Today I met a friend I’ve known for a few weeks and we went to the zoo.
Sometimes I am wondering if I am really that different; of course, I am stressed when I go outside, people exhaust me, I am laughing at things few people around me think is funny and I never understood the necessity to look at someone in order to listen to them. But I feel… centred within myself and that makes many difficulties from the outside world ricochet from my internal stability centre. I am, psychologically, comparable to the Taipei 101 and its pendulum tuned mass damper: my psychological pendulum offsets instability caused by strong psycho-emotional attacks triggered by outside situations. That and the fact that my closest friends share many of my characteristics sometimes lead me to the impression that my perception and behaviour is totally normal – “normal” in a sense of “like the majority” – and I start questioning my theory that I have Asperger’s Syndrome.
But then, sooner or later, I spend time with someone like the friend I met today and I am once again reminded that there is this invisible barrier separating my way of thinking from those not on the spectrum. I cannot even really define it; behaviours, yes, tics, speech patterns, interests, humour… But there is also this unseizable something which makes me feel that I cannot reach them with my thoughts and I do not truly understand them. I understand the meaning of the words, I understand jokes (not all, but many), sarcasm, and emotions but I understand them like they speak a foreign language that I learned very well. I do not grasp anything intuitively and I do not understand the level that only a native speaker can draw from a conversation. I always feel there is something missing in both directions.
I have tried to compensate that by acting, joking and entertaining, analysing intellectually when my intuition fails me but I came to the conclusion that this only exhausts me. I want to find out how I really am and if this “me” is less socially able but feels more at home with things done and said in social interactions it is a consequence I am willing to accept. This means I have to wash away layers of automatic “outside self” roles and reflexes without adding any new artificial behaviours. I recognise this will be difficult but I believe life is to a great extent a quest to understand who one truly is.
I’ve never been very social, anyway, not (only) because I feel unable to interact meaningfully but because I do not need (not-online) social interaction. I am content being alone and I am rarely actually lonely. So, if I happen to find out that I am actually less socially apt than I pretended to be I would not miss anything. My psychological state of health is not depending on frequent social contacts.
And I am excited of getting to know this aspect of myself which is, right now, covered by intellectual protection mechanisms.