Friday, November 23

Where Alone Comes From

I'm not a huge fan of holidays. They're incredibly unstructured... and the lack of structure makes it hard for me to concentrate and even harder to get anything done. Today was no exception. I'm not a huge fan of the crowds on Black Friday, so I didn't go shopping. Doing homework was an exercise in futility. Working out still hasn't happened. The only thing I had set in my schedule was doing something with a friend, but even that didn't have a set time. I called him twice, but haven't been able to get in touch with him all day.

Part of me is concerned, and blames some kind of outside influence. He's usually a pretty reliable guy, and I've honestly tried to make this friendship, which is still in the very early stages, work. I'm trying to develop better friendships with lots of people, so I try gauge the responses of the people in my life, figure out where I stand, and then, in turn, do what they expect me to do. I haven't seen any red flags that tell me this one is going to explode. But, then again, I've never seen red flags before relationships explode. They just explode.

Which comes to the other part of me - the part that wonders if I'm really worth befriending in the first place. The part that feels it's not worth even trying because it fails so often and leaves me feeling awful. And the part that tries to convince me that I did something to burn yet another friendship before it started.

At least from here on out, I'm planning to try something like this with people: "Hey, because I have autism, I have a really hard time reading people. As we become friends, could you help me figure out what your expectations are for our friendship, and then help me identify times when I do something outside of those expectations?"

Either way, nothing happened, and right now I feel alone.

Miserably, awfully alone.

Not as bad as sometimes. I'm not going to pray to die or anything. But as soon as I finish writing this I'll probably go to the gym to get high on endorphins. Either that or go to sleep. Which means that I'm not really in a good place right now.

The frustrating part is that I don't know where the devastating alone-ness even comes from. I had a great conversation with a new friend this afternoon, and yesterday spent ten hours going from one loving, inclusive Thanksgiving to another. Tomorrow morning I'll be at the temple, making a difference in people's lives and honestly appreciated for the service I give. I live with my siblings and know that they love me and would drop anything for me. So would a dozen other people I could call at a moment's notice. God loves me unconditionally. But even knowing that doesn't shake the feeling.

So why do I feel this way?

Am I just too invested in the development of new relationships? Do I take it too personally? Am I delusional? Totally insensible to the feelings that others have for me? Or is there something fundamentally wrong with me?

Just now I looked up studies that determined the impact of the things I face on developing friendships to maybe get some context. Having same-sex attraction dramatically increases my need for emotional intimacy, but also makes it hard to develop meaningful friendships with men. Autism makes all relationships difficult because of the lack of emotional reciprocity, difficulty understanding roles, and difficulty interpreting social and nonverbal cues. And bipolar wreaks havoc with relationships by stressing them from both sides.

Maybe I'm on to something. I was trying to figure out if the feeling I'm experiencing is at all rational, by trying to create a hypothetical situation that would dispel it. At least in my mind, it's at least partly rational if there are situations that could, if played out in my mind, influence its development. If there are no situations that could have an impact, then it's probably just depression speaking, and won't listen to reason anyway. At least in my mind, friends calling me on the phone wouldn't fix how I feel. Neither would sitting with them and talking. Those would all potentially work as distractions - moving my focus long enough that the brunt of the feeling could fade - but none of them would really take it away.

But something would.

I think the alone-ness and isolation I'm feeling comes from an intense desire to be understood... and to understand someone else, completely. Not just to have a hundred people who would do anything for me and who will talk to me for as long as I need them to, or a thousand acquaintances who will know my name in the hall... but to understand someone else completely and fully, to be able to love and trust them completely, and to know that they understand, love, and trust me the same way.

That's what I want.

I think I should just go to the gym and forget about it for now. Because, regardless of how much I think or write about it, that type of relationship is probably not going to happen for a long, long time... and thinking about it will only sharpen the pain. Maybe one of the relationships I'm working on right now, or sometime in the near future, could develop into something like that. But that takes commitment and dedication, time and investment... and that's in people without other problems. Having a friend that close is a rare gift among normal people. For me, a guy who has autism, bipolar, and SSA... well, part of me believes it never will. That I'll spend the rest of my life totally and completely alone. That's the fear I had to come to grips with years ago, and it's still there in my mind as a real possibility. And the other part of me realizes that, if it ever happens, it'll take an angel, a whole host of miracles, and a lot of work on both sides. Either way, it won't be resolved tonight. Thinking about it thus far has been useful... because I feel like I know what I'm facing... but now I just need to get over it and move on.

Edit: Resolution

He had left his phone at Thanksgiving dinner. I got a text a few minutes after publishing this post, and took the opportunity to ask him to give me feedback in the future if I ever overstep my bounds. The timing makes the whole thing seem terribly ironic. Sometimes I feel like God gives me experiences with the sole purpose of writing about them. Laugh out loud.


  1. I'm glad it was all resolved. I fear in the those moments that you will falter and act on the SSA.

    1. Becky - thanks for your concern. Thankfully, I have a host of things to distract me before giving in to SSA becomes an option. Like drowning myself in video games. Or writing. Or walking across the street to the gym. Or responding to a never-ending list of emails. When I falter in life, it's my doing... not caused by my circumstances.

  2. I hear ya.
    sometimes I relate to you blogs to the extent that makes me wonder if I might be on the autism spectrum. It is possible.
    I know that feeling of loneliness even when there are people who care for me and support me.
    I know that feeling of awkwardness when I am not sure if friendship is being reciprocated. I know the challenge of making new friends and the uncertainty of how it is best to be done. I know the difficulty of having friendships end and not understanding why. I relate to a lot of what you say, I am not sure why.

  3. Hey Dave,

    To most people, friendship really isn't the big deal that it is to some of us, and that can be problematic. I think you're on the right track, though, especially now that you're more open.

    You said, "Maybe one of the relationships I'm working on right now, or sometime in the near future, could develop into something like that. But that takes commitment and dedication, time and investment," and I think you're absolutely right. I've been nurturing relationships with friends for about six years, since I started being open about who I was attracted to, and only in the last year or two have I felt the effort and interest reciprocated. I'd say we love and trust and understand each other substantially, if not quite completely. It just took so much longer than I would have thought.

    Keep at it! Hugs.

  4. Sometimes I wonder if I might be slightly autistic as well, but I feel at this point, knowing it wouldn't really make a difference.
    That kind of relationship doesn't have to happen to have a happy marriage, either. I am happily married to a man I met three years ago, and expecting our first child in April, but we are still very far from completely understanding each other. I understand him better than I understand other guys, but we still have a LOT of misunderstandings. Luckily we have learned patience when these happen.
    I guess my point is this: don't wait for a relationship like the one you described before you get married, because that relationship is not likely to happen until you've lived with her as a married couple for a long while. There should be love and patience, with the "go ahead" from our Heavenly Father. To me, that's all you need.

  5. I completely understand the part about wanting to be extremely close to another person, to the point of understanding them completely. I've wished for that for years.

    But you know, there are a lot of things that keep other people from opening up to you like that. It's probably half you, and half them, and they don't know how to get around it long enough to develop that closeness. I know for me, my PTSD, depression, insomnia, etc. all feed into making that harder. Just keep trying! :)


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