What kind of monster offers two kinds of bar stools?

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Last weekend, I travelled up to London to meet up with a group of m/m authors and readers, and it was really rather nice. We all sat around in a pub and chatted, and drank, and ate. Some people knew everyone, some people were brand new to the group, but the whole thing was relaxed and friendly and fun.

I wanted to write a little something about the day, but it’s taken me a while to get my thoughts in order. Writing this now, I’m still not entirely sure what I want to say about it. I met some lovely people, I got some great writing advice, but I guess one of the main things I’ve been thinking about since, is that everyone I’ve told about the day has asked me if I enjoyed myself: did I have a good time? To which, of course, the answer is, yes. But also, it’s not quite that simple.

I nearly didn’t go. The day before I had a full on panic attack and had to lie down for a bit in the afternoon. I kept waiting for something to give; for the dog-sitter to pull out, or the weather to turn really nasty, or for me to get cholera, something anything that meant I had a good excuse to stay home.

It’s not that I didn’t want to see everyone, it’s just that I’m not cut out for group gatherings. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite happy to go – I’m just not built for it.

I don’t socialize. Ever. My voice is very quiet so it’s hard to be heard in a public space, and I have to repeat myself which I know is annoying for people. And I’m not very good at insinuating myself into a conversation with more than one person, so I interrupt everyone all the time, or just end up not speaking at all. And my verbal communication can be slow, so if someone’s asks me a question, I have to look away, or close my eyes and think hard, before I stumble over my words to get the answer out. Sometimes the words come easy, but sometimes the words don’t come at all – which is mortifying. Like eye contact. Sometimes I have no problem, other times I just can’t.

And I’m happy to sit back and simply enjoy seeing other people talk, but I know that makes other people uncomfortable. When I gave up drinking for several years, I was always surprised by the borderline vicious accusations of people who were affronted at me not drinking alcohol when everyone else was. Being quiet isn’t quite the same thing but when you don’t do the thing that everyone else is doing, it does make people uncomfortable. And I think that’s the crux of it; I worry that I make other people weirded out by my weirdness.

But I try.

I force myself to walk into a strange room where I don’t know anyone. I steel myself to talk to people I only vaguely know. I make myself try to talk louder, and think of things to say that are appropriate, and potentially interesting. And I try not to act weird, while I try to reassure myself that no-one thinks I’m acting weird, and even if they notice the weirdness, it doesn’t matter.

It used to be worse. Friends and family used to tell me that I just needed to get out there, that if I practiced being around other people – if I only tried harder – that I would get better at it. They still say that, except now they cut themselves off half-way through the sentence. Because they remember that I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome last year, so this…*points at self*…this is as good as it’s going to get.

I’m still coming to terms with it. I don’t really know what it means for me yet. I haven’t had any support or counseling, because there isn’t any available on the NHS when you’re forty-three. Plus, I don’t want to talk about it, or read about it. I find myself getting overwhelmed and upset hearing about people’s experiences of adult diagnosis, whether they are the same as mine or vastly different. And on a day-to-day level, my life hasn’t changed that much. I’m still socially awkward, except now I have a note from my doctor to say I’m socially awkward.

But surprisingly, I think it has made experiences like last weekend much easier. I used to feel like a failure, that I was unable to assimilate into social situations like I should. But now I know that, actually, I am doing it. It might not be in the same way that everyone else does it, but dammit, I can be social!

Yes, I’m a nervous wreck, and feel like my head is going to explode. Yes, have to sit on my hands to stop myself from wringing them and tapping. Yes, I have to bite my tongue if someone mentions dogs, or a TV show that I like so I don’t get too excited. I daren’t have a drink because then all the crazy comes spilling out. The fact that the anxiety I felt last weekend will be the same the next time I go out, and the time after that…and the time after that…well, that’s okay. It’s just part of me being social.

As a neurotypical introvert, I struggled. Now, as someone on the high functioning end of the Autistic Spectrum, I’m doing okay, thanks. Before my diagnosis, I felt like I couldn’t act in a normal way. Now I know I do act in a normal way – normal for me. There are things I find hard; things I can’t do, and might not ever be able to cope with, sure. But there are also things that I can do that no-one else can, so I think it evens out.

So, I suppose what I wanted to say about last weekend is that I had a great time. I was extremely anxious and got very distracted by the bar having two different kinds of stools to sit on (who does that? Monsters, I tell you), but I really enjoyed talking to everyone, and I can’t wait to do it all again!

TL:DR – I have Aspergers but I still love talking to people about gay sex in public places.

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14 Responses to What kind of monster offers two kinds of bar stools?
  1. kimberly porter Reply

    You’re my hero.

    • Alex

      Alex Reply

      *kisses you* xx

  2. RJ Reply

    Wow hun… *so much admiration* HUGS YOU HARD (or not… your choice)

    XXXXX

    • Alex

      Alex Reply

      *squishes you* I know that I’m lucky…I’ve got it so easy in comparison to many and I appreciate that everyday : ) And yes to hugs! All the hugging please <3 xx

  3. Trix Reply

    Such a cool and inspiring post!

    • Alex

      Alex Reply

      Thank you <3 xx

  4. Angela Reply

    Thank you for sharing this personal story 🙂

    • Alex

      Alex Reply

      Thank you for taking the time to read it : ) xx

  5. H.B. Reply

    Thank you for sharing. I think I know how you feel about the crowd and how much of a toll it takes out on you. I’m extremely introvert and my social skills can use a lot of help according to myself. Glad to hear your better after being diagnosed.

    • Alex

      Alex Reply

      I think that realising it’s okay not to feel confident can help a lot…and knowing you’re not the only one in the room who finds that situation difficult. I hope that you find a space you feel comfortable in, H : ) xx

  6. Shirley Ann Speakman Reply

    Wonderful post it must good to have a diagnosis and of course you are special!

    • Alex

      Alex Reply

      Thank you for reading : ) I do think the diagnosis is helping…idk, I think there’s a lot of special going around : ) x

  7. Nihcki Reply

    My son is diagnosed with Asperger’s, and yet he craves social interaction and attention. Once he gets it though, the troubles begin. He doesn’t “get” grey areas, and he struggles to convey sarcasm now that he has a rudimentary understanding of it. And you know what? The more I read and learn about his issues, the more I see myself. I’m a couple years older than you, diagnosed as major depression, but I have to wonder if my son inherited Asperger’s Syndrome from me. Reading your post was like reading about myself, as I can’t handle being in public anymore. Thank you for sharing your experiences, and opening my eyes a little further.

  8. Masja_17 Reply

    Thanks for sharing! I recognize the behavior from my kids. I think I told you I have three and all with AS.

    But they are so good in some things I’m not very good at, so as you said, it evens itself out!

    <3

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