How it feels to find your Tribe

Seven and a half months ago, I attended a professional conference.  The subject material appealed to a small-but-growing niche of forward-thinking visionaries, and the energy in the ballroom had been mounting gradually throughout the day.  Finally, with glee, one of the presenters exclaimed, “I feel like I’ve found my tribe!”

Little did I know that less than seven weeks later, I would stumble upon a discovery that would lead to me toward a tribe of my own.

I had, up until that point, led a life of relative loneliness.  When the evidence of my spot on the autism spectrum first began to grow, I felt even lonelier.  Of course, I was also relieved and set free; I now had a valid reason behind all of my miscellaneous quirks, needs, and emotional responses.

No longer was I simply “different” or “quirky”; it was Real.

The invisible wall that had always cordoned me off from the rest of the world revealed itself.

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It also revealed this vast new terrain that I had to navigate, largely on my own at the time.

I sought firsthand accounts of adult Asperger’s/autism, and I found them.  Countless others had written words I could’ve written myself.

I felt supported, validated, vindicated, comforted…almost loved.

A desire to contribute and return the favors fueled the birth of this blog.  I receive no compensation.  I don’t use my name, so there’s no personal notoriety.  I’m not looking for kudos, a pat on the back, or even an “attagirl”.  My motives are pure; I only want to help.  I want to give others what others had unknowingly given me.  I write this blog for both my own personal catharsis and for those for whom this might provide a similar source of peace and comfort.

A desire to boost the signal volume fueled me to build a profile for the blog on Twitter.

That’s where the magic happened.

I absolutely did come across several people with whom to interact and exchange blog post Likes and Comments on WordPress itself, and I am forever grateful that those people are in my life.

Twitter only amplified that community, magnified it, brought it home.  Almost immediately, connections linked up and friendships formed.

It doesn’t matter that we might not know each others’ names.  It doesn’t matter that we may not know what each other looks like.  It doesn’t matter that we may live in different parts of the world.  It doesn’t matter what our socioeconomic status, other disability status, or other demographics might be.  It doesn’t matter what any of us do for a living, or whether we’re employed at all.  It usually doesn’t even matter who we voted for.

The fact is, we’ve formed–and continue to form–a growing and evolving “tribe” of our own.

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My life now includes other people Just. Like. Me.  We may not have the same interests or top priorities.  We may be of different religious or spiritual persuasions, if any at all.  None of that matters, either.

What does matter is that we “get” each other.  We can enter into a discussion (omg–the dreaded “written word”, in which so much is “lost”, including voice inflection/tone or body language) and someone might say something that may have offended “the rest of the world”, but we instantly understand.  We “get” what the other person was trying to say, where they were coming from, and how they meant it.

This has changed the entire ballgame for me.  I now wake up and reach for my phone, pull up my email account, see the notifications that have come in overnight, and smile.  “So-and-so started following your blog”….”so-and-so sent you a direct message”….”so-and-so replied to your comment”….”16 people retweeted your tweet!”….”so-and-so likes your post”….and it goes on.

Alone on the staircase outside, a smile spreads across my face.  I’m not doing it for show; no one else is there to see it.  I do it because I feel it that strongly and vividly inside.  There’s a “mind-family” of people across the world, in different time zones, in different cultures, who understand me better than some members of my own blood-family.  They “get” me and I “get” them, because we have a similar core.

My life has a different meaning now.  I strive to keep up with dozens of other blogs and several hundred other people, all of whom I’ve just met within the last five to six months, and the lion’s share of whom I’ve only met in the past two and a half.  The time interval has been short; it still feels like we’ve known each other forever, like we’re long-lost friends or family from the distant past that are just now reuniting and reconnecting with each other.  It makes my heart bloom, so wide that if it were indeed a flower, the outer petals would fall off.

It paints my life in vivid color, when I hadn’t realized before that it had only been black-and-white.

Words fail to completely express it, but with any luck, some of us have some kind of unconscious telepathic ability, and you probably “get” it anyway. 🙂

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This is one of my more popular posts!

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(Image Credits: Ludovic Celle – featured/header; first and second body images: unknown; Cameron Gray – footer image)

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33 Comments

      1. Just found the lyrics to that song , translated:

        “You do not owe me your freedom.
        I cannot give it to you.
        Your freedom is not mine to give.
        It belongs to you and you alone.
        If you want it back, you must take it for yourselves.
        Each and every one of you.”

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I’d never thought that about not using your name as being to keep things humble. I like that idea! (Although I haven’t done it myself!)
    I love finding out all the different reasons people have for the choices they make and the way they choose to describe themselves, especially when they are different from my own.
    … And back to the point: this is a lovely post. I am glad to have connected with ‘the tribe’ and with you in particular! Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you luv! You’re probably going to chuckle; I finally matched your blog with your social media ID about a week ago lol 😊. I’m honored to be reblogged by you and to have your friendship – thank you so much! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahhh, exactly this! Beautifully said. I can feel, through your words, all that you feel. I understand the intensity and raw honesty of your excitement at finding our tribe. I do get it. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I appreciate them so much and I’m so glad to have found you, too 😊

      Like

  3. Thank you. This meant a lot to me.

    You know, several years ago when I was diagnosed, I reserved a domain name and planned a neurodiversity blog. And I haven’t written anything on it… in part because I’m afraid. I am already so battered down and alone feeling that I don’t feel like I can handle some of the hate I feel on some autism advocacy blogs if you say the wrong thing, approach a taboo topic or angle in your own words (I have been banned from several autism self-advocacy sites just because I dare to question vaccine safety, for example, even though I am NOT an “anti vaxxer” even and do not believe vaccines “cause” autism… my perspective is a LOT more complex). As an autism mom I am also shouted down on autism parenting sites by people who think they have autistic interests in mind (their kids), but often are not willing to listen to autistic adults’ perspectives which may conflict with their set beliefs.

    I find that the intersectionality of being autistic AND an autism parent is something that there’s no space really for in any tribe. At least I have not found it so far. Then add to that multiple chronic conditions, single parenting, and some of the other issues that are unique in my life and I really do feel like a zebra parenting a baby zebra in the middle of the Arctic or something. Just completely disconnected, and afraid that anything I say will be misconstrued by people who haven’t walked at all in my shoes.

    If I were feeling stronger, I could handle it. But these days I am so sensitive to triggers and being attacked when I try to help others, sincerely express a view point or open a discussion rationally, or just share my own experience from my heart… is the worst. I realized I could not handle being a controversial figure now, even if I change my name and go under cover. I will have to maybe start small, share simple things everyone can agree on, and wait to share the big stuff later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I can only imagine that being an autistic mom with an autistic child can be very lonely. My heart goes out to you ❤

      I can imagine that the loudmouths on the autism parenting websites try to eclipse the parents who are also actually autistic. It appears (to me) to be yet one more example of the marginalization that many of us have faced throughout our lives. Although I don't have children myself, I can empathize with that marginalization; I know the feeling well, and it stinks. I'm really sorry that you're going through that.

      Nevertheless, I believe that there may be a rainbow in the dark clouds. :). Yes, I think you can cultivate a tribe, too. I'm not sure if you are familiar with what I perceive as a "master list" of sorts of autistic blogs, but I think you'll probably find a lot of excellent company here:

      https://anautismobserver.wordpress.com
      What the blog author has done is compile a list of all of the autistic blogs they could find, and they've categorized these blogs beautifully! There are male, female, parent, non-parent, cis-gender, trans-gender, same- and opposite-sexual orientations, the whole works. It's a truly amazing list. You can find (plenty of) exactly what you're looking for. I think you'll find that you're not as alone as you might feel right now 🙂 ❤

      I definitely offer my encouragement, for whatever it might be worth, to spread your wings and add your voice. Sure, "start small", however you're comfortable. Stay inside your comfort zone as long as you like. Dip your toes into the blog water and test the temperature. If you speak from your own perspective, nobody can argue with that–it's your own experience, after all! If you dig back into my archives, you'll see that I did the same thing :). I was new to the whole spectrum world, and I didn't know much at all. Even now, 7 months later, I only know my own perspective. I can't speak for anyone else. But I've come in contact with more people, and I've noticed things as I've learned and gained more experience. It's a learning process and a work in progress, too. Whenever you're comfortable, spread those wings and if and when you start your blog, feel free to post the link here or anywhere in the comments section. You already have a guaranteed follower! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this. I’m glad you found a family. It makes a world of difference.
    The same happened to me when I started to discover that there was something called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and I wasn’t alone as an abuse victim / survivor. You feel validated and you can finally start to peer out of the hole you dag yourself into and discover the world once again.

    I am so grateful I have discovered your blog. I cannot relate to you on the ASD aspect. But you and the other bloggers who do know it first hand and have decided to share with the rest if us are helping us parents understand our Autistic children better and giving us the tools we were searching for to help them discover themselves. And us in the process.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow! I really appreciate your saying this 😘. I have always loved reading your comments. It’s so fantastic to have the honor of getting different perspectives and communicating and sharing and giving and understanding. So cool!! 🤗💗. No, dear one, you’re not alone. I can imagine that your situation can feel or has felt lonely at times 💞💞. And I can very much relate to the isolation 🌺🌺

      I’m so excitedly happy that you’re glad you found this blog, and I feel very much the same about finding yours! As you know, my partner and I have had some longstanding marital problems, and I’m still not quite sure what he “is” but I know he’s definitely got something going on. He might be NPD, or he might be schizoid, or he might be something else. I’m not entirely sure. But I can see many similarities between our situations, and your blog has been an immense source of excellent information and nurturing support! Wow. You are amazing and I admire your strength, luv! 💗💪🏼💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awww…! Laina! You’re a sweetheart! I’m not sure I deserve your kind words. Thank you!

        I am so sorry for what you’re going through at home. I would recommend you visit Shahida Arabi’s blog right here on WordPress (https://selfcarehaven.wordpress.com/) That’s a good starting point. She’s an incredible young lady. She also has a YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYu9wGUUjB6LQAAO2b81zZg

        You may also watch some YouTube channels, such as, the following,
        Lisa A. Romano
        (https://www.youtube.com/user/lisaaromano1),

        From Surviving to Thriving
        (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6Wl7WhoeTw_dTDbAM3J7Fw)

        Richard Grannon
        (https://www.youtube.com/user/SPARTANLIFECOACH)

        Angie Atkinson
        (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBnyC5I55W__RBj1PMybF5g)

        AnnabelLee
        (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzyln-n5FC1WOwKouBG0SJw)

        Melania Tonia Evans
        (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtIVcBdfm2hZGd0V0tEFtxw)

        Ros Rosenberg
        (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8OgfVyM8u5xhoHTJPa9sOQ)

        Sam Vaknin
        (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLadFapyecCYAeuTqc12avA)
        Be aware that Sam Vaknin is a self-declared narcissist and some people cannot watch his videos… at… all! He’s too much for some. Here’s his web site, as well: http://samvak.tripod.com/

        Show Boundaries:
        (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQqsg4r3LVr5we3sKZDmwwA)

        Soul GPS
        (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnW831OQ8mHtWsXzX1dw7Lg)

        Another amazing lady is Shannon Thomas (Southlake Christian Counseling.) Her web site is http://southlakecounseling.org/ She runs an excellent blog from her web site. As a matter of fact, she might be a great starting point for you as she talks about a lot of things, not just emotional abuse.

        See if you can pinpoint what is going on at home after visiting those web sites and video channels. I just hope that you are not dealing with a narc. Now, all those people are much better equipped than me to provide advise since they have years of dealing with all kinds of people and abusers. They are trained life coaches or therapists, if not both. I just share my experiences in the hope that someone who is completely out of hope does find some hope in my words. It is also great therapy for me to share my experiences. I can process my thoughts and feelings and memories much better when writing than talking, I guess. It is helping me heal.

        Loading hugs for you!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Awww, Nicole, you deserve all my kind words and more!! So much more ❤️❤️

          Thank you *so* much for all the lovely blog links! I’m going to go through each and every one of them 😘😘

          I’ll probably bookmark a bunch and maybe I’ll even do a “blog post roundup” on my “other” blog (listed under my main one on my Gravatar account–you might already know about it? 😁). I’m sure I’m not alone in my situation, so I really appreciate your putting these out there so that a bunch of others can benefit, too! 😘👍🏼👍🏼

          Yeah, I hope I’m not dealing with a narc either 🙏🏼. I don’t think I am, but they do come in all kinds of different flavors, don’t they? Mine doesn’t fit the typical profile; he’s missing a lot of the major attributes. But that doesn’t get me out of the woods or anything. I’ve got to nail it down for sure. He’s got something going on, that much I know 😳

          I’m so grateful for you and your willingness to share! I imagine it’s not easy stuff to write. But I’m glad you’re getting some good therapeutic value out of it. The important part is healing 😊💪🏼💓💞🌟

          Liked by 1 person

          1. My pleasure. I thought about sending those many to you because you might find something in one of them that may clarify what might be going on with your partner. Like you said, not all are there. Or for the mold. But if you do have an ah-ha! momemt, then you might find the tools you need to deal with some situations and deal in a healthy way. God knows that if I had known and uses the Broken Record Technique with my husband, I would have saved myself from many sleepless hours. Same for things related to my job.

            Just take your time and don’t try to watch all those at once. You may never get to sleep! (Talking from experience. Haha!)

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hehe thank you, girl! 💪🏼💞. You’re so right! If I have a name I can put to the face, then at least I can find support, information, clarity. And you’ve given me such a beautiful running start! I will definitely try to pace myself 😁. I’m the type who would also stay up all night, realize it’s 5am and I only have 3 hours to try to get any sleep lol 💙💜💖

              Liked by 1 person

                1. Yes! 💞💞. Your sleep schedule sounds a lot like mine. Late Night Readers of the world unite! 💪🏼🙌🏼. I don’t have a 2-legged daughter, but I have a 4-legged fur-“daughter” and “son” lol; the boy cat keeps me up a lot lol. Every 1-2 hours. It can be so tough to get back to sleep after being woken up, isn’t it? I hope tonight is more gentle to you 👍🏼💓💓

                  Liked by 1 person

    1. Hiya! Whoops I called you Nicole in a previous reply. I’m sorry about that! I got caught up in the Narchole thing 😘. Maria, thank you so much 💞💞. Yep, it did go through; it just got snagged on my filter, which apparently flags every comment containing links for “approval”. Gah lol. Needless to say, it’s been very much approved! 😁. Thank you very, very much 💚💙💜

      Liked by 1 person

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