The Truth Hurts Less If Open


People are surprised when I tell them I struggle with communication.

They often tell me that it doesn’t seem like I struggle.

The truth is that I’m faking it.

I’ve had 34 years of watching what others do around me and mimicking, with a lot of error, what those people did in social situations.

I don’t really think I did well with this skill at all until I uprooted my life and moved to the UK from the USA for university.

It was hard.

Reallyreally hard.

It did force me to excel at camouflaging and trying my best to “fit in” or whatever.

Nowadays, I’m so good at being uncomfortable that I don’t even notice it sometimes.

The giggles, smiles, forced “Have a good weekend” or “Happy New Year” and other general conventions of conversation.

To give you some perspective, I couldn’t even really mutter a “hello” or “goodbye” until I was like 27.

I legitimately do not understand the concept of “hello” or “goodbye.” This caused me a lot of problems including being fired from a job when I was a teenager or people thinking I was a rude human being.

Taking various psychology courses in high school and community college has helped me learn the structure of effective communication so I guess this is why people think I do it well.

I don’t really mean any harm to anyone. I don’t mean to be rude or anything like that. I try my best to hide my inability to understand and usually default to the giggle mentioned above if I don’t know how to respond. I’ve gotten better at saying “I don’t understand, can you please explain it more clearly?” but that doesn’t always work out in the best way.

I still struggle if I do not receive a direct response or action. Passive aggressive behavior is basically my kryptonite.

Written words are no issue. Verbal words are another matter.

I have had meltdowns over communication.

I guess we all have our own preferred methods of communication and I am still surprised by the amount of ineffective communication that happens (i.e., dramarama) over silly things that would be prevented if people were honest and open with each other.

It’s a funny thing, this communication business.

Hello. Hi. Hey.

The Beginning

The truth is I don’t really know what kind of child I was.

Whether I was happy or sad or kind or mischievous.

I was more often than not tucked away in my child-mind; playing in other mental universes in the confines of a fenced backyard.

Mermaids. Faeries. Superheros. Labyrinths. Treasures. Sorcerers. Oracles.

I have many different childhood memories; some significant, others less so.

I remember telling other kids not to pick flowers because they were hurting said flowers.

I remember picking up worms from stormy street gutters and putting them back in the grass.

I remember apologizing to inanimate objects if I bumped into them.

I remember being fixated on my kaleidoscope, staring into its trillions of colors and patterns for double-digit minutes; the world evaporating around me.

I don’t remember the desire to want to play with other children. I¬†enjoyed being on my own. I didn’t enjoy speaking to people.

I remember studying the faces around me to learn how to react to different situations.

I remember having very disconnected thoughts such as “This is strange behavior, why are we doing [insert child game here]? This makes no sense,” or being annoyed by children my age just being children. Example:

kid: “There are two suns in space, one at your house and one at my house.”

me: “There is only one sun that the planets orbit. It looks like there are two because of the distance the earth is to the sun. You are stupid.”

We were four.

I remember not recognizing my own face until I was close to 12.

I knew it was me but it didn’t look like what I knew as me.

I remember my memories becoming more bleak as I entered school and adolescence.

The inability to communicate or to “fit in”.

The inability to understand the concepts of greetings and why people use them.

The perceived “extreme shyness.”

The negative comments about my monotone voice.

The white-knuckled anxiety around numbers.

The teacher saying something wasn’t quite right with me but not sure what it was.

The teacher who called me “stupid.”

The bullying.

The meltdowns.

The beautiful landscapes of my imagination juxtaposed with “reality”.

The noise.

The disappointment in the outside world.

The whispers of nature that kept me going

and the comfort I found in written words.

There are a lot of memories I am not ready to revisit yet

and many more that I am.

Finally, after 34 years of feeling like a non-human in every way possible, I am on the journey to discovery.

As cheesy as that is say.
What does “cheesy” even mean apart from extreme amounts of cheese in food?