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Today was a hard day for me. I know that these family get togethers are supposed to be fun, but they drain me. I am in a strange place with people I don’t know. Everything is different and strange. My husband is here and he helps, but he can’t babysit me the entire time – and I don’t want to ruin his day.

My mother-in-law is very kind. I briefly explained my condition to her, but all of these people…

I wish I could just tell them! I wish I could say “FYI, just because I am quiet doesn’t mean I am stupid. Just because I don’t talk much and have to retreat to my room for a bit doesn’t mean I am antisocial. Just because I don’t say much doesn’t mean I am stand-offish or stuck up.”

Actually, it is just the opposite. I don’t talk much because I don’t know what to say. I can’t process all of the different (loud) conversations going on at once. I have to retreat to my room because the noise and activity just gets to be too much and I get overwhelmed. I need to be where it is quiet and I don’t have to try so hard to fit in and be accepted. I don’t have to try to be normal. I don’t say much because I am afraid of saying the wrong thing.

No, no one has said I was stuck up or antisocial – not today – not where I could hear (and, no, I don’t think anyone said those things). But people have said them before.

Today was just overwhelming.

See, when I am in a group of people, I don’t hear words of a conversation, I hear noise – loud noise. It gets into my head and my mind locks up. The noises set my nerves on edge. My shoulders tense up, my muscles get tight. I just want to run away. I feel assaulted – but no one ever touches me.

I do like these people, my new family. At least, I like most of them. Some seemed stand-offish. I felt like they were evaluating me. It was weird and unnerving. But maybe that is the way people see me. I don’t know.

I really am a nice person and I wouldn’t hurt anyone, not on purpose. I really want people to like me – I just don’t know how to make that happen.