>For as much talking as I do about my mom (we’re practically joined at the hip; my mom says “it’s a genetic thing,” as she and my grandmother were the same way), you probably don’t hear me mention my dad much. Dad lives about 3 miles away from Mom’s house with his new family (stepsisters 28 and 25 are out of the house, stepsister 19 is moving out this fall, and half sisters 7 and 9 are the cutest, sweetest little buttons you’ve ever met). Stepmom believes some fallacies about ASDs: that I don’t really have, that my mom caused my issues by spoiling me, and that the only cure I need is to be booted out and left to fend for myself. She is fairly verbal about her beliefs, leading me to avoid spending time with her. Since it’s darn well near impossible to get my daddy without getting her too, I don’t see him very much. Her beliefs aside, I love them both very much and believe that they both want the best for me. However, I’m not at a place in my life where I can stand up to the harsh criticism, especially of my beloved mother, so for now, staying away is the best thing I can do.
Growing up, I was super close to my dad’s sisters and their families. They are much older than he is (now 79 and 70, Aunt D and Aunt “B”… I actually call her Aunt B… respectively), and I saw them almost yearly for a long time. Aunt D lives in New York and Aunt B lives in North Carolina, so about 10 hours either way from home. Since my dad got his new family, I’ve seen them both exactly twice (Aunt D most recently was a Daddy-daughter road trip in 2005; Aunt B was when my paternal grandmother died when I was 13 or 14). They are both like grandmothers to me, but since Dad got the RV and it’s filled up with 4 people, I don’t get to go see them. It’s logistics to him, but still, it hurts.
Well, this week, we are visiting my sister’s inlaws about an hour north of New York City. (Side note: I get to go to vintage toy stores on Saturday in the City with my sister, and I can’t wait). Anyway, I told Dad I was leaving town for a few days, and he asked where to. I said “Some random place. Danbury, maybe?” He said, “Danbury, Connecticut? That’s where Robin (Aunt Dona’s daughter) lives! Can you see her?” I told him that we were going to New York, but I sure wished I could see her!
Today in the car, as we approached our midway destination of Wilkes-Barre, PA, I asked Mom if we were staying in CT. Affirmative. I immediately called Dad and he gave me R’s phone number. I faced my massive telephone fear and called her. “Um, hi, R? This is Lydia. Dave’s Lydia?” “Lydia! How are you, sweetie?” “Well, I just found out right now that I’ll be in your town for the rest of the week. Is there any way I can see you? I’m dying to see you all.” “I’m free! Just tell me where and when to pick you up. You’ll come over to the house, right? Will and Eliza and Lyle (cousins) will be home too…”
So, Cousin R picks me up at 10 AM Friday morning. First, we go to see Aunt D and Uncle F in New York, then we go back to Robin’s to catch up wth the my-age cousins.
Here’s where the nerves set in. I greatly fear being compared to my “typical” cousins, who do things like live in NYC and travel Europe in their early 20’s. Then there’s me. I’m not upset about who I am, but I’m certain that my dad has never explained my diagnosis to my family. Given the way I struggle with verbal communication when I get anxious, I decided to text Robin. I said, “Robin, I just want to give you a heads up. My dad probably never told you that I have mild autism. It’s gotten more obvious as I’ve gotten older. I’m super shy without my mom. I just wanted to let you know…”
She hasn’t texted me back yet, though it’s only been as long as it’s taken to write this post.
What will she say? What if she never responds, and I have to play the game of, “So did you get my text?” What will they think of me?
Did I mention that I’m nervous?