Getting to Know Teghan

guitar up

There is such a difference between the Teghan we see at home, and the Teghan everyone else sees when we go out. I suppose it’s true of all kids. All people, actually. We are all a little truer when you find us in our home environment, surrounded by the people who know us best.

But when we go out and see others, even though there are walls to break through before you really know someone, there is also a social game that is played out to get there. You get some sense of the person through conversation and body language. And that is where it starts.

Because of this, people seldom get to know Teghan. She doesn’t conform to any social rules, and a new environment seems to trigger something in her. She is on a mission of exploration- and that exploration has nothing to do with any of the people standing around. People are not very high on her agenda, and she is much more interested in understanding the layout of her surroundings. Or maybe if there are any books that come in a group she might like to tap on.  Continue reading

Ned Nice and the Laws of Social Relativity

 

Teghan at Autism Walk

Teghan was unusually social with this guy. She couldn’t get enough of him.

 

Maybe I am more sensitive than I thought. I pride myself on the fact that I am not one to read too much into what others say and do. I am pretty good at not getting caught up in the idea that everything (or anything at all) is about me, and I am usually quite hard to offend. Because, well, it’s not very often that people mean to offend.

I figure whatever crime someone has committed against me, surely I am doing the same thing to someone else without even realizing it. I doubt anyone is out to get me, or making a point to make me feel excluded in some way- and I certainly am not attempting such a thing on someone else. These are all emotionally healthy assumptions to make about others.

But I also find myself reacting in unexpected ways. I can’t help it. I judge and rank people in my mind. I decide not to give more to someone than what they would return, and I sometimes make the assumption that they would return nothing. I think to myself, “I am never going to be the one who cares more.” I don’t want to chase after someone’s affection or approval. And I don’t want to be the one who can be counted on for these things, either, because that is a responsibility I will fail at.   Continue reading

Depression and Friendship

Face in the Sand

 

(This is not directed toward, or about any one individual. This is coming from a lifetime of experience with friends and/or family who have depression. It is a reaction I have to these experiences, in general. I need to clarify that for my many followers and Facebook friends who suffer from depression and may believe I am talking about them.)

Depression is a conflicting topic for me. I am about to take a journey on eggshells here, because I do not suffer from depression. I experience it from others, but I have never experienced it for myself. I have a limited understanding, but a pretty good understanding of what it is like to be sucked into a darkness I cannot control while I feel just fine. I want to talk about that.

I’m the one who is okay, so my feelings are secondary. I don’t even mind. My brain needs balance, and it will find its way there every time. I do not understand what it feels like to have a brain that doesn’t give me a break from sadness when I need it. While someone who is suffering from depression may be unable to leave that place- I am just as unable to stay there. It’s not easy for the two of us to share space in this scenario.

I have no solution to that.   Continue reading

In Case I Forget to Say Thank You

 

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.  Continue reading

Awkward Social Navigation for the Rest of Us

 

I was waiting in the drive-thru line at Starbucks recently. A young man in the car ahead of me was placing his order. Except….he had no order. He just wanted to check on the status of his job application.

From the drive-thru.

That guy is not getting the job. He definitely made the employees working the window that morning laugh, but I bet he didn’t get the joke- because he wasn’t trying to be funny. He thought he should follow up in person, and figured it made no difference whether he showed up inside at the counter or outside at the window.

I guess it kind of makes sense. But couldn’t he have ordered a coffee or something? Then maybe casually asked about his application while paying? Thinking about it now, I don’t know exactly how I know not to do things like that. It’s one of a million things most of us just seem to understand. I typically know what others expect me to say or do in any given situation. I have at times pretended not to know, but I have never actually felt unsure about another person’s expectations or meaning- in person, on the phone, or in print. For most of my life I assumed everyone else understood these things, too.

They don’t.  Continue reading

Daydreams of Friendship

 

Sometimes I admire someone more than they admire me. Sometimes it’s the other way around. We aren’t bad people (usually), we just don’t match quite as well. Sometimes we simply make mistakes about someone’s potential in our lives.

I have been thinking a lot about making new friends. It’s harder when you are older- even harder when you’re married with children. I generally don’t have reasons to go out and be social when I have my couch, especially when the people I like most exist within a very small radius of that couch. When I was a teenager all I ever wanted was my own space, to do whatever I wanted, and to be able to make out with my boyfriend. Turns out all my dreams came true at a very young age.

In our twenties we went out most nights. Dave was always playing, and the bars in our town closed at 4am. We worked jobs that required us to show up nights and weekends. Our friends were mostly musicians who we had known a long time, and friendship was easy. These people are still friends, but they all live somewhere else.

So we moved to Michigan in our thirties- along with a child, and autism. If we are being truthful here, that last factor plays a huge part in who qualifies as a potential good friend. And as we get older, our friendship requirements become much more specific in other ways, too. In fact, I don’t think the friends we are looking for even exist. Guess we start making more road trips back to Illinois.

People I connect with fall into two categories: those who share my sense of humor, and those who I could stay up all night discussing topics that make our heads hurt.  Continue reading