Socialising

My life has been an act of evolution. As I grow, I learn new ways.

When I was but a young boy, I preferred, as many young ones do, to play on my own. I knew the rules, I knew the toys, my imagination was complete. A few times I tried to lead others through my vision, but with little success. As I grew, I found it hard to understand how all of the other kids seemed to know each others rules, but none seemed to know mine and I was quite frankly puzzled by theirs.

I aged and found that I could call a few friends. My best friend from pre-primary and early primary school was not actually a best friend. He wasn’t a friend at all. He was a guy who lived near me and just didn’t know how to push me away. I mistook this for friendship. Another acquaintance at the time saw me as a friend, while I wasn’t so sure about him. As time progressed, I grew closer to this chap, and he is the only friend I have that knows my roots. Through our ups and downs, he truly is the best friend I have ever had.

I changed primary schools and ended up in a new crowd. Again I had no idea what social rules were and found it hard to not be ostracised by the group. So hard, in fact, that I was just a single person amongst a crowd. I again latched onto a person whom I called friend, who was basically some poor sod who couldn’t figure out how to get rid of me. I again mistook kindness for friendship.

It was during these lonely years that my mother bumped into the parents of the lad I knew from my last school and organised a play date. We kept that going and become quite good friends, lasting into a reunification of schools when we went to the same high school. Our friendship this time lasted a few years. I coasted through school and he found it wasn’t a good environment for him. We travelled different paths but kept in touch.

At high school I struggled to overcome my previous isolation and try to figure out rules for being at school in social situations. They were quite clumsy. The more I tried to conform, the more I didn’t understand and the more I was rejected. Later I would realise that this has to do with the uncanny valley, which I have spoken about in the past. Quickly though, while I was noticeably different, I was just easy to label as weird. The closer I got to being like others, the more weird became eerie, so the more people pushed me away. Pain taught me to be different, to be proud of my difference rather than sorrow at my isolation.

My friend left part way through year 9. We hadn’t really interacted much in the last year, so it was not big sorrow for me. I tried joining chess clubs and reading clubs and other such, but really didn’t know how to commit or interact properly, so it was easier not to.

I started to hang around a group of other odd people. We weren’t the same odd, but that didn’t matter. We accepted each others oddities and laughed at the normals. I remember this time when a bully was trying to pick a fight with me and the rest of the group stood up and one of them said “you got a problem?” with a look on his face that clearly indicated the wrong answer was going to be messy. It was a good feeling to feel like they had my back and would fight for me.

One of my bigger objections to these people was their use of alcohol to relax, their views on women and some other class based issues, primarily because I was elitist. For them, there was nothing wrong, for me there was. As we all grew older, they moved more into alcoholism and I felt more isolated again.

I had met a girl – quite literally the girl next door – and after a few months of me trying to figure out what a relationship was, she let me go. She said at the time that I was just too nice and not what she was after. Another lass at school was concurrently trying to convince me that we could date, and I kept turning her down so as not to cheat on the girl next door.

I kept interacting with these friends even when I changed schools again, going to a different high school. This was a huge mistake. I changed schools because it was awkward to marry up the school units I wanted to do with what was available. All of the bullies from my last primary school went to this new school. It was a disaster. I made some new associates, but it was no where near as supportive as the last school. I tried hard, but I failed.

In failure, I left school and spend three quarters of a year in recovery. I avoided people, including my own family. I slept a lot, read a lot and didn’t take care of personal hygiene very well. I struggled to hold onto my sanity. I succeeded.

A few weeks before the end of the of the year I decided I wanted to go back to school because my brain started thinking and speculating again. Without the schooling, I couldn’t act on any of my speculations. To the first high school I returned.

This time we did it right. We spoke to the year coordinator, who was my form teacher from the first year of high school. She found a way for me to do the school units I wanted to do by allowing me to do one via correspondence. While my friends had gone, some of their younger siblings were present and they kind of knew me. I created a group of misfits whose primary tenet was to accept anyone who wanted to be part of the group and look out for each other.

One of our younger partial members ran into our group, closely followed by a bully in hot pursuit. With the lesson from a few years in mind, I stood up and shoved the bully, who went flying across several bags and crumpled into a heap against a wall. Dazedly he got up, trying to figure out what the heck had happened when a teacher came in to see what was going on. The rest of the bully’s cohort had arrived, looking for trouble, only to be faced by around 18 bodies ready to knock them down too. The teacher asked what was going on and I responded that the bully had clearly lost his footing racing over bags. The teacher looked at us, looked at the known trouble maker and told him to watch himself in the future. We never had bully problems again while I went to that school.

Several years later, I heard that the group still existed with the same policies. That was a warming feeling.

I migrated to university for the first time and failed dismally as my lack lustre coasting attitude discovered it wasn’t compatible with the university system of saying “here are your times and assignments – do them as you see fit” complete lack of supervising structure. On top of that, the lodging in had the land owner go through a mental break down. Her two kids needed care and I picked up that burden. By the time I called for help, I was failing too badly to bow out gracefully. I took a 6 month break from schooling and tried to coordinate my life a bit better before going back.

I went back to university and did some exploratory learning – now that I knew that pure science was all about learning what others thought before you could express your thoughts, I was far less interested in it. Many years later, I realise that it actually makes far more sense to get a fair grounding in the area you wish to express opinions about. It stops you from sounding like an idiot.

I moved on with schooling, still looking for those who were like me. I met a girl, fell in love and pissed a few people off. I left university disillusioned with the education method for the course and got my teeth into working. I ran my own business for a great number of years.

My father died. He was killed by a serial killer. The means of his death didn’t affect me. What affected me most was that when I went to meet those who knew him in his last years, they all thought I was just like him. Perhaps the one person in this world who could understand all of me was now dead, and I never got to meet him.

A year later my relationship fell apart. Partly because I still didn’t understand relationships, partly because I didn’t understand myself and mostly because I used emotional manipulation to control the relationship and she used it right back. I realised that I had become what, in childhood, I detested in others and what I had feared I would become. I left her, I left everyone.

My life came undone.

I spent months working out what was wrong with me. I got relationship counselling. My counsellor was pretty good. I got diagnosed and I rejected the cure. I found my own way forward through learning that I needed to balance my life. I need to balance the three aspects – biological, psychological and social. I added a fourth aspect, spiritual. I regulated my life until I had formed new habits.

I started by finding my old friend and going back to him. He was amazing.

He didn’t judge me. He didn’t tell me off. He just put a movie on and we watched it together. Afterward he invited me to join his role playing group – he was starting a new game. I came up with excuses for why I couldn’t.

A few days later he rang me and told me he had found a way to make it work so that none of my excuses were plausible. He had put himself and every other player out to make it work. He asked me to at least come and make a character and meet the others. I went, I kept going.

Still I was alone, but now I had a group. I was invited to a party one of them was hosting and from there I met more people and got invited to more parties. I hopped from group to group, looking, looking, looking. Still there was no one like me, but now I had found many people who had some reflections of me. I could distribute the weight of my friendship on many shoulders. None of them knew all of me, but they didn’t have to. I no longer feared burning my friends out.

I discovered that some of my friends were not friends. Some of them were very dangerous enemies. I met the person the closest to my arch nemesis that I will hopefully ever come. He was young, manipulative and trying to prove himself against me. I survived and distanced myself from him.

I met the future mother of my child. Through our relationship I grew distant again from people while I supported her. It ended when I recognised that my health was dropping lower than was safe to look after my child.

During these years I was back at university, trying to complete a new degree. I joined a social club of nerds – actually three social clubs who were closely tied together quite incestuously. What amazes me is that these nerds didn’t support each other, but were constantly competing and tearing each other down and apart. One day I will write about this (ironically, that is why I started writing this, but now I realise that is a side issue to writing my history).

My old friend had troubles accepting the changes I put in place to stop being the person I hated. I think from his perspective I was lessoning myself. To some extent that is true. I had to reverse to move forwards – backing away from a wall so you can steer in a new direction is more intelligent than driving faster towards that wall called doom. While he had troubles, he continued to be my friend and to accept who I was and who I wanted to become. He misses the old me. Hopefully the new me is a good enough substitute.

My child was four and I was single and needed a place to live. Initially I had to move back into my mothers house. Not too long afterwards I moved in with my old friend for just shy of a year. This helped both of us out, but it wasn’t perfect.

During this time, some faulty allegations prompted me to be more involved in a side line group that I was kind of involved with. The best way for these people to know the allegations were faulty was to get to know who I was, rather than base their opinions solely  on someone’s ranting. Ironically this got me closer than ever in my life to a group of people who I can call friends.

A little over a year after becoming single I began to date a new lass. Ironically she chased me and I completely failed to run away. We are still together a the time of this writing, 7 years later.

My child has grown and she is now 11. I see in her life strong reflections of my experiences. I hope that she has enough from me to guide her through her life and enough from her other family to make her similar to the norm.

While I have learned a great deal about socialising, I still am a stranger to the rules of how people relate. I have many people I now call friend. Some are closer, some are further. I also have many who I know will help and support me if I were to call for it. It is reassuring.

Still I know no one like me. Still I am alone in this world. There are a few that are kind of close, but mostly they are as distant from everyone else as they are from me. I bide my time.