The “Cool Table” And Why I Am Here—Please Don’t Be Afraid To Friend Me
True fact….i got hurt a great deal growing up….at home i got ganged up on and hated on, yes, downright abused, for being so different and weird…..and all through school…..i never got to sit at the cool table.
Please don’t be afraid to friend me or accept me as a friend. I am here because yes, i do need help, but i am also here because i care about helping as a fellow Autistic ally. I am still new at this, though, so i am going to fail, make mistakes, use the wrong terms, etc. I am still learning though. But i can assure all of you, my personal circumstances and struggles are real, and i am not here to just get cookies.
Below is my story.
When you grow up physically, mentally, and emotionally abused, and not liked because you are Autistic, both at home and at school, yet are not told you were, indeed, diagnosed as Autistic when you were 3 years old by your mom until you were an adult, only after you had seen a therapist who gave you a soft diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome when you were a 39 year old adult in 1999—-this can cause you a lot of unneeded grief and damage your whole life.
I grew up thinking of myself as all wrong. That i was damaged and broken. That i would never have friends, never have a job, never get married, never have romantic relationships, etc. I grew up in a redneck family who did not accept me, who just felt i was lazy, soiled, selfish, etc. They didn’t know, they didn’t know—-and i was only told i was born with a perceptual handicap, their words, and childhood schizophrenic tendencies. Then when i got my SSI in 1981, i was labeled as paranoid schizophrenic.
Then through years of therapy, i discovered i was Autistic. After i was near 40 years of age. As a result, i never got any of the services an Autistic child gets. I did spend from 1st through 4th grade in special ed classrooms, but then we moved to the country where there were no more special ed classrooms, and that was where i began to flounder.
Because i grew up with little understanding, i learned early on, to cope by retreating into a world of my own, where i have always had a small group of imaginary friends who have always been like my angels. I would basically latch onto certain roads, highways, and electronics, especially those that caught my eye as attractive and personable and sweet and friendly—–and i would make imaginary friends out of those things.
All through school, i longed to sit with the cool kids, and hang with the cool kids…..and be
able to sit at the cool kids table. There were times when the cool kids would let me, out of pity though, and then make me leave again, because i wasn’t like them. Oh, how that would hurt!
Then i would go home and get yelled at and teased cruelly by my older brothers and sisters, and even my younger brother. My father hated me because i acted too weird for his tastes. He and my maternal grandmother could never understand me either, and i would just keep getting labeled with all these awful demeaning names and terms, yes, even the R word.
Now, as an Autistic adult, i have discovered the cool table, sadly, very much exists in the Autistic community, and i am heartbroken about it…..because i think anything that is meant to leave people out, is anything but cool.
Why? Because it tells those of us already struggling with internalized ableism and feelings that we are damaged goods, that yes, we are indeed, damaged goods—-even in a community where we should all feel safe.
I understand that many of you have also been hurt, and you also suffer from PTSD and Complex PTSD from childhoods where you too were abused, talked over, not listened to, not taken seriously, etc. Many of you were hurt even worse than i was.
I also understand that in the Autistic community, there have been those who have scammed people, lied, and presented themselves to be pitied just to get attention—those who just want cookies all the time.
I understand that all of us have different triggers, and that there are certain types of people who trigger us.
But then there are some of us who are sincere, who are trying to come alongside of all of you to tell my story, not just so i can get help, but because i want to help the Autistic community as a whole, get heard, noticed, understood, accepted, and included and respected as the real human beings we are.
I admit when i first came to Facebook, i would unfriend, then refriend people alot—-but this was borne out of my fears of being rejected yet again, or because a person who didn’t understand, would start giving me lots of ableistic advice, then they’d turn on me and get mean—–and i was still learning about my Autism. In the beginning, i was even reaching out to bad places like Autism Speaks, thinking—-and wrongly so—–that they would help me, because i didn’t know better then, that they were not to be trusted, that they were and are a bad hate group.
Below are posts culled from some earlier posts i made yesterday about me, and why i get afraid and run away at times. Because i don’t want people to be afraid to friend me.
Post from 9 hours ago.
“I am afraid to send out anymore new friend requests even though i would very much love to make more friends in the Autistic community.
I just got snubbed by one person, and one friend that did accept me as a friend, has been snubbing me completely, and i do not feel welcome on their wall.
People who know me, who know my situation, know i am not here to scam anyone, that my situation is real. But today, i feel as though i just got told i cannot sit at the cool table.
From now on, i am only going to friend those who i meet through comment threads who seems open to me, who i know will actually give a damn about me.
I also won’t stay friends with anyone who are going to show me that they are not approachable to me. Basically, if i don’t feel welcome, i am gone.
I am not okay right now. I want to die.”
Post from 4 hours ago.
“I just did another friend cull and some preemptive blocks for self protection. I don’t need to have people on my list, or in the spaces i go, who don’t make me feel welcome on their walls and comment threads, who consistently ignore me, and those who are mean.
Or anyone who wants to cling to me too hard.
I am also not going to spend my energy supporting those who i feel don’t like and support me. Because being in the space of someone who doesn’t accept me, is a huge trigger for me……then i get depressed and down on myself. Sorry if that sounds selfish, but i am too kind, i think, too willing to let everyone in, and i need to stop that, for the sake of my well-being. It hurts getting slapped cold in the face, having doors slam shut, having my outstretched hands slapped away. Yes, that happened today.
New rule…from now on, yes, i still welcome new friends, i still have a big heart and care about people, but from here on, if i want to friend someone, i will private message them first, to explain who i am, that i am in the Autistic community, why i sent the FR, etc., so ppl are not scared off. Or i will let people come to me and friend me.
Also, if i see in a comment thread, that someone is taking the time to talk to me, and we aren’t friends yet, i will ask if they want to be friends, and go from there. No more am i going to just straight out friend request people anymore. It will save me the hurt and rejection, and possibly being labeled as spam to FB.
Because rejection really does suck alot.
I love all of you who are my true friends. I mean that with all of my heart.
And now i am going to go in my comfy chair and try to forget that today happened.
Thank you to all who were here for me today.”
Comment from 39 minutes ago.
“I want to be able to start going to Autistic conferences and speaking someday, and now feel i can’t do that because many of the important leaders who do go to those conferences, have elected to shun me.
I cannot pretend this doesn’t hurt. I would expect it from non-Autistics, paaaaaarents, narrow minded people who don’t want to accept us Autistics as the cool people we are, and my family but not those who even run chapters of some of the Autistic organizations i am actually seeking ***help*** from.
In my defense, what i wrote in the above post **IS** my defense, and if some have blacklisted me as possible friend material for doing what i needed to do for self protection because i ran away due to lack of spoons—then they are being unfair to me, not giving me the chance to explain why and try to make things right, because yes, in the beginning, when i first came to the Autistic community, i still had alot of internalized ableism, and did not understand as much as i do now about ableism, neurodiversity, and my Autism.
Many of those who i did friend, i ran away from, because i did not know how to respond to their bluntness, blunt personality, etc. I have grown alot since then though, and now i am barred from their cool table because i ran away out of fear due to past hurts and disappointments, when i was a newbie.”
Comment from 8 hours ago.
“It’s hard for me bc i am housebound, plus grew up with few friends, and a whole bunch of siblings who were always ganging up on me and making me feel like shit warmed over all the time.
I just can’t let my guard down as much anymore….that way….i won’t get hurt again.
Getting the cold shoulder from my own community hurts even more though, bc i consider us all like we should be all family, ya know what i mean?”
Comment from 8 hours ago.
This is how i handle things today.
“ I will basically unfriend and block a person
if they are consistent in ignoring me
i feel unwelcome on their wall
they yell at and attack me verbally
i get told how to feel or how to act—example if they tell me to cope by just wearing headphones/earplugs to cope with my environment
they turn against me
i get preached at, and someone tries to convert me to their brand of narrow minded Christianity
or i see the person is so mean i am scared to even talk to them
or they are unapproachable, hard to get to know.
or they are too clingy and keep taking what i say, mean, always the wrong way.
I will then block those people so i don’t have to see and get triggered by seeing them in mutual space like comment threads.
Mean people trigger me alot.
So those things are why i have the long block list i do. I don’t do that to be mean, i do that to self protect.
I too will private message a person and talk there, so it doesn’t trigger and scare away people, especially if they’re new allies.”
To all who have read this, i thank you….and i thank all of you who are my friends and allies.