Thursday, June 7, 2007

Emotional Bonds

I'm not sure if this is part of an atypical neurology or simply a personality quirk, but definitely have problems reading people. The minor examples include not knowing when someone is initiating a conversation or ending one. I also don't always notice what it is someone is really trying to discuss. It seems people introduce personal topics obliquely, which I miss almost every time.

If you want to discuss how you feel about yourself, apparently the norm is to talk about someone with a similar problem or condition. This makes some logical sense, but I'll miss the point. This can make me seem like a lousy friend, I'm sure.

When someone is nice, I don't always notice, nor do I always notice someone being impolite or slightly abusive. I've definitely missed "signals" from other people, positive and negative. Comments calling me "smart" or a "geek" can be misconstrued more often by me than most people. I tend to take things as compliments that aren't compliments at all — even confusing a statement like, "You seem to know everything about (topic x)!" as an invitation to volunteer more information.

When the attitudes of others are finally obvious enough, the emotional reaction is intense and lasting. This can have negative consequences, as well.

Because I tend to feel isolated (and who doesn't at times?), I appreciate any friendships. The problem is that I end up overly responsive in many cases, or I have been led to do whatever the person asks of me — since you're always supposed to help a friend. Such simplistic reasoning can be disastrous. I'm the "easily obligated" friend. I respond to every e-mail, return every call, and will extend myself too far for others. I end up trying to meet unrealistic expectations, in the name of keeping friends, many of whom never thought of me as among their closest friends.

Since I try too hard, I come to expect the same of others. I worry that I have offended someone if I don't receive a reply to message within a day or two. I feel rejected, deeply, when someone vanishes from my life. My self-image constantly suffers because the reality is that people come and go from our lives, no matter how much I might not like that.

It would be nice to have "normal" expectations of people... and to be normal, too.

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