I’m constantly perplexed by peoples’ persistent tendency to….um….I ran our of long words that start with “p”. Basically what I mean is they hide the truth. Even tiny, irrelevant truths. As someone with Asperger’s, I have a tendency to bluntly state what’s on my mind or going on in my life without comprehending or at least knowing the social consequences ahead of time. Once I say whatever it is that is then eliciting a shared shocked facial expression to all those within earshot, I spend the rest of the day confused as to why what I divulged was received so poorly. Sometimes, though, I don’t get a shocked reaction but one of pity.
Let me clarify a tad more. I’m an open book. I’ll gladly share anything about my life, even things that people normally would conceal. Some of it is understandable, even to me. You probably don’t want to know the consistency of my bowel movements because that is generally considered disgusting (though seems to have become general topic of conversation amongst my family [a real winner with any women I might bring home in the future, too….]).
But one thing that confuses me is how people conceal the hurt in their lives. The bad things going on. I tend to be quite open to that, and as a result I’ve gotten some weird reactions. People tend to think I am somehow to be pitied or think I am less than them or some version of that. Or they just fidget uncomfortably and try to find a way to get out of the conversation. Maybe they need to go have a bowel movement, I don’t know….
Instead, people will only talk about the good things in there lives when around others. They will only bring up the bad if it’s too apparent to conceal (“So, what did the doctor say about that soccer ball-sized tumor on your forehead?”) This I don’t quite understand. People will get together and talk about their latest raise, how they’re expanding their kitchen, how they just bought a new great car, how they finally got that soccer ball-sized tumor removed… etc. What they don’t tell you is how they haven’t felt happy since 2002, how they’re three months behind on their mortgage and the bank is threatening foreclosure, that she thinks her husband has been sleeping with another woman for the past year, etc.
It makes me wonder a lot about my friends and other people I know. When they’re sitting around putting on a happy face and talking about all the good; how many of them feel like they’re stuck in a loveless marriage? What if this friend of mine has been secretly cheating on her husband for months now? How many of them are on the edge of filing bankruptcy, etc., etc., etc. I recently went through a horrible time in my life. Losing my job, health, and wife amongst other hardships in the course of just one year. I was very open about all of it. People knew. It made me wonder what a normal person would have hid. Makes me wonder sometimes if my story isn’t so unique.
The only two reasons why people might do this which I’ve been able to derive are that either a.) people hide this stuff as a form of social competition (especially amongst females) and/or b.) people are worried about being judged and/or looked down upon by others. But, at the same time, you sacrifice a lot of potential support and closeness that could be invaluable in your time of need. Also maintaining the charade that everything is just fine usually takes a lot of effort, and seems to be energy best spent elsewhere (in my opinion). I guess because I have Asperger’s I’m not prone to the concern of social judgement as much as others are. Perhaps the shame they feel outweighs the effort they put forward to maintain the deception.
Overall, I feel largely lied to in social settings. More so since I’ve learned to read minutiae and microexpressions. It adds to the general unpleasant feeling I get being around other people, and the things I have to keep running through my mind to do and not to do in order to act normal around others. I spend a lot of time questioning if saying such-and-such a thing is socially appropriate to say, or if so-an-so is even telling me the truth or the whole truth.
In closing, I really wish people I knew were more open about the struggles in their lives. It would have helped immensely during my trial, and I honestly would just like to know. Everyone’s lives always seem so happy and blessed, but I know that, even just statistically, a few of them have to be going through some tough circumstances.