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Emotionally confused

MaisyMaisy Moderator Posts: 672 Incredible Poster
For context: I was taken advantage of when I was younger, had very few friends, got bullied, struggled with low mood, anxiety, poor self-esteem/self-confidence. I lost my dad just before my 21st birthday but didn't feel much as I was busy with university and had previously isolated myself from my family due to struggling with being bullied and feeling depressed.

Over the last year or so, it hit me that I might be autistic. I fell out with a friend a few years ago because I felt they didn't want to be friends anymore with me as I felt they were fed up with me. In truth, for many years, I didn't have anyone else and probably relied on them. They got busy and their life moved on while mine has kind of ground to a halt.

The problem I have now is that I feel like I'm just waking up, emotionally. My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and treatment has gone well so fingers crossed she'll be okay. We lost an uncle the other year to cancer...we weren't particularly close but it got me thinking.

I feel I might take people for granted?

But I don't intend to do this. It sometimes feels like I don't know how to 'do' friendship. Other people give, put effort in, compliment and support etc., but I feel I don't do those or I don't know how. It got to the point where I don't like people giving me stuff because I worry they expect the same in return and I'd rather they didn't, in case they get disappointed. I used to talk to my friends about stuff going on in my life, but after I fell out with a friend, I stopped telling people stuff in case I was 'using' them. The same friend said we might be able to go for a weekend away somewhere, and then said they actually didn't want to tell me as I get too excited and it might not happen. It didn't happen anyway, but it makes me wonder how my friends see me as I feel I tend to forget that they have their own lives, memories and feelings and I worry that since I don't have many friends, they might get put off as if I'm depending on them. Truth is, I'm not really sure whether I want more friends anyway. I've always been a one or two close friends at a time kind of person, whereas the ex friend wanted me to have other friends to talk to as well. 

As a teenager, I always related to articles that would talk about different friends and I would identify with the description of a 'toxic' friend...even though I don't actually 'do' anything that would be considered toxic...it's more, that it feels like others give (emotional labour), and I take (talking about stuff), and I worry they secretly end up resenting me for taking because they expect me to give back and maybe I'm just not up to it. I now barely talk about my life and my friends have noticed I don't tell them anything anymore, but I don't tell them why that is. It's naive to label myself as a toxic friend because those articles don't take into consideration that 'toxic' behaviours can be similar to those who struggle with trust or previous abuse, mental health problems or they might be neurodivergent and not realise the 'rules' of friendship. 

I rarely initiate conversation. When I do, I'm always worried I'm bothering the person. If someone says they are busy, I believe them and leave them alone as I don't want to disturb them. I never initiate plans, I tend to just go along with things. I often don't really voice my opinion or disagree. I don't tell people when I feel they have upset me. Normally, this kind of stuff doesn't bother me as I often just accept that it's the way I am. In the past I have felt 'fake' as I would go along with things and hide how I feel and am seeking to be more genuine and authentic these days. So far, none of my friends have raised any concerns, but because of how emotional I can get (part of me wonders if I have some form of Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria), I wonder if they just haven't brought it up. Deep down, I'm scared I'm using people or taking people for granted and that I don't put into friendships much while I expect others to put into them. I expect things from others, but don't do anything to get what I expect or do little in return. Or I do put effort in and then get upset if I don't 'get' anything from it. 

I've seen other people get into arguments when they don't feel appreciated, feel the other person is selfish or feel that the other person just complains about their life and it's not fair on them or they forget that everyone has problems, not just them. I always feel awkward because I can see both points of view but deep down wonder what if that was me, since I might behaviour similarly. Or I think I might. 

Of course, if I am autistic, then it might not necessarily be that I'm taking others for granted, just that I approach friendships differently so I don't fit or match with social norms and 'normal friendships'.

Since I isolated myself when I was younger, away from family, I feel like in a way, I took my family for granted. I feel like I have been selfish in the past and maybe now it's catching up with me. I do expect others to be there for me and to feel loved by others, but am not sure whether I put in the same effort. It feels like it's one way with me at times. I do tend to be rather black and white- all in or all out. Equally, my dad brought me up to think that you should never give to receive as that becomes selfish and instead you should only give because you want to. But I'm aware that view is more of a minority since many people would argue that if someone gives and doesn't get anything back then they are being taken for granted. I don't really want to keep track of who is giving and taking...I prefer not having to think about such things. But equally, I can't tell if I am actually taking others for granted, or if it's the depression talking and I'm overthinking.

Equally, since I've started feeling this way, I've also started feeling more appreciative of others. I've always loved a friend of mine and I guess I didn't realise how much they have done for me over the years, and as a result, I feel like I'm falling for them all over again as it feels like I understand things more now, whereas before I might've been selfish wanting their attention and felt unloved when I didn't get it, now I see that they have always loved me. This actually came about when I realised I might be autistic and things started to fit into place e.g. it makes sense why I got bullied, couldn't make friends, struggle socially etc. I just couldn't see it or feel it before and wanted more of their love, I suppose. I also get scared of losing my mum and my friend and I worry about their health more these days. Part of me wonders if I experience mood swings, but I can't tell or know for sure. 

Ironically, I enjoy my volunteering here and elsewhere so I am capable of giving in some capacity. 

Just wanted to get that out of my system. I have work to do and this has been on my mind. Not sure what I'm looking for really. 
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    Han93Han93 Posts: 309 The Mix Regular
    Hey @Maisy

    I just wanted to send you hugs <3 I think @Eleanor is totally right and I don't think there's much that I can add to that response!

    I know sometimes you feel like you take a lot from your friendships - to your friends that have been really helpful to you a simple thank you would probably mean the world. They are your friends because they care about you so they expect to have to be there for you when you need them. Maybe just tell them how much you appreciate them and I'm sure they'll be really happy.

    I would say if you think that you might have autism it's always worth chatting to your GP about it and they can give you some support if that's the case. Have you received any counselling or anything for your past traumas? It's always good to people and thank you so much for sharing with us all. We are here to support you <3
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    Tee ATee A Posts: 123 The Mix Convert
    Hey @Maisy !!!

    I'm sorry to hear you feel this way! It sounds like you have experienced a lot in your life and I'm glad that you've used the discussion boards to get this off your chest! I hope this made you feel better, even if only a little! 

    I also agree with @Eleanor about labels. I feel like this might be really influencing how you feel about yourself as person. Please try not to pigeon-hole your experiences. Just because you may think and feel in a different way to someone else, does not mean that your experiences are invalid, wrong or 'autistic'. You are very capable of giving! Look at all the work you have done on here! I think you've been through a lot emotionally so it's completely okay to rely on someone for support. A friend would not think you were using them, especially in a time of need. 

    Relationships should be based on equity not equality. 

    I hope you feel better! 

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    MaisyMaisy Moderator Posts: 672 Incredible Poster
    Thank you all. You've each given me something to think about, so I appreciate all of your help!

    I am considering self-referring for an autism assessment but as clear in my post...I do have a problem with pigeonholing myself so I want to think about why I would want to find out for sure, how knowing might affect how I see myself etc. 

    I will try and make sure that my friends know that I am grateful for their support too. 

    I am feeling a bit better, so I may have just been having a bad day.

    Thanks again <3 
    FAQ | How to report a post | How to report spam
    I'm a community moderator. I'm here to help guide discussions and make sure Community Guidelines are followed. I can't send DMs, but you can message @TheMix or email community@themix.org.uk with questions or concerns.
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