|2 women of different ages hugging|
There is (yet another) stereotype about autistic people that they have no friends. While socializing and finding someone (either NT or ND) who accepts you for who you are (not who their idea of you is) has been a struggle for me, I do have one friend and she is a great blessing in my life.
I didn't have any friends growing up. I did have a reoccurring summer playmate for a few years but come school time, I became invisible to her. She was popular and probably didn't want her friends knowing she knew me.
I did have a few casual friends in middle school the place I call day prison due to the bullying and generally hostile, tense and loud environment.
They succumbed to peer pressure in high school. People asked them why they hung out with me and one of them told me she was tired of getting mean stuff said to her for being my friend. She asked my permission to leave the friendship.
I forgave her and have forgiven a lot of other people for their inability or refusal to accept me due to being "different" compared to those around me.
The only genuine friendship I have had the pleasure to experience came after my school years.
I was attending a class at a local social service agency which was supposed to help people find and keep a job-ala retail. It. didn't help me at all as it was designed for intellectually disabled clients.
Anyway, to get into the building, I had to be buzzed in. This is where I met my friend.
One of the first things I think about when I think about our friendship is the fact she pursued it over the years.
She would periodically call or send a card after I had left the agency years after. I wasn't sure why, because I thought "what do I have to offer her?" I had gone through many down times where I wasn't well enough to get out of bed or even leave the house.
Eventually, as I made a little progress with medication and therapy, I reached out to her, and she came to my house to meet me and my mom.
We became close friends in 2012, even after I told her via a letter she would be better off without me due to all the stress my autism brings not only into my life but everyone else's.
She responded by saying that I would always be special to her and that she would be there for me if I changed my mind.
She also said that her life is better for having known me.
Quality is better than quantity.
We live about an hour from each other and I wish we could see one another more often. I don't drive, but my sister drives me to see her 1-2 times a year or she comes up to see me.
I have always done better with relating to people older than myself, particularly if they have a mentor personality.
We agree to disagree without animosity.
We talk to one another once a week. Regular readers will already know that I don't enjoy phones, but I make rare exceptions for people who make time to speak from a quiet environment.
|Concept: Lack of emotional support online and offline. Shared with "friends" on Facebook during a major depressive episode.|
During a major depressive episode, there were no "likes" to anything I shared on Facebook. I only share it with people I have met in person. No encouraging comments, nothing.
The encouragement came from my ringing phone each and every Sunday evening.
A lot of the time I wasn't well enough to answer. Encouragement came in the mail. Holding onto a thinking of you card requires no internet connection, just a little time and a stamp.
My friend has taught me the meaning of commitment, faith, love, patience, and acceptance of what is. She doesn't expect me to meet unrealistic expectations. She meets me where I am at and encourages me to press on, clinging to the faith we both share.
No matter how poorly I'm feeling, I always smile when I hear my friend's voice.
She is a treasure. I hope I will always know someone like her throughout my lifetime, but if not, I will always have many blessed memories, like the time she sat in my lap and put her feet under my nose as my sister took our picture.