Monday, 27 December 2010

Time on my own verses time with others - the tables turn at Christmas

When I was growing up, in a family of two parents and a younger brother, and going to school each day, I always looked forward to spending time on my own in the garden or in a room at home in the evenings and weekends. I was around people so much that I needed all the time to myself I could get. And as I've said in previous posts, I had no interest in making friends and being socialable back then.

I've lived on my own for seven years now, something I always looked forward to doing when I grew up. However as I find myself on my own so much and usually waking up, eating and going to bed with no one else in the house, I find myself trying to maximise the time I spend with others, trying to arrange to meet up with friends and keep busy. I do need time to myself, but I get so much of it that I can forget how necessary it is.

However there are rare occasssions when I do need to get away from people. One of them that happens every year is at Christmas time, normally Christmas Day and Boxing Day. For as long as I can remember, every year on Boxing Day, my wider family on my mother's side meets up at the home of my Mother's eldest brother and his family, as it's their youngest son's birthday is Boxing Day (he's just turned 20) All the children are grown up now and some of them are married with their own very small children now.

I always look forward to this day, and the first part always goes well, having a meal, unwrapping presents over a nice cup of tea and the chocolates we've just been given for Christmas! However, it is around mid- afternoon to early evening that I normally find it gets harder. Most of my family love to play games, board games, writing poetry etc, which I do not generally enjoy, and I find after spending several hours with the family I am simply too tired and games are just hard work so I opt out. I think having done this for so many years now I have recognised what my problem is and have learned to deal with. Firstly by recognising the problem, that I need time to myself, and secondly, my preparing for this my bringing something like a book to read, or bringing my chess set along and having a game with one of my uncles.

Now there are some games I do quite enjoy and I do sometime join in, but the problem I have with playing games on this occassion is firstly, because it is taking place after several hours of being around people with nowhere for me to get away for a break. Seconly, it is because there is often so much confusion about the rules and how we'll play, and people shouting over each other (not in a nasty way) instead of it all going quickly and smoothly, and it all goes over my head and becomes draining. A third problem is that some games take a long time (often because of my previous observation) and you find that you're 'trapped' inside the game without being able to get away from others until its finished. I cannot play games like Monopoly, they require too much thinking of a type I cannot do, and it takes so long to finish it that you can never finish it properly! And again there's often so many arguments about rules that takes up time and makes it even more tiring. I cannot do writing poetry that my family often like to do either, my mind just doesn't work that way and it seems like a lot of hard work for a Boxing day bank holiday.

In previous years I've often found myself board and at a loose end at this stage of the day. I think that preparing for it has helped me very much here, in the same way as preparation helps me in other social situations. Oddly, I often find the late evening is more enjoyable, when the games are over and everyone is winding down with a more relaxed conversation. That said this does vary from year to year. The one thing I can say is that family occassions are far more relaxed then socialising with people you do not know so well (though probably not as exciting) because everyone knows I have Asperger's and has seen me grow up, and it is very helpful when you're parents and uncles and auntie's remeber you as a baby or toddler, because it shows you what you are naturally like and where you hae come from as a persno, as its impossible for anyone to fake anything at such a young age.

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