October, 2014 / Author:

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Last night, D and I went to my cousin’s place to help them celebrate their little son’s birthday. This was the first family gathering that I have attempted to take D to in a long timecrowds are not a good thing for him. I know he needs to start working his way through these social situations, but the mama bear in me didn’t want to see him get stressed or panicked. Also, this was the first time in a long time that some of my cousins would have seen D. With him being the only child in the family with special needs, it always puts me even more on edge. And then of course he can sense that I’m stressed… And that creates a whole new set of issues.

So anyways, I had checked with my cousin and there weren’t going to be too many people there. She said about six. So I thought, let’s go for it. It can only go one of two ways and if he has a meltdown we leave. So we go. He got in the house okay and my brother was already there, so that helped. But D wouldn’t leave the doorway. He could hear the people. He could see my grandmother sitting there (whom D loves to pieces), but the new house and the other voices of people talking scared him. He didn’t want to go in.

Then the birthday boy came and tried to get him to play. He was turning two and really at just the right level for D to relate. So, after about ten minutes of me coaching and the B-day boy pulling D by the hands, D slunk against the wall, into the living room, found the corner with the trucks and proceeded to hide out.

Not too bad for a first time.

I was really amazed and proud of him. We had no tears the entire hour we were there and he didn’t start getting grumpy until someone tried to get an answer out of him about whether or not he wanted cake. It was also really good because I was able to teach a few of my cousins about autism.

It was a good place for me too. I have never fit in with most of my familynot that we didn’t get along, I’m just one of the younger ones and really hadn’t had much in common with any of the others. I was the only musician, the only girl that really wanted to go to university and the only one that looked at the world outside of our small town bubble. I am also the first one, and the only one, who is raising a child completely on their own. All of their kids (except now for the B-day boy) are a fair bit older then D and don’t live around here, so I had just fallen away from communicating with them.

But it was nice to be accepted into the family circle again. And it made me wonder: what’s going to happen when I tell them again, that I’m different then they are? What happens when I tell them I’m bi? Now of course they are family and it shouldn’t matter, but who are we kidding, the different one stands out. And I’ve been doing that my whole life. Honestly, it gets really tiring. So, I didn’t say anything. I sat, had cake and tea, and laughed with my cousins, my aunt and my uncles as if I had just seen them the other day. I left feeling a little sad though, because it feels like I’m lying to them in some ways. But we all have secrets and for right now, this one needs to stay mine.

Love to you all,

Mandy

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