A Work In Progress

For awhile I had taken a break from talking about Aspergers and talking more about day to day life here on my blog. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the diagnosis because of its impact on my life. But the truth is, it’s not who I am – just a part of me.

Recently I’ve had a lot of trouble fully understanding life as it is. It’s such a big world and its complexity is a bit overwhelming. Well, that’s an understatement – it’s incredibly overwhelming.

I have been trying to learn how to actively listen recently. It’s been such a struggle as it seems I have so much to say all of the time. But what I have found is this – I may have a lot to say but I am learning that its not appropriate to just say everything. Social communication is just an abstract art to me. I may appear to have it down to a science for those who don’t know me well, but talk with me long enough and you’ll find I generally stick to the same topics and have a very hard time branching out for very long.

This is obviously a problem when building friendships unless the other party wants to sit and discuss dolphins, old sitcoms, and Seinfeld for hours on end. I get pretty picky and often miss my cue when the other person loses interest and by the time that I do, I panic and it’s too late.

But you know, I am learning. I’ve gotten a little better by watching others interact and seeing how they keep a conversation flowing. Small talk is still a bizarre thing to me and incredibly boring but I see its place a bit better now than I did a few months ago.

There’s no need to have a heart to heart during every talk. I am finding that even though that sounds amazing, it can also be really emotionally draining too. Finding lighter topics that interest both parties seems to be key but that’s a puzzle I am still working on.

I may be very high functioning on the Autism Spectrum but I still function differently. My brain sees things a little differently and processes things differently. I think I will always be a student when it comes to society’s expectations but I am doing my best. That’s all I can do, right?

One of these days I will learn how to make a friendship that is healthy. I think the first step is learning how to truly guard my heart and be careful just how much I share. I have always just assumed, for the most part, that people can be trusted. But learning that that isn’t true honestly isn’t why I think guarding my heart is so important these days.

For me, what I have learned is that my guarding my heart, I am somewhat guarding their heart. If I am open and vulnerable and they are as well, it leaves this constant vulnerability between the two people and can lead to codependency for me.

It may be late in the game, at twenty seven, to be learning this, but I see it as an opportunity to grow. I see that vulnerability, as much of an art as it is, has its down sides too because it means that if I am choosing to be vulnerable, I need to be able to protect my own heart and not look for them to do so.

This way, I do not depend on them. With this in mind, it makes me feel less likely to share so much and that is a good thing for now. Once I learn how to guard my heart and be vulnerable at the same time – then I will be ready to be a good friend.

But like I said, it’s a work in progress.

About Gretchen McIntire (formerly Leary)

I am 34 years old, I live in the Raleigh area, and I am writing from the perspective of an individual with Asperger's Syndrome.
This entry was posted in ASD, Aspergers, Autism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Work In Progress

  1. Jen says:

    We are all a work in progress hon. And you are being a great friend through your voice here on the internet. I thank you for that…..

  2. claudia says:

    smiles..i think we all are constantly in that learning progress when it comes to try to have a good balance between openness and vulnerability.. at least i am..and not always successful…smiles.. i find small talk boring as well though i have to small talk quite a bit in my job and have learned a bit how to keep the conversation going.. best hint i ever got rgd. small talk is to take one point of what the other said and spin the next thread with it..second is to ask questions that can’t be answered with yes and no…smiles.. happy tuesday gretchen

  3. Gretchen, it’s like reading something from Riley. She says the same things about social cues and that “other-mindedness” we share, but for her, as an Aspie, it’s subtle. People don’t understand “mental disorder LITE” but can more easily relate to my manic depression because that’s a big, hairy, serious problem. As time goes on, as you get stronger, the world will become more educated on Asperger’s. In the meantime, I think you’re doing great. Keep the faith! Amy

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