The chatterbox and the hermit.

“Shy and Outgoing” by Cammy Senpai, Deviantart

I’m two different people.

Most of you already know what I’m like online. I made a vow to be completely honest and hold back nothing (within reason) and so I am doing. This has been a wonderful thing for me because it has given me courage (and takes courage!)

But I’ve always been outgoing online. I talk about the things that concern me, my feelings about them, my relationships, my mostly painful and sordid past. I tell you if I’m happy, sad or mad and I tell you why. I actively seek out friendships and post on other people’s blogs (when I can find the time since I’m always on this blog). I’ve become active on social media too, something I never thought I’d be. If anything, I’m probably a little too confessional!
On the web, I’m comfortable being completely myself and do not suffer from the shyness, shame or self-consciousness that plagues me IRL.

In the real world (which I prefer to call the physical world, because online life is every bit as real as any other form of interaction), I’m the opposite of the above. I suffer from both Aspergers (which I was most likely born with) and Avoidant Personality Disorder, brought on by abuse and always feeling off balance because of my MN mother and my enabling, alcoholic father, not to mention being a frequent target for school bullies.

From “What’s In It For Me?” on Zombie Shuffle’s blog.

In the physical world, I’m a very different person than the one you know online. Although I have the same emotions (which I talk about here), I don’t discuss them openly or even at all. I have few friends, am not close with anyone in my family other than my children, and prefer the company of myself, my books, or my pets to that of other people. Lots of noise and large groups of chattering people are very triggering to me, and I find myself tensing up and retreating if possible.

Most people know very little about me. I don’t say much, I rarely initiate conversation, and am very shy. Some people think I am cold and aloof; others think I am just stupid. I’m neither, but my avoidant personality makes me seem unfriendly or insecure. My Aspergers makes me seem awkward which exacerbates my problems relating to people.

I am terrified of intimacy and romantic relationships. After a long, abusive marriage and 7 more years of hell living with him after we divorced, I think I’ve had enough. I don’t trust men enough or trust my own judgment enough to dare take the plunge again into a new relationship. I also feel like my age is a problem, even though I look far younger than I am. I haven’t had sex in 9 years and really, that’s not a problem for me. I like the idea of having a relationship again (who really wants to die alone?), but I don’t know if I could cope with the reality of one. That doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen though. It just scares the living daylights out of me.

I can’t stand talking on the phone and a ringing phone is very triggering for me: I always expect to hear bad news. I know it’s just my hypervigilance, but I can’t help my reaction whenever the phone rings. As far as talking on the phone, it’s just awkward because I can’t pick up nuances in speech (due to my Aspergers) which is made worse by the fact I can’t see their facial expressions or body language. I try to end phone conversations as quickly as possible, which makes people think I’m unfriendly or don’t want to talk to them.

I don’t connect well IRL with most people, although I do get along with most. I’m not hard to get along with, just hard to get to know.

Blogging has enabled me to open up and be the self I want to be. It’s enhanced my self esteem and my creativity. Being courageous enough to post the sort of things I post gives me even more courage. Journaling online to complete strangers has helped me understand a lot of things I never used to understand and it’s even helping me develop more empathy.

But this isn’t the Matrix and I can’t live inside my online world all the time. I do think, however, that my increased self esteem and self awareness will soon translate into my relations with the real world. In fact, I’ve been told I seem more relaxed, happier, and more confident than I used to be, even though my extreme reservedness remains. I smile and laugh more. Most people do seem to like me, even though they can’t get to know me well. They have no idea the shy, mysterious, taciturn woman who tends to clam up in social situations or avoid them altogether actually runs a blog where she talks about the most personal issues it’s possible to talk about.

25 thoughts on “The chatterbox and the hermit.

  1. Although I don’t have Aspergers, I can relate to a lot of what you said. Online I am a lot more open, daring and confident. I am shy and don’t like being in group situations. It’s a result of being sexually abused as a child and being in an abusive marriage. Blogging has helped me too !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Blogging can be very therapeutic. I would like to think I’m fairly well rounded. I tend towards introversion, but have handful of close friends and do fairly well in group settings. Blogging became a personal outlet for me when my marriage fell into a rough spot, and I used it to try to understand myself, and what I want out of life. I think it’s helped me grow a lot personally over the past few years.

    Thank you for reading and linking to my blog. I write about relationships and the challenges they face, and in the next while I have a number of posts planned related to anxiety and avoidant personality types. A number of people very close to me either have been or are currently dealing with a number of issues as a result of anxiety disorders. One of them has come as close as I have ever seen to “beating it”. He’s turned his life around in a remarkable way, and I find him an inspiration and a beacon of hope for anxiety sufferers everywhere.

    All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is an interesting topic. I’m very good around certain people, unless the conversation gets too aggressive, or teasing, I tend to stay far away from those types of groups. If everyone is inviting and kind, I’m good. I like my bible study group, a mix of men and women. I’m good usually with a group of women, depends on aggressiveness I guess. I am ok in relationships now, although it is very hard for me to get my needs met, or just ask for something, and men need everything direct, well, that’s the struggle I have with him. His ex is chasing him over the phone or emails, and he ignores those, but I’m scared to just pick up the phone. I can’t deal with an aggressive person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t handle aggressive people either, Joan. I am very non-confrontational and don’t like to directly ask for my needs to be met, even if I feel like I’m being used, abused or taken advantage of. Aggressive people are very triggering to me, and they scare me. That’s because I grew up in a home where anger was the dominant emotion and my parents constantly were fighting (or I was in some kind of trouble with them).

      I’m easy to get along with, most people think I’m very easygoing, and I am. But they can’t get too close to me because there’s this wall I won’t let them get past. So making friends for me is very difficult because I refuse to let anyone get close enough. Online it’s different though. I feel happy when I’m blogging or talking to my online friends.

      But aggressive people, on or offline, make me uncomfortable. I don’t react well to being confronted or yelled at, even if I’ve been wrong. I take it personally even though I know I shouldn’t. It’s my high sensitivity. I also don’t always know how to react to jokes. I have a lot of paranoia and always overthink what my reaction should be to a snarky remark or joke at my expense. I do have a sense of humor though. It’s not that I can’t laugh at myself (I laugh at myself all the time) but when snark is directed at me, I never know how I’m supposed to react. It’s just so awkward for me.


      • I know. It feels like your going to get hurt. I remember once in high school, I did try to play along with the jokes and a boy hit me so hard, he knocked me down. It’s this adapting to social skills and knowing your with the crowd who won’t hurt you. It’s that fight or flight that triggers me when the aggressiveness goes on. My husband teased me once and I cried.
        It’s hard, cause in the real world we have to take criticism, like on a job, in order for us to move on, into bigger and better things, to grow. My theory as to why we are comfy online, is because no one can hit us. But if they get aggressive, it feels like they can bash our faces in right through the computer screen.
        All these feelings are real. This is not the imaginations of a crazy person. We have been hurt by aggressiveness.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Joan, it definitely is the fight or flight response kicking in, online it’s a bit easier to hide — you can always leave, or hide behind a handle, or even pretend to be someone you aren’t. However, I have had to deal with Internet stalkers– back in ’08-09 there was a group of bullies who could find me no matter where I was online. It was creepy as f*ck. I don’t know what I did to set them off, but they decided to make me a target and for almost a year I was afraid to evne log on. I remember googling my handle and finding where these bullies had been quoting me and using things I said to make fun of me on other forums. It turned out several other people had been targets of this same group; one of them sued and won. Eventually the main bully (who was the owner of her own site which was dedicated to making fun of people) was forced to shut down her website. There were also several scathing articles written about her being a stalker and bully. She disappeared completely.
          What goes around comes around. She got what she deserved.


  4. As you all know I live as a semi-hermit with all the time forced being inside. I will see a friend next week but can go days with only seeing my husband. I told him I am worried about how we are in the world kind of alone out there. I do not think I am avoidant but circumstances made it this way. I wonder if people would find me different IRL. I am very hearing impaired and this affects me socially as well as the weight. I like the internet because I am free of my body, but I am worried I am too attached to online life, see my post on missing some ACON bloggers. I am lacking more of a “real life” which worries me. I do have some friends here and a church but my screen time does outweight my regular life time and that may be a problem. :0

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have these same issues, even down to the hearing impariment. I have only 20% hearing in my left ear which makes socializing even harder for me. It annoys people that I always have to ask them to repeat themselves (or move to my right side) and I always warn them first I don’t hear well out of my left ear; then it seems to annoy them less and they are more patient. Small talk and socializing are such a huge challenge for people like us.


      • Yes I am basically deaf in my right ear and have 30% or so in the left. I know I always have to tell people to talk on my left side. It’s not easy. Socializing got far harder for me. I don’t understand a lot of what people say even with hearing aids. Their voices make a difference too.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Some types of voices I can hear better than others. I don’t usually have problems with men’s voices, but women with very soft voices I really have trouble hearing. It’s annoying always having to ask them to speak up or repeat what they just said. Sometimes I just avoid all that by pretending I heard what they said, even though I don’t have a clue what they said. I’ll just nod or something, and hope that will suffice.


  5. I have blogged for years. I do think it helps in giving an Aspie a voice and you can learn to cement your thoughts better and think things out that regular social interaction does not allow. I like how one can go deeper online and avoid the small talk territory. Yes thanks for your blog too. I have read Aspies would rather live on internet. I have this weird thing where I wish I could just type to people instead of talk to them at times. I’m okay with friends but when meeting people and more. Some of it is the ears.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You can edit your thoughts and have time to think out what you are going to say when you are typing rather than speaking. It surprises me too how many Aspies live online and say they prefer it to face to face communication. I don’t think it’s an inferior form of interaction either (many people think it’s a poor substitute). I think online friendships are every bit as real as real life ones, the only downfall being that you are never 100% sure if who you are talking to is the person they say they are. Many online friendships have translated eventually into face to face friendships. For an Aspie, online communications and friendships are better than nothing at all.


      • It sounds like you are on the same page with this. I actually can communicate far better in typing then in speech. One thing people have to get used to with me is they are a shocked at my speech a bit compared to writing but once they sit and listen for awhile they realize the same brain is there. One newer friend said I sounded slower in speech at first but then she realized my mind is still there.

        Actually outside of one close local friend, and my husband, the majority of my social network is online. I have some friends who are deceased who were even friends off the internet of long duration. I switch close friends to the phone–this takes years, but have several close friends I met online. Actually local in the flesh folks are far fewer for me though I have a close local friend and see one of my college friends a few times a year. I think for many Aspies, the Internet allowed has to have far more friends then we’d otherwise have. I averaged only having 1-2 friends at most phases in life. When I met other Aspies, friendship is more possible though I have had some NT friends too who are Aspie friendly.

        I think Internet friendships are just as real but it can be hard in that there is the chance of deception. Face to face is probably better but us Aspies are a thin sliver of the population and we are eccentrics that may not click with many people. In my case I fit so many special categories even finding people who can relate to me probably takes the Internet. LOL

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        • I think we tend to be eccentric, have unusual or eccentric interests and we also obsess about things, focusing on one or two esoteric or obscure or narrow topic at a time. A lot of people can’t relate to that or find it frightfully boring. We can’t relate to the small talk and chit chat about inconsequential things like shopping or vacation plans or whether it’s going to snow over the weekend. Most NTs prefer this type of conversation over the overly analytical deep conversations about esoteric or strange things that aspies seem to prefer. We bore them as much as they bore us. It’s like we come from different planets.


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