Canyon Expedition Metaphor

There’s this thing that I do with new people; especially those in authority positions. If I like a person, because thus far, they’ve continuously treated me like a human being and have not reacted badly to some of my stranger quirks, then there is a new phase that I often move into in regards to that particular person.

It’s almost like a form of regression actually. It seems that my level of social skills regresses back to the point that they were at about 5 to 8 years ago. For me, that would put my age of behavior around the ages of 15-18. And remember, aspies are usually 3-4 years behind in social development/awareness when compared with similarly aged peers. So that puts my social skills level back at the ages of about 12-15. I’m 23. Think about that; having the social skills of a normally developing 12 year old is not a good thing.

I’ve seen this happen time and time again, but this is the first time that I’ve ever taken the opportunity to analyze it.

It’s not something I do on purpose. I wouldn’t do this to myself on purpose.

I think it’s a leftover subconscious defense mechanism from my younger years. It’s almost a form of “testing one’s boundaries,” because that’s what I’m basically doing: testing the limits. Only in this case, I’m testing the limits of their patience.

Let me explain it like this:

  1. I meet someone new in an authority position that I have interactions with.
  2. Despite their better judgements (joking!), they treat me like a human being and don’t make mention of any of my stranger quirks.
  3. So I relax? Wrong. I tense up. I fear. What’ll I do the day that I inadvertently say something wrong and they reject me?
  4. Thus, I have to test them. I have let them experience me at my worst.
  5. If they still treat me like a human being that they seem to like, then they pass the test.
  6. And THEN I relax and my behavior reverts to its normal mostly mature, semi-acceptable state.
  7. If they fail in some manner, then I never fully relax in their presence. This causes me to exist in an imbalanced state switching randomly between two extremes where I’m either fully involved in the situation, or I’m almost completely withdrawn. The first extreme causes me to get in trouble once more with that person, leading to the withdrawn state. The first state doesn’t exactly happen all at once, but it happens as I forget to be uptight, and keeps going until I reach that unknown, unrevealed level where I piss the authority figure off inadvertantly, and we start the entire process over again. When I don’t know my limits exactly, I can’t spot myself getting close to the edge, and am therefore unable to keep from falling off.
  8. When the person allows me to test the boundaries, and therefore passes the test, it’s as though I have been sent out into the wilderness next to the Grand Canyon at night, with a flashlight and many new batteries, to explore at my leisure. I map the area out with my own map skills and memory tricks and I understand for myself where the danger spots are.
  9. When I’m not allowed to test the boundaries, it’s as though I am in that first scenario, but without the extra batteries and with only an hour or two to explore the entire area. As a result, I rush about, I don’t take detailed notes, I miss things and I fall down a lot onto sharp and thorny things. This of course leads me to get into danger situations, spilling me down into the dark depths of near complete failure; making me afraid to move at all, to try at all, or to explore or try anything around me.
  10. The more times I make a stupid mistake or talk about something too long accidentally, or fail to end a conversation at its appropriate conclusion, and the person in question responds by not freaking out or by not making a big deal out of it, then I find myself that much closer to relaxing . . . which leads to clearer thought and a generally less rushed approach to all things experienced; meaning that I don’t have to say everything I think at once for fear that this is the last time you’re going to let me talk to you.
  11. I realized the other day that I treat everyone I’m insecure around as though this is the last time we’ll ever talk, because they’re going to leave or die, resulting in an overwhelming need to tell them everything that I need to say to them then; everything that I need them to know about me or about my various interests.
  12. How would it be in your life if you treated everyone like this was the last time that you were going to talk to them? What would you find yourself needing to say?
  13. When I don’t feel that this is the last chance I’m ever going to have to talk to you, then I can relax and sometimes I find that I don’t even need to tell you certain things; just having the knowledge that I could is good enough for me, putting me even more at ease.
  14. But until we’re at that point, I’m terrified of failing, terrified of inadvertently screwing up, terrified of making a mistake, terrified of not knowing, terrified of not understanding (which is why I often ask so many questions, because that way I can be sure of understanding everything), terrified of saying something completely wrong, terrified of leaving something out, terrified of seeming boring, terrified of not being interesting enough to be around, terrified of not being good enough, terrified of talking too much, terrified of not knowing how much is too much, terrified of acting too mature, terrified of acting too immature, terrified of getting in trouble . . . which sometimes can result in terror so great that I will lie if I think I might be in trouble, even for minor stuff; which is the only reason I ever lie, since if you’ve read any of this blog, you can clearly see my views on lying . . .

EDITed to add that:  An extenuation of thought is to say that the less people make me afraid about making mistakes, the less often I make them.

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~ by lastcrazyhorn on January 30, 2008.

5 Responses to “Canyon Expedition Metaphor”

  1. Wow, this whole peice you could be writing about me! I understand and feel like your statements and im saying thats me thats me.

    Your such an awsome friend 🙂

  2. This is really thought-provoking. Thank you for sharing a window into the process. I can see similar patterns in my son’s behavior and now they make sense in light of this. Too bad you can’t share the process in advance with the folk you’re worried about without making them uncomfortable. It would be difficult to explain, even if it makes so much sense in hindsight.

  3. Actually, I did email one of my profs about this, and sent him the link. He thanked me for the insight.

    Also I think another way I could put this would be to say:

    “If you don’t make me afraid about making mistakes, then I find myself rarely making them.”

  4. Not that it matters, but I find myself much more at ease not trying to meet the expectation of normalcy much anymore. For many years I was trying to act normal, be joe cool and all, but it was just so much work for naught. I could never act normal enough.

    I am perhaps more at ease amongst non-normal people than normies, in other words, not that you can control your exposure to a great degree.

    Main thing (in my opinion) is to treat everyone with respect. (Unless they have really asked for some good disrespect, but in that case be careful about it.)

  5. Well part of respect goes with the idea that you should respect other people’s opinions and give them a chance to talk, and frequently, that’s the part I have trouble with. I don’t answer normally, I just try to keep my talking down to a manageable level. 🙂

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