Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ugh. No social skills.

This is a part of me that's completely undeveloped. I gave up on it very early in my life and sort of just tried to manage by being completely honest as much as possible, while trying not to actually hurt anyone. That's all I know. I have no idea how people work or what their reactions are going to be.

So, yesterday, I had a friend yell at me for 20 minutes, telling me I've abused his trust. Because I repeated something he'd said to another friend in an effort to help their communication over a business project. Because they both talked to me about it and were frustrated about not being able to understand what the other's problem was and I saw where the gap was and filled it. I didn't even know I was told anything in confidence. I didn't realize there was a secret there.

The friend who shouted at me said I was acting like a "5-year-old Good Samaritan" and he needed no mediation and I exposed his private thoughts and put him on the defensive. I apologized. But I still honestly don't know what it really is I did. Or if I in fact did anything wrong.

Another thing. The friend's mother is diagnosed with OCD and paranoia. This was his upbringing.

My upbringing involved a narcissistic father who shared all my intimate details with complete strangers. I got used to anything I did or said being repeated anytime, anywhere, and acted accordingly. I made sure I had nothing to hide. And if I did something I was ashamed of or felt bad about, I shared it with others immediately. I thought of this as honesty and integrity. I thought everyone was like this, give or take. I only thought secrets were things people started with "Promise not to tell anyone this".

The fact that we're both messed up, albeit in different ways, makes it impossible for me to realize, on my own, if what I did was actually wrong. Like something a narcissist would do. Or if he really badly overreacted. Like something a paranoid person would do.

What confuses me even more: people I talked to about this told me telling the other friend wasn't immoral at all, but telling him I told was a foolishly bad move for the friendship! Whoa! I can't function like this! I can't hide stuff! I can't lie to friends! I want to crawl into a place where there's just being kind and honest and moral and that's all it takes to deal with people! I don't want to have to consider all this stuff I can't even begin to understand!

I told him, after the lecture and the apology, that I don't want him ever telling me things like this again. Have a problem in communication that involves another person I'm friends with? Please, don't tell me about it. I don't want to know and be in the middle of it! I might try to fix it...


  1. Shit, I am so sorry that happened and that it might have implications for your friendship. I hope you can fix it through the honest conversation you're so good at, at least a bit.

    As for the social skills, I am completely with you. I'm probably a bit better with "keeping secrets" (of course, protecting your source is the Number One rule of journalism). In a personal sphere, I am just not good. I suck socially. People find me weird. Which is why, like you, I prefer discussions about politics, history, social issues... You're certainly not the only one. It is hard. And probably it's too late now to fix it.

    The only possible answer? Just be yourself; your non-narc, healing, improving, just great self. What else can you do?

  2. And don't tell him you've posted this on the web, even if you gave no details whatsoever.

  3. Thanks, NLR! That's the sort of advice I need! If only I had someone living inside my head all the time giving me this sort of advice ("OK. Now don't tell him you said x to y, but do mention z...")

  4. Gosh, I totally understand about immediately sharing with others something you might feel bad about, for the narcissist is always trying to dig up dirt on their victim in order to discredit them in advance. Also, if people think you're weird that's their dealio. Screw em! A lot of creative, bright, interesting people come across as a bit weird to bland 'Pod-People.' I think narcissists are really creepy and weird.

  5. Hey, don't take advice from a fellow wheelchair user about how to run. :)

  6. Sounds like you lived in the glass houses of Evgeny Zamayatin's long-banned novel *We* -- the totalitarian world in which asserting a claim to privacy is itself an offense.


  7. Wow, I can really relate to this. I had no social skills either when I first left my parents. Everyone makes mistakes, and that fact that you made this one is not your fault. The very fact that you can analyze and second-guess your own errors like this proves that you're a good person.

    The key advice I'd give, however, is to try and learn some social skills if you possibly can. Just try. Because saying that you CAN'T lie to friends, and you wish that you could crawl into a place where EVERYONE WERE THE TYPE OF PERSON WHO CAN'T LIE TO FRIENDS AND IS JUST NICE ALL THE TIME (ie, like you), puts you on a very slippery slope indeed.

    I vividly remember, as a young teenager, being loudly and robustly criticized yet again by my Nfather, at something I'd been practising for about 5 minutes. Naturally, I got upset. His response? 'Well, I always tell it like it is - the truth'.

    Please don't interpret your ability to offend and insult as moral superiority. That doesn't help anyone.


  8. I do not think you did anything wrong. Intention matters a great deal. Your intention was to get two people talking and fix a problem.

    I wonder what the intention of the two respective people was to do a business deal but not talk about it WITH EACH OTHER but instead involving a COMMON third party in this. It sounds very very weird to begin with. I wonder if they knew the other person was talking to you about it as well? Why did they put you in the middle in first place? And if so why would they just assume you'd know what to keep confidental and what not?

    Its true that some people may have known what to share and what not to share. But people are different and yelling at you at length for something they at the very least contributed to (and apparently without acknowledging their own shortcomings too) is a rather strong reaction, one that is most definately not necessary for a simple mistake.

    Like you I do not know when to keep secrets, sometimes I ask for clarification, usually I just don't mention anything because "why haven't you mentioned this?" is normally easier to deal with than what you went through. People interpret so many things in what we are saying its ridiculous. Like if I ask for clarification on whether or not this is a secret they often seem to hear "May I give an interview about this to the local news station and tell all your friends and family because I clearly have nothing better to do?" WTF??

    I also don't understand the advice of not telling one friend how you repeated what they said to you to another friend. How many secrets are you supposed to keep? If said friends would just get over themselves none of this would be so complicated and personally I refuse to be guilt-tripped like this any more. It's ridiculous.


I encourage comments!!!