I don’t know who to trust

I recently got involved with an adventure activity company. I have been on a few trips so far and I can sincerely say that they are a lovely bunch. I was asked by the owner to help out as a volunteer and in return I can come along to all of his events for free.

I am really looking forward to this new chapter in my life.

This is such good news for me because I don’t have many friends who enjoy outdoorsy activities. Normally I do things on my own which is risky and I am prone to taking unnecessary risks and getting lost. I have’t had anything awful happen (a couple of near misses) but this way, I will get to do what I love and meet new people, in a much safer environment.

As I spend more time with the group, I’ll be getting to know them better and at some point someone will want to know more about me. At some point some of the icky things about my life will come up in conversation. If they ask about my relationship status I’ll be struggling to find an answer that is authentic and appropriate.

I don’t want to talk about surviving domestic abuse, or how I’ve been spending my time with the various health professionals, victim support providers and the criminal justice system (which is taking up a lot of time and head space at the moment).

People are trying really hard to get to know me and I’m struggling to gloss over all the shit that I’m going through. It’s getting harder to avoid the icky topics, in a way that is kind and friendly.

Also I’m worried about “oversharing”. Ever since I can remember, people have pointed out that when I get talking about myself I tend to over-share, which is a bad thing. I am told that it can be inappropriate or awkward for other people.

Getting this feedback from people is really embarrassing for me.

Oversharing also leaves me vulnerable, I’ve been told.

Apparently I have weak boundaries.

It is common knowledge that over-sharing of personal information is a classic ADHD thing (AKA impulse control issues). And we know that for people on the Autism spectrum, it’s down to having under-developed social skills.

So as an Autistic ADHDer, it is extra difficult for me to say the right things at the right time. I’m high functioning and reasonably self-aware, so I’ve found ways to rein it in, but it takes ALOT of effort and only works to a point.

It is much easier if I just avoid talking about myself. The best way I can describe how I do this is, I build this invisible wall around me and I don’t open up to anyone outside the wall. This feels safe but it doesn’t really work because once the seal is broken then all the icky stuff pours out and I don’t know where to draw the line.

I’m not sure what is “too much information”.

In my current place of work, it took me about a year to have an honest conversation about my personal life with my colleagues. It was a really big deal to them that I opened up finally. Now I wish I hadn’t shared some things because people use your icky stuff to make fun of you.

“We know all about your track record with men, ha ha ha!”

It really hurts when they do that – but they tell you it’s harmless fun. But it still hurts.

I have to say that as I get older, I’m feeling increasingly uncomfortable talking about myself to strangers. It’s even worse when someone shows a genuine interest in me. If someone I don’t know starts asking personal questions I actually find myself freaking out a bit.

I know, in theory, that there is a balance to be had – especially with people that you work with.

I say too much. I don’t say enough.

I just can’t get the balance right. I don’t know how to be social and share little bits about myself in a way that’s friendly and appropriate (i.e. how humans should behave).

On the other extreme, if I really like the person (which equates to, we have similar traits and vulnerabilities) then I will open them straight away – usually because I want to make them feel understood, accepted and supported.

Usually it’s because I want to help.

I know, in theory about bad people masked as victims or tortured souls.

I know in theory, that I shouldn’t open up and trust people, purely on the basis that they are nice to me.

The reality is, I don’t have any reliable measures to keep myself safe. I don’t know who to trust.

I let the wrong ones in.

I don’t know how to fix this.

7 thoughts on “I don’t know who to trust

  1. I’m the opposite. I had the childhood “say nothing” thing going on for so long I learned to avoid ADHD overshare by active control of the narrative I spun about myself. Something happened in 2018 where now I go kind of angry ranty when I share parts of my story and do do the ADHD thing about systemic abuse, but *only* about systemic abuse. The childhood stuff, through old habit, I still have no idea how to talk about or think about. I have to force those posts where I say openly anything about childhood, though screaming about the system has no such personal restrictions. Thus, I have decades of experience glossing over things when asked about my family, etc. People honestly aren’t as interested in your life as you think. The NT definition of “wanting to know about you” isn’t usually as much as the neurodiverse assume. Most people only ask about your family or dating either to use it as the butt of jokes as you described (not cool of those people. Not cool at all) or, if they aren’t arseholes, get just enough of an answer to then share theirs and move on. They don’t need or want the deep deep, just the deep enough. Come up with a few “practiced for company” stories from any period you don’t want to talk about, say them in the expected tone of voice, and people will “know you” without knowing what you aren’tready for them to know. You can always just say you were in a bad relationship and taking some time for yourself in a “knowing” and kind of sad, resigned tone of voice. People will assume he *just* cheated, and the decent ones will say they are sorry and move right along. (If they proceed to ever joke about you somehow deserving the “infidelity” even without the other stuff, well, they shouldn’t be your friend and you should avoid them.) That’s the kind of “close enough” use of implication to end the convo but make people think they know something real about you I’m talking about. I can still recite my childhood with a couple of carefully chosen nuggets about how I grew up in a Red State and that was “rough sometimes since I’m not really a natural fit for that” in a kind of bemused “you get it, since you live on the coasts” tone, or recite a family anecdote that sounds normal when the meeting icebreaker is something great about our family on Mother’s Day and have people assume they are close to me without ever even knowing I have experienced any trauma at all. People – especially NTs – want to “know” about you. But, well, I did learn from a lifetime of keeping family secrets that what they *actually* want to know about you is far less than we tend to think. Anecdotes and pitching our voices in the expected shade of emotion are pretty much all most people really think it takes to indicate we’ve “gone deep.: With the rare *real* friend, you’ll somehow figure out that they are actually safe (very possibly because they’ll also *be* neurodiverse), but those real friends are rare and special. For everyone else, anecdotes are the ultimate mask.

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    1. “They don’t need or want the deep deep, just the deep enough. Come up with a few “practiced for company” stories from any period you don’t want to talk about, say them in the expected tone of voice, and people will “know you” without knowing what you aren’tready for them to know.” – that’s really helpful, “practiced for company” – I’ll see if I can pull it off. Thanks for the input, I really appreciate it. This stuff I find really difficult.

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  2. I tend to be the opposite too, as lavenderandevity, I a) assume no one’s interested and b) don’t know how to share the icky stuff (my mental health has impacted massive chunks of my life so ANY question about anything other than now involves something about my MH). As I’ve tried to reach out and make friends I’ve tried to remember than I cannot manage other people’s emotions and if they feel awkward it’s not actually my responsibility. I also, and you may not feel this, think with my history I’m in an ideal position to raise awareness so, for example, if I answer a personal question with something icky, at least the ick is out there and there’s the opportunity for a conversation rather than continuing to feel like we have to hide. Cancer used to be “the big C”, now we’ve got the likes of Bowel Babe etc opening up the conversation like never before. I recon we’ll get there with MH, neurodiversity, abuse etc. Good luck with the adventure stuff, sounds awesome!!

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