Facebook is a strange human experiment in friendship.
In some ways it really shines. It keeps me in touch with family members, who I may otherwise have let too much time pass without contact. It keeps me in the loop of my friends from Illinois since moving back to Michigan (and with the ones who have also spread elsewhere throughout the country and world). It allows me to meet new people from all walks of life and make connections that were never before possible.
It also changes the natural course of things as we knew it. If you are of a certain age, that is. Suddenly friends who had drifted out of our lives are there again. Which is great….and weird. Because some of these familiar strangers, whose children I have never even met, know some of my deepest secrets. Some of these now casual acquaintances once knew me better than I knew myself, and it went both ways. You know who you are.
And then there are the misunderstandings and expectations of each other. Some people like to share in this type of platform, and others do not. Some people like to watch it all unfold from their secret little corner. Some of us take risks, seek approval, or hold our own approval up as some kind of prize to be won. Some of us care, and others- not so much.
I have had a good experience with social networking. I take risks- I write this blog. I share it on my personal Facebook page to be judged. And that was not an easy decision. If it were not for the supportive strangers I found in the online autism community, I certainly would not have made that leap.
I have to admit that I am not the greatest friend. In my heart, I may be, but I am terrible at maintaining friendships the way I should. I have a lot of creative friends, and occasionally it will hit me just how unsupportive I have been. And it isn’t as if I haven’t been paying attention or thinking how talented all my friends are, because I really do pay attention. It’s just easier to think about things than to act on them. I think a lot of people are pretty amazing, but I suspect they have no idea I feel that way.
I know it works the other way, too. So I want to say thank you to everyone who has been supportive- in the most obvious ways, and in secret. Thank you for the emails, the likes, the shares, and the positive comments. Thank you to the two hundred others who click on my ramblings regularly without comment. The ones who simply read and don’t unlike me after they have read it- your statistics warm my heart.
Sure, there are probably personal Facebook friends who make fun of me. There are always people who struggle with support of others and like to cast judgment. For whatever reasons. There are friends who just aren’t interested, too. I know I am not everyone’s cup of tea, and I am okay with that. But they have kept quiet about it so far, so I am thankful for even them. Because this, too, has exceeded my initial hopes.
Sharing your story and thoughts publicly is both enjoyable and really hard. You put it out there, and some people will care. Some people won’t. And some people will pretend not to notice at all because they don’t want to care. You learn something about yourself, and sometimes you learn something about your friends. But it’s unfair to let your ego set unrealistic expectations for either of you. In the end, this is just a tiny (not so secret) corner that exists for me and anyone who cares enough to participate- in any way they want.
There are no rules here.
I don’t know why writing about Teghan and our life felt necessary, but it did. Part of me wanted to connect with others who were like me. So many autism blogs seem to be written by people who don’t think like me at all, or who don’t have children anything like Teghan. I figured, if I put it out there- maybe those kindred spirits would come. And they have.
Part of me wanted to explain what Teghan was like and what we were going through to our friends and family who had no idea. Because we hadn’t even told them Teghan had autism, or how severe it was. It seemed strange to make some kind of announcement, so we didn’t. Then it was as if I was living out some kind of Facebook lie every time I shared stories and pictures that ignored the fact completely. And I hate explaining it because describing Teghan can be so complicated. I thought maybe if they already knew, when we all got together everyone would just get it. And they do get it.
I’m the type of person who is wired for written words. When I feel strongly about something, I write down just how I feel about it before I can say it right. The words on paper always turn out better. I know the right answers in my head, but they aren’t going to come out that way if I just blurt it out. So sometimes I am quiet when I don’t want to be. Blogging is a great world for people like me. It may be in my nature to perform this way. I am not the most outgoing girl in the world, but I can do this. Much like I can write and perform songs in front of people and love it. I’m a weirdo like that.
So I just wanted to say thank you to anyone who takes the time to read what I have to say. And I am sorry if I have neglected my friendships, or have forgotten to say how incredible some of you are. Thank you, to new friends and old friends, for visiting our little corner of the world.