A big topic; one that Asperger types struggle with, and yet it may be the issue that we avoid looking into, because it is the root of much anxiety. Misplaced trust is something that is difficult to forget or forgive. The very existence of trust / no trust strikes at the core of relationships; for us, if there is no trust there is no relationship. It is the one thing that we want: to trust someone completely.
It is a theme that runs through all human relationships, not only an Asperger problem. Let’s face it, getting through life requires that we trust in someone; this often fails to materialize. The Asperger fallback is to conclude; “I can only trust myself.” This conclusion may be reached early on in childhood: we are different to social people, and what the majority rely on is the “social rulebook, in which trust is ephemeral, not permanent. The result is a society in which “Screw others before they screw you,” is the name of the game. Our ideas about human conduct are old-fashioned. Trust is trust; your word is your word; a promise is a real commitment.
How often have I heard the utterly corrupt response: “Don’t have any expectations; it’s your expectation of loyalty, of a concerned response, of any specific behavior on the part of other people that is at fault.”
What then is the vaunted “social contract”? What then is empathy? What then is friendship? A mirage. What is a life without expectation of some unifying reciprocal behavior between human beings? I’m not so naïve that I expect perfection: but between perfection and nothing at all there is a vast range of human behavior.
When I was young, I found myself collapsing under social pressure; allowed myself to say yes to many things I did not want to do, because saying no produced an avalanche of social condemnation. All that this produced was trouble. Hurt feelings, disappointment, accusations of not liking people; of being “weird, contrary, a spoil sport or rude” when I cancelled at the last minute, or showed up, but fled early.
It would not do: I found myself uttering those awful words; “Don’t count on me.” Or even worse, I “treated” my social anxiety with alcohol. I’d show up, but promptly get “smashed” and end up behaving badly anyway. Well that had to stop. Uncorking the bottle uncorked years of frustration, confusion, and failure and revealed a false picture of my true feelings. By the social standards of hyper social people, I had no feelings, because I didn’t live up to their feelings; a common conclusion about Asperger types.
The cure was honesty, of course; a cure for me, but it did nothing to alleviate the accusations that I hated people, which is not true. I hated having to lie about “enforced sociability” not being part of my personality. How can a person be a willing participant in society if freedom of expression is forbidden? Conformity is the expectation, so don’t tell me that “expectations” are to be abandoned, when relationships are a two-way proposition.
It’s an old, old human conundrum; where do I begin and end as an individual; where does individuality vanish and conformity take over?
Just some thoughts on an Asperger predicament in negotiating society.