An Autistic Christmas.
It was Christmas day lunch. There was no turkey, there was no glazed ham. no cranberry or apple sauce. The roast pork and chicken along with the crackling were all absent.
No party crackers. No silly jokes and hats. The chatter and giggles, the laughter of cousins, the sheer joy of being a part of something larger than oneself were all absent.
It was Christmas lunchtime and there was much potency present. The potency of exclusion, the potency of disconnection, the potency of deep pain and sadness, devastation and hurt were all making their presence felt.
Tears were there in abundance. They flowed down my face as the pain and disconnection came over me in waves across the afternoon. They were expressed in episodes of howling in sadness and devastatingly painful aloneness.
It was not a case of an episode of tears and cries and back on with life. Even now a couple of days later as I write these words those same tears begin again to come over me in a wave of renewed pain and sadness.
This Christmas has been for this autistic lady, an experience that has hurt me deeply, devastated me emotionally. It has seen me experience actions by another human I never thought them capable of.
You see my marriage is over. The relationship with my wife is over. Why it’s over is not really of consequence, what is significant here is that it is over. From a family Christmas point of view, that prompted my sister-in-law to express that I was not invited to attend the Christmas lunch she had planned at her home this year.
Ok, I kind of get that. I do.
But, the implications of this in my situation are devastating. You see I am a child of abusive parents, I have had no contact with those parents for around 20 years. My extended family are all interstate.
So, what this meant, was by not being unwelcome at the only family Christmas dinner I have known for many years, that, I had nowhere to go and no one to be with.
This small thing was devastating to me. Not only did I have nowhere to go or no one to be with all my children were still welcome to attend, even though. two of those three children are actually not blood relations to any of those at this lunch.
So it doesn’t make sense to me, that I am somehow cut off from the only family close to me either emotionally or geographically. The pain of being singled out in this way was, and remains intense.
Whilst it makes some sense that I would no longer be able to attend due to not being together with my partner anymore, it is a searing devastatingly painful reality.
I have pause for thought to consider the idea of autistics and emotions and empathy and all that business. It reminds me again of how the reality of this autistic shatters the stereotypes of what an autistic is like. You know, the idea that an autistic doesn’t have empathy, doesn’t have feelings. doesn’t care if they are alone or with people.
It’s certainly a thing that I am an introvert and derive my energy in time spent alone. It is certainly a thing that I have difficulty with socialising and reading the social setting and responding appropriately. It is certainly a thing that expressing appropriate empathy can be extremely difficult.
But, it’s not a thing that I desire to only be alone, it is not a thing that I don’t want to be with people ever, it is not a thing that I don’t desire and long for social connection, and sure as fuck is not a thing that I don’t feel empathy.
I can only speak for myself as an autistic, I can’t speak for other autistics but I certainly wonder if this is similar for other autistics. It seems to me that a common theme I see expressed by autistics is a longing and desire for a relationship with others. So surely I am not alone in this.
It seems someone ironic to me that I the autistic in the situation was able to articulate and express the depth of pain that was coming in the days leading up to Christmas, and yet this was dismissed by the neurotypical adult in the household.
What I experienced, as best as I can understand and convey it was a minimising of my emotional needs and feelings. The whole situation was dismissed as well it’s only lunch it’s really no big deal.
But it was and is a big deal. You see, Christmas lunch has always been a big deal for me and those I have shared my life with. It was a big deal and it is a big deal. It wasn’t and isn’t and never will be just lunch.
Yes, I did get to spend time with my children in the morning. Yes, I did see them in the evening. I don’t mean to minimise that situation, but just lunch was the bulk of the day, a day that holds potent meaning in the life narrative of my existence.
Just lunch was the bulk of the day, from midday until 6:30 PM. I don’t see how in any one’s mind that can be just lunch.
I feel somewhat that I am rambling on here and not making much sense. I suppose the thing I am trying to say is that just because one is autistic does not mean these things are meaningless and that the pain is not real. They do and it is.
In a sense, I guess, it is even more painful because it is one of those days, where, you know, there is a sense of putting differences aside, of putting in your very best, of showing your love and care for those you may generally not do so too. I guess, in that context the depth of pain is understandable.
No, it wasn’t just lunch at all. It was hours of intense loneliness, pain, abandonment and indescribable depth of hurt.
So what’s the point, well I guess the point doesn’t assume that just because they are autistic that it won’t really worry them. Because you know what, autistics have feelings too, just as real and, just as fragile as non-autistics do.
Yes, that’s right, we hurt too. Please take that into account as you arrange your lives around your autistic loved ones. We just might want to be included. Fancy that.