I Am Your Dysfunctional Friend - I Don't Want to Shake Your Hand
Today I want to introduce you to a new series about how absolutely dysFUNCTIONAL I am.
Having a son on the spectrum has really opened my eyes over the years. He is a capable, smart and passionate boy, but it when it comes to meeting societies norms of functional behavior; he falls flat on many occasions.
You can see the pure panic in in his eyes when he thinks he will have to talk to someone he does not know. He looks like an ostrich ready to bury its head in the sand and I hurt for him. I hurt for him because so many people do not understand how he feels, how these experiences take over his emotions and send him into a downward spiral where he feels like he has no control over himself.
They look at him as if something is wrong with him because he does not want to be touched, to make eye contact or to express how he feels. As his mother, it hurts! It is like a knife jabbing me every time. I get it that that is inability to interact with you can come off hurtful, really I do. There are days that I long for a moment where he could come up and give me a giant hug or look me in the eye when I tell him goodnight.
You know what else I get though, feeling dysfunctional in a society that wants to place everyone into a neat little box of acceptable behaviors. I am dysfunctional, my family is dysfunctional, hell, if you want to step into reality for a moment, we’re all dysfunctional.
That is what I want to share in these little rants, these peeks into my soul. Knowing our own norms, knowing what makes us comfortable and knowing that our behavior is perfectly functional and okay.
Shake Hands When You Meet Someone
How is it we go from screaming “stranger danger” as a kid to suddenly being expected to meet the expectation of letting random clammy palms invade our space? As an introvert, I have a hard enough time meeting people, let alone having to endure their touch in what could ultimately lead to an “I’m better than you” assertive, pissing match of grips.
Yet, not shaking the hand of a stranger, as you make introductions, quickly files you in the rude, unsociable and dysfunctional category.
Well, to all of you that give me the raised eyebrow or bitchy resting face when I pull back as you ease your hand my way, screw you! Really, you should be glad that my I don’t go completely ape shit and start throwing stuff at you for stepping a toe too far into my territory. I NEED my space!
I’m that person you see out with a tense look on their face in a crowd. That person who’s shoulders start to tense followed by deep breaths as I try to configure a way out the space. The space where it seems as if everyone is closing in on me with no concern for the fact that I can feel him or her brushing up against my hair or breathing near my ear.
The thought of having to touch a stranger because the purpose of a handshake is to convey trust, respect, balance, and equality creeps me out. You are a stranger and I do NOT trust you. You are a stranger; I have NO reason to respect you. You are stranger; I am going to need some time to determine if the scales are even. You are a stranger; our equality means little to me.
Guess what, if I have uttered my name and said, “It was nice to meet you,” I would say our introduction went well without the spread of whatever germs you picked up in the last hour. Knowing my own personal boundaries when meeting new people is not dysfunctional.