Dear Autistic friends,
You are all wonderful.
Thank you so much for making a place I fit in.
I love the internet.
I've usually had some places where I've felt like I've fit in. I am from a very close extended family, where most of the cousins are within a five or so year age range. And there's a fair number of us, and we're pretty strange (#MySemiAutisticFamily is what boyfriend calls it to differentiate from the other very normal apparently side of the family). We all grouped together and played the strange games kids come up with when they have little adult supervision (or think they have, anyway. Our parents were pretty sneaky.) So I've always felt like I've belonged with these cousins.
But eventually you enter the real world, where you sometimes (or closer to almost-always) have to interact with people that you are not related to. And that is when I started to realize that things were different. And as my cousins have grown up, and dispersed to different jobs and countries and medical schools and places without reliable internet, and developed lives outside of family, it becomes more and more necessary to talk to people you are not related to.
But the great thing about cousins* is that even when you haven't seen each other in months or years, once you put yourselves together again, it is just the same as the last time you spent a week straight together hiking and going to Trader Joe's.
And as my life grew less and less structured, and I had to spend more and more time away from family, as I moved into high school and college, as I had more and more responsibilities and more and more interactions and more and more strangers, I got more and more alone. I started to realize that I was different. And that it wasn't always the good different (I always knew I was better than a lot of people at math for instance). I started to realize that things that were incredibly difficult for me were sometimes things didn't even realize they had to do.
I got more and more lost.
Even though I made some amazing friends, there was still something missing. My other friends seemed to like each other more, because they were always hanging out (eventually I learned the formula for initiating hanging out, unfortunately just in time for graduation).
And then I figured out (or started to figure out) this whole autism thing. And it's like finding a whole new branch of cousins. People who understand me, who have the same stories and history. Even though there are so many ways and differences in life and life circumstances. There was still the sense of almost easy familiarity that I have with my cousins.
And it has made my life better. I still have struggles, but I have a place of belonging. I have a place with answers. A whole new place to turn for advice.
Internet people, thank you.
Thank you for being here and being there and being so similar.
Blogs are weird things, where we share secrets with the whole world and make friends with strangers that we have never seen, who know things about us maybe even our closest friends don't know. I was initially skeptical.
Thank you to E. at The Third Glance, where I first realized I could be autistic because I could see myself in almost everything she wrote. When I first realized that there might be a category for my different, that maybe it was an actual difference, not just a character flaw.Thank you to autisticook for adding me to her list of autistic bloggers. That was AMAZINGLY INCREDIBLE Because it was belonging and sort of the first confirmation that other people acknowledged me as autistic. That I could join the internet community. Thank your Nattily at Notes on Crazy for all her helpful app knowledge and suggestions and helpful hints to make life better.
And there are so many other people.
So many amazing people.
And fitting in and talking and community and happiness.
Thank you, semi-strangers that I met on the internet.
You are amazing and you have made my life so much better.
* I want to make it clear here that this is probably not actually a generalizeable statement. It is really refering specifically to my cousins, although I do know other people who also have this experience.
Labels: asperger's, autism, autism acceptance, fitting in, friends, me, my family, this blog, when I was younger