Autism in the Family
Societal norms and expectations about families are incredibly complex and influence the many ways that we think about each other whether you’re a parent or you’re an individual thinking about your parents and/or siblings. For me, I almost imagine a generic cardboard cutout of a person with a list of attributes that they should have if they are are a father, mother, sister, brother, etc. I know I have these idealized visions of what my family should be like, and sometimes I get frustrated when my family doesn’t do what I expect.
Wait a minute, is it fair what I’m doing? No. Would I want somebody else to do the same for me? Of course not. However, it’s hard to change my hidden biases since I’m not conscious of them a lot of the time. I’m going to use my Dad as an example. I have this image of what my Dad should be like. He should be strong, smart, funny, patient, wise, and good at fixing things. That’s a small list of what I think about when I think of what my Dad “should” be like. Great picture, right? Yes, it’s nice in theory but my father’s a real-life person with his own strengths and weaknesses. I’m really working on accepting my Dad for who he is and trying to let go of some idealistic Dad that I compare him to. I’m hoping to have a healthier, happier, better relationship if I can do this.
I don’t think this will be fast or easy or a quick fix. I have to mourn or grieve that ideal picture that I have in my head that is holding me back. It’s hard to let go and it’s scary to let go and not know what to hold on to. I have to have faith, then I can move on to something better. I have to have faith that I can do this. I’m not doing it on my own. I have friends and family that I can talk to. I also see a therapist who is amazing and helps me see things as they are, not as I wish. I’m incredibly lucky to have all these great people in my life to help me do this.
I’m guessing the next step is accepting people as they are. Celebrating their strengths, acknowledging and accepting their weaknesses. Right now I’m in the mourning or grieving process for my expectations of other people. I need to go through this period in time before I can truly move forward. I’m not sure how long it will take or if I will truly ever be completely done with it. Even when I move past the grieving process, there will be times when I wish things would be different or that I could change things. I believe that’s just part of life and I don’t think there’s any way to escape that. I think everybody struggles with that and I think that’s just being human, whether you’re on the Autism Spectrum or not. I believe that I will get better and better with practice at accepting the people in my life.