This post is dedicated to a wonderful friend of mine, Jane, who has really inspired me and it’s because of that friendship that I’m doing what I’m doing now. Let me start at the beginning……..
I first met Jane in the Adult PDA Support Network on Facebook a little over a year ago. We started PMing each other and it was at this point that she asked me if I would contribute to her blog. I said yes, little realising the impact that that blog would have and not just on me and my life, but Jane’s too. I’m so glad I took that leap and did it. 🙂 Jane is such a caring and driven women that it was impossible for her passion and drive not to rub off on me. I was active in the groups before then but not as active as I am now. She gave me the confidence and the nudge I needed to do what I do today. She inspired me to begin writing my book and also to start blogging – it really is all down to this one amazing women! You see, before she wrote that blog on me I never really realised the true power in sharing my story. I just assumed that what’s gone before is history and what’s happening now is unimportant and that it would be of little use or interest to others. I guess that was partly an issue with my self confidence but mostly it was because I just didn’t think it important enough. The resulting boost to my self esteem and confidence resulted in my being much more open publicly about having PDA etc. I’m ashamed to say that before then I hid my ASD from the masses. 😦 I don’t really know why I did: maybe a combination of my own prejudices and also a fear of what others would say. I am horrified that I ever hid it but I’m proud to say that I no longer hide who I am from anyone and for those of you who know me and, for example, have seen my Facebook profile will know that this is true. 😀 You see Jane made it okay for me to be me outside of my “bubble”. She liked me for me. She wanted to hear my story. She wasn’t using me to further her own knowledge like others have done. She really is the person we all have to thank for me doing what I do today. 😀
So, after the blog was up, Jane and I continued to PM and talk on the phone and soon became firm friends. We have quite a bit in common, which surprised me because she’s “normal” – I hate using that word but you get my meaning. She’s got a fabulous sense of humour, tells it to you like it is and has so much compassion.
In September 2013 Paul and I travelled to Nottingham for what we coined “The PDA meet-up”, where I met Jane and her lovely hubby Lee for the first time. We also all met up with two other special people in my life who will be dying right now wondering if I am going to name and embarrass them too but I want Theresa and Emma to know that I would never do that, oops! Lol. So while Paul and Lee entertained the boys us 4 had a good old girlie natter. It was one of the most wonderful days of my life! I’ve never been in a situation like it before or since. I was able to be me! No explanations or expectations. No pressure. Just 4 friends talking, sharing and laughing. 😀 It really felt like “coming home”. It was amazing! I felt such a sense of inner peace that was so new for me. I felt free. We spent the whole day at this one pub – I think the owners were glad when we left! Lol. 😉
It was soon apparent to me that I now had 3 amazing new friends. Not the “friends” we all have in abundance, who are never there when you need them and who only contact you when they need someone to talk to or want a favour but the friends that are always there, always caring and never judging. 😀 ❤
Paul and I are again travelling “up North”, hopefully in June. 😀 I can’t wait to see you all again and hopefully put some more names to faces. X
Just before Christmas 2013 I decided that I would make the journey to Stoke to spend some time with Jane and to meet Mollie. This time I travelled alone, which was an interesting experience for me! Lol. I have travelled alone before but not in the 10 years that I’ve been with Paul so it was a bit scary if I’m honest. I had planned to visit with Theresa and Emma too but annoyingly time and funds wouldn’t allow it. 😦 I was a little nervous about the whole spending time alone in a B&B experience but I was fine and the couple that owned the B&B were so friendly, which made it easier. It was great! Jane made me feel so welcome and apart from a big PDA clash when Mollie and first met we all got on just fine. I still feel bad about that now – you see I wasn’t prepared mentally to meet Mollie. Obviously I knew I needed to flip that switch to off when I was around her but I just took my eyes off the ball and we clashed. Mollie was the first child I had ever met who has a formal diagnosis of PDA and we are scarily similar! I felt bad for Mollie but more so for Jane – she ended up being emotionally sandwiched between Mollie and me! We were both at loggerheads. No one was talking. We both were in meltdown! Throughout this though Jane never once had a go at me, made me feel wrong for reacting this way I did or demanded that I suck it up – she was amazing in what must have been an impossible situation.
Thankfully overnight I was able to reflect, I realised my uber mistake and get my head ready for the next day and I’m happy to say that we eventually got on just fine. I had to slowly earn Mollie’s trust back, which I had inadvertently broken when I refused point-blank to do as I told the previous day, and we all had a nice day shopping for Yankee Candles etc, we even had lunch out. By the end of the day I was mentally exhausted but happy. You see, keeping a lid on everything for a whole day whilst being in such a demanding situation was hard work. I had to do it though – Mollie is the child and I’m the adult, it’s my responsibility to make it okay for her in those situations. Certainly having a stand-off wasn’t the correct or best way to handle it at all. The following day/my last day there I had said that I wanted to cook for everyone as a way of saying thank you and as it turned out as a sorry too! Lol. Anyway Mollie had decided that she wanted to help me – I think Jane was a little concerned about this – would I be able to keep that switch set to off and would Mollie be able to handle it and if I’m honest I was concerned too but there was absolutely no issue at all. 😀 Mollie was able to follow my direction and we made a great lasagne which everyone enjoyed. It was no longer hard work for me. It was like we needed that breakdown in order to test the boundaries or something. 😀
What is lovely about this story though is that Jane and I have now inspired Mollie to start blogging and telling her story too. 😀 When Jane told me what Mollie was doing I cried. I feel so proud to know that I’m part of that. 😀 Mollie is a delight and her journey will be one to watch. 🙂 Read Mollie’s blog here!
This post was originally going to be called “The Three Amigos” but I soon realised once I started writing that there are far more than the the 3 of us in this story but none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for the friendship, love and support that Jane has given me. She’s seen me through some dark times and I owe it all to her. I will never be able to thank her enough for that. She really is my best friend. You see, friendships have never been something that I’m much good at and I had all but given up hope of having a network of friends like others have. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t friendless – I have 1 or 2 true friends from childhood – but mostly I had “mates”. They are okay for the day-to-day stuff/likes on Facebook but not for the major stuff. I am now surrounded by a network of amazing people. Jane gave me the confidence to try again with people, to let them in, not to hide the real me and not to be ashamed of who I am. She encouraged me to not be so stubborn in my thinking, not to think that everyone is out for what they can get and that I do have a lot to offer as a friend. Her support encouraged me to help others more within the support groups, to share my story and to realise that I can make a difference.
So you see Jane and her blog on me really did set the wheels in motion for what has been an amazing 12+ months. I’ve met some amazing people who have enriched my life and who I couldn’t imagine not being friends with. I want to thank each and every one of you – I won’t name and shame you all but you know who you are and I love you all. X A big high-five to the PDA army! X
Final thought: look at the power of love and what a bit of understanding, compassion, support and friendship can achieve – if you do nothing else today, please reach out to someone. ❤