The normalcy conundrum
Recently, I was wasting time on the internet looking at stupid memes and other such tomfoolery, when I came across one that was about something I thought was pretty innocuous. I immediately started googling to see whether it was true or not, and to my embarrassment, it was. What’s worse is that when I tell you, it’ll sound rather ridiculous and foolish, until I explain WHY. The subject, of all things, was tickling. When I was growing up, this was a common thing in my house, especially with my siblings. I even saw other people outside of family life do it, and figured it was commonplace. What I wasn’t aware of, is that this is considered very flirtatious behavior between adults, something I never even considered.
Let’s face it, I’m a pretty physical person, so I think nothing of horseplay. To me, it’s how people interact, or at least so I thought. Finding out that my standard actions are most likely making people I’m friends with uncomfortable, or making me the village creeper, is pretty shitty. I know I usually come off as a pretty harsh “this is just how I am, so deal with it” kind of person, but the truth of the matter is that many times that’s the farthest thing from the truth. I constantly seek the approval of others, always worrying about what people think of me, so finding out news like this kinda fucks me up. The only good part about this, is that it’s simple enough to fix, but any damage has been done, and labels tend to stick. I’m aware that many of my friends will read this, even ones that I’ve done this do, so understand that I honestly didn’t know it could be taken that way. This post isn’t about asking for forgiveness or for anyone to play it off and tell me they never saw it that way or whatever. You all know me well enough to know I never believe people when they say stuff like that. What can I say, I’m pretty fucked up, but I think I have a good idea how I got this way.
Many years ago, I suffered from major panic attacks and anxiety problems. I got through the first few years of it with heavy medication, but in the end my savior was a therapist (not “the rapist”). Brief history: When I first got sick, I started seeing a shrink and her shrinkhypnotist husband. They were awful for me. They enabled me, and coddled me like I was their child. They also shared a large amount of their personal life and drama during our sessions, which made it seem more like they just wanted people to talk to instead of people to help. I stopped seeing them, and started seeing another lady. She was PHENOMENAL! She was tough as nails, and didn’t let me get away with any avoidance behavior. She challenged me every step of the way, and forced me to look at myself as objectively as possible, and from multiple angles. She is also the one that made me aware of something she referred to as “under learning”.
Adults who were children in dysfunctional households, for example: children of alcoholic parents, tend to suffer from what she called “under learning”. This is when someone grows up in such a messed up place, as far as social interaction and the like. They end up not understanding or learning many normal social cues and things of that nature, things most other people take for granted because it’s just status quo. When I got into my 20’s, I started encountering really fucked up situations and began getting what I thought was very odd reactions from friends and such. When I started dating my wife, and we got really serious, she had to teach me a lot about social cues and what to say/not to say. As a result of all this, I have large gaps in my understanding of social interactions, which was covered up partially by the fact that I’m a geek, so everyone just expects that of me. The truth of it, is that most of my knowledge about what is considered “normal” by societal standards is just guesswork. This is why shit like this happens. Doesn’t make it right, but at least now you all understand. So, in the future, when I act like a total creeper, fucking tell me, cuz chances are that I have no idea I’m coming off that way. I know that sometimes I intentionally make people uncomfortable, but you should all be able to recognize the difference here. Help a brother out!
By the way, other symptoms of “under learning” are:
– guessing at what normal is.
– having difficulty in following a project through from beginning to end.
– lying when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
– judging oneself without mercy.
– having difficulty with intimate relationships.
– constantly seeking approval and affirmation.
– feeling you’re very different from other people.
– extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that loyalty is undeserved.
Sound like anyone you know?