My cousin, E, got married yesterday. She’s 10 months older than me and we grew up together. Her dad and my mom’s brother, my Uncle Bill, is one of the kindest, sweetest human beings I’ve ever known. I mean, I love all of my family, and many of them are special to me in their own ways too, but Uncle Bill has this place in my heart that I really can’t explain. So, seeing him give his daughter away and dance with her was just so emotional for me, as well as for the rest of my family.
In autism terms, I noticed a few things about yesterday.
First, out of the five of us cousins, I’m the last one to be paired off. My older sister and older cousin, E (yes, I actually call her E and have since we were little) are now married. The little cousins are 22 and both in fairly serious relationships. And then there’s me, doing my own thing. I often say that I don’t do anything the expected way. Relationships are no different. I don’t want to get married. I do want to “be somebody’s person,” though. If my health allows in the future, I foresee myself living with an autistic friend, someone with whom I can just sort of do life. I can see being in a relationship with someone that I can help, and that person can help me, too. We could have a life together. Man? Woman? That doesn’t really enter into it. I don’t want that kind of relationship. I want true, long-term companionship. I realize that the biggest issue will be finding someone who also wants that kind of life. That’s okay. I am willing to wait, and if it never comes my way, then I can honestly say that I feel quite fulfilled as things are. I have several close friends, an amazing family, and not one but TWO kitties. Life is truly good.
So, another autism moment was when I ran into someone from high school with her boyfriend (who also went to my HS) and I went up and made conversation with them. The poor girl actually said at one point, “I’m sorry… I have no idea what to even say to that!” Leave it to me! I realized I was being awkward. I felt the awkwardness. But, despite my efforts to curb it, it just got more and more awkward. Oops. I got into the car and said, “Mom… I’m sorry, because I know you don’t think my autism is immediately obvious, but I just tried to talk to people and ohhhh my gosh.” These two are fairly unique individuals themselves, so it wasn’t like I was trying to talk to your everyday 20-something. Still… yikes.
The wedding was very small… I’d say 30 at the ceremony and 50 at the reception. That made it do-able for me. About 90 minutes into the reception, I looked at my mom and said that I was getting to be pretty done about now. My health issues make it hard for me to sit upright in a regular chair for a long period of time, and even just being awake all day is almost impossible. Plus, let’s be honest… I was watching a table full of people inhale large plates of prime rib while I had 4 mini-bites of chicken and a couple spoonfuls of mashed potatoes. I could eat the cake, though! It was delicious. Anyhow, my mom told me that I’d done very well and we would leave soon. I got to thinking, who, at 25, has their mom tell them they’ve done well at a wedding?
My sister and I sort of got into it recently because I didn’t have a gift for the wedding. I have only been to one wedding in my lifetime (that was four years ago), other than my sister’s, so I wasn’t aware that I needed a gift. Not to mention… I have $0 in my checking account and $2.15 in my savings. Gift? I would have made something, had I known (I’m fairly crafty and artistic)… but I didn’t know, so I wasn’t prepared. My sister said that, at my age, I am an adult and have to take care of this stuff myself. She frequently tells me that I don’t have to ask my mom’s permission for things or even her opinion, to just do it. Well… I hear her, but I’m not really 25… my brain isn’t. Intellectually, for sure; I was 25 when I was about 12, in that sense. But developmentally, I’m probably… oh, 18-19. That’s a far cry from several years ago when, following a regression, I was trapped in childhood. But I’m still not ready to fly solo. I am making progress, but I’m not there yet. It’s not something that I can just choose to suddenly grow up. You cannot choose and it cannot be rushed or even faked.
We were getting ready to go yesterday. I had woken up in sensory overload (go figure that one out). Everything was itchy, scratchy, bright, loud, and on my nerves. I was dropping everything. I was sweaty from the hair dryer and sticky from my makeup. My bra didn’t feel right. I was hungry but couldn’t have my feeds on because they’re cumbersome. Then my mom and my sister got on me about my purse… it was a day purse, not a wedding-approved purse. I said that I needed “stuff.” What stuff? Well, my medical crap, but also space for my iPad. My sister said that I do not need an iPad for a wedding. “Mom said I could read!” “LYDIA! YOU CANNOT READ AT A WEDDING!” But Mom said! What will do I do if I can’t read! Then it was back, Mom does not decide for you…
The issue was changing the plans at the last minute, more than anything. As it turned out, I left my iPad in the car and didn’t even read at the reception because it wasn’t loud or super crowded.
I love being around my family because they never treat me like I’m less of a person for being who I am. They knew me for 21 years before my diagnoses, and the label didn’t change anything for them. They say, “I always knew something was different….” but they’re really supportive!