I Used to be Really Bad at Communicating, Then I Got my Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis

As a child, I didn’t know I was different. I attributed bullying, bad situations, and negative conversations to my Hispanic background. As I got older, I thought people who didn’t like me were racist, sexist, or stupid. I figured out I was a little different in high school when I realized I had to have social situations explained to me by my close friends. I didn’t understand how I said the wrong thing all the time; I just knew I did it. My mom called it “foot-in-mouth syndrome.” I figured she was making a joke.

There are two crucial parts of autism: poor social skills and poor communication skills. The way those two parts interact in the autistic brain is that the stimuli in the environment distract from an emotional conversation (which, let’s face it, is every conversation). It’s in the brain, so it’s neurological. We can’t psychologically get distracted by the environment. Often, those distractions cause us to project invalid subtle emotional cues. The cues we unintentionally project get mistaken for emotions directed at whoever we’re our conversation partner. You can see how this poses problems — lots of misunderstandings.

I learned about emotions from reading a lot, but I still have trouble with social nuance. It’s a bit of a mystery to me. Sometimes I’ll recognize a subtle emotional cue is happening, like an eyebrow raise or a blank stare. Sometimes I respond appropriately, but sometimes I misinterpret what it means in regards to what I’m saying, and that will lead to confusion. It’s easier for me to ignore the cue, so I don’t get distracted from the main point of the conversation. I do this by looking away or closing my eyes. People won’t judge you for missing their cues if they can see that you aren’t looking for them.

Eye contact and staring at faces drift my focus from the speaker’s words to what’s going on around me. It’s the opposite that happens in neurotypical people. I’ll be listening intently and understanding completely, but if during my turn to talk, I can’t focus on getting my words together. Typically, the breakdown goes like this: first, I start listing off all of the things around me that are distracting, like noises, smells, brightness, etc. if it’s a lot, the tone of my voice changes and becomes a little aggressive. I didn’t use to think anything of it until I realized that was the reason people didn’t know I was a nice person. I get very nervous talking because of that now. I like people thinking that I’m nice. Wearing sensory dulling aids, like sunglasses, earplugs, and long-sleeved shirts help keep me focused on the person talking to me.

I learned about autism when I was 24. I had the phrases that I would say to common reactions to me, and I didn’t think anything of it. One day, after a particularly lousy interaction, I googled “not good at socializing” and found quite a few mental health resources. I stumbled on a page about autism, and my world went for a spin.

At first, I was in denial. This denial phase lasted for about a year. I learned little random things about autism, and I would tell myself I didn’t do them, so that meant I didn’t have it. I figured I wasn’t THAT different. I had some social skills, I just needed to get better, and just because I didn’t make eye contact didn’t mean I had autism.

That year was a tough year for my health. I was gaining weight, experiencing joint pain, headaches, fatigue, random rashes, and LOTS of stress. I would break out into hives if I got too stressed out, which seemed to happen over any little thing. I decided it was finally time to see a therapist. Not because of that autism business, I didn’t have autism, I thought, but just because I was so stressed by life and not being able to keep up. I was feeling pretty down about myself.

After a few visits with my therapist, she asked me if I’d ever heard of autism. We discussed it, and she advised me to look into the community. I got my diagnosis confirmed by a psychiatrist.

I’m still figuring out my life on the spectrum. I would say it was a little bit of a relief, but a massive jolt to reality. I had no idea I was as different as I am. When I was a kid, people told me I was special, but I thought it was one of those things they said to kids to make them feel good. I never took it seriously. I waited to tell my mom about my diagnosis, and when I told her, I started by telling her first that I was different. Like really different, according to my therapist. She told me that she knew. That was mostly the relief. It also made me feel self-conscious because I realized it wasn’t everyone else; it was me. My perspective changed. My diagnosis made me more self-aware.

My brain processes emotions based on words, so eventually in conversation, words start to mean nothing. I start getting anxious if I still don’t understand, and I notice this is beginning to happen. Combine this with sensory distractions, and I might shut down, have a panic attack, or maybe even have a meltdown. There is a reason that people with autism feel shame and humiliation when we experience meltdowns.

Meltdowns happen when we experience sensory or social overload or both. It’s difficult for us to control our emotions at that point, so the more emotional intelligence we have, the less likely we are to be a danger to ourselves. Self-hitting, crying, screaming, and yelling is examples of this harrowing and embarrassing experience.

I struggle with feeling proud and frustrated. Proud to be a part of a community based on inclusion, self-awareness, and acceptance. Frustrated that minute things out of my control affect what I can and can’t do at times. I find myself experiencing emotional awakening more times than I thought possible. There are so many layers to human emotion, and it’s so difficult to keep track. There is something to feel that I never considered before my diagnosis, though: being interpreted as friendly feels good.

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Autistic Masking and Being Hispanic

There was a moment right when I first realized that I was autistic. Like a bright, shining bulb. And once that bulb was lit, it lit up a maze I didn’t even know I was in. A maze of emotions and discovering meaning within myself that I continue to navigate today. However, my internal discovery doesn’t change my outward appearance. This ‘eureka’ moment has led to so many answers to situations in my life, but it has also led to questions.

For most of my life, I’ve been a coded, but open, book. My emotions were a vulnerability that I bottled up, then shelved. I had a front that wasn’t really a front. I was cranky a lot, and spoke in a verbally aggressive tone even if I was saying something nice. I spent a lot of time not knowing what was going on because my attention was constantly shifting to my environment, and spent forever wondering what I was missing to be considered ‘nice’.

When I typed a social situation in Google, I was met with a plethora of forums, articles and groups focused on singular issues similar to the social situation I typed in. In forums, strangers comment on the person’s situation and I would glean from those comments and finagle an answer to my situation.  Each situation solution became a patch that was a social opinion of me, pieced together like a patchwork quilt. Sometimes I would ask my friends what certain actions or phrases meant to be better at socializing. It took up all my energy, and I still sucked.

I cared about social situations off-and-on depending on the situation until I understood why it was so important in the first place. There isn’t a fiscal logic to feelings, but there is an emotional logic. For example, if you hit someone, the emotional logical next action is that the person will be angry and hit you back. Whether or not that is the case depends on the emotions of the person you hit and outside factors. Depending on the context of who you hit and how, it might not even be a problem, like in a boxing match. Another example, if you hurt a friend’s feelings accidentally, the emotional logical next action would be to apologize. Again, whether or not you actually need to depends on how close you are to the friend and the severity of the hurt feelings. Some people feel better with just knowing you’re remorseful.

Emotional logic got more complex the more I learned about human nature and needs.

Masking is pretending to know what’s going on in a conversation involving facial cues, it’s acting “normal”, it’s hiding sensory pain so people don’t make fun of you. It’s the struggle with coming up with the “right thing to say” all the time, because it seems that everything you say is wrong. It’s being someone you’re not so people will accept you.

My ‘patchwork quilt’ of outward responses to society was actually part of the foundation of my mask. It’s a mask I still put on in unfamiliar territory, like camouflage in a recon mission. Continue reading

Autism and The Importance of Social Skills

There was a recent study where researchers used a fMRI machine to study brain regions responsible for social abilities on people with autism before and after a five week social skills camp (one hour, twice a week).

The results were groundbreaking. Social skills training actually does help improve emotional recognition. That means that teaching us how to interact with neurotypicals will make us better at noticing when we’ve upset them.

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Do you have any idea how huge this is? It’s obvious to us that this is the case, because we tell each other this all of the time in our support groups, but science has made it official with brain scans and experiments. This has been a great month for autism awareness.

Social skills play a huge part of our every day lives. People with autism often have difficulties interpreting others, causing misunderstandings. The sooner we learn the skills we need to cultivate relationships, the more successful we are as adults.

There is a lot of focus on making our lives easier by controlling our symptoms, but another aspect of autism is our difficulties with the social world around us.

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Bullying on the Spectrum

I remember elementary school like it happened yesterday.

In first grade, I made friends with this kid named Micah, who would translate different social customs for me. He was the first friend who would do this for me, and his social status protected me for a little while.

I moved a few times between second and fourth grade. I found it hard to make friends and I constantly faltered. The end of elementary school was tougher because I wasn’t sure about the other kids. I would think that they were my friends and they would make fun of me, and once I figured out they didn’t like me I would just stop hanging around.  Solo jump rope was what I spent recess doing.

Middle school was ruthless. We moved again right before sixth grade, and I remember my first day someone made fun of me for my accent and haircut. I stopped telling my parents when people were making fun of me because I felt like I was constantly complaining. We moved again and I managed to make some friends, who helped me navigate though teenage girl evil plots.

63% of children on the spectrum experience bullying. These children will become adults, and they need those support services now, not later, because the sooner that kids get the social support they need, the quicker they’ll progress to emotional recognition. We need to get schools involved with changing policies and advocate for these children. The more apt they are to recognize their peers’ emotions, the less likely the are to be made fun of.

This, combined with the anti-bullying movement, will produce peaceful, intellectual progression.

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Okay, so how do social skills affect empathy with autistic people?

Learning social skills IS learning empathy. We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, the same way a student doesn’t want to fail a test. When the student cannot pass the test, the teacher needs teach the student in a way the student can understand. The very notion that teaching us about you will make us more apt to recognize your pain is the meaning of learned empathy.

The more skills I acquire, the more I’m able to see in “real-time” what’s happening with any one person. For example, I can see when someone is anxious because they’re shoulders are risen, quickened speech, flushed skin.  I just have to wait for a conversational exchange so I can hear if they are going to tell me about their anxiety or if the conversation is intellectual in nature.

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Learning social skills made me quicker and smarter. When I’m not anxious about the situation, my brain pulls information so much quicker. Anxiety always slows me down. I can’t think straight when I’m emotional, and emotional includes being anxious because I don’t know what to say or do.

When I was younger and less “empathetic”, I used to “comfort” people who were crying to me by saying I wasn’t sure how what to do about them crying. And I would say it awkwardly with my hands like sort of waving, and a half laugh. Then I would reach out my arms like I was going to hug them, and then pull them back over and over because I don’t like to be touched when I’m uncomfortable until eventually I verified if my next move should be a hug. It was a mess.

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Yeah, pretty much.

How to Help

Awareness alone is not enough. Neurotypicals have to educate themselves about autism and social differences to expect. People on the spectrum have to have acceptance. It’s a basic human need.

Change must be affected. In order for us to change the world together, we must first be willing to change ourselves. Both neurotypicals and autistic people alike must be willing to adapt our own thought patterns to those around us, and look outside our own perspectives. It’s important to accept each other’s quirks and flaws. Even if we aren’t born this way, we can learn.

Mindfulness is essential to change of the self. Practicing mindfulness has health benefits, social benefits, and emotional benefits.

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Are you on the spectrum? Do you force eye contact to make the neurotypical feel comfortable, even though it hurts and you’re suffering because of it? Do you refrain from stimming because you don’t want to seem weird, even though it’s tough to concentrate while holding it in? Do you choose to remain silent because you don’t want to make waves or be put on the spot, even though the subject is your special interest?

Don’t let social anxiety get in the way of you being yourself. In order to bridge a gap, both sides must build toward the center.

Are you interested in attending a camp like the one in the study? Here are some options:

http://www.myasdf.org/site/our-programs/social-skills-camp-scholarship-program/ 

http://www.veryspecialcamps.com/summer/social-skills-camp/  (list of camps around the country)

https://recsports.berkeley.edu/social-skills-camps/ (children and teens)

Autism and Meltdowns

I hate them. I hate them so much. They hurt so bad, and they come on so quickly and so strong. I get them from extreme sensory over-stimulation and hunger, social overload, and during my menses. Crying happens swiftly, and the lever for the emotional dam is flipped. When I try to speak in between sobs, I sound panicked, unintelligible. The pain sets in my mind and I start screaming and hitting. The cyclone winds arrive and I become out of control. Writing helps me figure out what I need from that specific moment. Hold me, love me, understand me. Get away, I’m sorry, I need time. What never changes is the need for you to understand I’m not trying to hurt you. Common themes in my written art.

Most of the time I can keep my meltdowns under control, and I can use box phrases to communicate to those around me. I can restrain myself and keep my anxiety monster asleep.

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When my monster awakens, the battle inside begins.

The electricity, the flame, the pain, the rage in my mind distracts me from being able to comprehend consequence. I feel like I’d do anything to get that pain to stop. Words start to mean very little. I can’t be threatened, I don’t understand what’s being said to me, I can’t focus long enough, and the rage becomes desperation to express just how much my head is on fire. I start clawing at my own face, grabbing and pulling my own hair, hitting myself. If I stop, I’ll start to scream and cry. I’m losing my grip.

Don’t come too close or grab me, I might hurt you on accident. I can’t control how hard I touch things, they explode in my grasp, and I feel like my life is in danger. I feel like something is attacking me from the inside out. I feel like if you touch me, I might mistake you for the attacker. I can and will hurt you. Please handle me with care.

I don’t want to hurt anyone. I want to have normal reactions and normal understanding. For so long I wanted to be a normal person. I had to learn how to accept my monster and my madness.

I feel like an animal when I meltdown this bad. If there are too many senses on, emotions running too high, negative environmental factors, I get like this. I feel unsafe and a danger to those around me. I start looking at something, anything, to make it stop. My mind starts working against me and thinking in extremes, turning me against myself, adding straws to my camel’s back. No one can say anything worse to me than what I’ve said to myself. I push those thoughts away, knowing that they aren’t real, and I have enough dominance to be able to differentiate what will hurt me and what will help me. Central Command functions like a dam, a filter, a barrier between me and the outside world. Central Command connects me to my body. In those moments, Central Command is functioning on a skeleton crew during a crisis.

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I’m still hitting things around me, pushing them and throwing them away so I can’t hurt myself or others with them. I have rage jolts and I have to hit, so throwing, loud noise, screaming… those things help me. To not do them is torture, if I don’t spread my fire out, I’ll burn myself within. In brief moments of constraint, I can make enough sense to say I’m having an issue, but the window is so small. To small to last. I can’t fight my monster at the same time I’m trying to figure out why this is happening, at the same time I’m trying to communicate, at the same time I’m trying to stay alive.

I’m exhausted when it’s over. I feel remorse, but I’m unable to find the words. I process emotions completely different from normal people, which means in an emotional conversation I lose track, I get confused, I get lost. Words mean nothing, I just feel, and respond with the loudest response I have in my arsenal: silence. Raw emotion has finished it’s tremendous thunderstorm, and I have settled into a cranny of devastation. Every time I’m surrounded by the chaos I’ve created, I regret the firestorm I’ve caused and wish I could’ve burned instead. I desperately desire to explain myself, but how? I was over the edge because my disconnected body and emotions were running for the cliff while my mind was away from the reins.

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I never know how to come back from these. I always feel shame after, when I’m holding the pieces of whatever I broke, or looking at the trash I’ve kicked everywhere. My worst enemy has always been myself. I’ve always been told I couldn’t act this way. I’ve always maintained I’m not acting.

Meltdowns feel nonsensical, and the emotional overflow needs to be met with compassion. When my emotions are out of control, I will say something. If I can’t handle a situation, I need to be respected. When I can’t explain myself, I need whoever is around me to know that I’m not being this way for no reason.

We need understanding and acceptance. People with autism are people too, with different perspectives and experiences. It’s a painful, uncomfortable, embarrassing experience.

What to do When Someone You Know is Having a Meltdown

The best thing you can do for someone with autism experiencing a meltdown is to remain calm and give them space.

Remember that they may or may not be able to talk to you, so be prepared not to receive a response if you ask them if they’re okay.

Reduce anything that might irritate the senses, turn down the lights and sound, help make the person feel physically comfortable.

For more resources about meltdowns in autistic people, please visit:

https://themighty.com/2015/04/what-an-autism-meltdown-feels-like/

https://www.verywell.com/what-is-an-autistic-meltdown-260154

http://www.autism.org.uk/about/behaviour/meltdowns.aspx


 

thoughts on autistic meltdowns

To read more about how I dealt with self acceptance, click here

An Autistic Reflection of Self Acceptance

Excerpt 08/26/2016:

I’m imaging this. I’m imaging conflict. My differences are the root of this. I accept that I have them.

But this is where it stops. I’ve followed all the paths. The reason I’m afraid is because I think I don’t understand because I didn’t understand as a child.

I’m not a child anymore. I’m an adult.

I’m an adult capable of telling the truth, writing the truth, and being the truth, and capable of understanding that everyone is different. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, Arianne. You know the answers.

You don’t have any bad motives, and even though yesterday you were wrong doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen. It means you need to actually apply everything everyone has ever taught you.

Ask yourself first, because you probably have the answer.

Ask myself first, because I probably have the answer.

And if I don’t know the answer, I can tell the difference between a good, honest answer and a bad answer, and I know the difference between right and wrong.

I’m in charge of my own choices and actions.

I decide and I always decide to tell the truth.

Contentment is having all your needs met.

Anxiety makes me question, “what do I need?”, but if all my needs are met, why should I question?

Maybe that’s why some people don’t. Never stop asking questions.

Better yet, if anxiety makes me question, “what do I need?”, and all my needs are met, what’s the answer? A problem.

I wonder if regular people use this energy to talk to each other and help solve each other’s problems.

Christmas 2002 I got the “Back in the USA” Paul McCartney CD. I liked to listened to it on my CD player while I pushed my cat around in a Winnie the Pooh stroller.

I found that the CD sounded like a memory. I heard a song, I don’t remember which one, but it caught my attention with it’s familiarity. When one of my aunts heard me listening to it, she laughed at me and told me I was too young to know who he was. I was 11.

I was 13 when my mom made me throw away the stroller.

If anxiety is fight or flight, two animal behaviors, the root of the feeling would be the response of the person feeling anxiety. So fight would be closer to a predator response versus flight is the typical prey response.

Both stem from fear. Fear of attack. Don’t be afraid of the fight.

….

She says I’m trying to give my understanding, but I need to accept intellectually…

She says you can’t describe what rain looks like to someone who’s never seen before… I can tell when it’s raining by the air pressure, the wetness, the smell… but I wish I could tell if it’s going to rain.

I just need to accept that I can’t “see” and I never will.

I need to stop apologizing for being myself. I need to stop being sorry.

 

More Autistic Reflections:

An Autistic Reflection of Sensory Overload and Focus

An Autistic Reflection of Societal Views of Mental Health

 

An Autistic Reflection of Societal Views of Mental Health

I haven’t written in a while. I’ve had a lot of thoughts lately, but they’re so disorganized that it’s been difficult for me to express myself in a coherent fashion. I’ll try, bear with me.

There is a lot of stigma in today’s society about the need to take medication for a mental health issue. As someone who needs to take medication for a mental health issue, this is troubling. Our opinions on this have to change. However, we can’t be tolerant if we don’t know the hows, so allow me to rant from the front lines:

One of the side effects of my medication is that I get surges in the back my neck that makes my head shake. It’s a little embarrassing, because it draws attention to me, and I don’t really like it being pointed out. I don’t like any of my tics or uncontrollable things I do to be pointed out or faced* at. Why do people continue to make assumptions of me, instead of asking me polite questions about what they’re curious about?

Medication is a catch-22. If you don’t take it, you run the risk of acting out, being inappropriate, hurting someone, hurting yourself, etc., and if you do take it, the side effects are a whole other monster to psychologically wrap your head around. You could have physical side effects that effect body processes (like eating too much or too little, which in itself can psychologically imbalance your mental homeostasis, infections, increased risks for diabetes, etc.), or effect your mental well-being (like suicidal thoughts you don’t normally have, paranoia, confusion, etc.). Maybe you take medication for focus (like I do) that causes you to be even more socially awkward and aggressive, so you have to take something to counteract that (like I do).

But not everyone thinks about that stuff when they’re forming opinions about things they don’t know about. How can they? They don’t know about it. Those types of people can only form an opinion on something with what they know. If they know a lot, their opinion is more valued than the one of someone who doesn’t know as much.

I like that idea. That society determines the weight of what you say based on what you know and can do. I’ve always respected that. Maybe there are individuals who don’t do that, but the collective consciousness usually does and is on the right track.

I find the knowledge and feeling sharing tendency we all have to be fascinating. Fascinating things in and of itself is part of why humans yearn, and that thirst for knowledge can only be quenched when we encounter fascinating things, because then we experience awe.

And awe is such an interesting feeling. It’s not something that goes away, but rather gets more involved the more that you immerse yourself in the feeling. Where I think the idea starts to go off the rails is when people become obsessed with the object that’s making them feel the awe, instead of turning inward. I have found that a healthy relationship with oneself is the only way to appreciate that which makes you feel awe. It’s so much easier on the mind and body when the awe is not an object though, but rather another person or an idea.

Not everybody takes medication to contain their crazy. Sometimes people take it to channel their awesome. Sometimes people take it to harness their internal whirlwinds. Sometimes people take it to spread out their meticulousness. It’s very awe-inspiring how people try to conform themselves into fitting into a society that by definition both tells them that there’s something wrong with them while also trying to celebrate their individuality. It’s almost like there are different classes and types of people all trying to fit into a box that not really anyone fits into anymore.

Our society needs to mature a little. Maturity reflects itself in internal peace and the spread of wisdom. There’s nothing wrong with medication, just the attitude towards it. There’s nothing wrong with you, it’s everyone else. We’re all special inside as individuals, and we’re all beautiful. Maybe it’s time we throw out the box.

*faced means making faces at me. I don’t always know what faces mean so I find myself getting mad a lot at that misunderstanding. Or not, because in my experience a great deal of the faces aren’t nice.


Click here to read more about my views of humanity.

Click here to read more about insurance companies and how healthcare really works in America.

Autism Through My Eyes

I’m at the point right now where I know who I am in this world. It took me a long time to get to this point. I used to hate talking to people, socializing, small talk, the works. I hated the show, I hated getting ready for the show, and I wanted everyone to just leave me alone. I relished being alone. I didn’t have to work hard at pretending to understand others or socializing, because I understood myself.  I’ve always had survival techniques, coping mechanisms and the like, but it wasn’t until I understood the basic structure of the feelings of a normal person that I able to see the associations in the correct order, and truly understand what it means to be human.

I am autistic. My mind works in associations that I call “boxes”. They are located in a place I call “the void”. The void just the blankness of my mind’s eye, it’s black and there is nothing, unless I’m thinking. Depending on what I’m thinking about, certain things happen in there. If I’m thinking about my feelings, there are color-placement associations. When I’m angry, my chest is red. When I’m sad, my arm are blue, and happiness is yellow in my tummy. If I’m recalling information, this happens in the form of images. I can pull up multiple images and videos at once in my mind, but I have difficulties communicating the relevance of all of those things quickly. If I’m not “on”, my responses get mixed up and I’ll get distracted by prefacing a semi-relevant story/article/video/scene, or the sentence I come up with is the point of all three of these at once but it doesn’t make sense unless you know all three of the things I’m talking about (here’s looking at you, babe). By the time I get to the grit of it I’ve already forgotten the point. Because of this I tend to remain kind of quiet.

There’s a beauty of being quiet though. A magic, if you will, to listening to the world around you. The people around you. Everyone has such an amazing story to tell. Can you tell yet where this is going? I love to listen.

In my youth, my parents made sure to instill on me that it was very important to listen. “Have initiative,” my dad used to say. I asked what that meant, expecting an answer that I was used to from mom (which was “go look it up, the dictionary is in the hall”), but he clarified, “It means that when you see something that needs to be done, do it. Don’t wait to be asked.” I remember thinking about this for a moment. I remember thinking that that was very efficient, but not knowing how one would be able to tell if something needs to be done if they can’t see it. I didn’t ask though, my dad always seemed to know what needed to be done next, with no seemingly rhyme or reason. Still, the concept stuck with me. I figured that one day I would understand. I stayed quiet, and listened.

I had a certain trust in my parents for good advice. I remember even further back, randomly asking my mom if other adults made fun of her for something kids were teasing me for, and she said no, they didn’t. I connected this “Social Rules” question to the box of “The Things They Say in Movies”, and paired it with the phrase, “kids are cruel.” I remember understanding then that the rules of children were not the rules of man, but not knowing how one would be able to tell when the rules of children applied and when the rules of man applied. I didn’t ask though, sometimes my mom would be too tired or too busy being amazing and raising four kids to talk with me about things sometimes. Still, the concept stuck with me. I chalked it up to, “One day I’ll figure it out.” I stayed quiet, and listened.

It seems that as I age, I can recall the most important advice I’ve ever received in the most important possible times. I feel the best way to describe it would be like if you were on fire and you remembered to stop, drop and roll. Where would I be if I hadn’t listened? In the movies, any character that leaves home, always eventually returns home, because they don’t understand that they themselves are home.

And yet, how many times have I understood someone was sad, knew that it was my turn to cheer them up, but I didn’t know how?  I feel the guilt of knowing that I have to say something, but… how can I say something if I don’t understand how that person feels the way they do or what the other person’s actions mean? How can I have initiative if I’m stunted on how to help? What am I supposed to do?

When I try to get into the mind of someone other than myself (“If you want to catch a Jew, you have to think like a Jew,” Hans Landa Inglorious Bastards), I can only do so if I have an emotional investment in this person. This is because all my associations are boxed up, and I have a separate yellow colored timeline in my head, and I have to know each interaction’s date and relativity to the calendar so that I can see what happened that caused this specific person to harbor ill-will towards me. I can then work out the misunderstanding between us and we can move on as people. However, if I don’t know the person, I don’t have any information to make these types of associations, and it leaves large communication gaps. Certain things are always off limits of course, but what about when the person I don’t know just senses I’m someone to trust? I just stayed quiet, and listened.

Becoming emotionally invested in a person is a long and rigorous process for me. Once I’ve determined that the person is a nice person, I have to piss them off real good one time to determine what they look like when  they’re angry, how they act with me, are they still respectful, did it change our friendship, etc. Only after I know that they are safe to be myself around can I actually trust their advice. Their advice however, directly translates to the role assigned by that person. I become Joshua in those moments, I can hear his voice come out through mine. I become my mother, her voice and sharp tongue either becoming my own or staying alive in me. In emotionally investing myself in a person, I allow them to impress upon me something they know, they are, or what they’ve done. I allow them to encompass me when I need them the most.

I used to believe that the sighs my grandma did in the car were on purpose because she wanted me to talk to her. If that was the case, why didn’t she just say anything? She’s the one who wants to talk…etc. Did you know that sighs like that are automatic? It’s to keep your body from suffocating out of frustration. I used to live my life in the hopes that everyone would eventually figure out to leave me alone.  This never happened, because that’s not how life is. And ultimately, it wasn’t what I wanted.

As humans, we crave interaction and approval of our tribes and families. I learned that it was about enjoying the time with others and resting in my off time, not painfully coutning the minutes before it was socially acceptable to go to the bathroom (for the third time this evening), and counting the hours until it was time to go.I learned the positive side, the love side, the side I was always afraid of, yet relied so heavily on. Why did I take such an adversarial position… with regards to talking to my grandma?

I need social breaks and communication breaks a lot. There’s a lot going on in a conversation. I can see all of the different movements in the face and body, and all of the incoming visual stimuli sometimes gets confused with the incoming auditory stimuli and my responses get mixed up. I can accidentally respond to the person’s feelings instead of what they actually said. Sometimes this works in my favor and we become closer. Some people challenge that they aren’t so easy to read. I can also accidentally respond to a completely wrong idea based off an incorrect processing of what the person is trying to say (for example, if the certain parts come in my head backwards then I might think you’re against something when you’re actually the opposite). I wish that talking wasn’t so hard for me. Perhaps the adversarial position was one of exhaustion, impatience, lack of self-control. As I age, I find that I can control myself more, and that has made me so much happier in my life.

I don’t want to have social anxiety, but I do. It comes with always being misunderstood and wishing I could explain. I cope by telling myself I’m a queen, and royalty doesn’t pay the game of feelings. That it’s always best to be diplomatic. It also helped to, you know, learn to explain (ha).

One never knows what’s going on with another person. It’s important to listen to others. If someone is trying to impart their wisdom on you, it shouldn’t be looked at as being imposing. Some people just want to help, just want to offer you something. They don’t want their interaction with you to be for nothing.

They want your approval of them. We all want approval from each other. Everyone appreciates acknowledgement. The box of everything I know about humanity in the void is a large one. I don’t always have access to it, so conversations in real-time puzzle me. In regards to myself as a human though, in order to prevent most confusions, I make sure that I live my life as nice as I can be, as generous as I can reasonably be, and with as much love as possible in my heart.

To be human is to love, and love is pain, and to love anyone is to know that you will be hurt by them sometimes. Life is about forgiveness and truly allowing yourself to live in the happy moments, because eventually you will hurt, and those memories of yourself being happy is what you will cling to when you are in pain. The stronger your arms are, the harder you can cling, and the easier the pain will pass. Remember to be strong and you will never have to worry about the pain carrying you away.

 


 

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