Clueless about Social Cues. Or not clueless enough?

Nerd. Dork. Weirdo. Dense. Awkward. Naive. These are words I apply to myself. Not very helpful, but a little bit true.

Intuitive. Analytical. Logical. Practical. Compassionate. Honest. Gifted. Talented. These are better words, but they cause the first set to be true.

I don’t care much for fashion, comfort is much more important to me. And cost. I dress simply, and often in bright, uncool colors, because colors make me happy. And probably because the material was soft. I’ll buy anything that is soft on my skin. I have no heels, they hurt my feet and back.

I am really honest. I think I answer in unexpected ways, based on people’s faces when I speak, and their confusion, and then retreat.

I am a natural teacher. I am really smart. I know a lot about a lot of things. This can make me appear to be an expert as I explain things to others, and I sometimes guess the level they wanted to hear that explanation. Very few people want to talk academically or actually learn things.

A group of women are talking near me. We know each other’s kids, but not each other. They are talking about dance class at a place we can not afford. Next they talk about getting their nails done. I have never had a manicure. Next they talk about “The Bachelor” and I have never watched an entire episode. Next they complain that their husbands don’t do enough for them. I don’t think that is true, so I stay silent. Next they talk about purses they are selling. I have a purse. When it wears out I will buy another, but not if I have to attend a party to get it. So I wait and wait for an opening to join this group, but I got nothing,. Nothing at all to add to this conversation. I may try to compliment the nails or purse with a “That is pretty”, but other than that I got nothing. So the time passes with them chatting near me, and me staying silent. I don’t think they notice I am there.

So I wonder what they think. (I know – pointless exercise, just hush) Do they think I am shy? Do they think I am rude? Do they assume I am very busy? Do they think I have different friends than them? Do they even think of me at all? My guess is the last one. I am so far removed from their world that they can barely see me.

They know who my kids are, but other than that take no time to ask me anything. They never shut up for me to have a chance to ask them anything. And then the squeals. You know what I mean, that sound girls make when they see each other and hug and their voices go up 10 octaves and they talk really fast. I don’t do that. I don’t understand that. And I always react by backing up and away from that.

I do not feel inferior or superior to these women. I just don’t feel like one of them. And I don’t feel the need to be connected to them. I feel awkward when they are talking near me like that, but I don’t feel lonely or hurt. Just awkward. I understand their motives for saying what they do, I (over) analyze each statement. I catch them exaggerating, even lying. I catch them being wrong. Like thinking a flu shot prevents stomach viruses. Do I explain that the flu is a lung disease, and there is no such thing as stomach flu, but we commonly call it that for some absurd reason? If your puking and not coughing, you do not have the flu. But no, I don’t explain, because either they won’t believe me, or will not understand and it just wastes time and causes more awkwardness.

If one of them suddenly starts talking to me, I scramble for answers that fit for them. I don’t want to tell them I don’t care about that stuff, and that their high pitched chattering is extremely annoying. And if they started calling me to complain about life and so-and-so, I could not handle that, and would have to be rude. So maybe this is better. They have their life, I have mine, and we stay apart.

Better for me. Again, I worry that I am creating problems for my kids socially. I want them to go to friends houses regularly, but none of them have had the first invite, except to class parties, nothing individually. Do I have to be friends with those moms? I’m hoping this will just get sorted out as the kids get older and handle their own friends.

I don’t know how to be true to myself and also encourage my kids to reach out and be friendly. And maybe they are fine. I am only comparing my kids to the kids of the moms I don’t belong with, so perhaps it makes sense my kids don’t belong there. They are part of other groups, scouts, parties, just no playdates.

Why am I stuck on this? I keep coming back to an idea that I am different because of my past abuse. Or my IQ. Or even a social disorder, like Aspbergers. Or ADD makes me not want to listen. Why don’t I want to be a part of the other moms, and why do I so badly want my kids to be with theirs?

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6 thoughts on “Clueless about Social Cues. Or not clueless enough?

  1. In response to your question: I think you want your kids to ‘fit in’ and feel comfortable around people. I often want that for my son also. Maybe what you want most is for your children to not suffer in the ways you have? Sounds perfectly logical to me.

    My therapist astounded me one day with this thought and it seems rather appropriate so I’ll share it. I was very upset one day after I watched the kids at daycare completely avoid Colt in the playground for about 20 minutes. He stood off to the side staring through the fence while his peers laughed and played. I explained in great detail how it made me feel to see him rejected like that and my therapist, after letting me go on and on simply said:

    “Who is it that is bothered by Colt not having lots of friends? Is it Colt?”

    Aaaand no. It was me. Only me. He didn’t mind not having kids in his face all the time and, quite frankly, would rather spend the day at home playing alone than spend time with anyone his age. As soon as I saw that, I felt better for him.

    I hope the rest of your day is peaceful. (and, by the way, I’ll talk academics and learn new things with you anytime!)

    • Excellent insight. My kids seem to be happy, well-adjusted, plain old content. I am the one full of worries. And the worries are more for their future friends than current anyway. I’m so afraid they will grow up in isolation like I did and not have an adult support network. I should stop trying to solve problems that only exist in my inner mind’s predictions.

      Great! So glad I found blogging friends like you to discuss serious topics near and dear to my heart.

  2. Why would you want to hang out with women like that? Ugh! I can’t imagine a more brain numbing way to spend my time. Yes, I desperately tried to fit in with the “popular” ones. No matter how hard I tried, I simply didn’t. I finally accepted it. I was alone and lonely for a long time. Then I started finding myself. When I found myself, I started finding others I fit in with, but it wasn’t where I expected. Yep, the internet connected me to all kinds of people I enjoy being friends with, and yes, I’ve had the opportunity to meet quite a lot of them.

    Having said all that, I don’t have children. I can only guess at what it might feel like. Maybe it’s more important to show your children how to accept themselves by accepting yourself and accepting them the way they are.

    I can say that I was one of those who was never invited to anyone’s home. It was embarrassing and awkward. I felt left out. I survived. I look at those same people years later, and I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. I had opportunities come my way because I wasn’t trapped in the need to fit in.

    With my nieces, I wanted to be able to connect with them, so I read Twilight, even though I dislike first-person fiction. However, I was willing to do it so I could chat with them. I ended up enjoying the series by the end. We don’t talk about it anymore, but it built a solid foundation of me accepting them the way they are. Sometimes we talk about things I’m interested in, but more often it’s what they’re interested in. It’s okay, because I understand that’s the nature of the relationship. I have other friends with whom I talk about politics or religion or writing or surviving.

    The thought of having my nails done is enough to make me squirm, but from time to time I try to take care of my nails. I can talk about how the polish never lasts, and how I like specific colors. I love the fancy designs, to look at, though I’d never go through it myself. I can fit in long enough to establish that I am aware of them and their interests, but if they’re not in a place where they feel like they can include one more thing in their life, there’s nothing I can do to change it. It’s them, not me.

    • I don’t want to hang out with them, but I want to be able to tolerate them while my kids hang out with theirs. I try to be friendly, but again and again, I find I am just forced into awkward silence. Many of the moms here grew up here, married here, there parents live here, it is just weird how they all know each other so well.

      I try not to judge them harshly, but I am astounded at how shallow so many of them seem to be. And I have difficulty hiding the confusion on my face as they go on and on about nothing. Or the complainers, I can’t handle them at all, down about everything.

      I had a crowd of like-minded friends in high school, until they found out about my abuse, and they all stopped talking to me. I have struggled since then in forming actual friendships, and have been isolated. Not so much about fitting in, as it is trust and finding others reliable.

      I have some girls that I go out and have fun with now, but it is hard to call them friends. We have a clearly defined relationship. I would never call one up just to chat about my day or feelings. Maybe one day, but I’m not ready for that yet. For now I am content.

      My parents certainly did not prepare me for a social world, and I just want to prepare my kids for what I can. I know it is up to them. And I love what you wrote about acceptance, that is exactly what I hope to model.

  3. I understand a lot of what you have written.
    I, like you, am not interested in new purses, manicures etc. I certainly have no desire to be chatting about such mundane and superficial stuff.
    I also understand about you “analysing” stuff, and suspect you’ve been accused many times of “over analysing” which is why I chose not to say that.
    Yes, you are different, isn’t that great, to be different and not run of the mill? Of course your past impacts greatly on you now, and I am sure means it’s important for you to analyse. After all, you spent years trying to work out what “you” were doing wrong and blaming yourself for the abuse you suffered. When we spend years wondering what it is that we have done to cause things to happen, it’s not something one can then turn off. We now know it wasn’t something we’d done, but we still need to check stuff out, to make sure it is safe and safe for our children.
    Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what they think, and one day you’ll find women you can relate to. I know for me, I relate far better one to one than in a group of women, so that might be more comfortable for you. Perhaps, if you feel you need to, get to know one of the women separately, you might find some things that you connect with.
    Good luck.

    • I think it is great to be different. I’ve always stood out in 1 way or another. And yes, I am great with 1-1 conversations, it is those superficial chatting groups that I can’t seem to join. I don’t personally want to, but I need the other parents to know I am friendly and decent for them to allow our kids’ to be friends.

      I do believe one way I will find more women I can relate to. I already have found some fellow artists/musicians and we all enjoy getting together with a common goal. I guess those other moms do the same thing, they just like shopping and makeup. I have different goals. I try not to say better goals, but I do feel that way, that they aren’t looking ahead, just stuck in popular whatnots.

      And yes, I am always looking ahead to make sure the way is safe for my kids. I think I have a good balance there, giving them appropriate freedom for their ages. And I listen to them. Every day. With no distractions. I listen and make sure they get to say everything they need to say. Sometimes the biggest ‘aha’ moments come from these little conversations. I found out what they want, and I try to support that or guide them.

      My kids seem happy with the current level of friends and social activities, but I can’t help but compare to the other kids, and feel the pain when I know they are having playdates and we are not. I’ll get through it. I’ll keep learning and reaching out and eventually my kids will be old enough to just talk to their friends without me having to talk to the moms so much.

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