Today my wife and I went to her cousins house for her daughters 14th birthday. Her cousin and her husband are the only friends we have down here and if they didn’t live an hour away from us we might see and hang out with them more.
My wife’s cousin’s husband is Mexican. He’s a cool guy…he was an architect in Mexico, but can’t work as one here. (don’t get me started). Anyway, her cousin is cool people. She works from home and takes care of their two teen and pre-teen daughters. Needless to say they are all NT’s and they don’t know about my families Aspie-ness.
The husband had some of his friends and relatives over for the party, (my wife is the only family her cousin has down here). There was food, (barbecue and Mexican), music, (I had no idea before today that Mexican’s listen to Merengue music like us Puerto Ricans do), and the kids were in the pool. Now my wife and I sat apart from everyone else, his family usually is very “stick to themselves” when they are there with anyone else (so my wife’s cousin tells me)…but we didn’t mind too much, because it gave my wife a golden reason to NOT have to interact and spared her a lot of pressure.
I was sitting there, listening to the music, eating the food when I realized how much I missed having Spanish culture around me. I’m Puerto Rican from New York, and though I don’t have a very strong cultural identity (i don’t speak read or write Spanish, and I can’t dance Salsa or Merengue etc.) still being in NY you can’t help but be around it some point. True this was the Mexican culture, but it was similar enough to invoke those feelings. I also felt sad that I didn’t feel connected to what was going on around me.
My wife and I have NO friends out here. We don’t interact with anyone. I don’t hunt or fish and can’t even fathom how that is even entertaining. I am not Mr. Fix-It or Mr. Mechanic in a land of people who were raised building, plumbing, farming, hunting and fishing and working on cars since they were 3. I have NOTHING in common with any of the men down here.
For my wife it’s even worse! She rarely does anything other with her hair than throw it in a pony tail, and usually wears shorts flip flops and a large v neck tee shirt whenever she goes out or stays in, and doesn’t really worry about her appearance too much after that. She doesn’t put a huge priority on cleaning house, or gardening, she doesn’t like shopping or doing girly things like that and has absolutely no interest in getting together with the girls to gossip. On top of that at least during the day I get to leave the house and go to work and interact with people while she stays at home and feels like a house hostage.
I say all that to make this point. As I sat there feeling disconnected and sad about it, it hit me how my wife and other Aspie’s feel like this every day. Seeing the world go on around them, and not being able to interact with it, and when they do they don’t quite feel connected to it. They will never be able to experience it the way we NT’s do.
I’ve spent my whole life feeling like an outsider. I didn’t have a strong enough Puerto Rican identity for my culture. (To this day I get poked fun of for not speaking Spanish). I was always an outsider wherever I went. We moved around a lot and didn’t stay in one place for any amount of time. We were dirt poor. I never had cool clothes or even new clothes. I was easy pickings for the bullies to make fun of. I had a speech problem. I wasn’t allowed outside and my dad though he lived with us was hardly home to teach me to throw a football around, or hit a ball etc. so I sucked at sports and didn’t know the rules or how to play any of them. I wasn’t allowed to listen to music or go to movies so I had nothing to talk to anyone about. I was lonely my whole life.
But I learned what to say in what situation. I learned the correct social cues and etiquette and eventually even how to understand emotional effects on human behavior and reason out why someone would act a certain way or even predict how they would react if I did a certain thing. So I learned how to survive adapt and blend even if I didn’t feel I ever belonged anywhere.
My wife can’t do that. My sons can’t do that. Nor will they ever learn to. They will forever be disconnected from the world at large. They will never quite fit in. They will always feel like they are in a room full of people yet be so lonely it’s heartbreaking.
Not only that, but outside of this house, they really don’t have a hope of ever being able to do so.
Thank God for the online community. For places like WordPress or Blogger or even Face Book where they can meet other Aspies, share similar experiences, come together and have some sort of solidarity. For cyber-friends and circles. There is hope, they can see they are not alone. They can reach out across miles, states, countries or continents and FIND others like them who can show them they are not as alone as they think.
Thank God for all of you.