The balance of “give and take” in any relationship is something I have not paid enough attention to until very recently. Isn’t it crazy how sometimes life starts to make sense when you least expect it to? I feel like I’m on a roll this month.
With the help of several great different perspectives from some of the wisest people I’ve ever met and years of not “getting it”, I am starting to see why this is happening. Again, I don’t know how to fix it just yet but I will get there.
I have always had a tendency to focus on one person at a time when trying to make new friends. I tend to “give” everything I have to them thinking that in return they will do the same and that this somehow equals friendship. Wrong. Oh so wrong. Why can I only see this when I write it down? Why doesn’t it make sense in the moment?
I have that “we just clicked instantly” feeling, almost never. It tends to be one sided – meaning I really, really want to be someone’s friend and they aren’t sure what to think about me. I try way too hard to make things work when I have nothing in common with someone on the most simplest of levels. This is something that so many people have told me and I just couldn’t understand. It’s like my brain has just kept saying repeatedly to itself “You’re just not trying hard enough, just give more”
If I am putting tons of energy into making a friend and the desire for that friendship isn’t mutual, not only am I pushing them away because they have no need for what I am offering, I’m going to end up right back in my rickety hamster wheel of loneliness that I’ve been running around in for pretty much my entire life.
The biggest thing that is coming into focus is that I have greatly confused what giving and taking is in a friendship and ultimately what the definition of a friend is. I don’t seek out people I have things in common with. No, my brain thus far has too busy trying to relax 24/7. Instead, I’ve been seeking people out that can could potentially offer me comfort, validation, affirmation, and protection. But me telling someone my entire life story isn’t giving anything to them except…my entire life story.
Instead of giving, I’m taking. I’m offering my sadness, my worries, my anxiety, my insecurities, my fear of rejection, my loneliness, and my fears to someone I’ve just met. Sound appetizing to you? Honestly. Who wants that from anyone? I wouldn’t even want that from someone. It sounds like a lot of responsibility to “give” to someone, and not like giving at all. Because its not. Not even close.
After hearing “What is it that you want from me?” and “Just be yourself” countless times, I am starting to see that no one is going to take that burden from me. That is not what friendship is and I need to stop offering it. My past is my past. So where does this leave me?
I think that this means that if I want to be able to be a real friend to anyone and I mean anyone, I need to learn to let go of that baggage that I’ve been carrying around for all of these years. No one else wants it- better yet- I don’t even want it.
I’ve always thought reflection was such a good thing and sometimes it is, but its not the same as dwelling on every failure I’ve ever had in my life. It’s a lot to carry on my shoulders, and with my sensory issues on top of this, no wonder I am in a constant state of distress. Why has it never occurred to me that if I just let go of all this pain and rejection, no one has to carry it?
Obviously, with ASD, the concept of letting go is not natural to me. I don’t do it often if ever at all. I perseverate on everything until I am so drained that I have to sleep. But, Aspergers or not, for my own sense of well being, I need to let it go.
I am determined to find how to do this, because for the first time in so long I can see this tiny shred of light beyond this vast cave of darkness I’ve been sitting in. Waiting for someone to rescue me from myself. I’ve said before that I am my own worst critic. I never realized what I was doing to myself.
For the first time my eyes are seeing the possibility of what might happen if I let go. To be honest, I am kind of excited and nervous at the same time. It seems daunting for some reason. Part of me has been feeling that I wouldn’t be myself anymore because I’ve been measuring my own value by the negative aspects of my life and somehow it seems that I would be weaker and not stronger. I’ve been so afraid that if I completely let go of my past, there won’t be a reason for people to love me. Again, confusing two more things- pity and love. So twisted and I’ve had it backwards this entire time.
Now, I am pretty sure that nothing I’m saying here hasn’t been said to me countless times. For some reason, processing this, has taken far too long. All kept hearing was “You’re not good enough”. Not because anyone has ever said such a thing to me. Oh wait, I have. Over and over again.
Because guess what? I will one day have a lot to offer a friend and guess what else? I know that once I take that first step out the emotional garbage pile that I’ve allowed myself to hold onto, I might actually be able to “just be me”. Lightbulb moment. Hello, who turned the lights on?
I will still always have Aspergers and making friends will probably always be hard but I will finally be able give back to people. Better yet maybe I won’t always that feeling like i constantly need reassurance that the world isn’t all bad. I think that this is all a part of learning what being a self advocate means.
How many times have I been told “You cannot make people like you”? I’m finally getting it. They’re not saying “You’re not likable” in fact, I’ve been told otherwise. They’re saying that if I have nothing in common with them, you can’t change that but that doesn’t mean I won’t find friendship in someone else. Again, I can never seem to just – let – go.
I think I will always be awkward but after countless hours of thought and hours of endless patience from others, I’m realizing that my awkwardness isn’t my biggest weakness and its not even the biggest reason people shy away. My biggest weakness is my own inability to let go. This isn’t going to be easy and this is going to take time. But I’m good at repetitive behaviors. Time to put it to good use. Besides, its great to be able to write this out, but tomorrow is a new day and I need to be ready to actually put these words into action. One day at a time, right? But for now…
Lights out. Seinfeld on. Goodnight World.