Emerging from sleep and awaking to see my three girls waiting at the end of the bed to greet me and wish me a happy father’s day is such a treat. A moment of joy and wonder that I could have been a part in the creation of these three wonderful lives. That I have the privilege and responsibility of sharing life with them, being their dad. The joy on my little Bonnie’s face as she hands over her gift proudly purchased at the father’s day stall at school.
Oh what joy it is. Oh what pride. Oh what privilege.
After sharing some time reading cars and opening gifts, giving thanks to and for my wonderful girls I am told that I must stay in bed. It is a command I have no interest in going against.
Arriving a few minutes later is a tray of breakfast, a couple of eggs on toast, some tomato, spinach and a hash brown. Delivered by a sweet Bonnie with a grin from ear to ear. A smile so wide and so loving it could melt I am sure melt the coldest of hearts in an instant.
This father’s day breakfast was such a joy, no better eggs could I ever be found in the finest of restaurants anywhere in the world. No matter the quality they could never contain the joy, the pride and the love that were cooked into my breakfast eggs this morning.
After eating the eggs and enjoying the joy of gifts received and love imparted I spent a lazy morning and early afternoon basking in the glow of that joy and love. Dozing and thinking about how truly wonderful it is to share my life with these girls and my wonderful partner Andrea.
I am a very emotional fellow, not so good at the expressing of that emotion in the appropriate ways at the best of times, but the felt reality of that emotion is an incredible and potent presence in my lived experience. It does not take much of a sad story or narrative to have me welling up, whether it be a real experience or a soap opera seems not to matter one little bit.
Stage two of the father’s day adventure involved some peopeling. I am just not too good at peopling. It is one of the areas of being autistic that presents a challenge for me. It was off to my wife’s sister’s house for the festivities of wishing her dad a happy father’s day. Of course this is an important and essential thing to do. Regardless of how tough it is going to be and how everything in me just wants to bail out and curl up in a little ball and hide away from the afternoon adventures.
My extended family is pretty demonstrative, there is a lot of social chit chat and all that kind of good social stuff. You know the stuff that scares the shit out of me. So it was time to suck it up, it was time to put on the good old passing as neurotypical skills to try to get through the afternoon with minimum fuss.
For me this is not a massive deal but it is a big deal. It is utterly exhausting, and it puts me back into that place of feeling something like a fake, something like the facade can come crashing down at any moment. It’s really quite energy sapping. Lots of those questions that I don’t know how to answer, or if they really want the answer. The hugs that you don’t know how genuine they are, how long to hold on how tight to hold, to go in for a kiss on the cheek or not…
I just never seem to be able to pull out the correct social skills file out of the cabinet for these tasks.
Thankfully it was a success, even though it was exhausting, I made it through with no real issues. No shutdowns or meltdowns which is great and not going down that road in the aftermath either. A quite small dinner with my darling wife and two of my three girls with quiet conversation and comfortable silences was just the right way to finish of the day.
As I sit and write tonight it is with a sense of quiet satisfaction at the wonder the day brought to me. Utter exhaustion after the social interaction and constant thinking about what to say and do next to avoid making a social faux pas.
As a proud autistic I often think about the fact that I shouldn’t have to worry about passing as a neurotypical, I just shouldn’t have to worry about that, I should always be able to be the person I am. The events of today though is a reminder that even though it wipes me out that sometimes it’s worth it.
Passing: It’s not always worth it but sometimes the reward is pure gold.