I thought I was part of the crowd, but it appears I am not - what can I do?
There’s someone at work - let's call her J - who is pretty much universally disliked – she’s very negative, very difficult to get on with, has strange religious tendencies, can be rude to people if she feels they are not conforming to her standards of behaviour, and tends to be bad at picking up social signals – she will keep speaking to you when others would notice you were trying to get on with something (to the point of you picking up the phone to speak to someone), or I will often go over and ask her to do something for me (she is my assistant) and she will start talking about something utterly irrelevant. Most of the time I can completely see why people dislike her, but sometimes it makes me uncomfortable mainly because, as irritating as she is, I know that I don’t always fit with the norms of what people do and it seems a bit like bullying (although some who work closer with her say she is a very unpleasant person).
For example, a few weeks ago another colleague, who was leaving, sent round an e-mail asking if anybody was allergic to dogs, because she wanted to bring hers in on her last day. Nobody responded, so the dog came in, and J started complaining that she was ‘dangerously allergic’, that the allergens were in the air-con and making her feel bad even if she was on the other side of the office, and complained to senior management. This was pretty melodramatic and in part seemed like making a fuss (‘dangerously allergic’ = that it’s on your work file, apparently), but then there was a group of people who started e-mailing each other about how ‘unreasonable’ she was being and then finding pictures of her on Facebook with dogs. I don’t particularly like the girl but when I hear about things like this it seems very mean and also makes me wonder what they might be saying about others...I’ve also heard people say things like ‘nobody likes her here, why doesn’t she just fvck off?’
Anyway. Today I went over to talk to someone else in my office and I saw a message on the work MSN on their screen, complaining about J, and, written as I walked over, ‘here comes no.2’. And this was from someone who I consider to be a good friend in our office – we have gone for drinks after work, chatted a lot, texted each other, and arranged to do things out of work. I really like her, and I thought we were, in a colleague-type way, friends. This feels like a kick in the gut (and I know that sounds bad, ‘oh no I’m just like the person that everyone dislikes’) because for a long time she and I have got on well enough to have personal chats or spend time outside of work, and now it feels like at the least she is being rude about me behind my back. It's quite difficult for me to feel at ease with other people and I was glad we got on well, so this has upset me a lot.
Not really sure what to do, to be honest. Of course, it was nosey of me to look at someone’s screen (I am a very fast reader and can read whole paragraphs just by glancing over or walking past someone's computer) and I can’t bring it up without being paranoid, but I’m really upset just now. I feel a bit betrayed, if it isn’t melodramatic. I’m attending psychotherapy at the moment – it’s a group session – and a lot of this is making me feel how at odds I feel in group situations, particularly those that involve judging tone or social norms, and I feel like maybe I’m not as good at it as I think I am. I worry a lot about what other people think of me, and I don't go out to drinks after work often, partly because I am often travelling at the weekend and partly because I find those situations extremely difficult and tend to compensate by drinking too much or sitting in a corner being quiet. (I've never been diagnosed with an ASD, FYI, but people in the past close to me have wondered whether this is the case.)