I went to bed at 10.30pm last night, which is early for me even for a work night. I was just completely exhausted, although I didn’t fall asleep straight away. I wonder if the emotional stress of the week is affecting me physically.

Work was a bit slow today and I was doing a mundane, repetitive task that gave me too much time for thought. I think I made the right decision breaking up with PIMOJ, but it sunk in that I think she was quite angry with me when we broke up. She doesn’t usually get angry, and she didn’t scream and shout, but I think she was angry about some things, although I’m not good at reading situations like that. I think in particular she felt that our being boyfriend and girlfriend meant more than I thought it did, inasmuch as I think she felt it was a significant commitment, almost like marriage, and that I should work on the relationship rather than breaking up. I agree that being boyfriend and girlfriend is serious and I was “dating for marriage” (in frum-speak), but I thought that what she wanted was so far from what I could offer, or be, that it would be wasting both the time and energy of both of us trying to get me to give or become it and would only end in more pain for both of us down the line. Plus, there were things she wanted that I thought were a bit unreasonable or at least not what I had signed on for.

But it made me think about other times people I liked and trusted got angry with me, perhaps unjustifiably. The worst was when I was at university and I managed to anger a friend by relying on her too much when I was depressed until she was no longer able to cope with me, a fact made more complicated by the fact that I had a huge unreciprocated crush on her. Nowadays I would not use someone else for support to the same extent (maybe partly why I was scared to open up to PIMOJ) and I know realise that having a crush on someone who you’re also offloading your darkest thoughts onto isn’t sensible. This is the type of situation where I really feel my autism and lack of social skills made me mess things up.

The other situation I handled badly was when I was close friends with two sisters who lived at the other end of the country. They read my blog (I knew they read it) and got angry when I mentioned that I was tired after phoning them when their mother died. I still don’t entirely see their point; I wasn’t blaming them for being tired, and people who read my blog regularly know I tire easily, especially after social contact. They read it as blame, however, and cut off contact with me.

It does make me wonder if I’m an accident waiting to happen, socially. It seems that most of my friendships stay in a sort of neutral space where we see each other socially every so often (usually six months to a year), but never really open up about personal things, just engage in light conversation. No risk, but no gain. Then there are the people I really open up to, often encountered in some kind of mental health safe space, such as depression group or the online mental health blogging community. Some of these fade away when their lives change or they move on, literally or figuratively, but there’s definitely a sub-set that get angry with me eventually. I wonder if it’s my fault and what I can do about it, or how it will affect future friendships or relationships.

***

Perhaps because of this, I’ve been thinking about getting pets again, to deal with loneliness in a safer way. It might also be a way of seeing if I might be able to cope with having children, to see if I can cope with being responsible for someone else, and for dealing with excrement and mess. I went down this path a number of years ago, almost psyching myself into getting guinea pigs, but I chickened out, mostly from social anxiety. I didn’t really know where to start in terms of thinking what to get and I frankly freaked out at the thought of talking to pet shop or rescue workers about animals, because I have zero experience. The only pets I’ve ever had were goldfish. I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to hold the guinea pigs (I can be nervous with animals) and wasn’t sure if I could to hold them before buying them to see if I was confident with them. My parents weren’t keen on the idea of pets either. So all of that put me off, but given that I feel it’s not a good idea to date again for a while, having pets seems like a good idea again.

***

My autism assessment report arrived today. The diagnosis they have technically given me is “Asperger syndrome” [sic], which interested me as I didn’t think it was given as a separate diagnosis any more, being subsumed in autism spectrum disorder. Apparently it depends on which diagnostic manual is being used. In some ways, I prefer Asperger’s as a diagnosis as ASD covers such a range of people, from the non-verbal to the highest functioning. However, it was discovered a while back that Hans Asperger was involved in the Nazi euthanasia programme, and now I feel incredibly uncomfortable whenever the syndrome named after him is named. Which is a shame, because I used to like the term “Aspie.”

The report recommended that I have CBT, a type specially adapted for people on the spectrum (ordinary CBT tends not to work well for people on the spectrum, which is my personal experience). Unfortunately, there is a very long waiting list, and it is not clear how I ask to be put on it, whether I would have to go back to my GP or what — I suspect there is more NHS bureaucracy to manage. Also, I wasn’t sure what the CBT would actually be treating, exactly. Would it just be life skills?

The report also managed to have me down in places as a “woman”, “Ms [Luftmentsch]” and “she”. I am not sure how they managed to get so many typos misgendering me in there! Most of the time they did get my gender right, although I got thrown for a bit until I realised that with one exception the person they referred to as “Ms Luftmentsch” was my mother, not me. I would have expected them to say “Mrs Luftmentsch”.

There was supposed to be a leaflet about ASD resources included too. This was not included, so I need to phone tomorrow to complain. Why is it never easy with the NHS?

Other than that, it was weird to read the report. It’s strange to see myself analysed so dispassionately and at such length (twenty pages). It was actually uncomfortable in places. The descriptions of my poor social skills read like criticism, even though I knew they weren’t. One line in the report said that my Mum reported that I would not spontaneously share as a child, but would share happily if prompted to do so. Future girlfriends please note, I suppose.

***

Other than that, it was a slightly boring day. I did some miniature model painting when I got home while listening to some of the last series of Just A Minute, although I felt that I have too much tremor, and too little patience, to paint as well as I did as a teenager. I should probably stop comparing myself to my fourteen year old self and accept I just don’t paint as well.

13 thoughts on “My Friends, and Other Animals

  1. The misgendering is odd. I’ve noticed that native Cantonese and Mandarin speakers will sometimes mix up he/she; apparently, that pronoun isn’t gendered in those languages. Back in the day when I used to answer calls from random numbers, I’d sometimes get people asking to speak to Mrs. Peterson. I would tell them they had the wrong number; my mom is Mrs. Peterson, and I don’t care for Mrs. even if I was married.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That would be interesting to read a report about myself. I’m sure I wouldn’t like some of it. Animals require time and commitment, and I sometimes wish I didn’t have a cat. So choose a pet more wisely than I did! (Mari was actually dumped on me)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. True, but I still infringed on her boundaries. Now I can see that we were both young and didn’t understand mental illness, and I didn’t really understand relationships (in all senses of the word), although it took me a long time to get to this stage.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope you can forgive yourself if you feel guilt about it. I know I have guilt too because people left my life because of things I said or did (I was too intense) when I didn’t understand friendships.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think I can now, at least partially. I realise I didn’t really understand anything at all about myself back then, let alone other people, and I was probably lucky I didn’t ruin more friendships that way.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Comparisons generally, be they to other people, our fourteen-year-old selves, or unachievable ideals, never really end well.

    Friendship is harder than people appreciate, I think. I think in some ways, it can be harder to figure out boundaries with friendships and unlike romantic relationships, there is comparatively less advice (not that all the advice is good) out there for friendships.

    Re: Asperger, it might help to reframe. You may benefit from a better understanding of your specific autism diagnosis, but Hans Asperger is deceased and he is not going to derive any benefit from you accepting your diagnosis. I’ve also done some of this reframing myself, as one of the companies I am applying for a job at (a job I really want, by the way) has a deceased founder with a connection to the Nazis. If I get the job, it’s true that this company will benefit, but I, a Jew, am also going to benefit. It does little to punish myself by not applying. I would definitely feel differently if the founder were living and if the company profits were being used to support antisemitism, but that is not the case here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is definitely not much advice about friendships. People just assume you can make and maintain them.

      I wasn’t concerned about benefitting Hans Asperger, more associating in a key aspect of my sense of self with a Nazi, which feels uncomfortable. But you’re right that maybe I should just use the term, given that I find “high functioning autism” can be counter-productive in different ways. (Also: my Dad used to work for a company that had Nazi links, so I take your point.)

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s