I mentioned personal boundaries in my last post. This has always been a problem for me. I need space, but this need has often been interpreted by friends and family as rejection. I’m starting to think of it as a “cultural” difference. It’s just that I come from an alien culture that no one here knows about or understands. When I view the world and people around me as some sort of anthropological study, it helps me to be more tolerant. I feel like I’m observing and trying to understand some other culture, hoping to promote better communication. It’s honestly less frustrating than just feeling isolated and “different”.
Anyway, back to boundaries…
When I was a child people were always wanting to touch me. I hated it. I still hate it. I don’t understand how people can just go up to children or babies and pick them up or stroke them or whatever. It’s just plain rude if you don’t have a close relationship with them. I remember hating it as a child, so I won’t do it to other children. Yes, I’m happy to cuddle my nephews – they know me and we have a relationship where they are fine with that. I would never, however, do that to my friends’ children who don’t know me that well. In like manner, I’m not comfortable with people just hugging or kissing me. I’m not used to it. If I have a close relationship with someone, it’s fine, but the whole social greeting kissy kissy thing grosses me out. We’re not friends, so why are you kissing me and expecting me to kiss you back? Of course the fact that I often fail to recognise people due to my face blindness really doesn’t help. It’s like, Why are you kissing me when I don’t even know who you are?
The physical boundaries are probably due to a number of things. Undoubtedly there actually is a cultural aspect; growing up, my family was never outwardly affectionate. I’m not saying that we were lacking in love, but there wasn’t much hugging and kissing or anything like that. The other issue is my tactile sensitivity, which apparently is not uncommon among aspies. I don’t want to get into that now, but I really don’t like people touching me!
Well, let’s look at emotional boundaries. I’ve often been accused of being cold, uncaring, standoffish, unsocial and so on. Am I? Is needing my own space selfish and immature? I don’t think so. In fact, I think everyone needs personal time, and everyone needs social time. It’s just that we all need them in various ratios. The more time I spend with people, the more time I need to spend on my own. Friends have made me feel guilty for this in the past, but you know what? I refuse to feel bad about it now. Why should I force myself to constantly be with people, to the extent that I feel like I’m going crazy inside my head and about to explode? I recognise the warning signals now of when I am at my limit and need a breather, and I take it. It keeps me sane, and is actually more beneficial to my relationships than enforced fellowship.
Why is it so hard for people to accept boundaries? I’m not even asking anyone to understand – just accept the fact that I need space. Actually, it seems to be acceptable for guys, but because I’m a single girl I’m apparently not supposed to need it. In fact, I don’t even know why people don’t understand it. It makes perfect sense to me, but then, that’s what autism is like, isn’t it? Everything makes sense inside our heads – why doesn’t anyone else understand? It’s the world outside out heads that’s so confusing, alien and frustrating.