This comic, Say Something, is a story that manifested from my desire to speak. Too often do I have thoughts that are incomplete because of their premature cutoff. That may have caused my incoherent speech patterns from time to time, but who knows?
Wow, I can really relate to this feeling.
Writing my thoughts is easy, but speaking them is very difficult for me. I always end up sounding like an idiot. It’s like something gets lost between my brain and my mouth. I can eventually get the words out if I am given the time to think through each word, one at a time, but conversations don’t work that way. They’re fast-paced and real-time. Trying to have a conversation, for me, it’s like improvising jazz. Unless I have the sheet music in front of me — a script to read from, in this metaphor — I can’t really speak. So I stay silent.
I’m not gonna give my whole life’s story here, but let’s just say I spent the majority of my childhood by myself, or if I was near anyone at all, they were always an adult and couldn’t get my way of thinking, not only because I was a child, but also because I was “gifted,” whatever the hell that means. I never really thought the way my peers did either. Different worldviews or somethin’. It made courting friends virtually impossible.
I was silent through most of my school life, as every attempt at making a friend backfired somehow. Always silent at home too, since my mom and dad got divorced when I was three, and a single mother working her way through nursing school doesn’t exactly have much time to spend with her child. (I don’t resent my mother in any way, for the record. She sacrificed so much for me when I was growing up. I didn’t realize it back then, but as an adult looking back, I see that all the things she did, she did to give me a better life. I appreciate her more than anyone else in the world. I really want to repay her one day, somehow…) And I’m still silent at work to this day. Doesn’t help that I work in retail and regularly have to help customers. Luckily, I’m typically just asked where to find things or if we carry a specific item and a single utterance is all I need. “This way,” “Over there *points in a direction*,” “Follow me,” “Yeah, we have those.” Simple enough.
Anytime anyone tries to start a conversation though, I freak out inside and then subconsciously try to end the conversation as quickly as possible. Basically, my mind sabotages itself, even against my own desires. This is what happened at school too and why everyone thought I was a jerk and stopped trying to talk to me. Mainly because I did come off like a jerk to someone looking in from the outside. I didn’t mean to, but I couldn’t stop it from happening. No matter how much I wanted to talk with someone, to form a bond with someone, anyone, it couldn’t be done. My brain would force me to stay away from people, or when people confronted me, I would snap at them, tell them to leave me the hell alone, or even just “ignore” them completely…even though that was the opposite of what I wanted.
It would be many years later before I would finally be diagnosed with Avoidant Personality Disorder.
I can’t answer phones either. Speaking in person is already difficult enough; I get anxiety attacks if I’m speaking through a telecommunications device for more than a minute.
Telecommuniphobia…out of all the things that debilitate me in my daily life, that’s the one nobody around me can understand. Even the most understanding and open-minded people can’t get why I would be afraid of performing such a simple task, a task every other person on the planet seems to have no problem doing. “Scared of driving? Yeah, sure, that can be scary. More people die from car crashes each day than any other mode of transportation after all, so I can understand that. But being afraid to talk on a phone? Really? How does that even work?”
Of course no one else would get it. Seems everyone has a phone on them at all times these days. Hell, I’ve seen children with cell phones! With babies being born seemingly with phone-in-hand in this now-hyper-connected era, it makes sense how nobody could ever hope to understand me.
Some good news though: I did eventually make friends through school. Not sure exactly how. I guess because all of us were outsiders, others, in some way. We sort of…just congregated, gravitated towards each other. “Misery loves company,” as the old adage goes, right? These days, I don’t have any trouble speaking with my closest friends — but only with my closest friends. Even still, my mouth and brain don’t coordinate correctly a lot of times and I end up speaking some kind of mixed-up sentences, like my words were put in a blender and they came out all switched around and crap, if that makes sense. So even with my friends, I feel like an idiot. But they know me well. They know about my “quirks” and they don’t judge me for them. They accept me and (usually) don’t make fun of the way I talk.
I still prefer communicating through messages though, even with them. I just feel so much more at ease behind a computer screen. I know that if I make a mistake here, I can simply delete it and rewrite. I can take my time here. I can carefully pick out each and every word. And then I can reread my message/post and check for errors before sending/posting it! It’s like the difference between a real-time strategy game and a turn-based tactical game — quite different, to say the least.
Though, if we’re talking about games, I’m pretty damn good at any of those. What can I say, I’ve got a decade and a half of experience and practice. :P
Too bad practicing the fine art of talking never had any positive effect in me. A mental disorder is not something that can simply be “gotten over.” It’s like telling a cancer patient to “get over it,” it just doesn’t work that way. Certain phobias can certainly be worked on, gradually, but a disorder that has been hard-wired into you since childhood? Yeah…those are pretty much there to stay. I’ve tried every trick in the book to become more sociable, more outgoing, more extroverted, blah, blah, blah. Didn’t work out for me.
Whoa, good gosh, this wall of text! Apologies for all this…
Actually, no, never mind; it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a personal thing, so I think I’m due for one. I’m sure those who didn’t care to read any of my ramblings would have already scrolled past this by now anyway. For those that stuck around, I thank you. I truly appreciate you and people like you. You’re awesome. Keep bein’ awesome. Hopefully you came out of this understanding people a little better — and me, specifically. :)