low or too slowly and–yoink!  You’re trapped at their mercy while they extract what they can out of you.

That’s how I saw the world, and I approached it as such.

I don’t exactly remember when I began to soften, just a little, just enough to allow (certain) people the chance to prove themselves to me, but it took a while.

Regardless, it happened, somewhere along the line.  This is much more self-preservative than the arrogance that it sounds like – I finally gave certain segments of the world the time of day.  If, up until that point, I had been “guilty” of black and white thinking, I was beginning to learn how to see the potential beauty in the gray.

These days, I tend to “test” (neurotypical) people.  (I’m referring to those I meet in everyday life.)  

I might drip them a small tidbit that, although it might seem personal, is actually rather benign.  I wait and watch.  

I make note of how they initially respond, scrutinizing micro-expressions and minute changes in demeanor.  

I observe what they do with that information, how they use it, how they treat me afterward, whether or not it makes the rounds back to me via someone else.  

I also listen for other commentary to circulate back to me, and I make mental note of who it comes from.  An inner circle of people often serve as my eyes and ears.  And my brain serves as a massive databasic spreadsheet.  And as someone on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, I can certainly hook that up – I can remember those details; my brain leaves me little choice.

If they handle the informational tidbit properly, they begin to build trust.  The trust is earned.  It does not come easily, because it’s no longer my default setting.  I can’t afford it to be.

I’ve learned that certain people can be trusted with some types of information, but not other types.  Part of my learning curve has consisted of tabulating who can be trusted with which types of information and trying to keep it all straight.

This means that I don’t trust anyone right away.  And even after the trust has been built, I have yet to trust anyone 100%.  Past experience has proven that practice to be potentially devastating.

Every time I share even the smallest tidbit, I take a proportionate risk.  The more significant (read: potentially damaging) the tidbit, the higher the risk.

What do I risk?  I risk objection.  I risk rejection.  I risk the ripples and ricochets of aftermath.  I risk jagged debris that proverbially cut into my feet as I try to keep walking, trying to hold my head high, trying to hide the embarrassment and shame, trying to live down the unsavory tidbit.  I risk the tidbit spreading to others, filtered through the bias and potential selective-reporting habits of the one spreading the information around.

Sometimes, that risk is worth it; I roll the dice and a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow materializes.  Other times, it’s not worth it, and bad things happen (temporarily), like shutdowns and the like.  Such is life; win some, lose some, and hopefully the gains outweigh the losses.

That’s everybody’s goal; Asperger’s/autistic people don’t have the monopoly on that.  But it’s often a little harder for us to attain, because we tend to be genuine people at heart, and we often operate as though the rest of the world is on the same page, which often, it’s not.

I still think that honesty is the best policy.  I’m just more cautious about who I’m honest with. 🙂


Related Posts:

Deception / Betrayal, As Seen Through an Asperger’s / Autistic Creative Writing Filter ~ October 22, 2016

Making Friends ~ December 15, 2016

Asperger’s / Autism and Black and White Thinking ~ March 8, 2017

Risks, Rules, and Relationships ~ Autism and Expectations ~ May 13, 2016

 

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39 Comments

  1. Wow, this sounds a lot like me. I never related to the kids at school, and that was true from grade school on up. I had no friends save for the adults. As it is, most of my friends are still significantly older than me. It is what it is.

    This world is a scary place and I’ve gotten burned a time or two and nearly got burned again this past winter. Alas, I knew better this time. I know everything has an element of risk and I accept that. I am willing to take calculated risks that make logical sense but nothing else.

    Perhaps that’s why I’m still next-to-friendless and alone. Maybe that’s why I’m still stuck in a miserable job. Who knows? This world is a scary place.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Honesty is always the way to go. I am a cynical, analytical sort, but I struggle not to believe things at face value.

    I stand by my favourite rule; if the words don’t match the actions, then the actions are the truth and the words are a lie.

    It’s stood me in good stead.

    Beyond that, I’d rather face the world through the eyes of trust and hope, than never see the good in anything. Sometimes I am a fool, but damnit, I’m a happy fool 😊

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Wise words, sister! 👏🏼😘. Definitely true for me too, about the cynical, analytical part 😉 Always comparing words to actions. I think a lot of us develop excellent bullshit detectors lol 😊❤️ I try to take things at face value, until proven otherwise; sometimes the person “passes” and sometimes they don’t, and I just quietly log their pass/failure in my head 💖 Lol @ happy fool! Same here, or at least I try to be lol 😂💜

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Wow, this sounds a lot like me.”

    me too. if it were, i dont know what part of the writing id change. other than the part about the scam, (we had some people we hired steal our silverware, but thats hardly the same– thats jack in the box vs the waldorf astoria) and the part about the kitten– they all do that, people talk about how funny animals are– there was simply nothing wrong with that story (unless theres more!) i really think that cat story is like any youd hear from a kid. kids do that; they often talk about things everyone else has decided to leave out of conversation. we just do it more ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes this way of doing it’s not right but it is so common. It has become normality. But not right. Nor accuse, nor excuse! Nothing can justify to hurt saying that “i’m just expressing myself”. You can be yourself without hurting anybody, i think.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. I have never understood people that will cause hurt purposely.😧 I’m glad I don’t understand cuz I wouldn’t want my mind to work that way. I’ve spent days crying over a completely unintentional hurt I caused to someone.
    My empath b.s. detector makes me pretty cynical. I may put my life on blast without care but not the true heart of me. That is locked up extremely tightly🏦💗 🔒 and very, very rarely revealed.
    Honesty is just easier too. My tired brain couldn’t keep track of lies. My policy is if you don’t want an honest answer, don’t ask the question. I won’t be rude or mean but I’ll tell the truth (as I see it anyway)👍🌻💞😍😎

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes! 👏🏼👏🏼. I never understood people who hurt others on purpose, either. I mean, what kind of deranged modus operandi is that? What do those people hope to achieve, and couldn’t they have done it some other way? Yeah, it’s probably a good sign that I don’t understand that 😉

      The years and experiences have fine-tuned my own BS detector such that now it serves as a decent asset. I rarely get taken (knock on wood); sometimes I get betrayed, but ironically that can come from those closest to me–although I think that’s a period of my life that has passed. I always stay on guard, even just a little bit, just in case 😊😉❤️

      Honesty is best, I agree. I’m the world’s worst liar; I can’t even be sarcastic with a straight face! Lol. Not even online lol 😂. I always end up caving and coming clean right away 💖🌺🌷💘

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m super sarcastic.😝 I have to be careful and try to tone it down when I first meet someone. Especially on line. Lots of emojis! I’m joking I’m joking ❣🌻✌please don’t troll me😧😎

        Like

  5. Yes! Firmly believe in honesty. Unfortunately, things like truth, keeping one’s word, and not hurting others were not well represented to me over the years-particularly by those whom I should’ve been able to rely on most. So…still working on the ol’ trust issues, as you know. It’s getting better, but I remain very wary with most people. Takes me a lot of time to open up. I don’t believe I will ever not be my cautious self, but, I am finding I can let some people in. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awesome!! 👏🏼👏🏼😊💖. Yep, that’s pretty much where I’m at, too–opening up a little. Finding other awesome people on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum has been super-helpful, because I inherently feel safe with the vast majority. It’s like we already know that we’re not going to betray each other, play each other, or use each other. Even when I was going through that crappy-jazz with a very select few others (the Twitter brew-ha), we simply blocked each other and parted ways; I know I never sought to mess up their lives, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t seek to mess up mine. So far, even the blog likes, comments, links, and reblogs we had exchanged during the time we were friends are all still intact; we just never interacted further is all. That actually speaks volumes for the general integrity of how our neurotype tends to operate 😊❤️ And that’s by far the biggest conflict I’d ever witnessed in the community; everything else has been almost surreal in its awesomeness 💝🌟💝. It’s that type of integrity and lack of head-games that has been really encouraging to me in terms of opening up and letting some people in 😊💘💜. I absolutely love all the people I’m in contact with now! 🤗💓🌷💘💞

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh yes! I used to say *I’m sorry* so often. I felt that everything bad was my fault. I still have moments when I have to fight it. I try to make it a joke, Global Warning-my fault, Famine-my fault, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes-my fault(a pun, a pun) 😏😍😎

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yep! That self-blame is such a tough one 😊 Still working on that one myself. You’ve got plenty of company 😘💝🌟

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I got hurt and taken advantage of a lot as a kid, because I took people at their word, and have to confess it still happens as an adult. Well, it’s not quite the same. The difference is I tend to not to get close enough to people to actually get hurt, but there’s plenty of situations where I still feel stupid because it didn’t occur to me that someone would be lying right to my face.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I can relate to this a lot.
    I only chat with three people on twitter, I to am observing and collecting data on other people – whether I can trust them and with what information.

    I tend to seperate myself in conversations. Compartmentalise differing view points. I talk and listen, then I save or collect data, all the while analyzing/ wondering – they could be manipulating me / lying to me or pretending to be nice to me. If so, these are ways they could be doing it.

    I would like to trust people again with my whole heart, but instead enjoy time with the few people I do trust.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Amen to that! 👏🏼👏🏼. I had totally over-extended myself on Twitter, with people with whom I simply wasn’t as compatible as I had thought (assumed?). These days I operate much the same way. Instead of conversing regularly with like 40 people, I’m down to about 15, which is fine; makes life a little simpler 😊 Of course, I check in on many others, but I tend to stay in the peripheral shadows more than I did before, and watch and observe 💖 Sometimes I jump in, other times I don’t. Truth be told, life’s been a little hectic and it’s impeded my Twitter time; but yeah, I totally agree–whether online or offline, sitting back and seeing how people use certain information is really important 💖🌟💖🌷💜

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is me. I’ve learned the hard way at work that I can’t even trust anyone to be honest about what I do in the office, and everyone seems to be testing everyone else. (I should leave but can’t yet for financial and personal reasons.) That part sucks because I rely on and update my seniors. I wasn’t smart enough til now to have it all documented.

    Liked by 2 people

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