Words hard

by Jon Sullivan - 2023-07-06 - Status

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As a former reclusive hermit I am finding that trying to communicate with people is often a total failure. I listen, I hear, but meaning eludes me.

I'm happy. Pretty much always now. And being able to be around people, rather than forced to hide, is a big source of that happiness. I have met so many incredible people here. But usually when I've spent time chatting with folks, whether it is a long conversation about life or a casual "have a nice day", I realize in retrospect I have completely misunderstood what people meant. I hear the words. But the meaning goes right over my head. Especially when people offer to help.

I have no doubt this is the price I'll pay for decades of being a self-centered, antisocial introvert. In the past I said and did things that made sense to me, but were quite inappropriate. My solution was to hide. The last many years I was happy as a cave dwelling hermit because if I wasn't around people there was no such thing as inappropriate. There was no misunderstanding if I never talked to anyone. And now that I've rejected that as a life solution, and am gleefully going to events and chatting with people, I'm finding that no amount of forceful insistence about being "New Jon" will make my missing communication skills magically manifest.

I am telling you. I'm serious. I will misinterpret things you say to me quite often. And if what you are saying is an offer to help, I probably have no idea what you mean at all, full stop. I am not exaggerating. Let's go with a real world example.

"Hey Jon. You are cooking for the big dinner party in a couple days. I'm at the store. Can I pick up anything?" In the moment, this makes ZERO sense to me. I know how to shop. I'm not poor. I have a shopping plan. Why are you requesting to make it more complicated? Is there something about the dinner I don't know? Have I fucked up dinners in the past? What are you trying to tell me?

See? Do you get how broken I am now? An offer to help buy stuff for dinner is, to any proper human, completely simple and obvious. And more than that, it's the sort of polite thing people SHOULD say. Big dinner parties are complicated. People should, and do, offer to help. Of course. Why would they not? But for Jon, it's a weird thing he can't wrap his head around. Jon is fucking broken.

I understand and think about some pretty complicated things. I'm working on a blog post about quantum monism. I learn new computer languages and technologies on the regular. But it's the simple stuff I fail to understand. I never realized that before, and now it's becoming obvious. And....... and...... it's starting to scare me. I talk to people a lot now. How do I understand rather than misunderstand? I could ask, but that will lead to some seriously odd conversations, where people need to know when to talk to me like a six year old. "You are asking to help buy stuff for the dinner party. I'm confused why you would ask such a thing. Please explain it like I'm a child."

I have shit to learn I guess. At 60 I don't think it will be easy.

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