Facing the monster
I dreamt last night of someone I know, their face twisted like a monster. We sat, facing each other and they were growling and turning their face away, as if they couldn't decide whether to attack me or run from me.
There is no love lost between me and this person, though we get along when we relax. I try my best, I'm just being myself most of the time, but they resent me. This resentment is a living thing between us and causes intense friction each time we meet.
The dream came as a shock to me because I had thought things were okay, even though there is the tension there. I thought the good times, the laughter, outweighed the negative feelings. It seems I was wrong.
What keeps coming back to me is the expression in their eyes, a bright, dangerous gleam, as if they would do just about anything not to have to look at me again.
In the dream, I was less afraid than I make myself sound. They had someone with them, telling them to behave, cautioning them, raging at them. This made them simmer a little and we would go on for a few more minutes before their face twisted into the monster and it started all over again.
When I woke, I thought at first my own feelings had been the whole of the dream. Then, the more I thought about it and really considered how this person behaves, I realised my dream was making me see them as they really are - at least towards me. It took a dream to make me see how serious they are about disliking me.
Readers, I'm not in any danger from this person, not physically. But having mulled over the dream and gone over all the real-life evidence, I realise I couldn't see how they really felt because I was too busy coping with how they behaved towards me.
When someone is persistently negative, even if the negativity emits as an annoying beeeep...beeeep, rather than a klaxon for danger, then the behaviour is a distraction from what is really going on. I guess, as aspies, we are very used to working around other people's odd behaviour, so when someone is very difficult, it's natural for us to work round that too.
Also, I hate to say it, but having been to blame for so many misunderstandings, I tend to take responsibility for awkward situations with people. I think, it's probably more me than them, so I'll try harder.
When this isn't true, when the other person is twisting into a monster inside, simply because that is what they are, then it's easier for an aspie to overlook. Someone else might say, 'They're a nightmare, I'm not dealing with them again!' But if the 'monster' is occasionally decent with us, then an aspie is more likely to say, 'They're really difficult, I wish I could deal with them better'.
We're used to our own behaviour being difficult for other people too, so although we're easily irritated by the smaller things, we are also, on some level, more forgiving of the bigger irritations from other people.
Readers, I think it's really important to say to ourselves, 'It may be them and not me'. Sometimes, other people are just not cut out to get along with us or with society at large.
I'm not suggesting that this person is a monster with everyone, but perhaps they hide it better with others than they do with me? I'm guessing that my own dogged, aspie behaviour sets them off because their usual tricks don't work. I shoot past the little things they do and carry on, forcing them to escalate their behaviour to something more noticeable.
I woke today thinking I wasn't going to bother with them anymore. Now that I've thought about it, I'm undecided. To be honest, the writer in me wants to see them again, to pick out all the monstrous elements and see if my dream was right. The imagery was so strong, my curiosity makes me want to have at least one more look.
Will things be different? Having recognised the monster in them, will I now be able to see the humanity more clearly than before? Will my smacking hand stay still the whole time I'm with them? Will I be able to stop comparing them to others I know, similar in many ways but without this need to make life so very difficult for people?
Perhaps I have the answer to some of it. I do sit there and consider them. I already see through the tricks and the distracting behaviour to the personality beneath.
Do they look up and catch me judging them? Do they see it in my face? Is that the part of the dream where they turn away, instead of attacking, afraid that someone looks at them in this dispassionate, scientific way?
If I warm up my behaviour and make things funny and happy, they respond and become a different person - but only for as long as it takes me not to challenge them again or need anything from them. As soon as they have to do anything they don't want to, the eyes harden and brighten and we start all over again.
Readers, while I'm sitting there, I'll think of my dream and this blog post. I'll look again, in a new light and decide if the monster is there all the time or if my writerly mind invented it, to explain to my aspie mind what was going on.
Then, I'll decide if I'm ever going back.
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