Last Sunday night, I went out with some autistic friends. Including a woman I’d never met before, but who I’d now consider a friend.
I hadn’t actually been on a night out without my husband since 2011. Sounds bad, but that’s because nights out with neurotypical people exhaust me. Well, this night out exhausted me too, but only on a physical level, not a mental one.
And that was the main difference. The people I was with were on my wavelength. We all looked out for each other, making sure everyone was comfortable and had a seat. We ended up in a pub local to me, sitting by the open fire. Cosy but not crowded.
And though there was a bit of alcohol consumed, it was relatively tame. We did a lot of chatting. And an awful lot of laughing. Mostly sharing anecdotes from our past, including all the social gaffes we have made. We have so much in common and also similar senses of humour. I have to say I haven’t laughed so much in years.
It was all very relaxed, with no pressure to mask and I never once felt awkward. I just felt welcomed and accepted.
I went home at 11pm, tired but happy. And with promises to do this more often. And although I’ve been achy and exhausted ever since, I’ve also been really happy. I definitely won’t wait nine years to do it again!