I had spent two and a half hours at my Late Diagnosis Group and was walking back to get my bike to cycle home when the text message came in. It was asking whether I was popping in to catch up with a former work colleague. I did a quick self-assessment. I was emotionally drained from my LDG conversations and all I wanted to do was to get home, have a bit of a rest, take my daughter food shopping and fit a swim in at 3pm. I knew that going into the office might mean changing my plans and I knew it would be taking a rest and/or swimming which would go. But I also knew that keeping friendship connections requires some effort too and it’s an effort I am apt to not apply. I keep my bike on the ground floor of the office building when I am in town for safety. The choice was to ride back home or to climb the stairs. I took the steps to the second floor and made myself some coffee.
I enjoyed sitting with my co-workers catching up on their lives and listening to amusing stories. Occasionally I would chip in with some comment. The topic of presents came up and my partner decided to tell the others about the brilliant present she had bought for me this year. My heart sake as I realised what she was doing. She had brought me tickets to see the final of the European Games Indoor Cycling Championships that are being held in Glasgow this summer. I like cycling myself and I like watching cycle racing probably as it is one sport where TeamGB have a good chance at winning. I wasn’t sure about being inside a velodrome with lots of excited people though. Velodromes, I imagine, are small crowded noisy places in which I don’t think I would be particular comfortable. However, I’ve never experienced one so I thought I should try the experience with the expectation that I would probably never want to experience it again.
Unfortunately a seed was also being sown in my mind that after a year of introspection over my autism, I was feeling ready to make some effort to interact more with the world. After refining this feeling over many months, I came to the conclusion that it was time to take part in the UK Transplant Games. I have been wanting to do this since my transplant 17 years ago, but until this year didn’t have the oomph to do anything about it. So I did some internet searching and found out a name to email regarding going the Edinburgh team. I thought there might have been some conditions in order to join, but merely sending the email seemed to get me in.
Joining the team felt like a massive step to me, and it took me a while to find the courage to speak to anyone about it. Eventually I mentioned it to my wife. She wondered when it was because she would like to support me. I haven’t thought about familial support and I felt this added another whole level of complexity onto the experience. I felt my energy would be absorbed by being at the games and taking part, having my family there too felt like too much pressure. This response did not go down to well with my wife (understandably feeling rejected after offering support) but the hurt deepened when she found out that the Games were on at the same time as the Cycling Championships. What about her present to me? I said I felt the Games were more important.
I felt I was really pushing outside my comfort zone by taking part in the Games. My wife’s brilliant present idea was in tatters. Neither got the response they were expecting.
I don’t like being reminded of these difficult discussions, to cope I leave them in the past and try to forget about the hurt. My wife reminding me in front of our colleagues felt uncomfortable to say the least. But she presented the issue with humour and told an entertaining story that led to my colleagues becoming aware that I was taking part in the Transplant Games. They were curious, supportive and impressed. I suppose I went from feeling dread to feeling that I was doing something important and worthwhile.
I would say that putting aside my emotion fatigue to reconnect with a friend turned out to be a really rather positive experience in the end.