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Other Julie
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27 Aug 2020, 1:31 pm

So I'm an older aspie who was diagnosed about eighteen months ago. I always knew there was something "wrong" with me and that I struggled more socially than other people. I've had a lot of trouble with friendships and with friends just ghosting me after awhile and eventually it hurt too much to even keep trying. I thought I had some invisible defect that everyone but me could see that drove everyone away so I just stopped. As a result I've been mostly friendless for the last eight years. I think a lot of my problem with people came down to trying to fit in and come across as normal, but eventually the stress of trying to be something I'm not got to be too much and the real me came out and the real me wasn't what people had necessarily signed up for. Well, now I've been diagnosed and I know who I am and what I am and I'd like to try to make friends again, but my problem is that I'm way too scared to try. I DO NOT trust anyone. It's not even a matter of choice. It's like there's some part of me that can't reopen. I'm afraid to tell anyone what I really think, or how I feel about anything for fear of driving someone away. I won't reach out to new people by text or phone because I'm convinced I'll be bothering them or I'll come across as too needy. I've just kind of crawled farther and farther into my shell due to all the painful rejection I've gotten and I don't know how to come back out. Does anyone have any experience with anything like this?



magz
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27 Aug 2020, 1:51 pm

Yes, I know it.
I'm still surprised when people don't reject me.
I learned that not pretending to be normal, paradoxally, helps. When I look geeky and talk Maths, no one is surprised by my social gaffes :mrgreen: so people take less offence.


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Citymale
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27 Aug 2020, 2:00 pm

Other Julie wrote:
So I'm an older aspie who was diagnosed about eighteen months ago. I always knew there was something "wrong" with me and that I struggled more socially than other people. I've had a lot of trouble with friendships and with friends just ghosting me after awhile and eventually it hurt too much to even keep trying. I thought I had some invisible defect that everyone but me could see that drove everyone away so I just stopped. As a result I've been mostly friendless for the last eight years. I think a lot of my problem with people came down to trying to fit in and come across as normal, but eventually the stress of trying to be something I'm not got to be too much and the real me came out and the real me wasn't what people had necessarily signed up for. Well, now I've been diagnosed and I know who I am and what I am and I'd like to try to make friends again, but my problem is that I'm way too scared to try. I DO NOT trust anyone. It's not even a matter of choice. It's like there's some part of me that can't reopen. I'm afraid to tell anyone what I really think, or how I feel about anything for fear of driving someone away. I won't reach out to new people by text or phone because I'm convinced I'll be bothering them or I'll come across as too needy. I've just kind of crawled farther and farther into my shell due to all the painful rejection I've gotten and I don't know how to come back out. Does anyone have any experience with anything like this?


Wow! You described me so well!! I too am afraid to tell people what I really think, even the most basic questions I purposely hesitate or give a vague answer. Giving the real answer gives me fear and anxiety!

I was in group psychotherapy where we were abused and taught to undermine people, among other things. Before the group, I knew I couldn’t make friends, but I had hope and was somewhat open to people, hoping that I can learn to make friends if I just get enough experience.

Fast forward to ten years after joining the group, and I don’t trust people and cannot be natural and honest even with my parents now. I have to control everything I say and how I act now. I am irritated by people now. I am impulsive and I sabotage myself with people too. It’s like I stopped trusting that I can participate in a conversation with a person, rather than stay out of it and control it to keep myself safer. It’s boring and my family hate it. I have no friends anymore. Life is boring!



emotrtkey
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27 Aug 2020, 4:10 pm

I used to have the same problem. Things that helped me were:

1. Improve self-esteem (Everyone has problems and weaknesses. It's healthy to accept them but don't let them define you by making overgeneralizations like you're inferior or a loser. There is more to you than autism or social difficulties.)

2. Be yourself. No one wants to be friends with a generically "normal" person. Everyone is different and wants to see your unique traits. If you hide them, people will see you as dull and boring.

3. Stop trying to make friends. Just talk to people normally. Say hi, get to know people, ask them about themselves, tell them about yourself, etc. Friendships will form naturally if you have a good connection. If you try too hard, people will notice and avoid you since no one wants desperate, clingy friends.

4. Work to overcome your sensitivity to criticism. This may be the most important since stress and anxiety make everything more difficult. The best way to overcome it is gradual exposure therapy while you are relaxed (or not particularly stressed) and thinking positively since your thoughts affect how you feel. The only way to avoid automatically feeling worse after being criticized is to think positively before being criticized. Once you're criticized, it's too late. The painful emotions will be triggered before you can think about it and will affect your thinking in a negative way. Instead of avoiding criticism and being unprepared when you're criticized, you want to deliberately seek out criticism when you are most prepared to respond to it. Don't worry about what you'll say. Focus on how to think about it. The more positive your thinking is, the better you'll feel after you are criticized. Start gradually being yourself or saying something that will result in mild criticism when you are in a good mood and thinking positive thoughts about criticism and other people. If you can handle it well and don't feel worse afterward, gradually start being yourself more and seeking out harsher criticism. Eventually, you will break the habit of automatically feeling worse when you are criticized. Once that happens, you can be yourself and won't feel worse no matter what happens. More people will like you once your stress and anxiety goes away. You can read more details about it here - https://autismcbt.wordpress.com/sensiti ... criticism/



Jakki
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27 Aug 2020, 4:30 pm

Keep it simple , now that am older , don’t worry so much about rejection, it’s easier to be myself. Basics all always good ice breakers talk about weather briefly , coffee shops are normally good centers to seek out communication.
Start easy be nice to yourself , once you can find a common ground . It does get easier . Just don’t overdo it , keep yourself to a schedule , smile when you talk . Don’t be afraid to get up and leave , say good bye in passing .
To anyone you might have engaged . Be patient . With yourself and others . This is just one persons opinion .
Keep doing this over and over at the same location . Eventually if you can’t get anyone else’s name , get the name of your server . Compliment them regularly if you can find something to notice . They may come to find that they start to expect you when you come in . Compliment made to other in a genuine manner often breeds a positive interaction. Don’t over do it .


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jimmy m
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27 Aug 2020, 8:51 pm

Some of the paths that Aspies travel are those of a non-conformist.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche

I have left the tribe a long time ago and travel my own path. I am just me. What I observed over my lifetime is that people learn to accept me for who I am. They may not understand me, but they accept my uniqueness. I own myself.


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Other Julie
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28 Aug 2020, 11:26 am

Thank you to everyone who responded. I've gotten a lot of helpful insight from the replies. The underlying theme seems to be to be myself and don't take criticism/rejection so hard. I will make a point of reminding myself of that again and again.



kraftiekortie
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28 Aug 2020, 11:31 am

Yep. That’s the crux of it :)



magz
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28 Aug 2020, 11:49 am

Other Julie wrote:
Thank you to everyone who responded. I've gotten a lot of helpful insight from the replies. The underlying theme seems to be to be myself and don't take criticism/rejection so hard. I will make a point of reminding myself of that again and again.

It gets some practice - and some more practice - but the effects are worth it 8)


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Let's not confuse being normal with being mentally healthy.