I had a friend growing up whom I’d known since birth, as our mothers were close friends. She was a year older than me and she was always in my life until we became adults. I never had siblings (that I knew of at the time, that is), so she was the closest thing I had to a sister.
If we’d met in any other way, I don’t think we would have become friends, as we had very little in common. Unlike me, she was extremely outgoing and socially skilled, and I met many, many people through her. Every guy I dated in my teens, I either met through her or through someone else I’d previously met through her. I absolutely would have been a virgin until age 31 if it weren’t for her. I was incapable of finding anyone to date without her, at least until the internet came along.
For a while, she and I called ourselves best friends and we spent time together every day. When other kids were mean to me, she comforted me and talked to me as if she were on my side. I later found out, however, that she mocked me behind my back and even once conspired with my bullies to get me to a certain place so they could beat me up while she watched. At the time I didn’t know why she wasn’t doing anything to help. I assumed she was scared. The truth was, she was in on it. That was a tough truth to face. But even after I found out, I forgave her and we rekindled our friendship. The thing is, I didn’t even have the capacity to be angry or to hold a grudge. I liked everybody, I was willing to be friends with anybody, and I would have forgiven anybody for anything.
But back to that day I got beat up. I remember walking with her to the gathering she’d invited me to and getting a prickly feeling on the back of my neck. I blurted out, “I have a feeling something bad is going to happen.”
“Me too,” she replied.
Yes, I bet she did. She’d helped to plan and orchestrate the evil that was about to be done to me. And why? Because I was uncool. A geek. A loser. To maintain her own social status, she had to prove to the other kids that she was like them, not like me.
I should have turned around and gone home when I got that prickly feeling. Why did I always walk into trouble like that, even when I obviously knew better? I trusted my intuition enough to voice it but not enough to act on it.
If I truly am autistic, it sheds a new light on the whole incident.
Congratulations, “friend,” you threw a younger autistic kid who trusted you to the lions.
Congratulations, bullies, you beat the shit out of a younger, literally defenseless autistic kid.
Nice human-being-ing. Good job.
It’s been said that autistic people lack empathy. Do the neurotypical bullies who beat up autistic kids have empathy? Should autistic people be “fixed” to be more like them?
See, I might be autistic (or I might not be — does self-diagnosis count?), but I have never deliberately hurt anyone in my entire life. If everyone were like me, there would be no fighting, no crime, and no war.
Who needs to change?