Regressing – maybe a good thing for me?

I was about to hit send on an email a few hours ago to a FWB. In it I explained that I’d come to the realisation that he meant more to me than I, him. I felt that sending such an email would allow me to gain some closure but I stopped myself from hitting the button.

Why?

I realised that it wasn’t worth it. It likely wouldn’t elicit the response I hoped for and the expectation would likely leave me feeling worse than I did at the outset. Some hours have passed since then and my thoughts have moved on to me concluding that I spend far too long worrying about my social interactions.

I have good cause to have some causes for concern of course. My autism makes interactions difficult. I miss cues, I offend people accidentally, people constantly fail to interact with me in a manner I find acceptable and I lack a good sense of humour. And yet, it does not matter. While I accept that no man, least me, is an island, it only takes a marginal amount of interaction to keep me from sinking into a sea of loneliness.

I do intend to try to attempt to practice my social skills more in the coming academic year. I may accept that I have impaired skills but I don’t believe I am a slave to biology and thus there is progress to be had with sufficient practice. In fact, this year I’ve grown more comfortable maintaining eye contact and I laugh without worrying about my ugly teeth. However, my prospective new perspective is one of relative impassivity towards the majority of those with whom I interact.

I have become okay with the fact that it’s always going to be the case that many people will loathe me after continued exposure. While it’s okay to feel regret when such bonds are broken, I feel that one must learn to move on quickly and inhibit emotions such as grief and insecurity which often threaten to present themselves.

I will never find success socially. At best, I’ll be tolerated and a far better use of my time and attention would be the interests I possess.

I recently competed in a local amateur piano competition and was troubled by the fact I had no support in the audience. If I were to let this insecurity prevent me from doing more performances and competitions then I wouldn’t get the performance exposure necessary to overcome my anxiety, nor would I be motivated to learn new material – a process necessary for my development as a pianist.

I think a return to how I existed when younger where I was focused more on things than people would be beneficial. Certainly being intimately familiar with my field will serve me well in the future as a scientist. There is obviously the concern that such a change would be a detrimental aversion as it is necessary to deal with others as an adult but I think I’m capable of finding a subtle balance.

I guess the difference between how I am now and how I think I should be can be demonstrated in how I’d approach an invitation to go out for a meal with a group.

Now, I’d wonder whether the group had members who’d want to befriend me. I’d wonder whether I’d be able to continue to attend the group so if a hypothetical person wanted to befriend me, I’d be able to continue that hypothetical relationship. I’d wonder whether the members in general would like me.

In the future, I’d hope that my focus would be on the food – whether it was affordable or the cuisine palatable. Whether or not the people liked or disliked me would be irrelevant, it would simply be positive that I got the chance to get out of the house and mingle with others. If friendships came out of such interactions, great. If nothing, that would be fine also. But would-be friends whose unreliability or other unwelcome characteristics were anxiety-inducing could be dismissed with minimal thought.

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The diagnosis – was it helpful?

I think a lot of people will think that the answer to this question is “yes”. After all, there are a range of support services for those on the spectrum and people tend to be more forgiving of the odd social error when they learn you have a social disibility.

In my case, however, I’d argue that the diagnosis has been a hinderence. I’ve become hyper aware of my flaws and bring my sensitivity to my shortcomings along to each relationship.

This has not been good. People can sense when you have esteem issues and in my experience, it tends to be a repulsive trait. Unfortunately, I’ve thus been led to do certain things which are astonishingly cringeworthy in retrospect.

One such thing occured earlier this year with a guy I was seeing casually. I was at a loss to his intentions. In part, due to my ever-present ineptitude but more so his indecisiveness and irritatingly laid back nature.

I effectively gave him T&Cs for our relationship which I wanted him to process and amend apropriately. Needless to say, that adventure was stopped shortly in its tracks and I believe it’s a perfect example of this recurring problem of mine. That my fear of being judged harshly for my weaknesses has led to my tendency to attempt to over analyse social situations and micromanage the expectations of those with whom I’m speaking.
Ironicly though…this usually results in behaviors which are way worse than anything I’d do due to my condition.

I’m sure there are those to whom the diagnosis brought relief and comfort but I forever long for the bliss of my ignorance.