Finally An Explanation For Why I'm "weird"

hi! :) this is a bit long (typical aspie rambling on a subject of interest lol!) so please bear with me. i would LOVE to hear your feedback and  comments on anything i've writted - agreements, disagreements etc etc etc

 i'm a 43 year old woman, and  have recenlty discovered i'm an aspie ... which finally explains why and how i've always felt and appeared different to most other people.. always felt like a bit of a weirdo. ESPECIALLY in terms of interpersonal skills

all my life i've been highly aware that i have an extremely high DESIRE to understand how/why/what others think and feel, and why they say and do what they say and do -  but a very limited ABILITY to understand these things... and an extremely high DESIRE to get along well with others - but a limited ABILITY to do so. ... and an extremely high DESIRE to be accepted and approved of by others - but again a limited ABILITY to do so. ... and a very high DESIRE to be empathetic, and to treat others in the way they approved of  - but again, there's the problem with lack of ABILITY to do so. typical aspie, huh?

i finally realise why. discovering i'm an aspie, and what that means / explains about me and my behaviour has forced me to acknowledge some blunt home thruths about myself. some i have become aware of in the past 10 years since my little niece died, some in the 4 years since my tiny son died... some in my late teens-mid twenties, and some not until a few weeks ago when i found out i'm an aspie.

i've always been aware that i have trouble getting along well with people. if you are an aspie you will probably know what i mean. it doesn't come naturally or instintively at all - all of my social and interpersonal skils are very much learned, and take a lot of time and effort to aquire. some from real life observation of studying the people who appear popular and who appear unpopular and TRYING to work out why (though that's often quite a mystery!), some from tv/movies/novels, many from reading an enormous amount of self help books (ie; how to get along with people, body language books, how to be a better listener etc etc ).

i find understanding words extremely easy, but tone of voice took me until my twenties to get a grasp on (i still sometimes get this wrong!), and only now in my 40's am i getting onto correctly interpreting facial expression and body language. everything though is painstakingly learnt, and tested out. and i make so many mistakes - albeit less as i get older / more experienced at being a human. i still frequently misinterpret people's meanings and motives. i am extremely good at sensing THAT  others are unhappy in some way with me, but find it hard to differentiate  HOW / in which way (ie; frustrated, angry, disappointed, offended etc). i usually interpret this as anger/disapproval. i very frequently have little or no idea at all WHY they are unhappy with me - which is very confusing and frustrating for me, and feels very unfair as i don't feel i've done anything wrong and am being "punished" undeservingly (ie; teasing, approval withdrawal, rejecttion, fired, etc)

i have become so used my entire life of feeling anxious and uncomfortable around everyone all the time that i barely notice it anymore except when the levels become very high. the more problems i have with depression/generalised anxiety the more aware i am of it. the better i know someone the less uncomfortable i feel, and the more i like/love someone the less too. eg; its easier for me to be around my husband or close long-term friends than aquaintances or strangers. when my depression/anxiety gets really bad i can't handle being around anyone but my hubby and our 6 cats. cats are SO much easier to understand/interact with than humans! lol but true. at a very early age i learnt that you need to look at people when they talk/you talk to avoid disapproval - esp at their face and frequently glance at their eyes. i learnt forced eye contact. the less well i know someone the more uncomfortable i feel. the worse my depression or anxiety are the harder it is to do it - when really bad i cannot even face their direction! judging when to start/stop talking is very much of a challenge for me too. i frequently interrupt as i think someone has finished but they haven't quite. i also find tact/diplomacy very hard - again HUGE desire to do it, TINY understanding of how. being hyper-open and direct and honest it feels very unnatural to me not to just express myself honestly/clearly and to have to beat around the bush with subtleties. i get better at this as i age though - practice! - seeing which words/behaviours alienate others.

reading aspie stories, and lists of "symptoms" it seems like a lot of aspies deal with this interpersonal difficulty by either becoming very shy and quiet and reserved (ie; under-participating and under-communicating and under-disclosing/sharing of themself, their thoughts feelings and opinions etc) or by convincing themselves that interacting well with others is unnecessary and overrated (ie; denial). those people often come across to me and others as cold, aloof, unemotional, uncaring etc

 i am in the minority who swing to the opposite extreme. i was a very outgoing and extroverted person, esp as a child - hyper talkative and hyperactive. also hyperemotional and wear my feelings on my sleeve - face like an open book.  i worked on the theory that the more you practise a new skill (learning to drive, learning a new language etc) the better i would get at it.. i think also it was my form of denial. over the years i have been accused directly or indirectly of being over friendly, hypersensitive to disapproval or  rejection real or imagined, over emotional, over talkative, ego centric, rambling on and on about something of huge interest to me and little/no interest to others, being too personal (ie; showing too much interest in others), being intrusive, disclosing too much about myself, saying inappropriate things (i really don't get often why they were inappropriate), unintentionally offending or instulting people by appearing rude or abrupt (ie; being too open, direct and honest).... etc etc etc. being very outgoing and friendly i usually found it very easy to INITIALLY get on well with other - if i only spent a little superficial time with them... however once they got to know me at all i found that 99% of ppl disliked me to some extent or another but the other 1% thought i was really awesome.  i've always made friends easily but found it EXTREMELY hard to keep them once past the initial stages of the friendship. so many friends over the years have slowly or suddenly ended our friendship and i have had little/no idea whatsoever why. rejection is very very painful. ironically i have a very high sensitivity to my own emotional needs, but very low sensitivty/understanding of others - despite my huge desire to understand!

these difficulties just reinforced my very low sense of self worth and self esteem, which i though only arose from childhood experiences but now understand was partly/maybe even mostly becasue i was generally failing so often at the thing i considered the most important in life - ability to get on well/ connect well/ be approved of and accepted by others. the frequent occurences of misunderstanding others and being misunderstood by them (and considered weird by them) was crushing to my self esteem. i felt like a total failure. like this inability to get on with others was proof positive that i was "bad" there was something "wrong" with me - defective in somway - and i must be a horrible awful terrible person to be so unpopular. not understanding WHY i couldn't get on with others well (ie; inability to correctly interpret and use tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, social customs, overly-direct and honest, subtle conversational nuances etc) just added to the frustration and sense of failure exponentially.

i find that the older i get the less extroverted i become, and the more need i have for frequent time alone. i interact with others (work, husband, friends, socially etc) then need to recharge my depleted batteries by reading/watching tv/excercising etc.

because i felt such a strong desire to interact with others, i managed to blank out (at least some of the time) how uncomfortable/stressful/ difficult/ exhausting it was having prolonged/frequent interaction with ohers. i did this blanking out so well that i convinced others, and even myself that i "enjoy" socialising. i've recently seen "the elephant in the room" actuall is an elephant after all... ie; i've realised that i don't enjoy socialising at all. i find it stressful. what i do enjoy is the ego-boost my very low self of self esteem and self worth get from feeling that others have acccepted/approved  me even though i don't approve of myself (but i'm working on this!), and also i've discovered over the years that sometimes others have something interesting or useful to say , i also like that when i have a positive (or at least neutral) interaction with someone i feel a little bit connected (ie; less alone, less weird), and i enjoy the challenge - the chance to improve my skills, and it makes me feel really good that someone wants to spend time with me/ likes me enough to seek my company. i also enjoy helping people in any way, and when i have me thoughts feelings heard and accepted of by someone that makes me feel cared about. ... despite the challenges involved in interacting with others, and feeling they are so different so often, i actually really like human people in general as a species, so to speak lol.  so basically i do the interacting/socialising for the advantages it brings me not because i enjoy the actual process itself - it's a bit like peole who dislike the experience of exercising itsself  but will willingly do it to get the end result/advantages; to lose weight/get fit/ get the endorphin rush etc etc.

one of my siblings is aspie. we strongly suspect one of our parents is also aspie, and also one of our  grandparents.  i am almost certain that my first husband was aspie (he denied it though). i have had several aspie/suspected aspie  friends. throughout my life, most of the people i have felt the least uncomfortable with, most connected to, and most "on the same wavelength"  are usually "different" in some way; ie; either aspie, or "geeks" or "social misfits", or "hippies" or "bohemian". this is not always the case though - some of my friends have been quite mainstream, socially adequate or even gifted, and definitely very neurotypical "normal". also,  my husband is very "normal", very  self confident, socially confident and popular - although he comes from a very different country, language and culture so sometimes  he appears "different" in some ways because of that

since losing my pre-school aged  niece around 10 years ago, and my less-than-a-month-old son a few years ago i have become way more aware of my social/interpersonal problems - ie came out of denial and faced them, instead of thinking i'm a failure as a human being and stumbling my way thru as best i can. and spent huuuuuuuge amount of time learning ways to reduce this. my skills have improved enormously, and for the first time in my life i have been able to work in a workplace (with hundreds of people) and  instead of being the misfit i actually got on ok or well with almost everyone - but only by strictly following my learned rules of behaviour. and i still have a long way to go. and whenever depression/anxiety become a factor then being around others becomes overwhelmingly difficulty and exhausting so i avoid it like the plage.

the social problems are the most problematic, however the sensory overload can also cause difficulties for me and others around me as i sturggle to cope with them. this can make me seem "away with the fairies" or "irritable" at times,. als others think it's selfish and rude of me when i have to turn off radio/tv to answer ph etc, or am resistant and reluctant to alter my routines esp in times of high stress otherwise in my life. they see that as selfishness and stubborness, rather than realising it is my way of reducing my anxiety.  the hardest is trying to concentrate on taking in what someone is saying to me when there's irritaing background noise distracting me - becomes almost impossible. on the ph is easier to hear than in person, because in person you also have to try to look at them and try to make sense of facial expressions - which in itsself is a distraction from hearing correctly. sudden unexpected noises also seem to be much harder for me to cope with than for most people (esp sudden loud noises), and they can't understand why i am "overreacting" by being obviously stressed, cringing or literally jumping.

strangely, i've noticed that over the years as my social/interpersonal abilities increase my need for routines, habits, schedules, systems, rules etc has increased. also my abilitiy to ignore/tolerate background or non-agreeable noises has decreased noticeably (eg; neighbours mowing lawns, hubby watcing tv when i'm trying to read, people on ph in office around me and other ofice noises such as faxes and rining phones and printers, loudly ticking clocks, door knocking in the breeze). i've always found it very hard to ignore these super-intrusive and super-irritating noises and just concentrate on work/whatever i'm trying to do but i'm sure it's gotten worse in past years.
i've explained to my hubbie the reason i often seem "stressed" is because of the sensory overload (esp hearing),  or the constant strain of worrying if i'm going to unwittingly create a social faux pas and accidentally anger or alienate someone when i'm interracting with them, or having someone/something stop me from following my routines or rules.... but because he doesn't have these issues he doesn't get it. just says relax just chill out, don't worry about it. if others don't like you that's their loss so dont' care about it. if only!

please tell me your stories or what you think of what i've written. thanks
thetorbaygoddess thetorbaygoddess
3 Responses Jan 1, 2011

This is exactly what it's like for me, down to every detail! My family was too ashamed to get me tested for autism, and I was home schooled. Now I'm trying to get a diagnosis but the health services are really awful in my area, and I've been on a waiting list for a long time.

I can totally relate. I have 0 friends at the moment just my one relationship. All my social skills were learned. I was not born super social. I today talked to someone I somewhat knew. I had hard time looking at her while we talked. Every time I talk to someone new I feel bad because I think they dislike me. I always expect rejection because that's what usually happens. Somedays I can handle talking to people. My body is very sensitive to changes so I will blow things like a job interview because my eyes feel weird and I can't concentrate. Sometimes I wont go anywhere because my clothes are uncomfortable. So I hang around the house wearing just under garments. I shouldn't tell anyone about this but sometimes I can't help it. It just comes out because I'm just so honest. Telling the truth is just like this compulsive thing. I feel bad when I lie. It's the ultimate wrong doing. I find the neural typical people to be liars or sometimes dumb and I don't want to deal with them. I find a lot a people unworthy. I am tired of being by myself though.

Yep, your an aspie! lol! Have you read "women from a different planet?" Its a great book and finally helped me "connect" to...something.<br />
I experiencea "fight or flight" response when encountering emotions from others and fiction emotions, like on TV. Especially embarassment or real life violence. (fake for some reason I learned to just tell myself isnt real and its ok) but if titanic, or schindlers list etc..cant watch it. Embarassing moment, I have to leave the room or turn the channel. I can definately relate to "words" losing there meaning..I understand them fine, but what other say or body language tells me is usually contradictory to their words..and I get confused.<br />
Something you may not be aware of is there are certain parts of the NT brain that atrophy's when becoming an adult...ours dont. We stay child-like. We are stuck in the "why?" stage of childhood. we need everything explained to us. I get labeled a hyperchondriac because I literally feel everything. I know immediately when somethings changed/wrong with my body or could be something as simple as a vitamin deficiancy, but I need to know why something has changed and if i can change it back lol!<br />
my email is if you ever need to talk... its tough "being on a planet your not supposed to be on" ;)

oo I've read that book. I liked it!