I was dumped by another autism mom.
Everyone has been dumped at least once in their lifetime. Most of us have experienced heartbreak and wondered “what did I do?” or “what is it about me?” replaying various scenarios over and over in our heads. Yes, being dumped hurts, but it stings just a touch more when the ‘dumper’ is someone you considered to be a good friend, particularly one who is facing the same challenges and obstacles that come with raising a child with autism.
Yes, I was dumped by another autism mom.
For the sake of protecting this person’s privacy, I’ll call her Lily. I was introduced to Lily shortly after my child was diagnosed with autism. I was in a very bad place at the time and I was yearning to meet other autism mom’s. My son’s BCBA sensed I was struggling and graciously offered to introduce me to Lily. Once Lily agreed to meet, I was handed over Lily’s contact information and thus began a new friendship.
Lily was lovely. She was funny, pleasant, outgoing and most importantly, very positive. She was exactly the kind of person I needed to meet. Lily could relate to what I was going through because she had been in the exact same position just a few years prior.
We exchanged e-mails at the start, but as our friendship blossomed, we began exchanging text messages and even talked on the phone periodically. She was always so eager and willing to help and offer her opinions and advice, her insight was of tremendous value to me. I had even met her son who was (and is) a bright-eyed, delightful little boy who is extremely adorable and inquisitive. I enjoyed watching her interact with him, it gave me hope and something to look forward to with my boy.
When I created Autism Journey, she was one of the first to congratulate me on my new endeavour and when I would host parent support group meetings in my city, she was there, always offering to bring coffee or snacks, anything she thought I would need. I was always so grateful for her support and I often felt that she was going above and beyond.
Our friendship continued but I noticed a shift in attitude shortly before the summer of 2017. The text messages weren’t as frequent, it was difficult to make arrangements to meet. I attributed this to the fact the the school year was at an end and I knew that she had an out-of-town visitor on her hands.
The summer went by and we hadn’t been in touch, I even went overseas with my family for a few weeks and when I returned, still nothing. My gut was telling me that something was wrong but I didn’t want to be a bother, I knew she was busy.
We did text from time-to-time at the beginning of the school year. But the tone was noticeably different and when she told me that she unfollowed my Autism Journey Instagram account, I knew it was over. She had her reasons for doing so, which were completely reasonable and justified and I had no qualms about it whatsoever. To each their own I say!
Fast forward to present day. I recently decided to send Lily a text message, wishing her well and apologizing for anything I may have done to wrong her. She swiftly replied back and said I hadn’t done anything, which was nice to hear.
It didn’t end there.
In a nutshell, Lily said that she felt we had decided to take different paths with our kids and since my son was younger than her son (by two years) we didn’t have a lot in common and she couldn’t relate to me. I replied back in jest and said “they’re only two years apart” (I should note that I added a winking emoticon to convey I was teasing, however, tone over text may be difficult to interpret), which she mistook as an insult and said I was looking for a fight, which I was not.
Needless to say, I apologized for her misinterpretation of my text to no avail. She didn’t reply and I haven’t heard from her since. Such a shame. I wasn’t looking for a fight, I was hoping to clear the air and apologize for any wrongdoing to a woman I once considered to be a good friend.
I don’t think that single incident caused the end of our friendship, there’s definitely more to it than that, there has to be. Lily had her reasons for deciding to end our friendship and she’s entitled. We’re all adults and capable of making our own decisions. Perhaps I just don’t fit into the scheme of things anymore, perhaps my endless chatter about autism was too much for her to bear.
Everyone has their own coping mechanisms when it comes to parenting a child with special needs. Some want to escape it and zone out. If talking about the Kardashian’s and watching The Bachelor is an escape, then so be it, I don’t judge. But I am the opposite, I need to talk to other mom’s who understand me, who can commiserate when I need them to and who can laugh when even when things aren’t going smoothly.
Friendship is a two-way street, you give and you take. Perhaps Lily felt as though she was giving up more of herself than I was. Perhaps I was blind to her needs and couldn’t see through the fog that comes with being a parent to a child with autism. Or maybe it was just her, nothing I did wrong. “It’s not you, it’s me.” (That line always reminds me of Seinfeld)
Either way, I’ll never really know. All I know is that I’m grateful for the short-lived friendship I did have with Lily, and I wish her all the very best.