The Christmas party season is upon us. Over the weekend, two different sets of neighbours have had parties. Last night, when I stepped out onto the deck for some fresh air before going to bed, I listened to the raucous merry-making from one of them. I don’t know these people (they’re rental houses, and the tenants change frequently), nor did I have any especial wish to, or to join their party, but as I listened to people enjoying themselves (or seeming to), I realised there is still a part of me that wants to be ‘normal’. (This isn’t only at Christmas time of course, it just seems more, I dunno, poignant, maybe, then.)
It’s the part of me that wishes I was the kind of person who isn’t consumed by anxiety when invited to a social event, who looks forward to it with anticipation, walks into one with confidence, is energised or relaxed simply by being there, who can dive into conversations with gusto and always knows the right thing to say, and who just LOVES being a part of one of those laughing crowds that always seem to be having SUCH a great time…
It’s the part that’s suffered through decades of social awkwardness and clumsiness, of ‘conversations’ that consist of me blurting out inanities or babbling something stupid or rabbiting on about my current favourite topic, or being totally tongue-tied and freezing up completely, or standing on the sidelines ignored by others, with drink in hand feeling stupid or bored or anxious or just plain baffled, or hiding in toilets, or so overwhelmed by anxiety at the thought of said social occasion that I never got there in the first place.
The part of me that still wishes I was able to ‘do’ that kind of thing, and all the other things that NTs do oh so, so easily.
Even though I don’t want it enough to stop being me.
It’s not that I can’t (now) go into a social occasion and make at least a facsimile of ‘small talk’, at least enough to get by (it’s only taken me several decades to learn this), or that I don’t know that not every NT is a confident social butterfly either, or that I don’t now have aspie/autie friends who also aren’t into the socialising/party thing, or that, like I said, I would want to stop being me, with all my autistic quirks and idiosyncrasies. It’s not even that I think parties are wonderful places to be, or that the people who wildly enjoy them are models to emulate or the type of people I would want to get to know. Far from it.
I really can’t explain it totally. I only know that last night, standing outside in the dark, alone, listening to the sounds of people having what seems like fun, and conscious of my lifetime of ‘outsider’ status, being an aspie suddenly felt a very, very lonely thing to be.