And sometimes I’m just awkward

Scene: Sitting in church.  The pastor has about 5 minutes to go in the sermon.  I know this because I had been at church for the Saturday night service and had already heard the sermon, but I like to sit with my mom on Saturday and a friend on Sunday mornings, so I sometimes attend two services.

Me, turning to my friend: I have to go.

Friend: “…?” (It was evident by the look on her face)

Me: Well, give me a hug!

Friend, still confused, gives me an awkward sideways hug.

Me: Okay, bye!

 

I’m fairly well known for my disappearing acts.  I’ll be in a group of people, and the next thing anyone knows, I’m not there.  Usually it’s because I’ve had a panic attack and run to my car to go home, or run to the bathroom to cry.  I do it at family functions too… find my mom to take me home, and go, without ever saying goodbye.  So first and foremost, let me say that the fact that I said anything at all was a huge improvement.   I didn’t just disappear.

I have the ability to say goodbye appropriately.  In this situation at church, I could’ve easily whispered that I had to meet my mom at 10:30.  Knowing that it was 10:10, my friend would’ve surmised that in order to get there on time, I needed to leave now.  Very simple.  But if I don’t rehearse, if I don’t run through things in my head sixteen times beforehand, I often can’t access that ability.

This most often happens with language, for me.  I have the ability to say xyz, but in the moment, if unprepared, I don’t have access to that ability, and what comes out is… well… you never really know!  Whether it’s answering how are you with you too, or whether it’s being unable to ask are you okay, it frustrates the heck out of me.

I know that I’m miles ahead of where I was some time ago… but I also know that I have miles to go before I sleep, if you will.  But then, without the need to work on myself, wouldn’t life be boring?

A tiny peek

I know I’ve been away for months.  And I have no idea whether I’ll be back with another post in two days, two weeks, or two more months, so as usual, please bear with me.  At some point I might open the windows on what’s been going on and let you stick your head in and take a look around at what my life is these days, but for today, you’re just getting the tiniest little peek.

As long as I have the word autism attached to my name, there are certain preconceptions and connotations that that word carries with it.  If you hear that I’m autistic, you’ll probably assume that I’m not the best communicator.  And you might assume that I can be rigid.   You might also guess that I don’t do well with other people, with friendships.

That’s where I’m about to prove you wrong.

In October of 2011, my evaluation stated that I had absolutely no insight into normal human relationships.  That’s a blow for someone like me, who happens to love her friends and family fiercely, intensely, and completely.  It hurts to hear that.

I’ve known in the past several months or so that I’ve made a lot of progress in that area thanks to some very patient friends, but I realized just how much progress I’d made when I discovered that I’m doing better than a lot of people my age…

I was on Facebook a few weeks ago when I saw a meme posted by an old friend, my age, that said, “Real friendships are based on a solid foundation of alcohol, sarcasm, inappropriateness, and shenanigans.”

She might’ve just been joking around, but I know that for some people that’s the truth.  And I thought of my friends, and what our friendships are based on… things like shared worship time learning to say I love you in person.  Our “shenanigans” are going to the grocery store and stopping for a bite to eat (oh, once upon a time when I still ate).  I can’t say any of my friends are big on sarcasm, and neither am I.

I have a handful of autistic friends via the internet that have proved tried and true through my recent ordeals.  Some of them speak, and several of them don’t, or prefer to type.  Some of them need fairly intensive supports.  They have varying levels of ability, disability, maturity, and so forth.  These girls have taught me about true friendship.  Why must it be such an unlikely source, a person with autism?  When are we going to realize that people with autism make some of the most loyal friends?

Want to know what real friendship is?

Ask your local autistic person.  Better yet, let her show you!