Intoxication and a Strained Relation

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I’ve had ups and downs this week. The good thing is that after turning down the opportunity several times I went for a drink with some of my peers and staff from the university after a department research seminar. This, in itself, had ups and downs because after finally putting myself into a situation where I can have a nice social chat with interesting and like-minded people I could hardly hold a conversation because everyone else was so loud and drunk. I was drinking too but I could only manage a couple because the beer was awful.

I came away with mixed emotions about the experience because I was pleased to have challenged myself, but annoyed because it was useless to try to talk to anyone as I either couldn’t hear them, or they were talking complete gibberish in their booze addled state. Part of me was also guilty because I felt a bit like I should have enjoyed it because everyone else seemed to. The best thing about it was that if I never go again it won’t be because I feel I cannot because of my Asperger’s, but because it’s just not my kind of scene. I think that is an important thing to consider when you have the condition. There has to be a balance between taking yourself out of your comfort zone and trying new things, but not in order to change who you are as a person. I’ll never be the life and soul of a party, but so are lots of people who don’t have Asperger’s. It depends on your personality, and Asperger’s isn’t a personality type any more than dyslexia or having blue eyes.

What’s brought me down was a conversation with my Dad where he asked me a very open question (some open questions I’m OK with) so I didn’t answer in the way he wanted, as I wasn’t quite sure what he was asking. I won’t bore you with the domestic details but in short he decided to abandon the conversation after talking to me like I’m mentally disabled. It all culminated with a rather vehement rhetorical question: “You’ve got a really serious problem, do you know that?!”. 

I said nothing after that. I was feeling such intense emotions so I just couldn’t react. I was hurt. I was being derided because of a mental difficulty I was born with. I was angry too – incensed – because it was like an insult because I was treated like a mental inferior. I’m much more intelligent than my dad. If he went to school for fifty years I would still be smarter than him, and there I was, being spoken to like an idiot. The most annoying thing is that he was at my diagnosis and was told that I need a small amount of clarification to answer big open questions because I don’t always get the gist. He was also told that even if I improve my social skills I won’t get it right 100% of the time. So he knows what my ‘serious problem’ is and how to get around it, so why didn’t he have more patience? It just goes to show that even when regular people are clued into what the condition is and how to deal with it they still just forget or don’t bother.

Feeling like trading with the other 99% of the population at the moment.

Sorry to vent a bit. 😉

 

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Me and my Brain

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I have decided to make 2014 the year that I move my social life up a gear. It’s not an official new year’s resolution, but I need to make some progress in the friend department. This won’t be easy because I’ve only just started getting a handle on what I think friends and friendship are.

Firstly I will seek out advice from local institutions on how to make friends and socialize with people. I’ve been making some progress with social stuff, like making sure I don’t talk too much and to not just answer but to ask questions as well. This way the person I’m talking to will have a chance to talk about themselves, which is good because it stops me talking about myself too much.

One of the biggest obstacles I come across is how social behaviour is not innate to me, but learned, or in my case not learned yet! It goes like this:

ME: “Right! I’m going to go to new places and make friends with people”

BRAIN: “Where are you going to go then?”

ME: “Uh… dunno. Isn’t it your job to think of that?”

BRAIN: “…”

ME: “Well, isn’t it?!”

BRAIN: “Sorry, I’ve got nothing.”

ME: “Okay, we can work around that, which people do we know that we could socialize and make friends with?”

BRAIN: “How about… um, what’s her name?”

ME: “Who?”

BRAIN: “You know, the one with blonde hair.”

ME: “You’re not really doing this very well either are you?”

BRAIN: “Charming. I’m the first one you turn to when an essay needs writing and this is how you talk to me?!”

And it goes on like that for quite a while.

In short, telling me to go out and make friends is like telling me to speak Swahili. It won’t happen overnight; firstly I need to find out more about what it is, where to go to learn and then how to do it. It frustrates my parents as they see my diagnosis with Asperger’s as pointless because it’s been almost a year and I still don’t have much of a social life. They don’t see the small victories that I am putting together, such as plucking up the courage to reach out to people on Facebook and by text to see if they want to go out and do stuff. They just don’t seem to understand how that’s a big deal for me.

I’m going to look for clubs and other places where I can meet and socialize with new people. Any tips/suggestions in the comments below would be greatly appreciated.

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