So, my sister’s visiting, which is nice, particularly given how few people I see as friends, it’s good to have someone around who wants to spend time with me. That doesn’t make me not socially awkward / inept though, even though it’s far less than with most people. Anyway, that’s not why I’m writing this.
Today two of her friends briefly dropped by while she was here today. Now, just her mentioning it earlier in the day made me nervous, something like a preemptive social anxiety. But that’s nothing compared to when they were here, two girls who I’ve never met and don’t know me at all. They each said a few things to me, but all I could do was smile, or inaudibly agree. Several years ago I would have been nervous about the same amount (I’m still very on edge, my face is still red, and my heart is just starting to slow down, over an hour later). I would have been disappointed that I can’t handle social situations and vow to get out more so I get used to taking to people more.
Now though, it also brings up some issues I need to solve. Due to my breathing situation, I can only speak very quietly and it’s very difficult for people to understand. People who talk to me often are still able to understand about two thirds of what I say if they focus and there’s no background noise. People who don’t talk to me much or don’t know me can sometimes understand a sentence here and there, but only if they really pay attention and ask me to repeat myself a lot. In normal interactions though, most people don’t do that, especially if there are other people around. So even if I was the most outgoing person ever, I still wouldn’t be able to talk to people. They were trying, or at least trying to be polite, and even though I had chances to talk, it just didn’t work
So what can I do? I think one on one conversations could work if the other person is really persistent, but those situations are rare, at least with new people. The other solutions I can think of are big changes which I think would make me seem more disabled and make people even less likely to see me as just a person.
One thing, which is inevitable sooner or later, is a tracheotomy. This means that instead of breathing through a mask or mouthpiece, a tube would be attached directly to my throat. I’ll write something more detailed later, but there’s some chance I wouldn’t be able to speak at all. In my situation though it’s most likely I’ll still be able to. In that case, I think I might be able to speak more clearly because my face and mouth would be free. I’d also be able to say more per breath (now it’s one or two words) because the speed the air comes out of my mouth could be more controlled. But that’s a major surgery (not medically, but would significantly change aspects of my life), and also there would be times I couldn’t speak at all.
The other possibility is that I could use a computer or something similar to speak for me (or just have people read the screen). I would either use some kind of keyboard (like the one I’m procrastinating finishing), use eye tracking, or a button to type. To me, this feels like the ultimate stage of being disabled in most people’s view, which I think narrows my already very small chance to meet someone as more than a friend.
I don’t really see any other options besides those two, and they are most likely inevitable. I suppose it’s clear that what I’m doing now isn’t really working, and not being able to communicate with anyone new stops all chances. The other two things will make it more possible to talk to anyone and perhaps make friends, but I think it makes me less desirable to almost everyone. It’s not so much this specific time or who they were, but I have very few chances in my life to interact normally in social situations, so each time feels very significant since it might be the only time in months.
I used to be able to just say I’d try harder the next time, but now I literally can’t. I’d be very interested to hear from anyone who has any input on how to fix this issue, particularly in a way that doesn’t compromise my chances of ever meeting someone on the level I want to. I’d like to have more social interaction in general, but that’s the thing that I want the most.