One of my older sisters was diagnosed with aspergers as an adult about 10 years ago. My other older sister was diagnosed with high functioning autism last year. And for the past decade, I have figured that my mom is on the spectrum. Despite the diagnoses, I have been in denial until recently that I grew up as the youngest child raised in a family of autism. I have felt blamed, hated, and like I am a problem, even though I also know they love me and don't mean to hurt me. They just don't understand. As an older child, I knew my mom was different. I knew she would say offensive things to people but didnt understand what she did. I would try to explain her to people and to smooth things over when she said something unkind, like when she gave my cousin a magazine article on weight loss and said she might be interested in it, or when she called a family friend a "half-breed" very matter of factly. Every time I've had a great joy or hardship in my life, the emotional support from my family is entirely lacking. Now that it is starting to sink in that they are all on the spectrum, it is beginning to make more sense. I understand now that maybe they focus on giving gifts or money because they don't know how to give emotionally. That blowups blow over like it never happened because they are not capable of greater emotional connection. Most times that I interact with my mom or sisters, there are things they say that feel rude, hurtful, judgemental, or egocentric. But all of this being said, I do sense that they love me. And that somehow I just need to see these things as their autism. My dad I think is also NT, but he is my mother's protector and always will support her, even in her tantrums or lash outs.
As I wrap my head around the reality of the autism in my family, I am realizing that I was never the problem. Even though that feeling is still poignant and painful, I hope it will fade. I've been realizing they cannot be my emotional support network. So I've been connecting with a new church community and finding a broader network for myself. But my family is still my family. There are good things. There is love behind the social and emotional ineptitude. But I feel I need to find my own peace and perspective to move forward in relationships with my family. And the approach I've taken my whole life, to explain myself repeatedly and with increased fervor to them each time I needed support or acknowledgement, does not and never has garnered understanding. It may seem like it momentarily, but till another conversation, it will be forgotten. My strategy now is to keep my feelings closer to my chest with them. I will share my feelings them with loved ones who can understand and respect them. Thank you for your artie and these comments. It's been about a year since the last comment but this is so needed.