Dear Neurotypical friends…

I may have a social disability.  I may say or do things that seem strange to you or put you off or leave you wondering.

This could–and sometimes does–lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary hurt feelings, on either side–or both sides.

I want to be your friend.  It’s just that aspects of life that the general population may take for granted as natural and intuitive are, for me, anything but.  Aspects like communication (whether verbal or by way of facial expressions and/or body language), socialization, etiquette, and so on and on and on.

It’s not you; it’s me.  Well, actually, it’s our intersection.  It’s not a character flaw, just a neurodevelopmental variant.  It happens, and it’s OK.

I’ll explain.  In fact, I’ll provide you with a mini-handbook, a roadmap to the inside of the social areas of my brain.

I’m just not into gossip.  I’m not into hearing about people I don’t know.  It’s clutter in my brain that I can’t clear out.

I don’t want to go to a noisy place.  Being seen somewhere trendy is somewhere well underneath my priority list.  I thrive best in small, cozy, intimate settings, ones that the average extrovert might find boring.  Quiet, calm places with few people, neutral-colored decor, and dim-ish, ambient lighting.

When it comes to small talk, I don’t know what to say.  So when the topic is more superficial or otherwise outside of my interests (which are actually quite varied), I tend to flub and flounder.  There may be sudden pauses and awkward silences.  I tend to gravitate toward people with whom that’s OK, with whom I don’t feel so awkward during those pauses and periods of silence.

I’m not “up on” most current events or major public figures.  I tend not to be too interested in people as a rule, although I can assure you that if I’m spending time with you, I’m interested in you.

I can’t eat at certain restaurants, because I taste food very strongly, and my tastebuds are selective.  I do enjoy a variety of cuisines and flavors, but I tend to be selective within each cuisine.

I’m not interested in the vast majority of the movies in theaters these days.  The last movie I saw was Lucy, in 2012.

You can tell me practically anything; your secret is safe with me.  I operate a mostly Judgment-Free Zone, and you’d be surprised what you can tell me that you might not be comfortable telling anyone else, with no ostracism from me.

I may have to break a commitment, sometimes with not much notice, if my mental or social energy just isn’t there.  I’m kind of a different person when I run low.  I’m not, really, but I’m probably going to seem that way.  If I have to bail on you on short notice, please know that that was a very last resort, and I feel really bad about having to do it.

I may not be wonderful at keeping in contact with you on a regular basis, but if I know that you’re going through a particularly tough time, I’ll be there for you.

That said, please don’t ignore me until you want something.  I’m not a commodity to be consumed or a resource to be used and then put away.  I’m not a potential sales prospect.  I’m a person in your personal life.  I’m also a great listener and sounding board, but I’m not a counselor, and I can only handle so much bad news, even if it doesn’t involve me directly.

If you tell me about a problem, I might launch into “fix-it” mode, when really all you needed was someone to nod and say, “I hear you”.  Oops.  I don’t mean to not be there for you, nor am I trying to tell you what to do; I’m simply trying to ease your pain by way of the most constructive avenue I can think of, and that’s to offer potential solutions or ideas.  If this happens, please don’t take offense.

My friendships are quality over quantity, so if we’re hanging out, you’re probably one of three active friendships in my life at that time.

I may be crappy at responding to emails or texts, but I try my best.

Last but not least, don’t worry if we don’t have contact for a while.  You haven’t dropped off my radar or out of my mind.  I’m probably thinking about you every day, hoping you are well, and when we reconnect, there won’t be any questions asked about our dormant time, nor any reacquainting awkwardness; when we get together again, we’ll just pick up where we left off.  🙂

***

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99 Comments

  1. Very nice, and I can relate to you. Especially the part about getting overstimulated. My current partner and housemate is a very outspoken and pessimistic idealist. Sometimes I just have to leave the room when he is on one of his rants, even though it’s not about or even directly related to me — I’m just his audience. Thanks for sharing your perspective. Be well.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you very much! 🌺. Yep, I can relate to the both of you! I’m an INTJ Myers-Briggs type, which is known for its jaded/cynical idealism 😉😁. Good on you for doing what you need to do to take care of You 💖🌟

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Introverts unite! He is INTJ and I flip between INTP and INFP depending on my emotional state. I was INTJ, too, before I began a yoga practice and accepted a new personal philosophy.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Awesome! 😁👏🏼. I need to get back into yoga. And physical activity in general, for that matter 😉💪🏼. Introverts unite indeed! My partner is an INTJ, too lol. The “J” in my INTJ is fairly close to “P”, probably a 55-45 split (or less lol) 😂💖💖

          Liked by 2 people

  2. The timing of this is excellent as I’ve been (low level) berating myself for missing an appointment, and not giving 48 hours notice (because even I don’t get 48 hours notice, and it’s MY body.) I got an email with the scolding, reminding me how someone else could have been seen (if I wasn’t wasting their time having a panic attack in my car because an ambulance passed me with sirens blaring on my way to the appointment.)

    I’ve mentally composed an email response laced with my frustration, but it didn’t silence my regret. Then I read this, and it’s all the words I couldn’t find or arrange properly, and it’s spaced just right for my weird reading glitches, and in my language and now I’m crying happy tears because I love you and I’m so glad you exist. Mwah! (Sorry for the untranslated reply, but I know you’re fluent in Alison.)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Awww! Wiser Sister, thank you for such beautiful words 😘😘. Reading your comment made me tear up, too! ❤️❤️. I’m so sorry to hear about what happened today 💐💐💐. This time I can truthfully say that I understand 💞. Ambulances do the same thing to me; as an appointment-based doctor, I can almost-100% assure you that if they knew the circumstances, they would understand 💚💙. Please please let yourself off the hook, my lovely; send them an email tomorrow, explaining what happened (if you’re comfortable telling them), and if it’s not well received, then they are simply inhuman 😘😘💖🌟💖💪🏽. Love you lots! Mwah!! 😘😘😘🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽💟

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Even though I am an ADD extrovert (albeit one who craves and needs “recharge time” alone, more than many), I relate to almost all of this, Laina. I tend to say whatever I’m thinking, so I’m frequently confused (and hurt!) by those who “gunny sack” – only telling me about some way I did not live up to their expectations long after, when I can barely recall the event.

    People who communicate in “hints” make me crazy. I don’t walk on eggshells well. Don’t say “It’s been a long day” and expect me to respond by leaving you alone to recover. My instinct is to stay and do what I can to make you feel better. It wears me out to have to second-guess what folks really mean – especially when they seem to believe I “should” already know.

    I also have no internal sense of time. I’m always thrilled to hear from one of my friends, but not if they begin by telling me how long they’ve been waiting for ME to call *them* — like I’m supposed to track tit for tat in my datebook to keep everything even: Pay bills, call so and so? I seldom personalize the actions of others, so I find it difficult to understand folks who do. Unless it is overt and pointed, I assume it’s not about me.

    I could go on, but you’ve already said it all better than I would. Loved this post!
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This, so many times over!! 👏🏼👏🏼. About the only thing that differs sometimes is that sometimes I have a sense of time, although that’s not a universal constant for me lol. Sometimes it’s there, and sometimes it’s not. So I can relate on a certain level 😁

      Everything else you said – me too!! The tit for tat, I never had the need to keep score like that, either. It just seems so petty.

      Indirect hints are lost on me, too lol. If someone needs Alone Time and I’m feeling chatty and not picking up on the subtleties, it’s OK with me (and even preferred) if they come right out and tell me what they’re feeling and what they need. I’ve gotten a bit better over the years at deciphering these cues, but sometimes they’re still elusive to me lol 😂

      You said it wonderfully 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼💪🏼💟🙌🏼💗

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess the bottom line is that we are ALL different, and none of us are mind readers. 🙂 We need to, as they say to young kids, “use our words.”

        When people accuse me of intending something that couldn’t be farther from the mind, I always wonder if that’s what *they* do. It becomes an entire room full of “eggshells” after that! It always activates my startle response and shuts me down, and I’m never sure how/when to bring it up again once I’ve recovered.

        Crazy, huh? ❤
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Dear Laina, I would really like to reblog this if you don’t mind. I’ve reblogged several of your posts and currently feeling that maybe I shouldn’t keep doing that. You have such a wonderful way of expressing yourself with words. ❤ 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi my lovely!! Oh dear, An Autism Observer is right – I did not see this comment! I’m so sorry 💚💙. My WP app (iPhone) (probably outdated by now!) has been a little shaky lately 😳😳

      Yes please, by all means, you may reblog anything you like! 😘😘. It’s a definite honor; thank you! ❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The feeling is mutual. ☺️
        It has been such a blessing to have discovered
        you and your blog. Not a day goes by when
        your words and writing cross my mind.

        You are a shining light for so many people, and
        you have only just begun. Sending much love 💖

        Liked by 1 person

  5. For the most part, I feel the same way. That was such a good and honest post and you say things that I wish I had been able to say to people in the past that I have now lost all contact with. Of course, I didn’t know that I was autistic then so couldn’t comprehend my behaviour at the time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words 💞. I can very much relate! Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go back in time, just for a moment, just long enough to impart our current insight to the relationships and situations we faced then? 😊

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks. Just feeling very isolated as usual. I have people I know, that I occasionally talk to online but they arent really friends, no one I could really talk to, if you know what I mean, not people who actively include me in their lives or that I am anything more than a footnote to. It bothers me more than I wish it did, especially when i see people posting stuff about their friends, and what good friends etc. Its the one thing I know I miss out on life that I actually miss. But….

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Awww 💐💞. I hear you 👍🏼. I have a few good friends – 2 offline besties, and a handful of online lovelies, and a few other online peeps I care about and talk with more casually 🌷. But yeah, it can still be pretty lonely, especially when the offline besties live really far away, and I can see them maybe once every year or two 🌺. Seems like I’m either grieving for not being able to be with them, and/or I feel very isolated. It’s also a lot of effort to keep in touch with people and help them through tough times and whatnot. I wish the isolation didn’t bother me as much, too, and I also wish I had more social energy to interact more and do more 💝. It gets lonely out there 😘

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I really don’t believe you should consider yourself as having a “social disability.” You view and interact in this world differently than the norm; and, I think that’s a wonderful gift. In San Francisco, today, 5-October-2017, the sky is blue to me, and that’s all I see. I would love to see that same sky through your eyes.

    I would love to taste the 21 ounce in-bone filet mignon that I order at Osso Steakhouse in San Francisco through your taste-buds.

    I believe, based upon my readings of you, you view and experience the world so amazingly wonderful; I wish I can experience it through your lens, your sense of taste, smell, and touch.

    As I journey through my life, I don’t believe in “norms” anymore — it took me 15 years to get to my own independent way of thinking and doing things without any concern, whatsoever, about the public or mankind’s view of me.

    So, embrace your own unique way of viewing this world and operating in this world; I think you’re just amazingly swell the way you are in my brief time of interacting with you.

    /s/ Alfonso Faustino

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! 💚💙. Hehe I can definitely mask/act well in order to appear “normal” lol 😉. What is not as obvious is how much energy it takes sometimes 💗. Trying to put my thoughts into words that come across as intended can be really tricky for me at times lol 🌺🌺

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You communicate so well — I dig your writing; and, I love that you are always trying to make improvements to yourself. We all need to improve ourselves — I’m on that journey, as well. I’m surprised that so many people work on owning their problems and working on their problems. I own mine, and I work on them every single day — it’s such a struggle for me, as well. It’s so refreshing to have met you and read your BLOGs.
        /s/ Alfonso Faustino

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on Fire Bright Star Soul and commented:
    So excellently explained.

    “That said, please don’t ignore me until you want something. I’m not a commodity to be consumed or a resource to be used and then put away. I’m not a potential sales prospect. I’m a person in your personal life. I’m also a great listener and sounding board, but I’m not a counselor, and I can only handle so much bad news, even if it doesn’t involve me directly.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve had one friend who I talked photography with. To me, that was our special thing. To him, I was ignoring him unless it involved a camera. I wish he could have understood this.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on Lost and Found and commented:
    This is SO much me. Except about the movies. I LOVE going to the movies with my daughters (one or both) but I have to wait until the movie’s been out about a week so the theater isn’t too crowded and can’t sit right next to anyone except my daughter and especially not anyone talking or eating. And if you’re sitting behind me, please don’t kick my seat!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “It’s not you; it’s me. Well, actually, it’s our intersection. It’s not a character flaw, just a neurodevelopmental variant. It happens, and it’s OK”: beautiful expression of the magic of acceptance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words 😁

      I watch movies but I’m really selective about them 😊. I find movie theaters increasingly difficult to withstand, whether the volume is too high or low, people around us talking or staring at their (brightly lit) mobile phones, etc. These days, I rarely find a movie trailer that captivates me enough to lure me into the sensory hell that theaters have become 😊. Come to think of it, we might have seen one movie in a theater in 2014 or 2015, but I can’t recall for sure 😉

      That being said, we watch a *lot* of movies at home. Our DVD collection is pretty extensive 😁😉💖

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This post is so refreshing! I can fully relate and MUST re-blog this😁

    These attributes have caused great difficulty for me in maintaining friendships throughout the years. I tend to disappoint people by what they perceive to be indifference. I care. I really do. Despite this, I often find friendships to be draining because it is beyond difficult for others to understand how my mind works. I feel pressured and frustrated so I withdraw from others.
    Your writing style is engaging. I didn’t drift off at ANY point when reading this! Lol. I know this doesn’t come off as the greatest of compliments but is intended to be😁 What a relief it is to find so many “non-typicals” that can relate. AND I am feeling very good about not being anything that could be construed as “normal.”
    Once upon a time, I thought I was alone in the 🌎

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww! Eve, girl, those are some of the most beautiful comments one can receive and I’m so very touched! 💗💗. I’m so happy you’re finding relief in being able to relate; that’s exactly how I felt when finding blogs by other Aspie/autistic people (!). Omg it was amazing. So validating and comforting 😁. And amen to feeling just fine about not being anything “normal”; I find the “average” of anything rather boring, and it’s so cool how we’re all so different! (That’s not meant to be a slam on nonautistic people of course, as there’s diversity among them too, but yeah, what some people claim is “normal” is often boring/petty. I think everyone pretty much knows what I mean 😉). Yes, dear friend, you are truly not alone 💖🌟💖🌷🌺

      Liked by 1 person

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