Why I'm Difficult to Live With
Why I Can't Live With Anyone
I am an extremely difficult person to live with. Before someone moves in with me, I try to make it very clear that I have next to impossible expectations that are still... expected to be met. Despite these warnings and conversations, I am almost indubitably undermined.
I expect a spotless house, this is certainly my character flaw. I cannot concentrate or be productive unless everything is in it's place, neat and cleaned. Not only the house, but the yard, the pets, my car, the driveway, the garage, my office, and of course personal hygiene.
The cleaning and neatening alone, which is a constant battle when you live with two men, two cats and a long haired dog, but there's this strange social demand for respect.
I say strange, because everything I do feels strange. For me, I feel as though people aren't like this. I constantly feel as though there's something wrong with me, because the cleanliness, the routine, the demand to be acknowledged for everything I do for everyone else has been noted as 'uncomfortable'.
And yet they still choose to live with me.
At First, I Thought I was OCD
I grew up in an atmosphere that required that my sister and I maintain the household: cooking, cleaning, watching after the pets, etc. All of this while still going to school and being social. My sister (especially my sister) and I are pretty remarkable people.
My mother supported us by working two jobs--16 hour days. So, as my mother spared her needs and desires so my sister and I could carry on as normally as possible, we managed to graduate with honors and grow up to be pretty decent people. My sister may agree with me, but we've become more normal than we were and I'd like to attribute that to my mother's sacrifices.
That aside, I state these things for a couple of reasons. One, being, that I grew up older than most people and had developed a sense of responsibility and taking care of my surroundings at a young age. The second is, is that I frequently wonder if I have been traumatized by being inable to keep up with everything at such a young age, but expecting myself to do so.
I first discovered that I am insufferable to live with when I was in college and had my first roommates. I always complained about their lack of personal responsibility, in cleaning up the house which we shared. They complained about me being too "A-Line." I'm inflexible. You cannot leave dishes in the sink. Ever. Trash must be taken out. Always. Floors must be swept and mopped daily, the bathroom must never show signs of having been used, etc.
Sounds impractical, right? Well... it's not, for me.
We all attributed it to me being obsessive compulsive.
But, I Think I have Aspergers.
I received my undergraduate degree in Psychology. Behavioral Psychology, at that. The mind has always fascinated me. Why do we do what we do? The selfish part, is that I really wanted and want to know why I do and say the things that I do.
My knowledge of the mind has seemed to have opened flood gates to a vast world of possibilities, but there are two likely reasons for my actions: OCD or Aspergers.
I'm leaning towards Aspergers for a number of reasons: One I choose not to disclose, but there is enough other evidence:
Learning Without Trying
1. I have a photographic memory. I never had to try very hard in school or college for that matter. I always procrastinated work, because I knew I could 'study' the night before and ace the exam.
Studying, for me, required reading the chapter and the end. I didn't have to repeat anything to myself, I didn't need flash cards, I didn't need to review notes, I didn't need 'all nighters', or study groups. I read the textbook and was done and with about 90-100% accuracy was able to regurgitate all I needed to know. This is the best the part of maybe having a disorder. I love this part about me.
2. I am terrible at math, basic math even, but I am impressive at being able to memorize number series. Phone numbers, dates, license plates, driver's license numbers, social security numbers, and report numbers to just name a few.
In addition, I am able to determine the time of day without having looked at a clock--within 10 minutes.
There are obvious advantages.
And Then the Disadvantages
The worst part is, is that I have little empathy. I can sympathize, sure, but empathy. It frustrates me when people are upset, because I don't understand why they would express it. To me, it seems so inappropriate.
I embarrass myself when I feel like I've expressed too much of my emotion. I did the other day at work, and it just made me feel worse.
I can't cry. At least not very often. Sometimes I think if I could just cry I would feel better about everything, but I can't seem to find enough reason to find this action appropriate. Unless someone has died or I feel that someone has misunderstood me to such an elevated degree... I just dwell on it and wonder what's wrong with me.
And then, there is this: Probably what people know me the best for is that I frequently sound angry and agitated, when in fact I'm feeling nothing. I think I'm joking, but it just sounds so real and full of emotion that people are put off. I can't help it.
I remember being on the phone with my mother and having said something to her she responded: "What's wrong with you? Why are you so upset?" And I was dumbfounded and replied, "...Mom, there's nothing wrong, I'm not upset or mad, it just came out that way."
I don't understand inflections.
My attention to detail is not on purpose, it's what I see. I focus on the small things that make up the larger part of the whole. You have to work your way inside out in order to see the whole. To me, the most minuscule parts are just as important as the whole ordeal.
And I can understand why this is why I can be frustrating. I need to get into the fibers, I need to understand every aspect of the situation, or fabric, or problem to really understand how to handle it. This is also why I'm so terrible at responding to phone calls, text messages and facebook posts. I think: This doesn't need immediate attention, they'll leave a message or express the importance of getting back to them if they really need to get a hold of me.
I don't usually call people unless they call me. It's not that I'm not thinking of them, it's not that I don't care, it's just not serving an immediate purpose.
It sounds terrible, but it's how I'm able to function without being totally overwhelmed by the whole world. I can't deal with every fiber of the universe, let alone needing to decipher emotion in order to respond appropriately. Social interaction, for me, is extremely exhausting and overwhelming to the point that I need to flee.
Deviation from routine elicits debilitating panic attacks.
What I'm Good At:
Despite being socially inept, I am able to do some pretty complicated things rather easily:
1. I am a superstar at crocheting and learning new stitches to make some really fun things
2. I fixate on plants. I'm an excellent gardner and find great joy in really making things 'from scratch.'
3. I understand the nuances of cooking, understand how those small tastes can accent a whole into something really wonderful.
4. Believe it or not, I'm really good at reading people. Having an attention to detail and studying faces and reactions for so long has allowed me to really get to someone emotionally when it's necessary. I usually chalk it up to being psychic, but it could also be that I have studied people for so long in order to react appropriately.
5. I know wine inside and out. Being attentive to detail allows me to be able to recommend which wine would best go with what and even what the accents are. I know why it's important to swirl the glass before drinking--these things make me look fancy.
6. My house is super clean.
But I'm Not Sure.
I could just be making a really convincing excuse as to why I'm a jerk.