Saturday, June 20, 2009

Angry Aspies (another rant on friendship)

I've got an anger management problem. Do you? I'm working on it, and getting a LOT better. I'm discovering a LOT of my life is faling into place as I address the things that built up this intense anger I carry within me.

I think many Aspies are wired to get angry with less provocation and in a more violent manner than NTs, and I think a lot of it has to deal with not understanding what happened but not being pleased about it on the subconscious level. I wonder if being different sets up a cycle of anger: be different, get treated bad, find yourself unable to process or express feelings, get angry and act our (different, weird) b/c you can't understand the rage you're feeling and just want it to stop, get treated bad because you're different, and on it goes.

We don't even realize it, but our tendencey to "hijack conversations" or "share" or lecture may be driven by our deep-seated inner desire to prove our selves. We may not even be aware of it- or even aware that we ARE trying to prove ourselves. But deep down, we're trying to prove that we're just as good as anyone else. That we deserve to be treated just as good as anyone else. When I discovered this about myself (almost a year ago) it knocked the wind out of me. All of my accomplishments up to that point meant nothing, because they could never fill the void by parents treating me bad (just leave her in the corner- she'll never be normal) and kids treating me bad (she's so stooooo-pid).

I see a lot of Aspies who are angry because life hasn't treated us fair, and we see people who are less smart, less perfect, and less fill-in-the-blank getting ahead when all we get is shunned. They're jerks, and everyone likes them. We're amazing, and no one likes us. We get angrier, and insist upon those areas in which we can prove our worth by being right.

Problem is, to the outside observer, we're not as cool and perfect as we think we are. And until we are humbled, that attitude of "always right" will turn people off (and against us) before we can get close enough to say hi. I'm not sure how NTs pick up on it, but they do. Normal people have normal faults. Normal people forget about stuff pretty quickly (even commitments, unfortunately). Normal people don't know about or know how to do everything. When I run off the long list of businesses and community boards on which I serve, people think I'm making it up because Normal People can't do all of that at one time. Normal people only go on ad-infinitum about their special interest (if they have one) with others who share that interest. Normal people have the discretion not to share too much personal history too soon.

When we show ourselves to be outside the range of "normal" we are sending a clear signal to "normal people" that they should stay away from us. We're going to take up a lot of their time. We're going to want to talk a loooooong time, mostly about us and how right we are, and other things they aren't interested in. We're going to send loooooooong emails that their minds can't follow. We're going to use, abuse, embarrass, or just plain inconvenience them, and unless they have issues, they are going to move on and be friends with someone else.

What's left? We end up scraping the bottom of the barrel and find people who use, abuse, embarrass, and inconvenience us. We're not happy with the relationship, but we don't dare end it because we don't have a lot of friends to choose from.

I learned this the hard way. I'm telling you, so you can avoid making my mistakes, and maybe have good friends in your teens and twenties, instead of waiting til your late thirties and forties to figure this stuff out. If you have an anger problem, get some help on getting in touch with your feelings and what's causing them. Once you know what's making you angry, you can fix it. Learning how to identify and fix anger causing situations will help you end toxic relationships, which will help you respect yourself more, and that in turn will help you attract better people. Not sure why that works, but it does.

Hope it helps.


Anonymous said...

For me, I believe it's more a timing than anger issue. I let little things that bother me slide in the name of trying to be more "flexible." They build up over time until I explode over something irrational. More typical people address irritations as they occur, address them appropriately, then forget them and move on. I am working on this, but it's difficult because I've made so many social mistakes in the past that I continually question myself, messing up my timing even more. The cycle is frustrating for me and those around me, and is very hard to break. The good news is I now somewhat understand what's happening--that it's often a communication break-down on my part-- so I can attempt to work on it.

Anonymous said...

Your article gave me much food for thought. When people don't act the way I think they should or do something that I think is wrong/irresponsible/rude/annoying ad lib ad nauseam I get angry and/or upset. NTs think I am weird because I obsess about people's behaviour and cannot understand why I get so annoyed when the neigbours leave their rubbish on TOP of the bin instead of IN it. I am mean, you're supposed to put the bag in the bin for goodness sake! Like Anonymous I have foot in mouth disease and the queen of faux pas. Anger is part of my life but I have come to realise that and at age 30 am working on coping mechanisms (I have a selection of ear plugs and headphones :)

SavedAspie said...

Thanks Sonja for your comment- identifying the anger and developing coping mechanisms is a great start.

The other day, I read that as we begin to enforce appropriate boundaries with others, we feel less rage. I haven't had time to explore that fully, but it sounds good.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what you said is completely and totally my life right now. I had two recently ex-friends that basically told me that I was angry over little things, petty things that build up over time that I tried to process and couldn't because when I would try to express my feelings they told me my feelings were invalid, and why I can't I be normal? Heh good question don't have that answer right? I never told them I had Aspergers until recently after one told me she never wanted to speak to me again and the other finally saying the same thing and that I have to tell people about this "issue" because that way people can run away from me. That and its so nice when people tell you which is probably why at least i get angry people call me a liar when I tell people. They are like yah right. I have worked on my anger, but Your blog made total sense to me and I just felt super connected to everything you said.