Navigating a Minefield vs Strolling Through the Woods

It occurred to me, after writing my previous post about autistic friends, that I might have made all autistic friendships seem overly simple and easy to navigate.

In reality, of course, there are still potential missteps when being friends with and conversing with other autistics – even good long-term autistic friends. We’re human and certainly not perfect, after all.

We have misunderstandings sometimes. We can also have become so sensitized to certain words and actions that we end up automatically reading into things incorrectly – usually due to years of trying to decipher what allistics really mean or dealing with trauma relating to misunderstandings past.

But in comparison….

I spent my entire life trying to safely navigate the minefield of allistic conversations and expectations without any kind of road map to myself, the minefield, or the other person. Allistics only have the roadmap to the minefield and themselves, not to me.

Therefore, most allistics don’t seem to understand why I keep stepping on the mines. They don’t seem to understand how anyone could not see the mines – they’re right there on the map! The map they assumed I had access to as well.

It’s obvious to them (according to my allistic husband). Yet, I was constantly getting blown up.

In comparison to that treacherous experience, strolling through the peaceful woods with autistic discourse is calm and extremely safe.

Yes, there are sometimes tree roots that jut out unexpectedly or loose gravel hiding in the shadows. With a misstep you could still wind up falling and skinning your knee or maybe, worst-case scenario, spraining or breaking an ankle, but when compared to making a misstep in a minefield, there’s really no danger.

In the minefield of allistic discourse, when I make a misstep, everything blows up. When that happens, I often find myself in a state of confusion while suddenly lying on the ground, in shock from the explosion, and broken into a thousand pieces that I now have to pick up and put back together somehow.

When I’ve made a misstep with an autistic friend, on the other hand, I usually know why I’ve fallen on the ground, because the tree root is visible, not buried. I know how to stand back up, even if it hurts a bit.

When I don’t know why I’m hurting on the forest floor – maybe I tripped over my own feet, my own past baggage – then my autistic friends are usually happy to help me work through what happened and give me a helping hand to stand back up or a shoulder to lean on if I can’t walk without limping for a little while.

They understand. They’ve been there themselves. They know what it’s like not to have any idea what happened in a situation or conversation. To feel the aftermath of a social explosion and not have anyone bother to let them know what on earth just happened.

They get it without me even having to explain ❤

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