Communication Breakdown

In regard to the sharing a personal anecdote when people tell you something I want to explain a bit why this gets to me so much. There’s a host of reasons, but mainly it comes down to how empathy works for me personally.

There are times in my life where this has gone right, but I realise now that I have been pushed out from friend groups for using this method of communication. I have also heard:
“Why do you make everything about you?”
“OMG shut up”
“Yeah I get it you had a rough life” *snarky*

I have OCD – my biggest fear is that I am a terrible or unmoral person – this came from a lifetime of being referred to as a bad kid from a really young age. I was certain I was going to be doomed to be awful. One of my fears is that I have is that I am these things (Dark Triad) – in fact this is something that I’ve been terrified of for a long time.

A Venn diagram of the intersecting traits of Psychopathy, Narcissism, and Machiavellianism.

Ok so in context here.
I use 1st person pronouns all the time (I actually do this to not generalise my experience), when I talk to others in conversation I relate things to myself. (focus on self)
By this definition I am narcissistic.

I am ADHD – I am impulsive.
I sometimes have flat affect due to either PTSD or being Autistic – ‘Emotionally Cold’
Inappropriate emotional expression – I have to perform emotions in NT ways – I had to learn acting to this.
By this definition I am psychopathic.

I get accused of being manipulative and self-interested, I am sometimes domineering in conversations due to excitement and I like to talk about things.
By this definition I am Machiavellian.
I have the full set of Dark Triad traits.

TW / suicide
Now if I hadn’t discovered through talking to other neurodivergent people that this is a thing – there’s every chance I may have ended my life before this if I discovered this information – I was a total people pleaser and this would have made clear I was “evil”.

Here is the really frustrating part. This is a key area where there is a double empathy problem. Not only do you perceive us not to have empathy for you, you do not have empathy for our way of thinking. You attribute malice where there is none. This is really harmful.

Firstly, I need you to know that every time I have ever shared a story it’s never been a competition for “most traumatic”. I am a cooperative person – that is my default state. I do not like competing with other people. I don’t do it for this reason.

Secondly, I didn’t know that this was ever a “bad” thing, and when I tried to explain that I wasn’t trying to make it about me people got even more mad with me – this would end friendships. I now in retrospect understand why because it’s another fundamental misunderstanding.

Thirdly, there is no act I can do that is more vulnerable to me than sharing some part of my life, it’s an act of pure empathy in my view. It means I understand your experience and I want you to feel less alone. I get where you are coming from, I know this must be hard.

Finally, this is what I needed from other people but I rarely, if ever, got it. Instead people would minimise my pain – “It’s not that bad”, or “At least you are not <some condition that is worse>”, or “You are being too sensitive”. I stopped sharing anything.

For nearly a decade I never opened up to anyone beyond a completely superficial level about myself. The entire time I was breaking down alone and isolated with the things that had happened to me. This actually makes the body physically sick. I needed to release this stuff.

Last year for the first time a dear neurodivergent friend on Twitter let me “trauma dump” some really terrible stuff that had happened to me, they then said – “oh yeah that sucks, I went through… <some similar circumstance>”

I didn’t feel alone – I didn’t feel shame.

So finding out that people dislike this type of sharing seems especially brutal. I believe that for a neurodivergent person to do this it is often as an act of love and pure empathy – it means I don’t want you to walk alone. I will accompany you.

I want conditions and communication to improve. If you just need to vent – now I ask, or you could be proactive and tell me.

I just want us to get along. If you are clear in communication, we can have thriving relationships.

I never intended to take focus off you. ❤️

I want to mention if the neurodivergent person is ADHD with impulsive issues and it’s untreated – there can be extreme difficulties in getting this message through to them. ADHD untreated is like a brain goblin that smashes reasonable actions through the need for instant relief.

If someone is told and they don’t at least make an effort that could be a problematic behavior.

Originally tweeted by Rory – ADHD Autistic OCD (@roryreckons) on November 14, 2021.

Published by roryreckons

I am an ADHD/Autism Coach as well as ADHD/Autism/OCD/CPTSD advocate and independent ADHD/Autism researcher. I am an ADHD/Autism Coach who trained through the ADD Coaching Academy. I write mainly about ADHD/Autism/OCD/Mental health issues, but will also discuss morality, abolition, and current affairs occasionally.

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