After hitting publish yesterday on my Soothing my Loneliness post it occurred to me that the post might come across to some as something other than I intended. As soon as the thought hit me that evening I rushed back to my computer to edit in a disclaimer, holding my breath anxiously as I typed. I needed people to be aware that my intention for sharing was not to gain reassurance, or pity, or even necessarily solutions. I hadn't thought that it might come across that way when I wrote it, but I can definitely see how it can be read that way by others, and I needed to clear that point up before any miscommunications happened.
I also don't want the friends that I do have to think that anything I wrote is somehow personally directed at them, or that they're somehow responsible for fixing any of the issues I spoke about in that blog post. While I don't have any close friends nearby, I do have close friends far away. I find the issue of me speaking about my feelings of isolation at odds with my need to not hurt their feelings. This feeling of disconnect that I feel from others is not something they can fix. No one can. It's something that I am going to have to figure out how to deal with myself. Sometimes you meet someone that changes your life forever by clicking in a way that you never knew a person could, but for me those people have been very, very, very rare. I care deeply for other humans, and am always willing to help almost anyone in any way I can, but a I connect on a meaningful level with almost none. My constant pull to introversion, and my constant yearning for connection with others is always at odds. It's a constant push pull that I have not yet began to even come close to reconciling. How can a person be a humanitarian, and yet a loner? I don't know.
To get closer to finding the answer I have to retrace my steps to how I got to where I am. I need to peel back the layers of what I'm about.
When I was a young teenager I became fascinated with Asian porcelain dolls. In particular the ones that have painted faces. I collected several. What I liked even more than the dolls were the porcelain mask wall hangings.
For art class I chose to paint a piece with a mask like this one behind a set of bars. It frightened everyone that saw it. Admittedly, it was an emotional piece. It carried within it the words I couldn't express. I couldn't even explain why I had chosen it as a subject, really, which I think left people even more so freaked out. The creepy nature of it demanded an explanation, and the absence of one was unsettling. It wasn't until well into adulthood that I understood the significance of why I was intrigued, yet felt imprisoned by masks.
Conversing with others doesn't come very naturally to me. It takes effort. I memorize, and take very seriously etiquette, and manners. If there is a rule to a situation I be sure to learn it, and apply it, but socializing doesn't always follow such strict guidelines. There are going to be blind spots, and unknowns. As long as I have a basic feel for a situation I can improvise. In other words, every day in every small talk type of exchange it's an act. It's memorized lines, and guesswork to respond appropriately. I pick up, and put on different masks to fit different situations all day. During small chats this serves me very well. I smile, and I can keep up with the conversation. But, extend this same scenario to a longer, more in depth situation, and the mask starts to crack. I run out of material. I can't keep up with the speed in which the conversation naturally flows. If I am really tired I mix up small talk buzzwords like thank you, and hello.
I mention all of this, because on the surface I don't seem to struggle to others. I seem to have everything under control, and it's all smooth. I am strong, and I am capable, but I also fall apart inside at least once a day wondering if I'm going to make it. It's taken me all of my life to realize I can be both. Both of those descriptions can coincide within the same person at the same time, and still be equally true.
Being my friend isn't easy. The authentic version of me is full of anxiety, and awkwardness. I don't follow many trends. I don't keep up with the latest television shows, and I hate sports. All the things that bring people together in a social way are things I don't really participate in. Most of my hobbies are solitary activities. This is in part due to choice, and is somewhat forced, since I really don't have friends to share hobbies with. I would mostly say it is by choice, because I don't share my space with others very well, if you would call that a choice. I don't, really. It's the way my brain processes my environment. I need everything to be a certain way, and I need a lot of space to feel safe from any outside influences, so it's more of a need than a preference.
I have also found that I am in an odd place in life where my children are most of the way grown, yet I am a stay at home mom. This will, in a few years, turn into the title caregiver, unless I decide to put Beans into a day program. I have not held a job outside my home for over 14 years. I think this has made a big impact on my ability to connect with others. My kids are too old for me to connect with young stay at home moms with little kids. Other moms my age are at a different place than I am, and I don't end up anywhere to meet anyone. The last few times I have tried to meet up with friends for lunch, and whatnot was difficult at best, due to finding a time that would work where I had someone to watch Beans.
Again, though.... I must reiterate, it is not just about knowing people, and having friends. I do have friends. I'm not this hermit that sits inside my home for days on end (though I kinda wish I was!). It's about uncovering my inability to connect with others in a deep, and meaningful, whether that be about Asperger's, or my upbringing. I feel the need to keep repeating that, because I can't help but think that my friends are reading this feeling insulted. I may be wrong, but I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. This is a hard feeling to describe, and I don't think loneliness is quite apt. It's the closest I have, but it's not quite right. This all could be driven by a bit of undetected melancholy, as well. Depression has a way of sneaking up on me hiding behind little symptoms here, and there. It's something I'm aware of, and paying attention to, because if the main culprit is indeed a mild depression focusing in on fixing the loneliness (or whatever the masking symptom happens to be at the time) will never yield any results. As a matter of fact, since that was never the problem to begin with, it would probably create more problems. It's in essence chasing a ghost.
I think this post got a bit ramblier than I anticipated. I feel like I have left readers thinking, "Well, which is it? Do you not have any friends? Or, or you have friends, but not know how to connect, or are you just depressed?" Sometimes, the thing about my writing is that it brings up more questions than it answers. I use it as a template to lay out my thoughts into a form other than fleeting wisps fluttering around inside my mind to better analyze them. There really is no conclusion here. Only more questions.