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Tahitiii
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07 Apr 2013, 11:30 am

Is there a better way of saying this? A cliché or fable that everyone knows but me? Something simple that makes the point without being too dramatic.

I really hate hearing myself whine, and I’m sure that others would get tired of it if I went on too often or too long. I don’t want a pity party and I’m not asking for charity, I just want a little sensitivity. Give me a break. I want people to let it go without harassing me or insinuating that I’m being cheap or petty.

I am in a difficult financial situation. I have no income at all and don’t expect to find a job soon. I am in the process of a divorce, have been driven out of my home and receive no support at all. I don’t see my kids for weeks at a time because I can’t get money for gas. I’ve been sponging off my elderly mother, who can’t afford the extra financial burden. No, I can’t ask her for pocket money for something that makes no sense, even to me.

No, I don’t want to participate in your “secret santa” game or other frivolous expenditures. Receiving joke gifts does not bring me joy; it brings me pain to see such waste.
No, I cannot contribute to your child’s fundraiser so they can see a Broadway play. I am starving here, while your child has money to burn on junk food at the mall and electronic toys. I haven’t bought clothes in years.
No, I do not want to attend a “party” for Tupperware or candles or any other product that I can’t use. Anyone who can even think of that as a fun idea has no idea of extreme poverty.
If we go out for a group lunch, it takes an extreme effort on my part just to scrounge up the gas money, and I order the cheapest item on the menu. I can only do it every few months. No, I will not split the bill. Paying my own is already too much. If you have so much money that you can be so casual about it, you can pay my bill. I’m NEVER on the receiving end of such casual spending. Why do I need to kick and scream just to pay my own way?
I try to be graceful, play it down, try not to seem too pathetic. A simple “no thank you” doesn’t cut it. Some people actually laugh and dismiss what sounds to them like an excuse. Why should I have to make excuses? I am never on the receiving end of such charity, although I should be. It’s like they can’t comprehend the very concept of poverty.

It’s like they’re deaf. Are they so self-absorbed or is the gap between us so vast that they can’t grasp it? Should I just give up and find a nice cave to live in?



MjrMajorMajor
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07 Apr 2013, 11:51 am

Could they be inviting you so you don't feel excluded? They may feel it's better just to extend the invitations, even if you can't participate. A lot of people haven't been completely broke in their lifetime, and so they just can't reference where you're at. If they aren't listening to you, I'm not sure what you can do other than run a broken record--thanks but no. Sorry to hear about your current situation.



Callista
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07 Apr 2013, 12:52 pm

I read this in a magazine a while back, in an article about how to save money when you can't afford to spend it: A good excuse for not spending money you can't afford to spend, without making the other person feel bad, is to say, "I'm saving up for X and I can't afford to spend any extra money right now," where X is a useful and necessary purchase; for example, the deposit on an apartment of your own so you don't have to live off your mom, or a car so you can get to work better. Etc. This makes you look more like someone who is thinking ahead and planning than like somebody who is either uncaring or stingy, and it sends the message you actually want to send: "I need my money for useful things; I like you, and I want to hang out with you, but I don't have the cash to do anything expensive right now."

You could suggest that you would like to participate without spending any money--"Keep me out of the Secret Santa drawing, but I'll come to the party anyway; it'll be fun to see people open their presents."

There are also money-free gift-giving options. Do you have useful things you're not using? Maybe a book you've already read, or a gadget you have two of, or a decorative item you don't want to display? If it's a reasonably nice item, box it up and give it away. You could--if you are close to the person--offer to do something for them. For example, you could bake them cookies or watch their kids. But you have to make sure they actually take you up on the offer, and actually *want* to take you up on the offer. Otherwise it just looks cheap. If you can make things, and you have the supplies, you can make them something. Personally, if I had to give away a Secret Santa gift, it would probably be a handmade winter hat, probably a simple one in a neutral color. Anyone can use a winter hat, and it costs me very little money and only a small amount of time to make. I'll probably be reading while I make it, actually. So if you have a skill like that, you could use it.

When you say "I can't afford--", don't be too public about it. Take the person aside, explain that you are "saving up for--" whatever your excuse is (heck, it's probably the truth, even if saving up right now just means spending as little as possible), and apologize that you'll be unable to spend any money at the event; ask if that's okay, and if you could come just to hang out.

Group lunches can often be dodged out of if you are very busy--maybe you have to work through lunch. You could also say that you had a very late breakfast and are still very full.

I know a lot of this is lying, but it seems to me that you probably are looking for some "white lies" to serve in this situation--to communicate that you don't want to spend money without making people feel bad that you are in such a tight spot financially. The best way to go about it, I think, would be to try to find lies that, while they might not be strictly factual, still communicate what you want them to understand.

By the way, I've been there, and I sympathize with you (at least, intellectually; I'm not very emotional with these sorts of things). I think you'll get through it because in my experience, autistic people are very tough and persistent and we're good at surviving. One tip: If you have free time and nothing to do with it, it helps your morale a lot to go and volunteer somewhere, do something useful. If you're unemployed or disabled and you have to keep saying "no" to people like that, you start to feel kind of useless and disconnected from other people... well, at least I do. Contributing in some way, even a minor way (I used to clean cat boxes at a shelter, for example) really cheers you up. Doesn't have to be formal volunteering either; if you're any good at housecleaning, you could probably become your mom's live-in cleaning person. A friend of mine let me stay with her when I didn't have a place to go, and I cleaned her apartment for her that summer. Helps keep up your spirits, and your mom gets a useful service... I'd recommend it, if she isn't the sort of person who's finicky enough to want things just so and be annoyed by your doing it your own way.

By the way, it's okay to say "no" to invitations. For example, say they're scheduling it for Saturday--you could say, "I really have to get some things done this weekend; I won't have the time. But I appreciate your inviting me." Always thank people for inviting you, even if you can't come.


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07 Apr 2013, 1:40 pm

I was in a similar situation many years ago. In retrospect, nowadays I know I was socializing with the wrong people for me. The reason they couldn't begin to understand or believe that I didn't have the money to spare was not that these people were stupid but that, not being autistic, for them it went without saying that if I was hanging with them then I was in a similar socioeconomic situation as theirs, otherwise I would have the common sense to distance, as any NT would automatically do if their financial / socioeconomic situation changed.

I know it's more popular among us autistics to just dismiss NTs saying they're stupid / don't get it, but unfortunately the truth is another: they know what they're doing in the NT world and we - there's a huge lot of unspoken agreements that we miss.


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07 Apr 2013, 1:43 pm

I'm an adamant believer that dismissing NTs as stupid/clueless/inconsiderate prevents us from learning what lies behind the obvious , the huge unspoken facts we're not seeing, and ultimately disempowers us in the NT world.


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conundrum
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07 Apr 2013, 1:53 pm

I am sorry you are in this situation. I hope you can save up--somehow--and that things turn around soon.

What Callista said makes a lot of sense. I don't think you could be much clearer with people without telling them every single detail, which is probably unnecessary.

@Moondust: good point. It can be difficult to fully understand something that is outside of your own experience.


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Moondust
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07 Apr 2013, 2:09 pm

From my experience, and that of people I've heard on the topic, if your situation is for a limited time, and these are people who are close to you, they'll accept it. But if it's for, say, years, or they're not that close, at some point they stop inviting you.

Especially around the subject of money, there's a lot agreed upon in social groups that is unspoken.


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Jinks
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07 Apr 2013, 2:27 pm

Moondust wrote:
I was in a similar situation many years ago. In retrospect, nowadays I know I was socializing with the wrong people for me. The reason they couldn't begin to understand or believe that I didn't have the money to spare was not that these people were stupid but that, not being autistic, for them it went without saying that if I was hanging with them then I was in a similar socioeconomic situation as theirs, otherwise I would have the common sense to distance, as any NT would automatically do if their financial / socioeconomic situation changed.

I know it's more popular among us autistics to just dismiss NTs saying they're stupid / don't get it, but unfortunately the truth is another: they know what they're doing in the NT world and we - there's a huge lot of unspoken agreements that we miss.


This is a really interersting point that I'd never considered before but I can see that it is true. NT people would not find themselves in this situation because they base their friendships around people in the same economic group.

This kind of thing is the reason I struggle to understand the criteria neurotypical people base their friendships upon (and therefore struggle to make any friends). While I can observe it to be true now that someone has pointed it out to me, I find this idea completely bizarre.



conundrum
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07 Apr 2013, 4:10 pm

Jinks wrote:
This is a really interersting point that I'd never considered before but I can see that it is true. NT people would not find themselves in this situation because they base their friendships around people in the same economic group.

This kind of thing is the reason I struggle to understand the criteria neurotypical people base their friendships upon (and therefore struggle to make any friends). While I can observe it to be true now that someone has pointed it out to me, I find this idea completely bizarre.


Something I'd never thought about before, actually. And yes--this really makes no sense. 8O :?:


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07 Apr 2013, 5:15 pm

Jinks wrote:
This is a really interersting point that I'd never considered before but I can see that it is true. NT people would not find themselves in this situation because they base their friendships around people in the same economic group.

This kind of thing is the reason I struggle to understand the criteria neurotypical people base their friendships upon (and therefore struggle to make any friends). While I can observe it to be true now that someone has pointed it out to me, I find this idea completely bizarre.


Close...same social strata. You can have friendships that cross categories, but the more "lines" the friendship crosses, the more difficult.

Also, it's very dangerous to bring friends of a different social strata in to your social circle.


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Tahitiii
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07 Apr 2013, 6:06 pm

Thanks, everyone.
Good advice, all around, even if it is hard to accept.
A lot of old friends have drifted away.
I keep thinking I'll get back to them someday, but it's seeming less and less likely.

Most of the annoyances come from NTs, but the last incident was from a local Aspie support group.
Even they don't get it. No, I'm not interested in splitting the bill. I always end up the loser in deals like that.

Also, I sometimes give a ride to a guy from the group who can't drive.
He thinks I'm the grown-up in this relationship (I'm 57, he's pushing 40) and that I have money.
He's on disability, lives alone and doesn't need to think about it.
I've told him my troubles and he's never volunteered to give up gas money.
I have to ask straight out, and even then, he has laughed as though the idea is absurd.
I really hate being the bad guy.



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07 Apr 2013, 11:47 pm

I had a really dark period in 2009 where I felt a lot like OP. At that time I was trying to hold all my weaknesses inside and got called out on it a few times. I've learned since to be more gracious.

It is rather embarassing to feel like a charity case, and I think in my case I was feeling like I had to prove myself. I'm finding it fortunate that I have people who enjoy my company to the extent that they wouldn't let a $20 restaurant tab stop us from meeting, though I wait for them to invoke "my treat" rather than let it become a regular pattern. So maybe the next visit or 2 after dining out I may offer to meet them at their home or a destination and bring something to offer them like an extra drink or sandwich. My probably best friend is probably my biggest inspiration to keep living, even though he says I inspire him. This weekend I told him of a prospect to buy a more reliable motorbike but that I was short of my goal. He almost immediately whipped out a couple hundred and told me "interest free, pay me what you can, when you can" While I don't like debt, I took him up on such an amazing gesture. Although I don't know if I'll have that sort of faith in me 20 years from now.

Bottom line, finding the trick to explaining your circumstances without sounding like Eeyore. People will gladly bail others out of a situation if they can, but bailing someone out of a lifestyle leads to resentment. Other than that; ditch the car, get a motor scooter = more miles for your gas money (plus cheaper to insure, maintain and replace), and no more 'free taxi' service


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08 Apr 2013, 12:31 am

One thing is a true friendship and another is a social circle / social relations (which could be relatives, a group one belongs to, one's class at university, etc.).


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08 Apr 2013, 4:26 am

But I love cake!! ! Ice cream and cake!! ![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysy6evd1sNA[/youtube]


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