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Who am I? Orangutan edition

March 10, 2015

It’s not even 10 p.m., and Spouse has already gone to bed, but that is too early for me to attempt sleep. Still, I have to go to bed much earlier than usual tonight as I have to get up at the absurd hour of 7 a.m. both tomorrow and Thursday.

I wouldn’t have guessed that musing on tidbits of interpersonal difficulties, piecemeal, would be so fruitful, but I’ve thought of something else to chew on.

Over and over, both when talking to someone I know only a little, as well as people I’ve known a long time, I find myself thinking to myself, “Why do I have to listen to these complicated spiels about your sister-who-had-a-heart-attack, your best-friend’s-problems-at-work, and the adorable-school-project-your-nephew-brought-home? I don’t even know those people! I’m never going to even meet those people! I care about you, the individual! I want to hear about you what/how are you doing!!”

The bouquet of flowers I bought for Spouse last week: I picked out 8 individual stems of flowers + 2 stems of greenery. They were all different. I told the flowers in the car on the way home, “I picked each of you out, special”. I do that with my friends, too — I thought everybody did, I thought that was how the whole friend thing worked.

I don’t mind if my friends have stuff in common (up to a point), especially if it’s interesting stuff, but I don’t want them to be too similar to each other, or too similar to me, because then that would limit what we could learn from each other. And I’m all about learning.

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Metaphor time: What if human beings embedded in human social contexts all the time are roughly equivalent to chimpanzees or bonobos, both of whom are highly social? And what if I am equivalent to an orangutan, which iirc, is a solitary primate?

Because there are gobs of things that, talking to other people, we’re all speaking English, but I have no earthly clue what they’re talking about, or why I should care. And I don’t even know how to ask the meta-questions because we clearly do not share worldviews at even very basic levels.

Like talking to the Local Plant Nursery gardening specialist about neonicotinoids, except in more ordinary situations.

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If you’ve updated me sufficiently about the cool stuff you, my friend, have been/are doing, and I’m feeling good/open/expansive/joyful and therefore I have extra bandwidth, and your community-member has done something I find genuinely absorbing, sure, talk about it. I might learn something! If I’m engaged, I’ll ask lots of questions. I might even research it myself later. Fun!

But all the time? Just because other people… like to jabber on endlessly… about the Most Boring Crap Imaginable, omg? Um. Um. No, thank you; I’m good.

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I’m thinking I might have to go back to Twitter, because I desperately miss getting the stream of specific-to-my-interests “news” and hearing the cool stuff my Twitter-friends are doing. But if I do do that, I need something to stave off the despair that’s gonna settle right back in when I see how everyone else is Doing Stuff Together that I’m not doing with anybody because I can’t figure out how it works, and nobody (so far) has been able to explain, from their end, why not, and then I invariably fall into the oubliette of Profound Despair Because I (Clearly) Suck at Human Life. And, no, just no.

Friend3 told me about Scary Issue she has been dealing with regularly for 20 years, but reassured me that she has “a good support network” so she’s doing great at keeping it taken care of. And… I have had Scary Issue myself ongoing for at least 30 years, maybe 35 or more years, but I’ve never really told anybody about it because I couldn’t see any way that anyone could improve my experience with it, but I could see lots of ways other people could make my life worse about it. So I’ve just been… dealing with it as best as I can for 30-35 years, by myself. Huh.

Although… maybe I do suck at Human Life. Humans rely on other humans for stuff that I’ve never even been able to figure out how to ask for. {I’ve asked, directly, and indirectly, and gotten… very unhelpful responses, for the most part.} Therapy is often the only time I feel entirely visible and recognizable. But I don’t want to be in therapy my whole life, nor could I afford to be. {I’ve already spent a small fortune on it.}

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I want satisfying relationships with, say, a handful of (human being) people besides Spouse. That doesn’t seem like it should be impossible. And yet…

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