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autism: invidious comparisons

June 21, 2015

I was obsessively doing Sudoku puzzles to self-soothe, when an idea floated up from my unconscious mind.

One family member keeps comparing me to another family member. And when they tell me about it, I always have a very intense reaction… I send them long letters of FEELINGSBOMBs (which are likely unwelcome). I feel deep shame afterwards, too, but I could never figure out why.

+++

The person I’m compared to, as far as I can tell from the outside, is beloved by their parents, and extended family members. They are also, from what I understand, doing swimmingly well in their life. They are a success story!

(Good for them. Yay!)

If they are actually so much like me, why is that their version is lovable, while I’m regarded as a pathetic freak who has failed at life?

We must not actually be as similar as everyone says, otherwise, I could be loved too. Right?

+++

This stuff triggers every feeling of self-loathing and shame I’ve ever had, going back to being tiny. Knowing I was something different, and seeing from how people react to me that there’s clearly Something Very Wrong With Me. And that’s why I’m Unloveable.

So, being compared to someone who is succeeding at everything, with all sorts of allies who want to help…

+++

Generally, no matter who is doing the comparing, I’m first bewildered at what they could possibly be referring to. I try to get them to elaborate, but apparently everyone else thinks it’s so self-evident, I’m just being needlessly tiresome again. The more I bend my mind into a pretzel, trying to determine what they could have meant, the more everything I do think of feels like I’m being shredded. And then… I have a meltdown.

In the midst of it, I write, to figure out what’s happening, and how I feel about it. I’ve often sent/mailed those missives, as a way of acknowledging my own existence and very different life experiences.

Later, if my brother was the recipient, I might hear back about how childish and ridiculous I am, or self-absorbed, or immature, or whatever.

Other people don’t respond at all, and even though that’s normal for them — because I already feel flayed by being triggered this way — I assume that confirms that I’m Deeply Unloveable and a Monster and a Disgusting Failure.

Then I go and hate on myself for a while.

+++

I don’t receive feedback from family of origin members that is positive about me, for being me. Only in comparison to others whom I do not know (often others I have reached out to repeatedly, and been rebuffed), and therefore cannot determine for myself if we are similar in useful ways.

How am I supposed to not conclude that apparently I exist in other people’s minds so that I can be the threshold others intend to surpass?

+++

When I’ve tried, with other family members, to (gingerly) talk about triggers, no one is receptive. It doesn’t matter what they are, or how easy it would be for them to be eliminated… no one is willing to listen.

I’m too much bother.

I’m not fun to be around.

I’m boring, I guess.

+++

Yet I’ve also been “encouraged” to show up at family reunions where… no one wants to talk to me. Maybe, if they’re drinking a lot, they’ll talk at me, for a while. Then wander off to find someone more congenial.

Gee, I wonder why I have so much trouble with social skills.

I guess, to them, I kind of am Uncle Ron, just younger.

But that’s not at all how the comparison-person is seen (I don’t think).

I don’t understand any of it.

But I do understand that the comparison really really hurts. If you have to make it, for Reasons, for gods’ sake, EXPLAIN WHAT YOU ACTUALLY MEAN. Because otherwise you’re just poking me with sticks. And I thought you of all people wouldn’t do that to me.

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