Friday, October 6, 2017
Friendships and Social Lives
Yeah it's scary, when you clear the decks, and realize almost your entire social life is via the Internet, though twice I have met Internet friends in real life, and it was great so Internet friends ARE indeed real friends. If I connect to someone online, I will in person, so hopefully one day, I will win the Lotto or get some money to make visiting all my online friends possible. This is a trip I've wanted to take for some time. It would be great fun. These are people who love my weirdness. They do light me up.
I have these discussions with my husband where I tell him, we need to become less locally socially isolated. We do live in our own little cacoon. When you get older, you get too tired to run around like before. We enjoy each other's company a lot, so it's easier, just to hang out with each other and let the world do what it wants to do. We are a fortunate couple that became closer as we aged. Last night we even got into an interesting conversation about Bob Marley and are reading a new book on him called "So Much Things to Say". I tell him we should get some local friends outside of book club and other people I know, just people to eat a dinner out with once in a while but it's hard to always pull off. We have met some nice people while protesting at least. Some people would say that is how life is when you get old and hey you have someone to talk to at least!
We have faced some more recent losses. One thing with people in our life that happened to us, is some people here died or moved away. I just lost two people in town, one was a book club member,and a very sweet lady, she gave me one of the walkers that got stolen and another was the old head of my self-help group, a great guy who always had kindness and understanding for everyone. They both died too young and of cancer, and were under the age of 55. It's tough. We all hate losing people. Life is too fleeting and short. I think about all the people from my old town who passed away too. It's just been too many people. I will miss both of them.
I felt a loss over the ex-millionaire friend too, that has gotten to me. Her lack of feeling about the ending of the friendship, really bothered me. Thirty years down the drain, and she can't even show a little emotion beyond "bored social worker"? Even being told to go to hell, would have been easier then that. I don't understand people like this, I really don't. It's troubled me. I wish I didn't miss people who don't care about me, it is a waste of emotion and energy, but then I find myself thinking, "Why did it go that way?" Did she feel any connection to me at all?
There's part of me that wish I kept quiet, and just went with the flow, and I wouldn't be out from a "friend" but then the disrespect was ripping me down inside. ACON recovery says no more putting up with people who look down on me.
Being Aspie, relationships are hard. There's so many social rules I mess up. I have the tendency to blame myself when friendships or relationships go down the crapper. It's good, I was spared romantic heart-break, or any break-ups in this life. I am married to the first boyfriend. I sometimes go crazy inside thinking about how my financial problems have affected my relationships and had weird thoughts, like "Well if I had this amount of money or won the Lotto, I could have saved the relationships my mother was able to steal, just by overcoming my lack of being able to be there." A person can drive themselves crazy with this sort of thing. So I have to stop it. A person can only do what they can do.
Sometimes when I am out socializing I totally freeze up. My Aspergers has worsened as I age. Some people I do just fine with like meeting an Internet friend in real life and have fun, but often I am frozen or stuck in small talk and don't know what to say. My Aspergers has worsened as I have aged in some ways, the deafness is taking an impact, I have to process so much to hear people, which includes lip reading and interpreting words through a fog of sensorineural deafness. The hearing aids help but they don't replace all hearing. It was great to find out both my art teachers at the art center have voices I can hear, but those are the kind of things that impact a life.
But something odd happened, I figured out my social struggles may not be so extreme outside the family issues compared to other people. In fact I may do better then I thought out there in the American landscape of social disconnection. Hearing other people's experiences on this issue have helped me gain perspective.
I was on this reddit board, and people were talking about "adulting" and friendship and saying, they just go to work, sleep and watch TV so maybe I don't live that different from the average person, except my "work" is staying alive, medical phone calls, pills and disabled person stuff. I can blow through 4-5 hours, easy just throwing away some papers, cooking a dinner with cut vegetables in it, which seems to be a necessity for any decent blood sugars, doing some dishes, resting between activities, and just getting through the day. I'm not bored ever.That says something doesn't it?
I have continued with book clubs and protesting as health as allowed, and enjoy all those. I used to think socially I was inept from being so fat, and Aspie, well that affects it but I joined this group that talks about "friendship" on Facebook and was in shock to see so many others facing the same struggles. Often fellow Aspie friends told me their struggles which were like mine, but this group told me these struggles are not rare.
The group made me feel more sane and like my experience wasn't so extreme. Many of them had toxic friends too they had to get away from, or were very alone or found it hard to connect to people. It does get harder as you get older. I can't say I am lonely, because I have someone to talk to all day and lots of friends online but I noticed friendship had become very difficult for other women who were average weight, thin, healthy, and neurotypical. It kind of blew my mind. They had friendship break-ups or had moved to a new town, or found it very hard to make friends. Many were like me mourning friendships that broke up or where people died, or were toxic or where they got betrayed too. Many got ghosted or had that thing where people just disappear. Others had friends make negative comments about their appearance over weight or ended up as third wheels.
Maybe friendship is in trouble in the United States in general. The man who wrote Bowling Alone spoke of mere proximity being an important factor in friendship for many years but this has changed with transitory modern life. Many articles attest to a crisis in America in making friends especially for those who are older.
People today are also pushed to the wall. I and my husband don't work traditional jobs and we get 'busy' all the time. It seems unimaginable for people with families and commutes to deal with. I saw my doctor this morning which takes about an hour or so. He has worked all night and after I write this, I am going to make us both lunch and then I have to wrap and clean a few things. Many are working so much there is no time to socialize. Domestic tasks take up a lot of time. I realized with me, the shortage of energy does affect me socially. I have grown more understanding realizing how busy people are now. Here we have to be careful realizing that people who are always "busy" are making us a low priority and it's best to move on and realizing on the other end people just to survive now are under the gun, they are either being worked like dogs, or unemployed with no money to do anything, or facing health problems. Light activities for me like book clubs, and art class and the rest have been good things to fit into my own life.
I made a would be friend here in an art class last year, and I really wanted to be friends with her, she was eccentric, and funny, and an independent thinker, but she got angry at me, when I told her I could not sign up for a summer art class, due to being housebound too much from heat. I called her once, and she never talked to me again, so the friendship died before it started. Those things will happen. You think see the potential and it fizzles out. Many talked about those type of moments too.
There's a lot of complexity to social lives, and friendships. I am changing from my ACON recovery, looking for certain qualities in friends and also not accepting what I once did. The people I am hanging around more now are KIND. I don't want Judgers, fixers and the rest I wanted to escape. I am trying to fix some of my errors, like laying on way too many problems on friends and being more immediately upfront about the health problems so I don't offend or lose people simply from my limited energy or the way I have to live. I also have become more laid back, realizing being disabled, there's only so much energy and "spoons" and I can only do what I can. Sometimes I think Facebook has turned lives and social lives into contests, and people get caught up in the "dancing or socializing as fast as I can" kind of scheme, and it brings a superficiality into relationships. I am glad I joined the Friendship page on Facebook, because it gave me a bigger perspective on life and that others have faced social troubles too not just supersized Aspies.