Confession. I’m known as an anti-social introvert. No, I didnt put ant-social in there because I’m confused as to it’s meaning. That is literally how I’m seen. I reject socialization, actively, and people believe I am against it.
Now I could probably rattle off the usual suspects for this behavior. Born shy, too sensitive for shallow interaction, autistic tendencies. It’s all true and not, to varying degrees. But I’m here to confess a story. A story that not many people have seen. A reason I have long believed that social interaction was the domain of cruelty. A place in my mind that I rarely go if I can help it.
As a child, I had a lot to be confident about. Very smart, early reader, sympathetic listener and problem solver. Thought I was the bomb, didn’t I? That’s what they told me. I did it because conceit. I was intelligent, thoughtful and articulate at kindergarten age because I thought myself superior to others. Saying this calmly without loosing a trigger – I spent several years screaming that this was unfair.
I was not yet mature enough to understand what the unfairness I felt was. I understand now that it was a cognitive dissonance forced upon me. A force to change something about me that couldn’t be changed. The insistence that evil intent lay behind my effort to rise to all the challenges asked of me. I could not reconcile. I was supposed to learn and grow but if I followed that direction it was because I hated the people giving it to me? The haunt lives on in my mind but I know I’m not alone. We all face such challenges. We all fall to the hand that beats our soul.
I learned from others that popularity held more weight than achievement. And for a long time, I believed it. I sought it and found it. In ups and downs, of course. And in finding it, I also found what was required to attain it. To my dismay, of all things, it appeared to be ill intent. I wish I was being facetious but I’m not. Things I found that were successful, or believed by the ranks to be successful, in making one popular included:
– Telling extraordinary lies
– Defying authority
Even to my young fragile mind, the concept was nothing but a bad joke.
But there was worse still.
Social interaction worked this way: either you engaged enthusiastically in the above or, alternately you could adopt one of the following roles:
– Vocally support a lie to others, whether you know it is true or not
– Succumb to a bully
– Pat the back of the ones engaged in heated dissing of the daily gossip target
– Or, protect the authority defiers by taking the heat for them
All of these gave the illusion of inclusion and at some stage, I tried them all.
I wished I could find people who didn’t play like this. But for many years all I could find was one or another mutation of the same sorry, awful reality. Socialisation was brutality disguised as affection.
I continued to believe, however, that there must be people for whom this wasn’t the case. But where were they? I know now they were doing basically the same as I was doing. Looking for the alternative that didn’t seem to exist and trying all the in betweens, just as I had done.
And so, sometimes in there I was among the popular, and from the outside it may have seemed to make me happy. But it held dark secrets inside. Dark secrets like being forced to steal by the threat of rumors and violence. Attempted rapes that I lost count of and coming home to the punishment that someone else had earned because they got there first to tell their lie about it.
All in all I learned that I hated being social. It wasn’t to be trusted. It’s purpose was to carry the injurious while they smiled and called you kind for it.
Trigger trigger trigger. Please understand this is painful.
I have never wanted to do this to another person as it was done to me.
To my relief my teen years brought me the kind of friendship I always dreamed possible, at last. People who wanted to hug and feed each other. Friendships that were built on laughter and shared success, no matter how small. Nobody needed to be the heir to mysterious fortunes from their dying step great uncle in order to be accepted. Domination was a farce and treated that way. Nothing was owned, everything was shared. It was the best place I had ever been in my life! And that place, I invited everyone I cared about to. And still do. And always will.