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Solitary Grace

cheesestandsaloneIt’s hard to stand apart.

Schuyler’s social anxieties stand in her way, that much is clear. I think it’s also clear that most of that originates within her brain, courtesy of her little monster, the one she calls Polly but for which she has no affection. And yet for me, the thing that gives me pause is the very familiarity of Schuyler’s trouble, and the lengths she goes to in order to compensate for it.

We’ve seen it before, how Schuyler’s social awkwardness has kept her from making friends. Schuyler’s communication is a big part of that. When she tries to communicate verbally, she is difficult to understand. When she uses her iPad, she is slow, much slower than the frantic and random-not-random pace of teenaged communication. And her developmental disability is a pretty insidious monster as well. Schuyler doesn’t always understand what’s going on around her, and when she tries to compensate, she brings tools to the table that aren’t always terribly helpful, and some of which she may very well have inherited from her father.

Schuyler doesn’t always take social cues very easily. She’s been burned many times in the past, so when faced with a social situation that confuses her, she can come to poor conclusions. Schuyler can be paranoid. She can feel disposable very, very easily. She can feel left behind.

I understand, because I’m exactly the same way.

This year, I see Schuyler operating alone more than in the past. Fewer friends, and certainly fewer close ones. We see her getting blown off by her companions in band, almost every time, which is heartbreaking. But she seems okay with it. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I want her to be happy; I’d step in front of a bus to make that happen. I want her to have friends. I want her to be loved like I love her. But part of me, that part that still has problems with social cues and relationships at my age, that part of me is weirdly relieved that she’s finding peace with that, and is finding an inner strength to move forward with some confidence, perhaps hoping that next semester, next year, the next school, the next town we live in, somewhere in the future she won’t feel quite so alone.

Adversity builds special talents, or so we’ve always been told. That might be bullshit, a way to feel better about the things that hold us back beyond just “Wow, that really sucks, sorry.” But it feels true enough, I guess. I’m not sure if it’s a scientifically measurable phenomenon, but those of us with special needs children watch them as they work to overcome obstacles, and we hope that their other senses and capabilities step up to fill the gaps. We hope for the same within ourselves, too.

I wish social navigation was easier for Schuyler, as I’ve always wished it was easier for me. But I can also appreciate how strong she is, in ways of which she’s almost certainly unaware. I like to hope the same is true of me.

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One Comment
  1. BW aka Barbara from Boston
    October 19, 2015 | Reply

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