Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Category: quiet (page 1 of 10)

Introvert shaming

I was just reading an article about introversion posted to Facebook by an introverted friend: So Apparently There Are Four Kinds of Introversion

(I was split about equal across all four kinds, by the way)

…And then, of course, in the comments to this article you find mean stuff accusing introverts who post on Facebook about introversion, of looking for pity and attention-seeking.

Sigh….

Once again, people really don’t understand introverts.

No, it’s people posting articles they find meaningful and helpful, the same as everybody else does on Facebook.  My husband’s Aspie cousin also posts lots of things about airplanes.

No, it’s about trying to understand yourself and explain it to others, after spending a lifetime of dealing with people who accuse you of being stuck up, or rude, or all sorts of other things, simply because you are quiet and introverted.

Who have abused you for it, or rejected you for it, or teased you for it, causing deep scars.

Who have scolded you out of the blue, when you were simply being yourself.

And it happens quite often.  It starts in childhood, when you have no idea why the other kids keep rejecting you and bullying you, or why you can’t please your teachers and other adults.

Most people want the approval of others, so telling us to just “shrug it off” won’t work.  No, stuff like this works deep in your psyche, a kind of introvert-shaming.

It causes you to feel like a freak, because not only can you not behave the ways that everybody keeps telling you, you “should,”–

but oftentimes you don’t want to.

Heck, I’ve just come through YEARS of fighting to recover from the emotional damage of being traumatized by Richard and Tracy for being introverted.  The whole story, the extent of how they abused me, starts here.  I recently realized that I finally made it through the darkness and have rebuilt my life again.

Another person in college, Shawn, also psychologically damaged me by criticizing all my introverted and NVLD traits.  I was in love with him, but he rejected me because of my introversion, while also sexually using me.  You can read about him here.  I had to go to counseling to untangle myself from him.  Yet years later, things he did and told me sometimes ring in my head.

If these things happen to me, then they happen to others.  I post my experiences to help other introverts and abuse victims get through the jungle of depression and self-pity, and to the point of accepting themselves–and not accepting abuse from others.

I had no such resource to help me, so I felt all alone.  But I can provide it for others so they don’t go through what I did, so they don’t feel alone.

Finally, we introverts have found a way, through Facebook, to quickly explain to all our friends that our behavior is actually normal and common.  We hope that finally, the judgment and criticism will STOP so we can relax more in social gatherings.

This is also a way to say, “We’re here, we’re introverted, get used to it!”

A way to reverse decades of emotional trauma by realizing we are OKAY.

To begin to empower ourselves.

To rebuild our confidence and become comfortable in our own skin.

To finally have the words we need and the gumption we need to tell people the next time they criticize us, “I’m an introvert, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

To STOP taking the criticism to heart and crying the rest of the day, or however each individual introvert deals with rejection and criticism.

To STOP apologizing for how we are.

To STOP trying to change ourselves and failing, destroying our confidence in ourselves.

To realize that we do indeed have something to offer, making us more attractive to employers, mates and friends.

To have a happy life of taking care of our own needs, rather than fighting against the grain of our own natures.  And that gives us the energy to take care of others’ needs as well.

…And we get accused of “attention-seeking” or looking for “pity.”

Or, another one I’ve seen, of trying to show that we’re “better,” or smarter or whatever, than extroverts.

Um, no.  This is just more introvert-shaming.  Quit it already!

(A Psychology Today article on reversing the effects of “introvert shaming,” on feeling self-worth instead of victimized, is here.  Another blog post from a kindred spirit on introvert-shaming is here.)

 

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My friends tell me that Phil is controlling and possessive; My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 6

My friends tell me that Phil is controlling and possessive

I kept the engagement bird up on the living room shelf because I had nowhere else to put it.  Phil told me to keep it.

Though tempted to break the bird into a million pieces, I dreamed that I did and began to sob over the poor bird.  It wasn’t its fault.  So I didn’t break or even chip it.

I later put the game Crack the Case, which Phil had put in my safekeeping, into a cupboard below the sink.

At some point, Phil told me on the phone about things people thought of me and the “advice” they gave.  I objected.  He said, “Are you saying that Dave doesn’t know you?  That Peter doesn’t know you?”

What?  Peter’s problems with me were old and very petty, and Peter said he treated me the way he did because it was hard to deal with his feelings.  He hadn’t seen me much at all since freshman year.

As for Dave, he barely knew me.  He hadn’t seen me all summer, and before that he only saw me for a few months and only every once in a while, when Phil and I weren’t alone together.

He saw me in Botany class and labs, but that’s schoolwork, and I believe I was more into the class or the lab than into being sociable with him.  I still don’t see why he said “we don’t get along” when he had only just met me and I thought we got along just fine.

Dave told all sorts of lies about me, while barely knowing me.

Anyway, Phil used his statement (“do they not know you?”) to justify what his friends said about me: party pooper, Bible beater.

(Peter said nothing to him about breaking up with me, though, because Peter only knew we broke up, not why.  I don’t know when he found out or how he heard.  I believe he said in late winter that he hadn’t spoken to Phil in quite a while after the way the family treated him in early 1994.)

I said these people didn’t know me so well.  Also, what they supposedly said didn’t fit me at all.  I didn’t go to parties with drugs, alcohol, or sex, but usually to parties with my own friends.  I had a great time, so who would call me a pooper?

What did “party pooping” have to do with our relationship or anything else, anyway?  Nothing!  Marriage is not about partying.  (For him to even think so, shows he was not ready for it.)

And he only just said that I wasn’t a Bible beater “like Pearl.”  Even if I was, so what?  I was a Christian, and that was what mattered.  My lifestyle had kept me out of tons of trouble, and eventually, my life would be very happy because of it.

Neither of these so-called “problems” were any reason to break up with a person, and there were many people who wouldn’t consider them “problems” at all.

Phil was probably talking to one of those boring partiers who just wanted to get drunk and do harmful things all the time.  I had no patience with such people, screwing up their brains instead of protecting and using them.

My response was, “Maybe you don’t know me so well after all.”

He said, “Do you really want to be with a guy who doesn’t know you?”  But this is faulty reasoning.  The point is to get to know a person over time, not necessarily to know them very well at the outset.  How can you?  It takes time.

Now I understand that this is triangulation, as I describe here, a tactic used to make you think you’re the problem and that everybody agrees.  But at the time, it just came out of left field.

Phil said on the way back to Roanoke that this was the best summer of his life because he’d been with me.  Then, a few days later, THE END.  How could I believe anything he said to me that week?

I went through almost two weeks of trying to fight away the misery and trying to figure out whether or not we were ever really married.

Phil now said we weren’t after all, that now he wasn’t sure he even believed in marriage anymore, that he no longer thought sex was wrong if the couple loved and were committed to each other, that he was getting desperate and thought it possible he’d sleep with someone in the heat of the moment–all things that crushed me.

****

I heard tell, and could see for myself, that the freshman class was about as big as the three other classes put together.  And now the lunch lines went all the way back to the opposite wall, then doubled up and went all the way back to the outside doors!

The line seemed to take different routes every year: Freshman year, the line would go into the Muskie.  I think at times it had even gone around the other Bossard walls.  I believe sometimes it would also double up over by the Muskie.

Anyway, you had to be careful what time you went to Bossard for lunch, or else you’d get stuck in this line, whatever way it went.  Sometimes we would just sit down and wait for it to get smaller, because it would, eventually.  And what were we waiting for?  School food!  Ugh!  (Though it was better than public school food by far.)

I loved goatees junior year, but senior year–I don’t know, I guess too many guys were wearing them now.

Sarah, Tara, etc. used to say, “PEO-ple! It’s PEO-ple!”  (That came from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, one with a tennis-shoed, orange-haired monster in a scientist’s castle.)  Now Tara got us all saying, “PEEP-hole!  We want a PEEP-hole!”

We wanted a peephole on our outside door for safety reasons.  The door didn’t have a window, and neither did that whole wall, so we couldn’t see who was out there before opening it.  When Mike came along and banged on it in his own peculiar way, we didn’t know if it was him or a crazed Zeta.

I loved the honks of the geese by the lagoon.  Though they would threaten me if I went near them, I considered them my friends: Their beautiful sounds consoled me.

Sharon said the choir director complimented her on never having “S– hair.”  S– hair, in those days, was big, curly hair.

****

Now my friends told me the many reasons why they didn’t like Phil.  I always thought they just found his jokes annoying.

I didn’t realize it was the way he treated me, that he treated me like a child, that he was too controlling and possessive.  A couple of years late, Cindy told me she witnessed him yelling at me, and later at the girl he married, and she hated that.

After the divorce, he said the drunk guys at the party called me possessive.  In reality, I only objected when he leered at–not just looked at–or made crass jokes about other women, and when he said he wanted two additional wives.

I never acted like he couldn’t be friends with other women.  It’s not “possessive” to be suspicious of someone who gives you good reason to suspect him.  Apparently, he was just projecting his own trait onto me.

My friends said nothing because they thought I could see it and was okay with it.  But I’d been too blinded by NVLD to notice the things my friends noticed.

I can tell you for sure that this was not just them comforting me after a breakup, like friends sometimes do, telling you all the bad things to get you over him faster.  As I describe later, one of my acquaintances–not one of my close friends–told a friend at dinner one day that she needed to “warn” Persephone about Phil.  I never talked to this person about Phil.

Even after I graduated and got engaged, and no longer cared who Phil dated, my friends saw a new girl date and marry Phil.  They saw him do the same things with her, hated him, even tried to warn her before she married him.

It wasn’t just our opinion, either.  Even Persephone later agreed that he treated his girlfriends like children.  “Sure,” she said, “he’ll be respectful to a girl when she’s just his friend, but as soon as they start dating, he treats her like a child!”  She said maybe it was because he considered his mother a child, and was disrespectful to her.

Dad said Phil was very unstable, and a yo-yo, always going back and forth.  In their talks together, Phil often seemed “stupid.”  Mom said he made too much noise at night, and that in all the time he spent with us, he never lifted a finger to help with the chores, or to pay them back for things they bought him for work.

My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues

One day, I sat in my room thinking, I’m so depressed and I think I’d like to go to church this Sunday.  The phone rang.  Out of the blue, Anna invited me to her church.  I thought maybe she did have a “direct line to God,” as Latosha used to tell her.

The most likely date we went to the church is September 11 (back when that day had nothing bad associated with it).

Anna’s church in S– was noisy, spiritual and full of activity.  I didn’t feel comfortable joining in with shouts or claps or any of that, being a Nazarene (though Dad told me once that Nazarene churches used to be a lot like that).  But a Pentecostal church is the perfect place to go when you’re upset.

Rather than the preacher leading them in prayer, for a time, the congregation was encouraged to pray privately–but out loud.  Anna knelt beside me and prayed in tongues.

I asked her later what the words meant, and repeated what I remembered.  She said she didn’t know, but she always looked them up afterwards in a special dictionary for people who speak in tongues.

I saw my old suitemate Tom there!  After the service, a man told me, “When he came to us, Tom was a messed-up Catholic!”  Then Anna brought him to her church, and there he was that day–a Pentecostal and (as they called it) full of the Spirit!  I couldn’t believe it.  He was so different from the partying suitemate I knew freshman year.

People found out I was a Nazarene (sort of a sister church), so they kept trying to convince me to turn Pentecostal, and that their doctrine on speaking in tongues is the correct one.  But they did this in a nice way, so I was more amused than annoyed.

I must admit, their stories were surprising–like young children speaking in tongues–and I was almost convinced.  But not quite.

Someone gave me a new King James Bible, the church’s usual gift for newcomers.

Anna and I went to school brunch together and talked about the breakup.  I asked what she thought of spiritual marriages, if they were real.  Her answer surprised me: She thought they can be more real than many “legal” marriages that are just a piece of paper.  But she also said we should follow the laws of the land.

Then we went down the Campus Center stairs and saw Phil in the foyer.  Anna left me with him, gushing about how wonderful it was that he was there and I could talk to him.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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A post to make my blogging worthwhile

I just found this in my stats:

January 23rd post, “Finally, Someone Who Gets It

This blogger just found my post tonight: On Being Judged For Shyness.  After she read it, she wrote, “I’m crying internal tears of joy knowing that there’s someone out there who understands how I feel on a daily basis.  Her closing paragraph really hit home:”

My closing paragraph:

Please, don’t be that person.  Don’t expect shy people to talk.  Draw them out instead by asking questions.

If we still don’t say much, don’t take it personally; sometimes it takes a while for us to become comfortable enough with you to talk easily.  Or maybe we simply have nothing to say about that subject.  Because our brains have such a hard time coming up with conversational topics off the cuff, just give us a chance.

Let us be ourselves, and don’t make a big deal about our quiet natures.  It may take a few meetings, it may take 20 or 100, but eventually, we may begin to open up to you.  Even now I can be very quiet in a group of people I’ve known and been comfortable with for years, but one-on-one I can often be more talkative.

It does my heart good to see my posts connecting to others like this.  To know that all the clicking away I do all the time, is starting to reach out to others and make a difference.

 

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NVLD: I just don’t understand people

Sometimes I have to cut out advice columnists for a while, just as in the 90s I had to cut out talk shows (such as Montel), because they can be triggering.  (I had bad experiences in college which these talk shows occasionally reminded me of.)

However, this is almost impossible because my newspaper runs an advice column, and you can’t help but read it with the comics.  Because the advice column often has bad advice, I feel forced to go elsewhere–usually Carolyn Hax–for some sanity again.

So until newspapers stop running these things, or I stop reading newspapers, I guess I’ll keep getting triggered now and then.  Just as bullies and abusers in my life tried to tell me I deserved their abuse, I’ll read what seems to say, “You deserved to be abused!”

This is why I had to drop a forum back in 2008, because people who knew nothing about the situation made it sound like I deserved to be bullied and abused.

I’ll read somebody else’s letter in an advice column and the responses, and it feels like over again, somebody is telling me, “You deserved to be abused!”  Even though it’s somebody else, and usually the situation is very different, I get shaky and distressed, like it’s all happening to me all over again.

With NVLD (nonverbal learning disorder), which is sort of like Asperger’s (though not the same thing), I just don’t understand people.

I was reminded of this again last night while reading a recent Carolyn Hax column and the responses from readers:

I read the letter writer’s complaint at face value.  When she said it was “perfectly natural” to discuss work with a co-worker, I thought, yes, of course it is.

I could agree with her that the girlfriend seems possessive and insecure to get all upset over work conversations between her boyfriend and the letter writer.

So when Carolyn and even the many commenters, on Facebook and on the Washington Post page, started ripping into the letter writer, I was shocked.

I just plain don’t get it.  I get excluded from conversations ALL THE TIME.

Nobody does it on purpose; it’s just that I’m an introvert with NVLD, and most people are extroverts without NVLD.  So they’ll be going on and on about something I don’t know a thing about, or that bores me, or somebody else makes my comment before I have a chance to.

I don’t whine about it; I only notice because often somebody turns to me and says, “You’re so quiet!”  That annoys me.  If you want to include me in the conversation, ask me a question; don’t criticize me and make me feel like a freak.

It happens in cars, just like with the letter writer and her two friends.  The other two will be in the front seats and I’ll be in the back, which automatically excludes you from conversation.

They’ll chatter on and on and I can barely hear them; if I can hear them, either I have nothing to contribute, or nobody hears me when I do.

Richard and Tracy used to do this all the time, too, when they’d drive me someplace, and they’d be up front talking on and on about their right-wing politics or some other thing, and I’d be quiet in the back seat.

Or we’d be in my house or their house, and they’d start going on about things I wasn’t interested in, or politics I did not agree with, or people I didn’t know, or make comments I found appalling, so I’d just sit quietly and wait for the conversation to change.

(Which is why her complaints of feeling “snubbed” have always baffled me.  Nobody was snubbing anybody, and if it’s “snubbing” to talk about things she doesn’t know about, then she “snubbed” me all the time. 

(It was just the normal, natural progression of conversation, and if, when other people were around, I got a chance to talk to Richard about something I actually knew about and was interested in, it was so rare and wonderful that I was darn well going to take it.  Everybody else did it to me all the time in their house; it was my turn, dang it. 

(This is also why I preferred one-on-one conversations with him, because we had a rapport and interests that could keep us talking for hours, which is highly unusual for me except with a few people. 

(Because it is so unusual for me, I see it as a rare treat, a delicacy, the caviar of friendships and social interaction.  While extroverts apparently see it as Tuesday. 

(But unfortunately, Tracy had such strict control that it was hard to see him without her, except on occasion, so when we got together, I wanted some of that rapport again for 10 or 20 minutes.  The rest of the time, we usually all socialized together, playing a game or something.)

But back to the main point.  It happens when more than two people are sitting at a table and the others inevitably steer the conversation toward subjects I cannot contribute to, or maybe I could but I can’t get a word in edgewise before the topic changes.

Or they talk about something I have no interest in, or about people they know but I don’t.

That’s why I prefer one-to-one conversations, because I can finally get a word in edgewise and talk about things I can contribute to, by helping to steer the conversation, instead of other people doing it.

Or sometimes I prefer the larger conversations because I don’t know what to say, and this takes the pressure off me to contribute.

Especially if I make a friend who I can actually talk to easily, I like the chance to just sit and chat with this person.

Introverts are like this: We don’t do well in group conversations, and just end up watching and listening.  But one-to-one, we can do a lot better.  Well, can.  I don’t always.  Often with one person, I still just sit there not knowing what to say.

But sometimes “magic” happens that I can’t explain, and I can chat easily with this person, probably because of similar interests and temperaments.

As for getting excluded–I get excluded when sitting at a meal with a group of people.  Happened all through school.  My college friends would go on and on every day about choir or their sorority, neither of which I was in.

Happened in the SCA, especially if they went on and on about something like sewing or SCA stuff (I was a newbie) or some bit of medieval knowledge that I know nothing about.

Happens every time I go to a social event and people chatter about things I don’t know about.

Happens at church every week, especially since I go to a Greek church and the people my age often talk in Greek with their relatives and older friends.  If I go to the English-speaking table, they’re mostly 30 or 40 years older than me and I can’t relate to the conversation.

And you know what?  That’s just frickin’ LIFE. 

I know people don’t do it on purpose.  You just frickin’ deal with it and don’t tell people what they can or can’t talk about, unless it’s something harmful, like making fun of someone or bringing up topics that are painful to you.  That’s being controlling and self-centered. 

(Heck, the one time I asked Richard not to talk around me about some guys who sexually harassed me, he said no.)

I think that people generally expect you to fend for yourself in conversations.  If you don’t, you just sort of disappear.

The only thing that annoys me is when people turn to me and complain that I’m so QUIET.

So I’m baffled by the Carolyn Hax column, why people have so jumped on the letter writer and accused her of all sorts of horrible things for doing the SAME THING THAT ALL THOSE PEOPLE WOULD DO TO ME WITHOUT THOUGHT IF WE WERE ALL SITTING AROUND A TABLE TOGETHER.

I just don’t understand people.  This is why I “hermit” so easily.  Why I “hermited” so much as a kid, but actually enjoyed going up into my bedroom when the house was full of relatives, or being alone all day at home during summer break.

Because people don’t make sense to me.  Oftentimes I had/have to deal with bullies, too.

Just when I think I have people figured out, they confuse me again.  Cats are easy: Pet them and give them a warm lap, and they’ll be devoted to you for life.

The researchers found that the brains of children with nonverbal learning disability responded differently to the social interactions than the brains of children with high functioning autism, or HFA, suggesting the neural pathways that underlie those behaviors may be different. —New light shed on learning disorders

UPDATE 2:02PM:

Going through the comments some more, I am greatly relieved to see at least two people who DO get it and don’t understand why the letter writer is being vilified.  They are introverts and social misfits to whom exclusion in conversation is perfectly normal and just something you tolerate.

One extrovert scolded that they may not want to participate in the conversation, but extroverts do, so it hurts them.

Er…Excuse me, introverts WANT to participate, same as extroverts.  We just get naturally shut out, which is frustrating. 

But we do not rage about this or treat them as if they did it deliberately, because everybody does this to us.  Our circles are small enough without chasing away all the extroverts we know.

One introvert, justaguy22, even sees the girlfriend as possibly abusive, possibly trying to control her boyfriend’s friendships and conversations, especially if she won’t let her BF see the LW without her, where they could talk shop!  That’s how I might see it, too–especially if the boyfriend uses the “we must pacify her” tone.

In my case, I got a lot of “Tracy’s jealous,” “She screams at the kids,” “She has to approve my friends,” “She’s emotionally abusive to me,” so seeing her reaction as controlling and possessive came from that.

I saw it myself when we were roommates for six weeks, and saw her become very hostile toward me as well, just out of nowhere.  I had no clue why.

And I was given a whole litany of things I did “wrong” around her that I could not even remember.

I said I needed help, such as her using words so I’d know when she wanted to converse with me, because I could not recognize it.

But no changes or help came from their side to help me change on my side, so I was continuously in the dark.  She continued to be displeased with my behavior, but without telling me at the time what I had done, so I had no clue.

I did not monopolize the conversation when she was in the room, mostly letting them carry it; if he and I sat next to each other, I might chat with him for a while, but usually my husband was there for her to talk to, or she was on the computer or doing some other thing.

She did not start conversations with me.  She did not even try with me, but instead expected me to come up with conversation when I have trouble with this in the best of social situations.

Most of the time there was something else going on in the room, or she was talking to everyone or to somebody else or screaming at a kid, so I didn’t see it as a time for starting conversation with her.

She criticized everything I did.  She refused to accept that I was a shy, quiet introvert with probable NVLD, who had always been that way and always would be, that making conversation with her–especially with someone who bullied me and whom I had maybe just witnessed verbally abusing her husband, kids or somebody else–was practically impossible for me until she stopped the abuse and accepted me for who I was.

Feeling pressured actually closes my throat and cuts off my thoughts.

Even then, I needed to be accepted as a quiet person who will not say much most of the time, even among my best friends.

I tried to explain all of this to Richard, hoping that he would explain it to her and they would help make it easier for me to relax around her.  But nothing ever changed, while I got blamed for everything and continuously punished for not being extroverted.

Also, after we broke things off with her, I had symptoms similar to PTSD.  As I wrote in one of my webpages on the situation, I was afraid to make new friends, constantly felt on-edge, like people were judging me harshly for being quiet.

It was always a huge relief to be among people who did not even mention my quietness, did not call me horrible for it, did not keep their husbands from being friends with me for it.

Reading this column was like, after all that, people were saying to me, “You deserved the abuse!  You deserved PTSD!  You deserve to be lonely and sad!”

I don’t know, maybe it’s just that the Carolyn Hax column is an entirely different situation from mine, and far simpler than what I dealt with, so the letter writer’s actions get a different response from the public.

I know that my husband–who is allowed to disagree with me and give the other person’s side–saw Tracy as controlling, too.

Maybe this letter writer is monopolizing the conversation, while I generally sit quiet in a corner.

I’m not sure it’s so hard to talk about something other than work, but maybe it’s the only thing she can think of at the time.  We don’t really know from one letter what all’s going on, and every letter that gets written to an advice column can get completely misinterpreted.

It happens, as we discover when somebody writes in with the “rest of the story,” whether from the original writer or from somebody else.

I believe I will now edit the full story of Richard/Tracy some more.  Apparently readers need to be more educated on introversion and NVLD, and told up front that I did try to do what I could to not “snub” her but I’m a timid person who was very intimidated by her aggressive manner.

Otherwise, people will just assume you are well-versed in social rules, an extrovert, can read subtle cues, etc. etc., and judge you unfairly.

One of the commenters on the advice column, who is used to being around geeks, complained about this, because of how people remarked on the letter writer.

Someone may have suggested Asperger’s; if she honestly cannot think of anything else to talk about, that is a possibility.  Aspies can easily fall into talking about their obsession even when you’ve already told them not to, but it’s not meant to hurt you.

Maybe I should incorporate this post into the introduction.  This is what people all over are dealing with in social situations, not just me.  All we ask for is understanding instead of vilification and writing us off.

 

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More Evidence of NVLD….

Just now, I was looking through my family genealogy book, put together by my aunt, so I could put my grandma’s obituary in it.  (RIP as of Thursday.)  On the way to find her page, I found mine–and discovered that my aunt had included my worst possible high school picture!

It couldn’t have been the pretty freshman year one, with my hair pulled back and curled, or the senior picture.  No, it was THAT one, with shaggy hippie hair, where I looked like I was about to kill somebody.

(Fortunately, a very pretty picture of me with my little family in 2004 was also included, so I’m not immortalized in this book as the ugly duckling of the family.)

And yet I seem to recall, when I took THAT picture, thinking it looked like a smile.  Or at the very worst, a neutral expression.  Certainly no anger, or anything at all negative.

I know I tried to smile for it, because I always would smile for my school pictures.  Yet in my teen years, those smiles seemed to vanish in the finished product.

Also, for many years I felt my yearbook picture for senior year, which I myself chose out of several options, had a playful smile that revealed my personality.  Now, it looks more like a grimace.

What the—?  How could my impression of my own expressions change so much over 20 years?

To me, this is yet more evidence that I have NVLD.  That it has improved over the years, that I’ve gotten much better at “reading” people and their expressions, but that I had an awful time reading body language while growing up.  (See here.)

One day I might get it professionally diagnosed, if I find myself with a few thousand extra bucks (not likely).

But as I read over old diaries and revise my college memoirs for this blog, I find all sorts of evidence I had forgotten, things I struggled with in the first half of my life which are no longer big issues.  I have learned to deal with them over the years, learned to go with the flow more often, gotten better socially.  I’m not sure a professional diagnosis is still needed.  But I sure could have used one as a kid.

I think I was tested for something in elementary school, but I’m not sure what, or what the results were.

NVLD was identified but not widely known in those days, and I was good at reading and spelling, so my teacher’s solution to my social, math and handwriting problems was to scold and scold and scold.

Didn’t work; it just made me feel more freakish, because I had no clue why I couldn’t live up to her expectations, or how to change to please her.

I just knew that whatever I did was wrong, that my handwriting looked awful no matter how hard I practiced, that my middle school teachers found my work disorganized, hard to read and not according to directions, and that 8th grade math made no sense to me.

This was certainly not for lack of trying, or for deliberately defying directions.  I remember puzzling through study periods, wondering why I couldn’t get my math problems to match the answers in the back of the book.

Today’s kids have it easier because they can get diagnosed early with NVLD or Asperger’s.  This did not exist back then.  There is hope for them; they don’t have to learn the hard way, like I did, and struggle through life until they start to get it right.

I was good at algebra and geometry, but still can’t figure out how to calculate my credit card’s interest rate fees (8th grade math).  I became a clerk, then a stay-at-home mother, because I can do that well.  I can also write; at least, that’s what I’m told.  🙂

Another thing I found in the family book: a eulogy of my paternal grandfather.  He’s described as quiet and hard to get to know, but friendly and full of character.  Not quarrelsome, but won’t put up with getting pushed around, either.  Whether through genetics or other means, I see this is a family trait, because I’m the same way.  🙂

The encouraging news from Murphy’s book is that, with the right support and interventions, people with NLD cope much better as they get older….

“It can be devastating,” Lewis says, “if no one in their world is knowledgeable about NLD.”

That is all too often the case, given how frequently it goes undiagnosed. “The reason it’s very hard to get a diagnosis is that it usually exists in conjunction with other disorders,” says Sandra Newman, a learning consultant in the Hawthorne school district who diagnosed J.C. when she was in private practice in Fair Lawn in 2001.

As is the case with autism spectrum disorders, NLD is marked by deficits in social awareness or judgment. As a child who has not had appropriate interventions moves toward adulthood and expectations increase, social misperceptions and blunders occur more frequently and are more deeply felt…..

“Mike and I will be talking,” Wolin says of his stepson, “and I’ll say it’s 4 o’clock, and he’ll say, ‘No, it’s 4:03.’ So often the drive for precision in the detail distracts you from the larger issue — that we’re supposed to be somewhere at 4, and we’re late.” –Ellen Chase, Children, adults with non-verbal learning disorder develop strategies for using talents, navigating around deficits

That last paragraph reminds me of my ex Peter complaining that I would give the exact time, rather than saying “o’clock” or “quarter till” etc.  I couldn’t figure out what the fuss was about: He wanted the actual time, didn’t he?  I thought everybody did that!

 

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