The Hardest Part of Asperger's

Socialization isn’t always the hardest part of Asperger’s for me. For as long as I can remember, I have had a harder time with the period immediately following a social encounter than the actual encounter itself.

For example, recently, I met a new guy. We spent the night together (no funny stuff, just a sleepover). It was a renewing feeling. I felt happy. Save for some minor confusion in body language and intention, I thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent together.

I noticed that about an hour after he left, my mood began to decline. I went from cuddly and euphoric to melancholy and volatile.

I attribute this disturbance to two things. First, the extreme exhaustion of having to carry on around a person unaware of my diagnosis for any extended period of time, and the added fatigue from the expended effort of censoring my thoughts, words and actions in their presence.

The second aspect I attribute to this difficulty is the transition from being in good company then going back to lonely. This all but kills me.

I know how it could look like I don’t enjoy being around other people. But in reality, it is the feeling that directly follows time spent that forces me into hermit mode and discourages me from future encounters.

It is frustrating. I cry. I feel overwhelmed. I question every word said and every action wondering if I have said something to make them never want to come back again. I feel confused. Lonely. Wonder why I can’t just be “normal.” I become angry with myself for not learning faster and understanding better.

I feel guilty for thinking for a minute that this may actually be the time things work. I feel angry for being vulnerable and convincing myself I would finally feel understood and loved and accepted for exactly who I am when nobody’s watching. For letting my guard down. For thinking this was the only way I would find somebody who would actually be afraid to lose that version of me. The one I try so desperately to be comfortably.

I snap a ribbon around my wrist to stay centered. My wrists are always the first place I look for answers. I’ve never tried that route. I’m lucky for that. The ribbon reminds me.

Sometimes I wish I had someone to reassure me I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’m not sure what they would say that could make me feel better because it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe just a shoulder, a joke to take my mind off things, even though I may still miss the punchline. Its the time and effort spent that make the difference. That’s what’s most important to me.

That is the hardest part of Asperger’s for me.

A photo of Emily smiling
A photo of Emily smiling

Follow this journey on Awkward Is Awesome. A View From the Spectrum.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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