Friday, 20 April 2012

True Support

It's been a quiet week kid-wise.  NO appointments, no drama.  Just the usual day to day.  So this week has been a blessing in our house.

Several close friends, however, have had really rough weeks.  Huge losses.  Significant hurts.  Weeks like this bring perspective, make me realize just how much I have.  I am not someone who runs in a big group,  in my life I have felt lucky if I take one significant friendship from each experience.  These are all people who I could pick up the phone and talk to at the drop of the hat, and it would feel like no time had passed.  I could text them an expletive out of nowhere and with no context and expect to get one right back!  These are true connections....age, beliefs, occupations don't matter.  One of my best friends is 29 (+31 hehe), lives in Wisconsin and I have met her face to face exactly three times in the 6 years we have known each other.  When I do see her I feel like I need to put up a partition so we can have a proper conversation :).  Establishing this type of friendship is a huge emotional risk.....but obtaining it  is one of the biggest blessings in life.  There have been times when I have given to the point of hurting myself, times when I have been really hurt by those I have risked caring for.  But the times when I have been rewarded with true, lasting friendship have far outnumbered these.  And so I will continue putting myself out there.  Life is too short to risk missing out on someone who could turn out to be very important to me.  Will I continue to get hurt?  Without question.  But I will know who my true friends are.  When the going gets tough....true friends are there.  No matter what.  It's a tough lesson, and one that I have learned the hard way many times.  I have almost lost friendships through my own stupidity and self-centeredness.  I almost lost one of my dear friends when I first met my husband and chose to throw myself into his life as fully as possible.  I am lucky.  She didn't give up on me, even when she should have.  And I count her among one of the very best people I have ever known.  She had a huge loss yesterday;  right now I feel her pain almost as acutely as if it were my own.  So I wanted her to know that I am thinking of her, and I am here.  And I love her.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that I have learned quite a bit about true friendship this year.  About being a true friend, and recognizing true friendship versus convenience or manipulation.  I have often acted naively  in my life.  For the most part, when it comes to friendship, I choose this.  I want to believe the best in people.  I'm actually quite frequently right- but I have also been duped at times. The difficulties in my life over the past year have really clarified in my mind who I can trust, and who I can't.  "If you give your trust to a person who does not deserve it, you actually give him the power to destroy you."  This is a lesson I seem destined to learn over and over again.

There are so many friendship sayings out there...."A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.". "True friendship isn't about being there when it's convenient; it's about being there when it's not." Or my personal favorites....A friend is someone who will bail you out of jail. A best friend is the one sitting next to you saying "boy was that fun." and "A true friend is one who thinks you are a good egg even if you are half-cracked."

I was having a typical text conversation with one of my closest friends the other day....she is just about as high strung as I am and was questioning me about health issues.  She told me she felt sorry for me that I was her only friend that was a nurse and I told her I was used to these kinds of questions.  Hell, my next door neighbor knocked on my door last night with a freaking cracked bloody skull so I could tell him if he needed stitches (I'm a TRANSPLANT nurse buddy....).  I started giving her examples of all of the health conditions I have been asked about and she said something along the lines of "I see neurosis runs amongst your friends".  My reply?  But of course, how else would I fit in?  We are ALL half cracked around here!  And I wouldn't have it any other way!  How boring would that be?  What she doesn't understand is that she could knock on my door at 3 am and ask me to examine her gangrenous pinky toe...I would invite her in and fix her a cup of coffee to boot.  She has been there for me unconditionally....has answered my phone calls and heard only sobs, has gotten many of the aforementioned expletive texts :).  She has never told me she is too busy (even though she is), she has never told me that I am being ridiculous or negative.  She has never judged me (this is not to say she does not express her opinion, she just still loves me when I ignore it).  She is the first person who finally admitted to me that something was "off" with Jack.  She validated my fears, she helped me face them, when no one else would.  So if she skins her knee, bumps her head, or has a problem she wants to talk about, I am there.  That is what true friendship and support are.

1 comment:

  1. True friendships are more valuable than gold. Some people with autism may prefer solidarity. But, since I started OT school, I have learned how important true friends are.

    To be where I am in OT as a person with Asperger's, I am fortunate to have some true friends along the way who really helped me to get to where I am today. Without them, I might have been looking at a third career right now.

    1. I have a friend who is studying her PhD in occupational science, which goes hand in hand occupational therapy. I knew her through an election where we competed against each other for a prestigious leadership position in OT, where she beat me in March 2010. Despite being heartbroken, I sent her a congratulatory message out of sportsmanship and that was how our friendship started. (This was a few months before I was diagnosed with Asperger's, by the way.) 8 months later, she gave me a 1-hour pep talk that motivated me to do great at an airport as we were returning home from an OT conference, as she mentioned that she respected me a lot more than when she first knew me after she learned what I am dealing with to be an occupational therapist. Since that talk, that was the reason why I decided to pursue my own doctorate degree in OT as well as presenting in OT conferences on autism. We meet once a year at an OT conference nowadays. But when we do have a chance together, I know I enjoyed every moment of it. (Of course, I bet she is also proud of my OT aspirations.)

    2. I am very fortunate to know a COTA who doesn't live too far from me. She has been in the field for a couple decades and is a relatively big name in OT. Even though we knew each other for a year or so, she is a big supporter of my OT success while grooming me to be a leader in OT. For someone like me who wants to be a leader in OT, she is a great patient teacher and has provided me some platforms to challenge myself!

    3. I have a friend from NY whom I have known for about 1.5 years. She also has a PhD and is an OT. She knows some of the well known autism self-advocates, as she loves to study adults with autism. This relationship is going to be wonderful because we both have some things that the other has. For me, being an OT with Asperger's is huge in this relationship because I know my rare perspective is very valuable in autism research. For her, I am hoping she can help me open some doors in OT autism research- whether it's her work or others. I am planning to meet her next month to see how realistic it is for me to be an OT researcher.

    Of course, there are also countless others... but I will end by saying that I love this quote that you put about true friends- "A true friend is one who thinks you are a good egg even if you are half-cracked." When I disclosed my diagnosis to my OT peers, they never left me. I remembered that some OT instructors said that the reception I received when I got my OT masters diploma was one of the best for my graduating class that year in 2011.