I didn’t know there was something wrong with me until people told me there was something wrong with me. Thankfully, society is there to point out things I otherwise could have gone my entire life never realizing and thus never being affected by it. People pointing out there was something wrong with me created a problem that didn’t exist before that I spent the next couple of decades stressing about how to fix. I wished they would have pointed out a solution instead.
When I was six, I entered therapy for the first time. We had to play pretend in groups, such as playing house, cleaning, cooking, etc. I couldn’t find a single section that was a singular activity. They all relied on partners. I walked in a circle glancing at each play station until I realized there was a book shelf. So I sat down with a book and was thrust into a world where play stations didn’t exist to mimic how you were supposed to behave and how you were supposed to form relationships and what kind of relationship you had depending on the label you gave it-friend, sister, best friend, acquaintance, boyfriend, girlfriend, lover, etc. I refused to get up even after multiple staff members tried to coax me into a play station. My therapist called it anti-social behavior. Possibly early signs of a mental illness.
When I was nine, one of my friends ran up to me and hugged me from behind. I panicked and kicked him, which earned myself a trip once again to the Principal’s office. My therapist called it early signs of sociopathy or antisocial personality disorder.
When I was eleven, my younger brother developed his first crush. He asked me for advice. It occurred to me that I had no idea what he was feeling or talking about. He saw someone and wanted to get to know that someone and needed help with ideas on how to begin a conversation which may blossom into a friendship which may blossom into more. What an odd concept. When you bump into people accidentally, you ask how they are doing or how is it going. I have no idea what else you’re supposed to say. I know the answer is supposed to be generic or optimistic because people who ask how you’re doing don’t actually care how you’re doing. It’s just the illusion of cordiality. It had never occurred to me to bump into people intentionally.
My therapist suggested maybe early trauma caused a distrust in people, but I don’t remember a time when I liked or trusted people. How could I have been traumatized before memories were formed?
In high school, chatter of crushes began. I decided to write a list of pros and cons of relationships, but ended up with an essay trying to define a relationship. Is it talking to someone daily in class? Was that person my friend or an acquaintance? Is my teacher a friend? How did I know if I knew someone well enough to ask them to sit next to them in the cafeteria? I never found the answer to that so I never ate lunch. How did I know someone well enough to ask for the phone number? Would they tell me honestly if we weren’t that close yet or would they fake cordiality and give me the number and fake a conversation every time I called for sake of tranquility? I never found the answer to that question either, so my contact list consisted of business contacts only. Was my therapist a friend? She was nice and we talked, but what did she really think of me? Being a friend quite literally was her job description, as in obligation, as in how did her friends know if she was a friend or just taking work home with her?
When I was eighteen, I constantly received questions and comments about my sexual orientation. Most people found it weird that I had never been in a relationship, nor had I ever really had a crush. I didn’t think it was weird. But combating questions daily about my sexual orientation made me began to question my own sexual orientation. Maybe I was gay. In movies, the gay person rarely is in a relationship and seemed to just be everybody’s extroverted friend. I wasn’t really extroverted, though. I had no idea who considered me a friend, if anybody. I had people I talked to because we had classes together, or worked together, or ran into each other at the store.
So I tried to be gay. How did I let people know I was gay? Was I supposed to announce it or make subtle comments and jokes? I tried to hint to people I was gay to see if I was gay. Maybe there was a gay person who could kind of like me, whatever that meant. I ended up wasting two years trying to wear rainbows and mimic gay culture, but still never intentionally bumped into somebody I wanted to bump into. So I gave up.
When I was twenty-one, one of my friends in a relationship asked if I wanted to go to a concert with them. I loved the band playing so I said yes. They told me to let them know who I was bringing. They didn’t ask. They told me. Politely, as people do, but nonetheless it wasn’t a question. So I asked somebody I had attended school with for a few years if he’d go to a concert with me and a couple, because I wasn’t sure if I could go alone and I really wanted to see Staind live. He loved stained too. I think that made him a friend, but I still wasn’t sure. We went to the concert together but separately and enjoyed the music and the non-existent conversation we had because it was too loud to talk anyways so I’m not sure what difference it made bringing somebody to begin with. But I was told to bring somebody so I did.
What they never taught me was that I’d form my own opinions and actions myself, regardless of what they tried to teach me. It was okay if I was alone and actually enjoyed that. I didn’t owe anybody a label or an explanation for why I was alone. I didn’t need to fake a relationship to passify society. It was okay if I was okay with not being okay by society’s standards. I’m okay. You’re okay. We’re okay, but not okay together. Because I’m asexual and no, that’s not a euphemism for broken or traumatized.