People don’t really understand. They say they do, they try to fathom what it’s like, but they only scratch the surface. They may understand what it’s like to be at a party, feeling like you’re behind a glass wall, looking in at everyone else having fun and… well, connecting. They may understand what it feels like to feel that way for a little while…
But they don’t have any clue what it’s like to feel that way every day, every time, for more than 30 years. To always, and I literally mean always, feel like I’m apart from everyone else, even when they spend a little while trying to make me feel like part of the group. They don’t understand that for me to feel like part of the group will take more time and effort than they want to bother wasting on me.
They think because I look “normal”, that my brain can grasp everything theirs can; that I can see the subtle ripples in the social waters that they can see. They don’t understand. They can’t grasp that these things, these subtle nuances that they know and feel instinctively, are missing in me. Because I seem so smart, so articulate, so knowledgeable… because I can appear to not have “disabilities”… because I was born with a few gifts they may envy… they forget that I was born with pieces of my mind and heart missing.
No one understands how hard it is for me to meet complete strangers at a party or a club. Women especially. I cannot see if or when they are interested in me. I see people glancing and other people would know what the body language and expressions mean; I can’t. I see a woman glance at me and honestly can’t tell if they are thinking “He’s hawt, I hope he comes over and says hi” or thinking “Gawd, why won’t that creep stop looking in my direction, I hope I won’t have to get the bouncers.”
I’ve seen what happens when people read the signals right. I’ve also seen all to well what happens when they read the signals wrong. I’ve fought hard all my life to not just be a nice guy, but a good man, and better than these sleazy douche-bag players. If I didn’t care about reputation or finding/building a relationship with a woman, I could probably be more brave; but I do not ever want to be the old man living alone with no family. I need to know that someone is not already thinking I’m a freak before I even say hello; but I don’t have the ability to decode the subtleties of body language etc. to be able to do that the way everyone else can.
People take that little, teeny bit of knowledge for granted. They all say it’s easy, that anyone can do it, that I’m trying too hard or not trying enough. That I’m over-analyzing. They don’t understand. They don’t get that they don’t have to analyze at all because of the little things they can do in their brains that they take for granted. They don’t get that they can read people in ways I can’t and probably never will be able to, no matter how much I observe and study and train myself. They don’t realize they see the subtleties and know the rules by instinct and I have to actively remember and analyze where they just instinctual know.
They don’t understand that I have to over-analyze. That I am able to fake being “normal” as well as I do because I over-analyze. People have tried to make me feel like part of the group… but they only tried for a few minutes. They don’t understand that I can’t make those same connections with people that fast. I will always be trapped on the other side of the looking glass. I will always feel in the way, unwelcome, forgotten. I will always be astounded at those brief moments where I feel like maybe I am connecting, maybe I can be part of the group… because those moments are not only so brief as to last a fraction of a second, they are few and far between. I will always be afraid and unable to just go up to people I have not been introduced to outside of something that gives a common interest.
And what makes all this harder is how much of a social creature I am. I thrive on being around other people. I crave those friendships and companionships that everyone else does, maybe a little more than most. It’s hard to build them, though. People don’t understand what it takes for me to build them; the time it takes being around people and socializing with them to learn to understand them and become good friends with them. People don’t want to make that kind of effort. They also don’t understand the mixed messages I get from so many that try to help by telling me what the “rules” are. Everyone has their own view on the “rules”, some have few while others have so many that they would fill a set of encyclopedias. I’m always doing something wrong according to someone. They also seem to think that because I don’t get how to get through the initial part of meeting someone new, that I don’t know about the rest of social interaction. Which just frustrates me and pisses me off. I don’t need people to tell me how to maintain a friendship; it’s how to get out there and meet people that eludes me.
I’ve found meeting people over the internet that never meet in real life is not hard. I’ve made many friends in IMVU and myYearbook. That doesn’t mean anything. I met them through a common interest of one kind or another; in IMVU, it was often the chat room themes or something on their HP that I complimented them on. Most people I’ve met online will either never be geographically close enough to meet, or don’t trust meeting new people that they met online. Frankly, both reasons are understandable. Doesn’t make anything easier.
And they also don’t understand the financial and/or transportation roadblocks I have to meeting new people, or just don’t get why things I’ve tried don’t work. I tried having parties and telling people to bring friends; the few I’ve tried to throw in the last 6 months ended up in complete no-shows. Maybe it was just Kamloops; maybe people there are just more fake and only my friend when passing on campus or over facebook. I don’t know. I’m hoping things are really that much different here in Richmond.
All I know is that I will always need some kind of subject in common, or need people to either introduce me to new people, or need new people to make that first step instead of me… because I cannot see that first step, and spend too much time trying to analyze and make sure there’s sure footing there to land on.