I had a kind of sad realization today:
My mom recently told me that she didn’t have as many birthday parties for me growing up because she was afraid kids wouldn’t show up or that they would just be mean. I had more with family, but I think I remember maybe 3 with friends throughout my whole childhood.
I always saw this as a failing to be loved (privileged, I know), but now I see that she was just trying to protect me. I didn’t have many consistent friends growing up, and the ones that were closest to me often turned into bullies or would abandon me. The first birthday party I remember, there were a lot of disinterested little ones hanging about. The second one, my next door neighbor ended up taking people over to her place which disrupted the party and made me feel like shit. The only one I really loved was the one for my 16th or 17th birthday, where I knew the people there all cared for me to some extent and it was a great time.
Before and a little into high school, I was the secretly liked kid…the one people were happy to have around without others knowing. Often as soon as it was known a relationship was present, that relationship would break for one reason or another. And the reason was usually because I wasn’t cool enough to be kept around. I mean, the kids who lived near me dubbed me as the fucking neighborhood mosquito for christ’s sake. They kept me around mostly but definitely didn’t want me there.
This isn’t to say I didn’t have a group here or there, but people drift apart, and a lot of times I was only involved as an afterthought in those groups. Or at least that’s what it felt like a lot of the time. I frequently floated from one social circle to the next, watching from the outside in while gaining personality traits (masking) that didn’t actually align to my core identity because I wanted to fit in.
I think the mix of having so many extracurriculars (always busy), overprotective parents (couldn’t go anywhere), living in a hoarder’s house (couldn’t have people over), and my neurodivergence (didn’t have healthy boundaries and couldn’t communicate properly) prevented me from making lasting relationships, as well as a secure identity, before age 25. I was spread all over the place and mostly had to endure all of it alone.
Sometimes I go to write things like this and never post it because I get insecure about how this is a lot of the human experience and mine is no different or special or worthy of others’ attention. I’m also worried I’m going to offend people who considered themselves my friend, and please, if you’re reading this and you were my friend, I’m not talking about you in these posts. I know I’ve had a few good people along the way.
Then I remember that I have a blog so I can share my experience and relate to others regardless of how regular these experiences may be for people who don’t share the same identities as me. “That’s not an autistic thing, everybody goes through that.” Sure. But at what frequency? To what detriment? This shit has affected me all my life and I’m just now able to look back on it with a new lens for better understanding, acceptance, and healing. If you’re thinking the quotation above after reading this, maybe also consider how you might not be as neurotypical as you think you are, especially if this has affected you all your life. And if that’s the case, I’m here to support you explore what that can mean for you