After a ‘friend’ disaster about four years ago, I had decided not to ‘do friends’ any more. I decided that I would just have ‘people I know’, as ‘friend’ seems to be a closer type of relationship. Autism, lack of social skills, whatever it is, means that I have difficulty comprehending when people really want to be friends, or when they feel that I need to be ‘helped’, and I’m being some kind of voluntary social work for them.
After several times being ‘dumped’ by people who say they only became friends with me because someone else told them I was always on my own, or because I would provide them with a service (like a lift in my car) which they no longer need. I’ve just lost all sense of trust in people’s motives.
Is this person my friend?
Now I’ve come to the decision that it would be good to find people to talk to, where the subject isn’t always autism, or other disability issues. I joined a Facebook group which is for women to make new friends.
Then, I went to meet the woman who runs the club, she’s very nice, but said how ‘brave’ I was, and how do I cope, etc. I find it difficult to know what to say on these occasions, and had to just say that it’s what I’m used to. My problem is that if I don’t mention Asperger’s Syndrome & my son’s autism, then what do I talk about? True, I’m keen on crafts, gardening, family history, but somehow autism always seems to creep into the conversation.
If nothing else, I get asked something like “why do you have to rush home at 3pm?” I say my son will be getting home. “Oh, how old is he?” , I say “26”. I then have to explain why I’m rushing home for a 26 year old! Then, I get asked about autism, and somehow I’m back where I usually am, giving an impromptu autism awareness training session!
‘Lots of friends’
People keep telling me I have lots of friends – I have lots of ‘people I know’. The vast majority are people I know when either they or I, or both, are working. I was trying to help a girl I support, who had become very attached to a support worker, who suddenly left the post. The girl couldn’t understand why her ‘friend’ had left her, and I wanted to explain that the person in question didn’t consider herself a friend. We came up with the ‘Friendship Ring’, example above, putting the names and photos of people in the relevant rings.
Like her, mine has very few in the friends ring, but lots in the ‘people I know when they are working’ ring. Outside the rings we said we would put people we knew by sight, who we might say “hello” to, if we saw them while shopping etc.
It seemed to help her recognise who her friends really were. I found it interesting to do for me, too.