Friends… A very wise man once told me that he felt blessed to be able to count the number of friends he had on the fingers of one hand. The audience he was speaking to looked perplexed – five people? This guy only has five friends? What a loner! The young audience were used to having hundreds of virtual friends, a pool of ever-shifting acquaintances, a growing LinkedIn group, forever widening and widening their social circle but I knew exactly what he meant.

He meant that the people who you can trust, believe, open up to and share your deepest, darkest, most heart-wrenching/embarrassing secrets with are your true friends and they are a rare breed. They are the people you need to keep tight, the ones you need to tell you love them, the ones who you should be there for too (I count myself very blessed that I can count mine on two hands and they are belters!).

But what about when friendships turn sour and what about when those friendships turn sour because you are the parent of an ASD child? The non-liberal, protective mother part of me says never forgive, never forget, believe in karma and know there is a special place in hell reserved for those people (believe me, my husband cringes when my non-liberal self rears its very ugly head). But, when my rational, I’ve-had-a-moment-to-think-about-it part of me takes over, I am able to think a little clearer and instead of relishing them burning in hell, I start to pity them, I start to realise that they are not the person I thought they were, that there must be something so insecure (and tactless) within them to behave the way they do.

So, to back this up, let me share a little story with you… I had a friend, a sort of close friend, we met for drinks, we chatted at school, we shared things in common. She has a daughter the same age as my daughter. Her daughter didn’t like the fact that my daughter stood too close sometimes, she didn’t like the fact that my daughter was ‘different’, she didn’t like the fact that my daughter didn’t react the same way as others (e.g. burst into crocodile tears like many little girls do). She obviously told her mum all about my daughter’s oddness, the standing too close, the time my daughter took her worksheet (by mistake), how she felt uncomfortable around my clumsy, tall daughter. So this friend (I will now use the italicised version to make my point!) instead of speaking to me about this, went to tell the teache… constantly. She turned every molehill into a mountain, spilled her vitriol and effectively created one of the worst years of our lives. The teacher was also at fault: they lapped it up, they listened to one side and never did they ask me for my daughter’s side (because I believe, in her mind, she also thought my daughter was odd and oddness was bad).

To cut a long and unhappy story short, this friend poisoned her daughter and she in turn poisoned others against my little girl. The shunning, the ignoring, the knowing glances, the whispers behind hands. My little girl who tries harder than everyone else each day, who was so emotionally upset while this was going on that she cried for hours at night and was rocked to sleep by us trying to soothe her choking cries. My little girl who has never bullied, never intentionally been mean and never stolen a thing in her life. My little girl whose view on the world may be different, but her moral code is stronger than anyone else she knows, my little girl who still thinks my friend’s little girl likes her.

I still see this friend but I have not uttered one word to her for about eight months. I know what she did and she knows what she did and I hope that one day she realises the hurt she caused. I will never wish ill on her and I will never wish ill on her daughter because that is not the person I am.

At this moment in time, I can forget but I cannot forgive. Does that make me a bad person? No, it makes me a real person, a vulnerable person, a person who has far bigger things going on in her life to deal with, a person who needs to focus her energy on her daughter.

And breathe… rant over.

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