Navigating Social Anxiety with Autism: People Pleasing and Surviving the Me Too Shitshow

Social Experiment

Being who I am, I sometimes cross social boundaries with absolutely no intention of doing so. I often feel like I can jump into conversations with some random information of my own, that loosely fits the topic, but I learned as a kid that a lot of information I found interesting could bore the socks off the next kid, or even worse, cause them to be mean.

In my early 20s, after I moved to London, I decided to make a conscious effort to not be so introverted and just jump into conversations, if I had something I considered witty to add.

The problem is, things that amuse me don’t always, or perhaps a better word is often, amuse others. When I opened my mouth, it became like a walk through a field full of roses and landmines. Some glorious times, I’d get it just right. But, I still remember the looks of horror and sympathy I could generate in a conversation with just a few choice, unfiltered tidbits from my brain.

I had a long-standing friend who got me, and she would be in fits of giggles on the rare occasions she was there (she didn’t live in London). If she wasn’t I’d call her and give her details of the latest conversational debacle. We’d unpack the carnage together, decide it wasn’t so very bad, and look forward to the next time my brain decided it had some interesting input to add to a conversation.

After a few months of this social experiment, I gave up. Too many burns. Better to keep my thoughts and opinions locked away in my head, as I’d always done before. I swapped jobs and “normalised” myself. Job-swapping is another spectrum-thing I do, but that’s a conversation for another time.

On Socialising

I still find socialising with people I don’t know so well incredibly difficult. The thing is, when I’m flustered, it goes one of two ways. By far the better: I shut down, stop talking altogether and appear rude. This doesn’t happen too often, because I’m a people pleaser, more on that soon.

The usual way it goes is: I break out in a sweat, my heart-rate sky-rockets and I get a good dose of verbal diarrhoea, during which I impart random, often personal facts about myself to people I barely know, and I feel totally ridiculous during the whole “conversation”.

Before I knew about my autism, I genuinely used to think I was a real weirdo, not normal. I felt like an alien in fact, barely human at all. But it’s really just that my brain works differently and though I have many coping measures in place, sometimes I mess it up.

Considering things in real-time is hard, especially when I’m excited or anxious, then I can’t think straight at all and don’t seem to have much control over the words that fall from my tongue, or the actions that my hands make.

I communicate best in writing. I can consider what I want to say and put things out there in a way that I hope won’t offend friends, or people at large.

But I still worry that I have messed up. I can get so horribly down when I feel like I’ve upset someone I care deeply about. My mind goes down rabbit-holes of self-doubt that spin me completely off my equilibrium and make me feel ultimately vulnerable.

It destroys my feeling of self-worth and consumes me, so I can’t concentrate on anything anymore, and I feel such sadness, on the edge of tears all the time.

I don’t do emotion by halves, it’s either switched on or off. If I have my equilibrium, everything is fine. If I don’t, I spiral fast.

People Pleasing

There is a tendency in autistic girls to want to get things right. We do this instinctively, because we want to fit in. We often become people pleasers, because of how our brains work, because we don’t naturally understand social cues; we like structure, order, rules. We create our own set of social rules to function in society and we apply them, all the time.

We are perceived as good girls, because a fair few of us just want to fit in and pleasing people is an easy way to do it. That’s how so many autistic girls fly under the radar and don’t get a diagnosis as young as boys, or in some cases, until they’re grown up.

They are just perceived as good girls, but it’s not just that. The usual identifying austism characteristics that people look out for are based on how autism affects boys, not girls.

Being a people pleaser also makes it really difficult for me to say no. Because of this, I need a level of complete trust in my sexual encounters. My man provides this to me, he knows me inside out. We’re safe in all of the forms of our encounters, because he’s either there, or completely aware and supportive of my choices.

This inability to say no has led me in the past to make some bad decisions for myself, sexually. I’m very lucky, I have only had one really bad experience and that was a long time ago, I’ll spare you the details, instead give a snap-shot on how it affected me.

Surviving the Me Too Shitshow

I was a kid at the time, and it happened because I couldn’t say “stop”, because the man who did it to me was a grown-up and I was afraid of him. But perhaps if I had have said stop, he wouldn’t have stopped anyway, and that would have made the thing so much harder to bear.

I accepted blame, that’s just what you do when something you cannot understand happens to you, especially if you’re a kid. It’s just easier that way, rather than to face the reality of the fact that you had no choice, that it was entirely his fault, that he did that thing to you against your will and without your permission.

Afterwards, I used to wish I could fold in on myself, fold up my body, so it would be protected and people, specifically men, wouldn’t notice me anymore. When you’re a young teen, you already have a woman’s body; before I never noticed it, after that shit did what he did to me, I became very aware of how much attention I got from men on the streets, and it made me feel so small, scared and so very damaged.

He took my sense of safety away from me, but I think it would have destroyed me, if I’d asked him to stop and he hadn’t. Then it wouldn’t just have been my sense of safety, but also the boundaries of my universe. I’ve said it before, and this is my mantra: I deal in absolutes. If I had asked him to stop and he hadn’t, he would have blown up one of my most important core absolutes; my self-autonomy, in a very, very bad way.

I’m not telling you this because I want sympathy. I’m fine now; have been for ages. I’m sharing it because so many of us have had this happen to us in one form or another; a selfish act by some-one, who in the course of just a few minutes can change your life fundamentally.

It took me a long time to work through and let that one go, and I know I am not the person I would have been, if it hadn’t have happened.

It’s such a damned shame that there are so many of those entitled shits masquerading as human beings, forcing their hideous selves on others.

To my fellow survivors: I see you. If you’re still struggling, I and others with me are sending you strength. Things will get better.

Blogging as a People Pleaser

I’m a real people pleaser. If you’ve read any of my filth here, it’s there in pretty much every blog. I need to please. It’s a vital part of my sexual identity, and the reason I so very much enjoy being submissive, the reason I love giving head, possibly even the reason it turns me on so much, I just love giving pleasure to others.

This also explains why positive reinforcement, like calling me a good girl, or being told I’m a dirty little slut is such a turn on for me. I love to know that what I’m doing is provoking the right reaction, that I’m pleasing the receiver. I love to be told, it helps me feel at peace in the moment.

It’s why I like writing these blogs, too. I love the idea that my writing can give someone I’ll never meet a little pleasure in their lives, material to “inspire” themselves with. To wank to, or just to let them know that those secrets inside their heads are secrets that others have too.

We’re not alone.

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