In my 40 years of life, I managed to pick up a lot of coping mechanisms to handle social situations. A lot of my reactions are copied instead of originating internally. It’s just something I do, because I know I’m expected to, and life is easier when I do so.
I think of it like this: I have catalogued all the emotional reactions I’m expected to have and put them in a my mental database.I have also put an index to them so whenever that social situation comes up, I lookup the reactions I’m expected to have and use the one most appropriate. Eventually my own feeling also surface, and sometimes the situation is something that even people like me can empathize or be affected by (usually, injustice).
But sometimes, I run into something I’ve never reacted to before, and my brain completely short-circuits and I just end up with no reaction at all. Such a situation happened just now.
I honestly have no idea what the appropriate reaction to these news is. Pity? Celebration? Comfort? I got no fucking clue. I wanted to defaulted to advice, but would that be insulting them? In the end I just was honest about it (which by itself requires enough mental fortitude)
It’s this situations that often make it obvious (even to me) how much coping mechanisms I had to create to handle the world smoothly. It’s therefore doubly funny when people who know me don’t even realize I am Neurodivergent. Likewise I see the stress and anguish my 10yo child has, who is high-functioning like me but hasn’t learned coping mechanisms them yet and is constantly tortured by his peeps for not reacting or handling situations “normally”.