I tell you what, the more I read about the social goings on around this human medium, the more I think to myself “How did I make it this far?” Seriously, I am rereading The Unwritten Social Rules of Relationships: Decoding the Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism by Temple Grandin and Sean Barron. I really missed a lot the first time I read it. I can probably read it a few million times and still need to read it again. I am in my late thirties and I still don’t know how to tell if someone is my friend or not. I still need David to explain jokes to me. I still cannot comprehend how a person would say, “Let’s meet for lunch” but never respond to me again or continue to blow me off. Oh, they never meant it you say? Well then, why would they offer to meet for lunch?
I went off about the show Parenthood the other day; I now realize that I just really do not understand the show.
Maybe it is good for others to watch, but for me it is very confusing. They have all of these looks they make at one another and silence pauses going on filled with meaning. I am sitting there asking “What are they doing?”
They are communicating.
It is no wonder so many people have been able to make fun of me. I sat there confused by what they were laughing about. What an easy target I’ve been. I have seen the looks that people give one another while I am talking and I have bluntly asked, “What?” I haven’t kept my mouth shut; I have point-blank asked them, “Why are you looking at each other like that while I am talking?” Their response has always been, “Nothing.” I knew something but just not what it was, then it would be turned on me. How dare you ask what we’re doing! To my surprise they would get offended or they would roll their eyes at me.
All the while, I would be standing there with a blank face and then usually back to whatever I was saying.
When I write about this, it seems so crazy. How can I be in the middle of conversations and have no idea that something else is going on? Am I really supposed to understand that I am wrong when I ask a direct question? Huh? As I am reading the book, I am having all of these experiences flash through my mind and am going “Holy Cow! That’s what was going on!” Before when I read this book, it was for the purpose of helping Daniel, so I was in a different mindset. I thought I needed to reread it thinking from a personal perspective and applying my experiences. Currently, I am in the section where they are talking about The Ten Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships. I will do my best to write my thoughts when I first read the rules. (This is from the part of the book entitled “Act Three” on Page 119.)
The Ten Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships
Rule #1 Rules are Not Absolute. They are Situation-based and People-based.
What do you mean rules are not absolute?
Rule #2 Not Everything is Equally Important in the Grand Scheme of Things.
Yes, too, everything is equally important!
Rule #3 Everyone in the World Makes Mistakes. It Doesn’t Have to Ruin Your Day.
If someone makes a mistake, the whole day is ruined no matter what you say.
Rule #4 Honesty is Different than Diplomacy.
What’s the difference between honesty and diplomacy? Note to self, look those words up in the dictionary.
Rule #5 Being Polite is Appropriate in Any Situation.
Yes, I agree being polite is the right thing to do in all situations, but my polite doesn’t seem to be diplomatic.
Rule #6 Not Everyone Who is Nice to Me is My Friend.
OH, just because someone is nice to me doesn’t make them my friend. Then just forget this friend business, it’s too hard.
Rule #7 People Act Differently in Public then They Do in Private.
PEOPLE ARE LIARS! That is why they act differently in private. (Just go with it these were my initial responses.)
Rule #8 Know When You’re Turning People Off.
How am I supposed to know when I have turned someone off?
Rule #9 “Fitting In” is Often Tied to Looking and Sounding like You Fit In.
I will not conform and you cannot make me.
Rule #10 People are Responsible for Their Own Behaviors.
I am not responsible for the entire world and their actions? Really? But don’t they need to know when they are doing something wrong?
Yes, those were my thoughts before I read on.
As I read on and am reading again, I see where my mind is gaining understanding about some of these things and in other things, not so much. Hence, this is why I need to keep reading. The more I discover about all of this social stuff the more I wonder, is ignorance bliss or is it better to be in the know? Some things have been very helpful to me, like gaining knowledge about people acting differently in private than they do in public.
That right there was a thorn in my side.
I would get so angry when someone would start to act differently or say the exact opposite as what they had told me in private. I didn’t realize that people do this when they are in a group. Not only do they do it, they do not consider it lying. Hm… It still confuses me but at least now I understand that they are not directly lying to me and just because they did that doesn’t mean that every word that comes out of their mouth is a lie. Well, most people any way.
I do believe I have the answer to my question, though.
How did I make it this far, being so naive to all of the stuff going on around me? I think I made it because I was naive to it. Had I known all of this without the social skill resources to help me, say growing up, I believe that I would have been worse off. Granted my life has been a whirl wind of confusion, pain, and frustration but if there were not books available to me, social skills resources and understanding parents, I may have been worse off living in this world knowing how incredibly different I am. My children will not have to worry about that, we will help them by using the resources available because it is obvious that this does not come naturally to me to teach them. We will be honest with them, like we have about everything, some would say that is wrong but we feel that it is best for our family. We talk openly about autism and we talk openly about “Mommy’s social misunderstandings”.
David and I still have to talk a lot about social situations.
As we talk, the kids ask questions. We explain to them why I am confused and how I came to a resolve and in other cases how I have to let it go. We do not know any other way. Both David and I have issues with being honest (it’s a must), we wish that our parents would have been honest with us as children about a lot of things. Maybe it would have been good, maybe it wouldn’t have but at least we would have known the truth about the things that caused us confusion, some things even to this day. We have come to accept that we just cannot have clear answers about many things from our childhood but it helps us to be more compassionate with our children when they ask their questions, especially when it comes to autism. Currently, Ariel is the one with a lot of questions about it.
I think for me the only reason why it was good to be ignorant of the social situations is because I do not believe I would have been helped.
In the town and time I grew up in, it was clear that my doctor and parents thought that I was just head strong, opinionated and making things up. (I didn’t hear about autism until I was in my late 20′s, I had no idea.) My parents at that time would not have been very accepting of a diagnoses like that, even talking to my mom now, I don’t think she would have known how to handle it. My mom took a while to accept Daniel being on the spectrum until she realized how much she was.
My dad still doesn’t like labels, he feels that it is a detriment and isn’t a helpful thing.
I disagree, if the label can be a beneficial to help a person such as Asperger’s or Autism Spectrum. The rest of my family would have seen it as an unfortunate disability, then add the lack of resources for girls on the spectrum at that time, even up to this day. I really do not see how I would have been helped. I believe, just as with my other experiences, I would have been diagnosed with something other than autism. I have family members who still refuse to believe that Daniel is on the spectrum, despite the clear signs and challenges he has and has had. I can only conclude that they would have done the same to me and said “Buck up buttercup, there isn’t anything wrong with you that a good spanking wouldn’t take care of.” Well those spankings never worked, I am still clueless about a lot of social situations.
At least now I have the tools to help me and our kids so they will be a little more aware and not be so confused. I hope.
Be the first to like.