I Have Autism, and I Yearn to Feel I Belong

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This may be a post that is hard for neurotypicals to relate to – I’m honestly not sure. But, as someone who has high-functioning autism (Aspergers), I find that I have always had a deep internal yearning for something that I don’t know how to get or how to keep – and that is a true sense of belonging. I have had fleeting moments of feeling like I belong in a group. Lunches with friends at school, days at work where I laughed along with the others and felt like part of the gang, or even last year, when I was hospitalized and briefly came to feel at home among the other patients.

But none of these lasted. The very next day, or even the next hour, I could easily be feeling like an outsider again, like someone with their nose pressed to the window, watching the motion and activity inside with longing. Even among friends, it was often clear that I was “the weird one”, the one that was sometimes liked, but never completely understood. I often felt like I was an alien being in a foreign world, and sometimes I still feel that way.

Now, since I don’t have to attend work or school outside of my home, I am not forced into regular contact with others and the chances of feeling a part of a group are even less likely to occur. I can go out and seek groups, and sometimes do, but I never really end up feeling a part of them. I am not a cog in the gears of a greater machine, I am a spare part left on the table.

The best way I know to describe the yearning inside is to share the first few lines from the theme song to the old tv show, Cheers:

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
The troubles are all the same
You want to be where where everybody knows your name

That is what I want, but realistically, I could hang out at a bar EVERY SINGLE DAY and I’d be lucky if anyone learned my name…and I can’t help but feel that is my own fault. I’ve seen others who can walk into a place and in a few minutes, they are no longer a stranger to anyone. It is almost like a magical ability, and is clearly one I’ll never have.

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19 thoughts on “I Have Autism, and I Yearn to Feel I Belong

  1. Yep, as someone with Aspergers I relate to every single line of this post. Every one of these thoughts I’ve felt deeply. Literally the only time I’ve felt this sense of near-total belonging was my last couple weeks of 8th grade (my elementary school went all the way from grades 1 to 8, so I had 8 years to get to know these people!), but since then, never again. I HAVE been able to connect much better with certain individuals at a one-on-one level, but I’ve always sensed that as an entirely different dynamic — although if given an either-or choice, I would definitely choose a very small number of very close relationships over a general camaraderie with lots of people. Anyway, I wish I had helpful insights or tips to share here, but I really can’t think of any at all (sigh), just wanted to tell you I appreciate your post and that you’re far from alone.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m sorry you can relate so much, since this is a rather sad feeling, but I figured most other Aspies would get it. I agree that a small number of very close relationships would be preferable to camaraderie with a lot of people, but finding even a small, close knit group is hard for me, especially now that I’ve grown up and other adults seem to have all moved on with their lives. Making friends seems even harder now than it was as a kid, at least to me.

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      1. That’s definitely true and relatable too, esp. the feeling that others have moved on and such. But hey, you’re married, right? That’s THE closest relationship there is, and lots of Aspies never have that! I’m 30 and am still nowhere near finding someone I click with. Actually, that in itself I find a major barrier to socializing, since by the time most people get into their 30s (if not earlier), so much of their socializing involves doing things as families or at least couples. So what you DO have there can’t be overestimated!

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  2. Great post.

    I can completely understand– I don’t have autism, but suffer from treatment refractory depression/bipolar ii which has made me a social agoraphobic and for a long time I was looking for that same thing– found it fleetingly in a hospital stay and (ironically) in Japan, where everything is almost the exact opposite of the way things are here (I mean that in a good way). The truth is, I think I was happiest in Japan because there was a new world for me to explore, and I was just as happy being alone than I was mixing in with the other exchange students.

    It’s really a catch-22. You have to be comfortable with yourself to find that special bar, but you don’t feel like you can be comfortable with yourself unless you have already found that special bar. I struggled with this for a long time, and I’ve come to accept that the truth is, change cannot come from without until it comes from within; just to clarify, I’m nowhere near that point myself, but having finally accepted that has given me something to work towards (something we can all work towards).

    It’s hard. It sucks. It’s even worse when you’re introspective and see things other people don’t pay attention to– it makes those social situations seem uncomfortable and alien. The good news is that you can still find your Cheers, and the better news is that you wouldn’t just be one of the same-old-same-old; once you find that home, there is a lot of good you can do, having a fresh and unique perspective.

    Being different is, ultimately, a blessing if one can overcome it- that is to say accept it and even appreciate what makes one special.

    I believe I can; I believe you can to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the encouraging comments! Your optimism, even though you realize the hard reality, is refreshing. Sometimes we need to hear that it IS possible, even if it is hard.

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    1. In many ways I felt like I grew up as an only child, even though I did have a sister I loved dearly. With six years between us and both of us having our own isolating issues, it made it hard. My mother was an only child and I think that affected her socialization abilities too (among other things in her life), which she passed down to us as it was the only way she knew how to be.

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  3. I have ASD and I relate. I have some friends, my family, and just a friend but she doesn’t live in the country I live in. With me I want friends, but I have pretty bad social anxiety and I find people quite complex and difficult, sometimes I feel people can be disgenuine, I think people with autism are pretty honest people, I sometimes feel judged by others, and I sometimes feel like I’m not seeing the real them just a ‘social politeness mask’ – if that makes sense? Yes I can relate to this post. Thanks for writing it’s refreshing someone writing about ASD.

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    1. Thanks so much Lucy. Yes, I agree that people with autism do seem to be more honest and genuine in some ways compared to neurotypicals. I definitely know what you mean when you refer to the social politeness mask. I see it everywhere too. And seeing that artificiality just makes me feel more lonely, not less.

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  4. When it gets hard I remind myself of the real reasons for isolation in the first place: who wants to hang out in a culture in which the average ten minute conversation contains six lies from each participant? Which judges ones worth by the presence or absence of a small embroidered breast pocket logo? I believe the human race will be catching up to us — perhaps faster than we think, which would be great — but until then we’re yearning for a level of interaction which exists only in rare and tiny pockets. I think it would be a service to the All for people like you, Lucy and myself to come together and create harmoniously aware households — show ’em it’s possible, and what it looks and feels like. Much more peaceful for us, too.

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    1. Great perspective! And yes, I too sometimes question myself even wanting a “social life”, when it seems so very shallow and pointless sometimes viewing it from the outside. It would be great if humanity caught up to us lol. I often feel frustrated because I feel that my therapist wants to change me to fit the world, and I’m not sure I WANT to fit THIS world.

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