Lately I haven't been able to get a conversation I had with my mother in law after we first got Recker's diagnosis, out of my head.
It was about friendships.
I remember sitting in her living room with her talking about how great most of our friends had taken Recker's diagnosis and have been so supportive and loving, but that a few had been distant and how it bothered and confused me. The look on her face was that of complete empathy and understanding. She had been there. She explained that she had lost a lot of friendships as well and that it sometimes goes along with raising these special children of ours. I remember feeling heartbroken for her but honestly thinking to myself that it would never happen to us. That times were different and these special children were more accepted and understood...theres no way we would lose friends over this.
The last year has been hard.
Impossible really. And just what I had told myself for years would never happen, has happened. I feel like I've lost a lot of once great friends. While I realize that comes with the progression of life, our relationships dwindle & we realize who our true friends are, the ones that are here to stay...it is never easy losing friends. Especially when you know that Autism played a part in the loss.
Though I have lost friendships, I have gained many more...
This Autism thing is hard. Its been 4+ years and I'm still trying to navigate the difficult emotional side of being a special needs parent and trying to not feel so disconnected from everyone else. But I realized I don't need to "fit in" as a typical mom, because realistically I will NEVER be a typical mom. With that realization came the inspiration to find other moms who DO know what my life is like, who understand and know my autism language, women who I can tell a story to and not get a blank stare or a mortified look but a roar of laughter and an understanding head nod...
Over a year ago a small group of four of us who really didn't know each other decided meet for the first time and get together for dinner. I couldn't believe how it felt to talk to other women who live this same life, it was like this weight was lifted off my shoulders. Thats when I started arranging these monthly dinners with other Autism moms. I have been meeting new Autism moms every month for the last year and it has been incredible. I have made so many amazing friends. GREAT friends. Friends who I talk with on a regular basis and we do "play dates" (aka we sit and talk while our kids play around each other haha) and I can call when I have an autism related questions and vice versa. It has been a life changer to meet up regularly with fellow ASD moms, to relate and not feel disconnected for once.
So yes, my mother in law was right. I did lose the majority of my friendships I had 4 years ago when we first started this journey, but I have kept a couple (amazing ones at that) and gained so many new ones who have helped me grow and better understand this new life we're living. I know that there will be so many more changes and adjustments to come due to Autism, but I now feel better equipped to handle them with friends who have already been there or are preparing for the same "battles". Its nice to have them on my side.
I am also so grateful for the couple close friends who have stuck around and been so supportive, encouraging and always there to let me vent, take me out make me laugh and take my mind off of Autism, even if its just for a bit. You truly try to understand Autism, my boys, my day to day life and I love & appreciate you for that. It means more than you'll ever know.