The Limitations of Stoicism

Even as my overtly antisocial behavior continues to wane, there are facets of the psychopathic condition that will remain lifelong regardless of the level of mellowing and restraint that overtakes me.  Most notably, my shallow affect and lack of affective empathy will remain until the day that I die.  This has proved challenging in my interactions with neurotypicals, my word of endearment for those that are not psychopathic.  I live with a neurotypical housemate and he often challenges my stamina with long-winded tales of accomplishment and failure.  It takes all of my energy to remain engaged in the conversation and I have to fake the laughter and the smiles that others find automatic in conversations with good friends.  I do value him; I just do this in a way that causes most neurotypicals discomfort.  There is little emotion behind my stoic face and even less empathy for those joys and tribulations that others face.  This is merely the way that I experience the human condition.

He and I had a candid conversation recently in which I reminded him that I give what I can in the way that I can.  I do value him, so I do not want him to feel unloved or uncared for even if my latent state does not allow me to express either love or care in a traditional way.  I am there to listen, but I am not a shoulder to cry on.  I will speak, but I will not sing the words to accompany his joy.  This is my life; it is all I know and all I am capable of.  I reminded him of my limitations and he seems to understand, but I do worry that our friendship will become strained as my mask cracks more and more.  It is exhausting to play the role of the neurotypical and the mask does not fit quite right.  All I can do is remind those around me that I value them even if my ways of showing such value are untraditional.

Such stoicism is both a blessing and a curse of the condition.  I can conserve psychic energy, but I risk putting off those around me.  I have the feeling that my housemate cares for me, nearly unconditionally, but I also know that starvation is a real possibility.  Neurotypicals demand a certain dance from those they interact with and I am clumsy with my movement.  I may not be actively fucking over those around me anymore, but I still cannot provide what most require.  To those that realize such limitations and accept me regardless, they have my eternal thanks.  To those that are ultimately mortally wounded by such seeming indifference, I suppose I didn’t lose anything worth keeping.  I’m still trying to figure out my boundaries and my abilities and I try not to be completely defined by my limitations even if such limitations are inescapable.

Love, Symbiosis, and Identity
The Light and the Dark

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    It’s not that you can’t show, it’s just not there in the first place. He will realize that one day if he did not already.
    I know it’s not like you are cold and callous on purpose, but that’s just how it is.

  2. Deb says

    Amazing in your honesty to yourself and those u care for, I was deeply touched by your words, thk you for helping me understand some of the nuances of your condition as I have a few people in my life who are with this disorder. God bless you and watch over you

  3. beneficii says

    My diagnosis has been autism spectrum disorder, so the causes may be different, but I have this issue, too. I’ve learned how to present myself well (and in fact my records say I have attempted to do so since at least 3rd grade), and I can usually hit all the points, mechanically, like playing a piano: Smile here, nod here, go mmhmm here, etc.

    Nevertheless, I find that in the end, I just don’t care about the relationship or the other person except regarding what I can get out of it.

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