Asperger's,Autism Spectrum Disorder

Why Am I Afraid to Open Up?

Have you ever been afraid to open up to someone else? I think you must have, because in life not everything goes the way we want it. We have all been hurt, right? We have all trusted someone we shouldn’t have, we have all been left by a friend or a lover, some of us have been left by those who are supposed to protect us – our family, our parents.

I am a terrible judge of character. I have been hurt more often than not.

People often say stuff like: “Just hold back and wait a while before you share anything.”

That advice is useless to me, because I never open up voluntarily. I am always pressured or forced to because people think I am hiding something or lying to them.

Sometimes they claim I don’t care about them at all, but that is the silliest reason of all. Whether or not I share my past or my feelings with someone is by no means an indicator of how much I care about someone – it’s about how much I trust in them, yes, but more than anything it’s about how much I trust myself.

When it comes to my past, there’s a lot of things I prefer not to think about in my daily life – not because they make me sad or because I am still hurting, but because I prefer to enjoy my life as it is now instead of constantly thinking about my past. Since I don’t think about those things much, why would I mention it unless it seems relevant? Sometimes it is relevant and then I’ll share it, of course, but if something isn’t relevant, I see no reason to bring it up randomly.

Maybe I am very hurt by someone’s words and to explain why I am hurt I will explain how that word was used against me in the past. I would probably explain reluctantly, because I just don’t like opening up, but I would do my best. I cannot read minds and I express myself differently from the vast majority of people and therefore I am pretty sure most people wouldn’t know the meaning of my behaviour nor the meaning behind them, just like I will never really learn to understand most neurotypicals.

It’s not just something I say without consideration, it is the truth. I don’t express myself like neurotypicals, but because my behaviour is logical and obvious to myself, I often find it much easier to understand the behaviour of other atypicals like me – not that I am never wrong, because I am.

Reading people in general is just not a skill that I have been able to improve much even though I have struggled all my life to become better at it.

Neurotypicals are the most difficult to understand. They are often very emotional, react on those emotions right when they feel them, and they feel emotional about things I will never get emotional over.

This goes both ways, as I can get emotional over things that, in my experience, many neurotypicals would not get emotional over.

We are different, yes, but also similar.

It’s more than this, however. I can’t read facial expressions very well, they are too complex and nuanced and even the smallest detail can change an expression from happiness to sadness.

I feel like everyone is wearing masks, hiding their true reactions underneath. I recently realised that I also don’t really understand tonal differences. I can hear differences in volume quite easily and have based most of my understanding on this rather than how people are saying something.

Often people tell me that I talk down to them and they mention my tone of voice, but I have no idea what I said wrong because I don’t intuitively know how to understand context from someone’s tone. I never really thought about it until I started learning Mandarin and realised that my own language, as other languages I have experience with (including my native language) all use tones in some way to convey feelings or nuances.

It was a very unsettling discovery, because I now understand that something I don’t feel like I have any control over or ability to intuitively understand plays a big part of everyday communication. I hope that the more I learn Mandarin, the more I will be able to differentiate tones.

The funny thing is, I was a part of a choir and participated in musicals on stage for many, many years growing up and I have a lot of experience with tones in music, but I never realised it affects how people perceive your words – nor that it has an effect on how I should understand their words. Probably people have been really upset with me in the past and not understood how I didn’t realise it, because they felt they had made it quite clear with their tone of voice.

There are so many challenges when it comes to communication, is it any wonder I often trust the wrong person? People also tell me to just trust in the right people, but I have no idea who those people are.

I don’t have a lot of friends. I don’t have any friends who are a part of my everyday life in any way, nor do I have any friends where I am a part of their everyday life either. I talk to my friends once in a while, but often months pass between any communication between us.

I don’t feel particularly lonely, but I would very much like to be a part of someone’s life.

I don’t just want to be there when people are bored or lonely, I don’t just want to be there when big, dramatic things happen. I want to know some of the everyday things too. I want to talk about Asian dramas we’ve watched, I want to play video games with them or maybe discuss a book we both want to read. I want the little things. Is that strange? Am I asking too much?

Of course, my friends mean a lot to me, and I will always be there for them when they need me, but this way they can never really be there for me when I need it. I won’t open up easily, it takes time and interaction for me to trust someone. I can barely trust myself.

I don’t know if it is because I don’t communicate well, or because I am too strange or maybe I am just too boring – but after a while, once people start to get to know me, they leave my life. They don’t like me, most of the time. Probably, it is because I am sharp-tongued, can sound arrogant and in their eyes seem cold and uncaring. I talked about this in my post Friendship, feel free to read it if you want to know more. Suffice to say, I never want to be like that. I never notice these things myself and I don’t know how to change it when no one tells me what I am doing wrong.

I want to trust people, I really do, but I don’t know how.

I have been hurt so many times before, and in the end, I am mostly alone. I have no idea how other people choose what person they trust and what person they don’t trust. When I ask, often people answer that they just feel a connection with someone, or they feel like that person is trustworthy. I don’t feel connections with anyone, nor do I ever feel like someone seems trustworthy.

I have tried different strategies and tried to judge people from their actions, but something like that takes time and effort. I don’t know how long either, but I can tell you no one ever stayed by my side long enough for me to truly trust them.

You know what my favourite kind of love story is? The slow burn. I love seeing people slowly get to know each other over time and slowly grow to love each other as they also grow more confident in their own and their partners feelings. I don’t really believe in love at first sight, not even love within a few months. I am sure some people know early on, but anyone who says the words I love you within a few months of knowing each other makes me feel worried and lose trust in the relationship between them – especially if I am one of them. I have said those words and thought I meant it or known I didn’t mean it and said it anyway not to hurt the other one, or I have said those words thinking I could make it true.

Of course, all those are bad reasons to say I love you.

I don’t think I ever said those words first and because of that, I am pretty sure I have never said those words and actually meant it. Admitting this, something I have not even been willing to admit to myself, makes me feel very ashamed.

I have not treated people as well as I should in the past, but with every mistake I make I try to do better in my present moment. It’s just, no one ever gave me enough time to understand my own feelings, nor did they stay long enough for me to grow to love them – they only stayed long enough for me to have an interest in them and then they tried to force it – but that has the opposite effect on me and pushes me away.

I cannot force my own feelings; I cannot force myself to feel what I do not. I need time to get to know someone, to understand their personality and character, and then I can naturally open up and share myself, my past, my feelings and my future easily. You see, the most stupid thing is, I really want to trust and open up, I want to connect with others. I just don’t know how and you cannot force me, you have to let me get there on my own.

I know, I do have a sharp tongue, I often speak before I think, I often sound cold, cruel and arrogant – I know this, because countless people have told me this. They call me cold-hearted and arrogant and even more horrible things.

No one seems to understand how hard I struggle to be a good person and do what is right, how much I fight to learn from my past mistakes and make it up to people if I realise that I have hurt them. Every day, I try my best to be a good person, to be supportive and attentive and kind to the people I interact with – no matter if that person is family, friend or even a random stranger. I want to be the best person I can possibly be, so why do people always see me as cold or arrogant?

Sure, I don’t open up or trust people easily, but I am always honest if people ask me anything. I don’t hide things on purpose, nor do I lie. If someone asks me something important respectfully, it is only right that I answer as best I can.

When people force me or pressure me to open up, I either break, not because of the memory, but because of the pressure I cannot bear, or I share my life or feelings like I narrate someone else’s story and not my own life.

The more someone pressures me to open up, the more closed off I become.

What I really want in life is someone – anyone – to enter my life and forgive me my sharp tongue, my seemingly cruel words and arrogant behaviour. Someone who would see past all that and understand and respect how hard I try to be good. Someone who would give me time to open up and share myself slowly no matter how long it might take. Someone who would not pressure me to be what I cannot be, but still accept all the love I have to give. It doesn’t matter to me if that person comes into my life as a family member, a friend or a lover – the role is not important, their actions are.

If only someone would see that my heart is not made of stone, it is merely frozen. Time and warmth will be able to melt it away and reveal a heart of flesh and blood – A beating human heart exactly the same as everyone else.

Kai

I graduated my masters in 2017 with a major in Japanese studies and a minor in international relations. Since my graduation I have focused on figuring out who I am, because I was diagnosed with Asperger's (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and it made me rethink my life and allowed me to understand myself better. Because I have always been passionate about writing, I decided to blog about my life in the hope that it can increase autism awareness.

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