At the end of this 18-month period, I've now completed the two most important jobs of my life. I've cared for my mother during her final months, and I've written a book about that experience - and about the the experience of growing up with (then undiagnosed) autism.
With mum's passing, there's no one left. My brother - my closest-living blood relative - might as well be a stranger I've never met. I've honoured mum's memory in words... and there's not much else I can do.
I live alone, with my cat. I work with autistic people.
Apart from that, I go through the motions of a life. I pay the bills, I eat, I sleep, I get up in the morning and go to work, I come home, I watch a movie, I go to bed... I start again.
I'll be 60 next year. Life has largely passed me by. I don't really have anything left to do. I don't want to travel any more. I don't have anything I'm burning to learn. I don't have anything left. If it wasn't for Daisy, my cat, I'd probably take myself out of the picture permanently. It would be so easy. And such a release.
But she's here. And she needs me. So I must be here, too.
Until I'm no longer needed.
I count my remaining days with hers.
It’s funny, I’ve just been writing about friendships. I started to cry, not because of my realisation, but for the lost years, all those years where I was pretending to be a friend, pretending to be normal, not even having a clue what normal was.
My realisation tonight, was that I don’t like having friends. In fact I hate it. I have friends on here and friends at my autistism group and I have friends at my trace your family history group. But that’s how I like my friends. In their place. I don’t get that whole nt friendship set up. I don’t like it, I never have and I never will. And the truth is, I never wanted ‘friends’ in the first place. That’s not to say I don’t like being around people. I do, sometimes. But only when it’s for a good reason to me.
When I first started to cry. I thought it was because I had suddenly realised that it looks like I’m going to be spending the rest of my life, with just me, my dog and cat. But then I realised I wasn’t crying about that. I was simply crying for the lost years.
If they are the ‘lost’ years, that means I’m no longer lost. And it’s true. I’m not. This realisation is one of the best things to happen to me. I can now do away with all the ‘friends’ and concentrate on my real friends. You guys on here and my other friends that I mentioned.
Tom, you’ve experienced three great losses, in a short amount of time. They are huge. They really are. As well as realising you’re autistic, these are monumental losses. We are not always aware of what we’re feeling or why, and that’s no surprise, after a lifetime of thinking we were wrong. But we weren’t wrong and there’s nothing wrong with us, or the way we like to live our lives.
You're ok Tom, this is grief and you deserve this time to process all these losses. I promise you, you give yourself some time, some tender loving compassionate care, and when you’re ready, you’ll start to come through this. And we’re all here to hold your hand, put our arms around you and tell you, it’s ok, everything’s ok, it really is.
This is grief my friend. And quite rightly so. But you’re not alone. I promise you that. There is more than just Daisy who needs you. I count you amongst my most cherished friends. Not the nt type of friendships, that wear themselves out and do what they do, this is real friendship. I feel your pain Tom. I still miss being a child. A little girl. Maybe before I went to school. Change is so hard for us guys. But more so because we’re trying to squeeze ourselves into somebody else’s idea of how to be.
Please be kind to yourself, gentle, compassionate and loving. Is there anything I can do to help? Anything at all? Give yourself comfort. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do and do whatever you need to do to process, grieve and gather your strength back up, in your own time, and step into the new world. Our world. No more pretending. No more fitting in. We’re going to be loud and proud, or maybe, quite and proud, but either way, we’re going to live our lives our way, whatever way that is. I’m glad you’ve got Daisy. I can’t wait to get my little puppy and kitten. My two new buddies. Hang in there Tom. Give yourself permission to grieve. Are you speaking to anybody about this?
BlueRay said:My realisation tonight, was that I don’t like having friends. In fact I hate it.
Thanks for those words, BlueRay. And yes... I identify with this. For years now, I've found friendships to be vaguely embarrassing. I think that in part it was to do with such low self-esteem that I couldn't understand why someone would want to be friends with me, anyway. But there have been people, over the years, who've clearly wanted to be friends with me: who've invited me out for drinks, or to their place for a meal. And I've never, ever - not once - felt comfortable with it. In fact, in each case I've let the friendship slide: peter out by not maintaining it. In some ways, I envy people like my brother: loads of friends and an active social life. But then I think 'No... I simply wouldn't like a life like that.'
In some ways, I stick by that final part of my original post. I think if anything happened to Daisy now, I simply wouldn't know what to do - and I don't think I'd want to go on. I once said to a therapist, who asked me what I would do once my mother was no longer around, that I would probably just give everything up and go off to a war zone or a refugee camp somewhere. And if anything happened to me in the process - if I was to be killed in a bomb attack or something - then so be it. I have no one in my life to be responsible for. I have no friends. It would be just me. So I'd put my life to some use somewhere, helping the desperate. And I really wouldn't worry what happened to me.
Yes... I stick by that.
I hope nothing happens to Daisy and that in time to come you find some purpose that puts a spring in your step.
But right now, you could be grieving, I could be totally wrong, but what if you are? there's no right or wrong to grief, no timescales, maybe you just need longer on this one, it is quite a finality and life changing. it's a lot to come to terms with. Be strong for you and for Daisy.
I'm sure you're right. I know it can creep up on you and catch you out. I've recovered remarkably well, considering I lost the closest person to me on the entire planet. Sometimes, I marvel at it - and I wonder if there's something wrong with me, that I'm not feeling more grief than I do. I think my condition has given me a degree of self-reliance, though. I don't need the support of others around me, because I've never really had it before - apart from with mum.
Some people have delayed grief, maybe in shock at first or dealing with other things at the time and then it hits later in life. You had a lot going on around it i.e with your brother. Maybe it's taking time to unravel and process.
Hope you are feeling a bit better now.
Some people have delayed grief, could be due to shock or taking time to unravel and process it because of other factors at the time. Sometimes the grief can take years to decades for the grief to come through and deal with.