The older I get, the more I realize that I’m just not like other people.
I’ve inadvertently been a person observer my entire life and I can make a fairly effective case at this point that the middle fifteen years of my life or so was marked by a basic misunderstanding on what is even remotely going on around me and so I just mimicked others I thought were doing it right. I was not actively being bullied per say after age 15 or so. Some relationship problems towards the end of high school that had a marked effect. But the damage to the core of my person I believe was already done by then and I didn’t really understand how people connect with or maintain friendships. I had some people take me through the motions and I still consider most of them very good friends. I just don’t communicate with people on a daily basis. Nor do I reach out well.
At this point in my life I am so overwhelmed by trying to understand how to have my life in order, I am simply not a good friend.
If I didn’t understand how to have friends I was well rewarded by a university experience positive enough to help combat a lot of my elementary and middle school experiences. But the fundamental lack of understanding inlaid in me by a childhood on welfare about how to operate a life as an independent adult has laid me quite low. I’m getting some of the fundamentals down at this point but I feel like a failure. I had a chance to finish school and I failed.
Outside of school, I have a profoundly hard time trying to communicate with people and be a person that can maintain social connections. Possibly because I’m convinced I have no place being happy with friends if I’m not able to survive on my own. The profound instability of my life that has revealed itself since the dissolution of my marriage has surprised me.
It shouldn’t have. But it has.
So there’s all that issue with connecting with others. But my general point was illustrated by an image I saw on the internet.
See that infinitesimal green layer left for you to infer of it’s 1%ness? That’s me. That’s where I connect. Got soul issues? I got soul issues and mine aren’t yours but I bet they’re fairly interconnected because most things are interconnected in life.
I don’t connect well based on insult based humor because I have both experienced people seriously connecting with each other based on insult based humor about me. And I’ve been part of a social circle that was about insult based humor about everyone else but sometimes about each other. This was a high school relationship and the associated friend group which came with the relationship and left with it. Both were rotten experiences in different ways.
I don’t know how as a teenager and in my early twenties I got people to tell me about their traumas so directly often within meeting them. Possibly because I was so disturbed about how to interact with the world that I instantly spewed my own trauma story to them and I just don’t remember everyone that wandered away shaking their head after quickly exiting my presence. But prior to 23 or so mostly everyone I connected with knew about my history with bullying quite extensively. I don’t know why or how anymore I stopped connecting with people on this basis. Possibly its because I had a stable (awesome) friend group through 20-24 or so and so I didn’t really need to introduce myself this way. And a stable (ish) relationship from 19-25. So I wasn’t flirting and figuring out how to introduce myself to others. I had a few nice scripts that I was happy with.
Now life is harder. I have some issues I care about deeply and a number of high stigma core components of my person.
Methods of connecting that don’t work for me
- Mutual dislike of people and things: This was a thing in high school a lot I think. I was highly influenced by a few friends who I was adamantly grateful for (and are cool people in their own right) but somehow this also came from me. I saw people were more comfortable talking about what they hated and so I could get people to do that fairly well.
- Trauma: Its kind of like being like a member of a ‘fun’ club knowing about trauma issues. Everyone interprets this stuff differently and what is instrumental in someone else’s trauma recovery might not be instrumental in mine. People’s place in their recovery process is also highly important. I have come to understand that people with trauma issues actually don’t know themselves as intently as they think they do. This is a self reflection that I have not known myself as well as I have thought and something I have seen in the people around me in various public groups/friend groups.
- Membership in various subgroups: My life is not all about one thing. I don’t connect well based on mutual shared interests because I have a lot of them. I often wonder if I have ADD because I have a hard time focusing. But I think that’s just anxiety.
There are others ways to connect with people.
Know that … feeling? When someone just seems to understand? I chase that.
Principals. An underlying line that divides people. What our principals are has seemed to be a more even way of connecting with people. But its hard to connect based on principals. And easy. Some people do it well. They tend to be the people I’m connected with.
Intellectualism is a principal. I define group membership on how someone takes being corrected. If they like it they are an intellectual. I like intellectuals and they tend to like me.
Justice is a principal. I define group membership on an understanding that an unequal society is not just. Whether or not they believe that a just society is possible or not is irrelevant, but an appreciation for making moves towards a more just society. Whether or not we agree on what those moves are is irrelevant usually too. Just that steps should be made and whatever they are they should be effective.
Class awareness is a principal. I am intensely aware of my low class but still high privilege position. Class membership isn’t important. Just that they are aware.
I don’t seem to understand how to properly establish these things. And not like I think only people that are principally aligned with me are good people to be around. I am making strides in trying to be friends to all people even as I fail to be friends with anyone. I’ve got some lingering connections with people opposite to me and I do like I find people that are opposite to me.
Perhaps inconsistency is just a thing about me.
And maybe people don’t like inconsistency (GO FIGURE).
o.O; People tend to like me just fine. The problem is with me connecting with them.