In my last post, I touched on how Jack is forming friendships which, I feel, are especially precious given that his autism puts him at a disadvantage when it comes to making friends. But today, I’d like to talk to you about MY FRIENDS, and how they have changed over the years.
Before I had Jack, I had a best friend. She is a very special best friend. She is still my best friend, although we don’t see each other as often as we might like, but I know if the shit hits the fan, she’s there. She’s Kara, also known as Bean, or Nash. If you know, you know.
Over the years, she has been the only constant. Once Jack began showing challenging behaviour, I began to lose friends. You’ll hear the same story from a lot of autism parents. People who have neurotypical kids don’t understand, or fear that our children are putting their children at risk with their unpredictable behaviour. And slowly they stop replying to messages. They fade into obscurity, perhaps coming out once a year to wish you a Happy Birthday via Facebook. Or worse, they cut all ties and say mean things behind your back. To those people, yes, I know about it. Thanks for your disloyalty, knob.
They say it takes a village, but they don’t tell you what to do when the village ups and moves overnight, leaving you behind. I won’t tell you about the friends I’ve lost in detail, as there are far too many, but I will tell you about the ones I’ve found and kept around.
I have a few long-distance friends who I met years ago and who haven’t lost contact, in particular Becky and Amanda, who live down country. I know that if I need a rant to someone objective, I have them. Two very special ladies indeed.
When my hip began to fail me, I met this random nutter through the PAO surgery support group. Her name is Cara. We are both banned from that support group now. It was a joint effort. We had our surgeries the same day and I can never fall out with her because she has some seriously cringey pictures of me, sleeping open mouthed, off my box on Fentanyl. Fond memories!
But due to Jack’s autism and the subsequent circles I’ve mixed in over the last few years, I’ve also met a huge number of autism parents. Some decent, some absolute legends, and some…..questionable. My biggest challenge was when I had surgery last year – I realised who was there, who wasn’t, and who was just a nosy grief tourist, looking to witness my agony. A few of these women stood out as keepers though, and they have been around through thick and thin, ready to eat crap and bitch about everything and nothing at the drop of a hat. I won’t name all of them, because I guarantee I’ll forget someone and offend them. However, special mentions to Alada and Emma, who keep me sane on a daily basis. Here’s to many kitchen picnics while the kids are at school, for years to come!
Autism helped me find my tribe, even if there was a LOT of heartache along the way. There were days when I thought I’d be alone and friendless, brooding and depressed. Having a child like Jack, who would be incredibly difficult when he was younger, can make you feel that way at times. It can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’ve only had two hours of sleep every night for the past month. It can seem smart to lock yourself away. But I know that even on my worst day now, I have a village.