lunch date



I sit across from my lunch date, wishing that he would lower his voice.

He is asking questions that are making me profoundly uncomfortable. I’m not sure that he notices my discomfort, but if he does, it’s clear that he doesn’t understand it. His questions, he tells me, are perfectly logical.

And he’s right, of course. When it comes to logic, his Aspergian mind seldom falters. But while I understand that analytically he’s correct, I can’t seem to convince him that there’s an emotional element to all of it that makes it well, messier than it might be otherwise. That logic isn’t necessarily applicable in a vacuum.

He dismisses my bungled attempts to explain myself. I hear my lack of conviction. I am quickly becoming aware that my argument is unsalvageably hollow.

My face is red. Not that anyone’s asking, but I decide, just in case, to blame it on the soup. I give up and listen, really wishing that he’d lower his voice.

As I leave lunch, I’m reeling. I pull out of the parking lot and navigate through the driving rain. Eventually, I pull over and call Luau, tripping over my words as I try to relay the conversation I’ve just had. I hear myself say, “Thing is, it was hard. It was intense. He wouldn’t let me off the hook, no matter how obvious it might have been to anyone else that I was squirming in my seat. But honestly, hon? I think he brought up some stuff that I – that we – really need to face.”

Words tumble out and scatter in clumps all over the car. It’s readily apparent that they’ve been there all along, waiting.

And the more I let it all sink in – the more I am able to process the moment, the more grateful I become for it. The more I realize how blessed I am to have a friend who won’t let me off the hook. For the one who asks the questions no one else would dare to ask.ย For the conversations that strip away the bullsh-t and make me take a good, hard look at where I am.

And as I’ve been processing, as the layers have been peeled back, I’ve found myself saying, ‘That that’s it, isn’t it?’ Isn’t that exactly what autism does in our lives?

Autism lays it all bare. It forces us to see ourselves in stark relief. There’s no Cybill Sheperd lighting in autism-land. We’ve got nothing but floodlights around these parts.

Quite simply, autism does not allow us the luxury of pretense. We no longer get to parade around behind the mask of what we think we want the world to see. Autism calls us on it every time. There are no lies. Not even the little ones. Not even the ‘No, those jeans don’t make your @ss look fat’ ones. Autism strips us down to our core and insists that we be real with ourselves. And sometimes that’s hard.

But as uncomfortable as it may be under those bright, unforgiving lights, at the end of the day we know who we are. And as messy and flawed as we may find ourselves to be, we are all undeniably better for it.

I know I’ve said it already (OK, like a whole bunch of times) but thank you, John. I’m so glad you’re my friend.


23 thoughts on “lunch date

  1. why this week…you know the week from hell, where I have to relive the dreaded day, the one where they said “we believe your son has autism”. Halloween week should be a blast and fun and we should be thinking of candy and costumes, not remembering sitting in that hot, stuffy room where I thought I was going to die from the heat and anxiety. and bawling, I mean bawling that ugly bawling, mucus hanging from your nose bawling and wanting to run like hell.
    yes he is better, way way better, but it doesn’t take away the ugly truth, our truth, that day. 7 years…you’d think by now, after all that we have done and accomplished, it would lessen, not entirely, not yet?

  2. Do thank Luau for being there on the other end of that tough conversation – having a partner/parent in the journey, right there with you, is truly a gift. We may not like the journey much, but thank goodness for the times when we are not alone!

    • it is indeed, cathy. and it kills me that so many among us DON’T have that. those of us that do are very blessed. thanks for the reminder.

  3. That’s IT! Autism totally calls you on your s**t, strings you up and leaves you bare in the public square. And you really, really have to know and be okay with YOURSELF to go on.

    It’s what I’ve been thinking about, and unable to identify, for so many years.

    Love that JER. I’m so glad he’s here as a sort of translator, an ambassador, of sorts.

    Love you, for laying it out there for us, each and every day.

  4. And when I feel as bare as possible, I always have my baby to peel another layer….”you look pretty Mom, except for your breath”. I don’t DARE ask if my @ss looks fat!!

  5. I have a feeling that we Aspie/Autie parents need both–someone like John to push the “logical” (we’ll need the practice as our children grow) AND someone like Jess to explore the emotional. As I re-read your post, I’m reminded of lyrics from the Avett Brothers’ song “Head Full of Doubt.”

    “There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light
    In the fine print they tell me what’s wrong and what’s right
    And it comes in black and it comes in white
    And I’m frightened by those who don’t see it”

    I’m okay with the harsh lights…as long as I’m not the only one who sees it.

  6. YES! That IS it.Thank you for providing the words for what were, for me, only feelings. It’s a true gift you have. I’m also glad that you have a friend in John. While my dearest friend may not have the same reasons he is also a logical thinker and I appreciate his perspective for it’s lack of pretense. I’ve got the emotional piece covered (oh boy do I) and it’s nice to have the counterpoint. I’m glad John is in your corner.

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