Thought processes last night were not happy; I think work stress and not-sleeping stress are getting to me. Even so, I kinda wanted to discuss things here because it’s been a while since I’ve done so, and also because it’ll help people get to know me and why I behave the way I do, especially around other people. (I feel like I’ve already written something along these lines, detailing these same things, but honestly I don’t care; I really just want to get them off my chest.)
When I was going into Kindergarten, that was my first real experience with my peers. (I think I mentioned this before.) Prior to that, I hung out with my dad’s friends a lot, because they’d come over and play video games with us on our large (for us and for the time) ~17” television. It was fun, and probably the first time I ever really clicked with people who had similar interests. They treated me like a child, sure, but not in a bad way; when I was curious, they helped. When I asked questions, they answered. It wasn’t condescending; it was genuine and nice.
In elementary school, I never really had any friends. I had a few here and there, but usually the group would fall apart for some reason or another (often ridicule directed at me), and that would be that. I remember during this time, during the summer, I’d go to my great-aunt Zelma’s place and hang out with her grandson, my second cousin, who was also my age and shared similar interests at the time as well; we got in arguments sure, and there was the occasional physicality, but it was honestly all in good fun, or at least that’s how I always saw it. We never intentionally hurt each other (I don’t think…) and in the end, we always made up over a game of Mega Man 2, or Battletoads. I don’t think we ever beat Heat Man’s stage, nor did we ever get past the speeder race. He was about the only real friend I had between ages five and ten; I did have other friends, but they either weren’t my peers, or we had little interest in hanging out together save for having a second player in particularly difficult games. (I considered them very good friends, to be fair; just, for some reason, everyone always told me that they weren’t.)
Going into high school was, for me, a chance to start over. I really didn’t like the lot I was given in grade school, and I wanted to fix that with a brand-new start. This was not my only reason for choosing to go to a private school during this period of my life, but it was a contributing factor. By this point, I’d made a few friends through the Boy Scouts; it wasn’t much, and really we never hung out outside of camping trips, but it was consistent social interaction. At any rate, high school, I’d hoped, would be different; with a (largely) new group of people, it would be a fresh start.
Marching band dynamics shot that hope down real quick. While I did find a few folks who were interested in the same sorts of things I was, very few of them were even remotely interested in hanging out with me in any way. This translated itself to the lunchroom, where I’d sit in roughly the same spot, on the outskirts of the same groups of friends, trying to fit in but ultimately failing. During this time, I learned many new card games for the first time; as I’d start to get relatively proficient at one game, the group would move on to another, and so on; while this rarely gave me a chance to catch up, it at least afforded me a chance to learn. For that reason, I considered this group of people “friends” even though I often was left playing Solitaire with zero conversation.
As high school progressed, I ended up with a set group of folks who actually seemed to be more like friends; we were members of the Sci-Fi club together; we ran the yearbook together; we did a lot of things together. As I look back though, I realize, as much as I enjoyed hanging out with these people, it feels like I was a burden to them, someone they only invited along so I could feel like I belonged, or so I wouldn’t get depressed. The group had formed itself before I got there; I was more of an afterthought. The others had actually founded the Sci-Fi club; they’d joined the yearbook long before I ever did. They often had their own excursions on which I was not invited. I mean, friends will hang out with other friends whenever and usually it’s not a second thought if another friend isn’t along, and I get that, but when those friends live literally on other sides of the city from each other, planning has to go into those get-togethers; it wasn’t just some phone call like “Hey, you wanna come hang out at my place tonight? I’ve got movies.” Especially when, in many cases, the rest of them were invited along as well.
This whole thought process came up because last night, someone mentioned games they didn’t like, which reminded me (in one of my crazy internal segues) of times with those friends in high school; specifically, I was reminded of the one time they invited me to play Settlers/Seafarers of Catan, and the one time they invited me to play Politika. Before, I’d watched them play Catan, so I knew the basic premise of the game; however, as the game got under way, I had to stop playing early, flat-out giving up because it strongly came across as though everyone was deliberately singling me out as the enemy. Politika, it being a long game anyway, allowed for “breaks” after each turn to discuss the goings-on with other players: discussing actions, and possibly working out alliances with others to take another player down. I was not the first one out in that game; however, I do recall it being the case that, during those breaks, I discussed with nobody. Again, it somewhat made me feel like a fifth wheel to the whole group.
Going into college, there were a number of reasons I chose a school on the other side of the country. I was done with the people I knew. I wanted to be on my own, fully. Basically, all my motivations boiled down to a single desire: To be alone. I wanted nothing to do with other people anymore; I was done trying to be friendly and amiable. I was done wasting time.
Of course, in spite of those desires, I did end up reaching out and meeting a few people who, like myself, had been shunned by their peers for most of their lives. One in particular got me to go along on a shopping trip up to Albuquerque towards the end of my freshman year; it was on this trip that I met more people, who would then introduce me to even more people. There were movie nights at one of their houses on a weekly basis, and I was always invited; of course, often these get-togethers had a pretense of at least some sort of sexual activity, or at least discussion of such, but my being asexual wasn’t a problem even in such a setting. It actually felt pretty nice, for once, to be surrounded by people.
When the folks who hosted those movie nights ended up moving to Albuquerque, other friends took up the yolk and moved movie night to their place; naturally, I followed along. When another friend needed a place to stay, they ended up living there for several months because, again, everyone was (or at least felt like) friends. When those friends left due to… well, a number of reasons, that other friend ended up moving in with someone else as a temporary solution, and the movie nights migrated to my place, along with one of those friends from that house who’d had something of an understanding with us for some time that they’d be moving in. (The other friend with a temporary solution also ended up moving in with us later at my insistence and persuasion of the other tenants, something that was in direct violation of our housing lease agreement by putting us over the allowed occupancy. This is somewhat important.)
In 2009, I was no longer able to afford to continue my education and had to drop out. This is a fact that a lot of people seem to forget: In the end, it wasn’t my grades or my behavior, but my lack of money that forced me out of the education system. My professors knew who I was, and they knew what I was capable of; the school administration knew who I was, and what I had been through (to an extent); and the financial aid office knew who I was, and sought every opportunity at their disposal to refuse money to any student on any ground whatsoever, as though they got kickbacks for making sure students couldn’t afford to attend.
At any rate, having to drop out left me without a job and with very few options; the original managers of the lease of the house understood that and did what they could to help, ultimately leaving me with a few hundred dollars in debt to them for rent and utilities during this time. I did eventually wind up at Walmart as a cashier, a job I really wasn’t cut out for; as mentioned numerous times in just this writing, I have a difficult time interacting with people, and that job required it constantly. I was under an inordinate amount of stress, and eventually my body simply gave out. My left leg stopped functioning; the few times it would work, it was filled with immense pain. My sleep pattern fell into what is classified as hypersomnia, sleeping near-constantly, getting up literally just to eat and use the bathroom before passing out again. Of course, working at Walmart, it wasn’t as though I could afford to see a doctor either; I could barely afford to keep up with the rent. Finally, in October 2010, I was silently fired for being unable to perform my job; with no other options in Socorro, I moved back to Cincinnati to live with my parents and try to find work there. (I’ve discussed this before.)
In May, I finally found work as a contractor with Procter and Gamble, a job I’d held temporarily at another facility while still going to school. Note, from October to May, I was not working, which means I was not getting a paycheck; all my personal debts had to be put on hold. Of course, nobody liked that, but least of all was the friend who, mentioned before, upon moving in violated our lease agreement; they were now in charge of it, and I owed rent to them for the time I was unemployed but still living there. Furthermore, because I left with little assistance (because no one offered to help me store my things in a storage unit I was paying for with what little money I had left, and even more problematic, after I left a key to the storage unit with them, refused to clear out their own living space with it), much of my stuff remained in that house. Tensions rose: Now they were in direct violation of the lease agreement because of my stuff, for which I’d never been so much as warned even, and they wanted me to somehow go back to Socorro and clear it out. I ended up asking another friend to help me with this, and they were immensely helpful in doing so; for that, I am quite grateful. (I owe that friend quite a bit at this point, but I’m pretty sure they’ve turned on me too by now.)
I ended up taking this job out here in the mountains of southern New Mexico in October 2011. My physical presence appears to have mended some of those wounds, but ultimately, I felt as though I could no longer trust people well enough to be friends with anyone else. During this time, that first friend who moved in after our mutual understanding blatantly and publicly insulted me with no grounds for such; someone (I still don’t really know who) was talking shit about me behind my back near constantly; and the one group of people who seemed genuinely interested in reaching out to me was laced with some of those individuals as well.
I’ve since stopped really trying to make friends. I live for my work, and I live day to day with that as my constant companion. Living in these mountains in total isolation, I’ve been the happiest I think I’ve ever been.