Sometimes I question whether I’m missing some piece of mental machinery every human is supposed to have. Some essential brain cog of empathy or social deftness that would enable me to understand other people’s actions, or more importantly, my own.
It’s like this. I’m confronted with a situation any ordinary person would see as easy to deal with and my mind runs a million miles a minute trying to put the pieces of this great social puzzle together in order to come up with the appropriate response. My heart’s tearing me one way, telling me to run, run as fast I can, and my mind’s gently coaxing me in the opposite direction saying I should stay and fight the panic.
“We can do this,” my brain whispers. “It’s just a couple variables plugged into some great social algorithm we have yet to discover. Just crack the code, crack the code…”
I want to choose to fight, but more often than not it’s flight that I choose after a couple of feeble jabs.
It’s not that I’m some big social pariah or even that one could tell I’m having a hard time dealing with the occasional social situation, but it’s clear as day to me of course. I’ll feel like I’m in an episode of Spongebob Squarepants where the driver’s ed. teacher, Mrs. Puff, tries to teach Spongebob to drive through a simple obstacle course. There’s always someone in my brain screaming “Floor it! FLOOR it!”
Luckily my socio-emotional car wrecks don’t end in any physical casualties that heal by the very next t.v. episode. But I still have to deal with emotional wreckage.
I’m being dramatic.
Wreckage is too strong a word for it. It’s not as if I slap people and insult their mothers every time I feel socially gangly and awkward.
I might just give a one word response to an essay-like question or offer a cold one-handed wave rather than a warm two-armed hug. Just little things. But these little things can make a big difference when it comes to relationships, and I feel at a loss when I have to deal with the after-effects with no sane explanation for my actions.
I mean, what do I say?
“Sorry, I was having a mini-emotional breakdown, but I’m better now. We still good?”
Maybe I’m still just being dramatic and even the average ‘Normal Guy’ has these breaks in reason, but I wouldn’t know. I’ve never considered myself “normal.”