The best time for people with Aspergers to throw a party for their friends is Passover. Passover is a very long meal where Jewish people follow prescribed conversations and eating rituals. No unstructured socializing. Which means people with Aspergers can have all their friends around with minimal social anxiety. Plus, done well, Passover is a Jewish drinking game.
So Melissa and I spend a lot of time putting together the perfect guest list for Passover. And it looks like my house is full of friends and family and we are so high functioning. And then Passover ends and Melissa and I have to sleep for three days.
Well, Melissa sleeps, because she’s an introvert. I write blog posts, because I’m an extrovert. The people who are closest to me find out about my life from reading my blog.
Except Melissa. Melissa has the password to my email account, so she finds out about me by noting the emails I should have sent but did not send. You can tell a lot about a person by reading their emails. And this is a good article about how you cannot tell a lot about a person from their emojis; emojis that you think will look happy can actually look sad on someone else’s screen.
That article is a great primer on how it feels to have Aspergers. It’s about how you think you are sending non-verbal messages about one emotion but you are really sending them about another emotion.
People talk about how they love a culture of candor, but actually, the world is full of non-verbal rules, and I don’t see how anyone could possibly say they want a culture of candor because people with Aspergers are always getting in trouble for their candor. The reason I stop wanting to have friends is people say they like candor and then they don’t like candor.
Like the title of this post (which I stole from Fast Company but their article sucked, inspiring me to write my own) is BS because people are not too busy for their friends. People are too busy for their non-friends. I’m never too busy for Melissa. I’m just too busy hating myself to pick up the phone when she calls. But she knows she can always text. Plus, I bet she likes that better because she told me that her bitmoji is more Melissa than Melissa.
My thirteen-year-old son, has Aspergers and I don’t want him to have all the problems I’ve had. So I tell him all the time to not be rude. And not to interrupt people to tell them a joke. Even though I do that all the time. “Don’t lecture to people when they are sick of you,” I tell him. Even though I think I might do that with journalists all the time when they want a quote from me for their article and I tell them, instead, why their article topic is dumb.
Please god, help me to shut up. That’s what I’m thinking. But when god doesn’t answer, I think I should just not talk to people. It’s better.
Like how I need to stop telling my son how to reform himself because when you criticize people you make them less likely to want to change. This is why I think it is right for god to just help me to follow social rules. Because I don’t see another way for me to follow them besides an act of god.
If I don’t criticize he’ll never learn.
I have a driver to take us to cello now, so I don’t have a nervous breakdown, and my contacts were hurting me, and I don’t have to drive, so I just threw them out. And then I couldn’t see, (which is surprising because I don’t remember being blind without my contacts,) and then I realized that I feel more freedom to talk when I can’t see, because I am not held back by visual feedback from other people. It’s like being super-autistic or something. I found myself sort of just being in my own world and hoping people were reacting the way I’d hope them to at any given moment.
People with Aspergers are alone a lot, but we love being with people. If it would just not be so hard. I don’t look at peoples’ faces because I’m so anxious that if I know what they are feeling I will have too much anxiety over trying to make them happy. So I just look away. Melissa and I don’t look at each other when we talk unless it’s to criticize my choice of clothing.
This research proves that everything I’m saying is right. Which makes me happy. Researches report in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience:
A theory of autistic children that I have become recently interested in: In autistic adults the amygdala, which is for emotional responding, is smaller. It has been hypothesized that smaller amygdala equals poor social skills. The interesting bit is that autistic children who are hyper sensitive to stimulus have humongous amygdalae. This indicates they are hyper sensitive to social input (i.e. looking at someone in the eye is hard and habituation to familiar faces does not happen). This hypersensitivity makes them ignore social input at a young age and the amygdala therefore does not develop and they do not form the social skills common in non-autistics.
Conclusion: I might be the nicest person you know.
Do you think this accidentally morphed into a post about how to understand the people with Aspergers in your life? Let me get back on track with this: In 1985 most people said they had three good friends. Now people say they have zero friends. I think it’s probably semantic. Like, if you don’t have friends, then lower the bar for what a friend is. And then you have some.
Melissa is my friend who only has dinner parties with me when there is prescribed socializing and mandatory drinking in the name of God. And she only does conversations with me when we are not looking.
Ask yourself: What’s your definition of a friend?