Hello Dr. NL. Thank you for your work over the years.
I have long struggled to connect with others in a meaningful way. I do have plenty of friends and people who like me, but I’ve always longed for something else, and I never knew why. I am married, good job, etc, and I still have felt alone. I do indeed have issues with depression, but it’s more than that.
After a year of therapy, I finally realized, with the help of my doctor, that I’m on the very high functioning end of the autism spectrum, and everything makes sense now. I’ve always longed not to feel differently from everyone, I’ve become very anxious when emotionally overwhelmed, and I do a lot of the things that people say spectrum folks do, even down to the obsession with trains stereotype.
Anyway, not asking for help with depression really. And unlike many who write in, my life externally is fine.
The problem is that suddenly so much of my behavior makes sense and makes me upset when I think about it. (I should note, in 2018, I am not at all talking about abuse or anything of the sort, before speculation occurs.)
I spent so much time aping the people around me out of a desperate desire to be accepted. Everyone always told me not to care what others thought, but I always felt so alone that just not caring didn’t feel like an option. I know now that I did much of this because the utter inscrutability of subtle human emotions was just a genetic (or whatever) quirk rather than a character flaw like I always thought.
Because I always went to class, did my homework, did well on tests, no one ever really noticed I struggled internally, so no one, not even my family, picked up on it (or maybe my family has the same stuff going on so I seemed the same).I did a lot of little things that looking back made people uncomfortable (women, sure, but men too), like standing too close, talking a little too loud, not really being very good at the right level of eye contact. Whenever I was told I was annoying someone (which happened a lot), I was ashamed and apologized immediately. Eventually, I learned I can fake it. I do well in job interviews, and I’m actually a teacher (to adults), and a good one. I’m getting a terminal degree. I am loved
Yet I can’t stop thinking about how I spent decades thinking I was an annoying boy that a lot of people didn’t like because there was something wrong with me when I was just wired a little different and that that was okay.
I will continue to work this out in my sessions and my sessions will help me figure this out for the future. But how do I reframe my past, really my entire past since about second grade? With this new news, I think of it as a time when I could have known I was just a little different and come to terms with it but instead was teased and shunned by many, spent far too much time with people who didn’t treat me well because I wanted their acceptance, and have only just recently come to a point where I like myself.
I just sort of feel like I was robbed of the chance to grow up feeling happy. I’m not dead yet, I’ve got some decades left, but that’s a lot of time I wish I could get back. Any thoughts as to how I can reframe my past?