On the Outside of the Outside, Looking in

This morning I experienced something that hasn’t really happened since I was in my teens. I thought I was awake and I tried to move my arms but I was still asleep. I felt like I had no strength in any of my limbs which is a bit disconcerting if you’ve never had sleep paralysis before. I panicked for a few seconds but eventually realized what was happening and i worked my way out f it by thinking about moving one limb at a time. I realized I was dreaming when I was finally able to sit up and open my eyes. What I hadn’t realized until afterwards was that I had been watching myself from the outside of the whole experience while I tried to wake my body up.

It’s always a bit uncomfortable being on the outside looking in.

I don’t know what it is about today but my mood has been strange. As thoughts have unraveled I’ve felt like I’ve begun to disappear. I was thinking about yesterday. I went to my parents’ house, they grilled burgers, and then they started lighting fireworks off to celebrate the 4th. I found, in my first Independence Day not overmedicated on psych drugs, that my oversensitivity to sound does extend to things like fireworks. One of the kids lit off a small pack of firecrackers and I could feel myself tense at every tiny explosion. I knew this would be a possibility before I decided to go and I pre-warned everybody that I would probably leave before the celebratory explosions began. It didn’t really bother me leaving before the sun had gone down to retreat to my apartment for something a little more quiet.

I realize, sometimes, living on your own can be hazardous in a way. You’re left with nothing but your own thoughts, calculations, and self-talk. It was in one of these moments when I was trying to go back to sleep that I really started thinking about just how outside of things I have become in the last 18 months and realizing just how much more insular my thought processes are now because of it.

Let’s start off with one fact: I’ve never felt like I’ve belonged anywhere.

With that always in the background I find myself very attached to people and I don’t really think about the social dynamics. Today, I took a different approach to the thought of friendships and I asked myself this question: “If I’m putting in all the effort and reciprocation is inconsistent to non-existent, what is the benefit of investing my time?” This hit me in the face and hard because I realized that there were certain relationships where I have (and sometimes still do) where, if I don’t make the effort to contact someone, I wouldn’t ever hear from them. Yet, I get called a friend which is weird to me because I’ve done the exact same thing to others because of various reasons, usually life, nothing malicious, and they just never want to take the time to talk to them again. If there was no reciprocity then what was the point?

Maybe I’m coming to this thought late in the game. I don’t know what to do with this information, these thoughts, but I don’t know if people realize they do this or if it’s some other factor. I have bailed on events I’ve been invited to for social reasons but I think I’ve been pretty clear with almost everyone I spend time with the social difficulties and the steep learning curve regarding my sense of self just in the last year as my senses reassert themelves.

In my reading, I understand better my difficulty in feeling like I belong. We do not perceive the social dynamic, especially in groups, like a neurotypical. I think i can best describe it this way:

In social interactions, a one-on-one is the most ideal for me. I am 100% there trying to use the skills I have to understand our interaction. The more people added to the mix the more I feel like I’m fading out of the picture. For a Neuro-typical this is easy as they allocate attention to whatever they feel they need to attend to in the moment. For me, I’m still just 100% there and my attention gets spread over the entire situation. This is not too difficult but, as the number of people grows, the harder and harder it is to decide where to allocate attention because it all comes in as a flood; there is no executive function directing incoming data to my brain. Upon reflection  it feels a lot like I’m disappearing; my social capabilities decline and my anxiety goes up. I withdraw.

Most people I know don’t understand this or don’t try to understand this. I had to fight myself constantly before I went to work because I didn’t know what to expect. There’s another stitch in the side: my anxiety wants to know everything about an event before I go. It can sometimes take a fair amount of self-talk to get myself to go places sometimes. This has, admittedly, led to a lot less social interaction on my part. I get invited to friends’ shows and I have to decline because the idea of interacting with that many people puts me on high alert even thinking about it. So, I’ve “flaked” on a few things I said I would go to. Some people understand, some don’t.

What you don’t realize is that I already feel like I’m on the outside looking in. Like there’s this great invisible barrier between me and the rest of the world because there’s just some stimuli I cannot perceive. The unknown can cause anxiety, anxiety drives a need to remain asocial. Then i stop getting invited to things because I don’t show up very often. There are people who I don’t hear from unless I make an effort, sometimes multiple efforts to get in touch and make plans. In retrospect, I’ve realized how this really makes me feeel and I don’t really like it. I don’t want to anything because I don’t want to come off like I’ve got the wrong idea and then everything just gets worse because I’ve upset someone. It feels kind of like a no-win situation and I don’t know what to do. I’m still learning. 

But when you’re in situations with people you’ve known for a long time you know they expect you. They’ve grown comfortable and conditioned to the you they’ve known all this time. The idea that you could, all of a sudden, have this realization, doubt, epiphany, whatever, about your relationship feels like it would introduce a seed of mistrust that I wouldn’t pick up on or they wouldn’t tell me about.

The story of my life: I solve one puzzle and it just creates another. I don’t know what to do with this.

Now Playing:


Artist: Poison the Well
Song: “Botchla”
Album: Tear From the Red

But I adore her
This will never happen
But I adore HER
That will NEVER happen.
Over my DEAD body.

Of course I think ABOUT it
Burn my path if it does
Shape my body as I FEEL
Torn, BROKEN

And if it happens
I’ll BURN and crawl deeper in my hole
Darkness ALWAYS says hello
And your BURNING BODY will light my way
Burning body LIGHT MY WAY

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