Sharing Your Diagnosis With Family: A Cautionary Tale, Part 3

This is a multi part story about the insane falling out we recently had with my husband’s family. Click here for Part 1 & Part 2.

To continue on from my last post, I had joined my husband at his parents house where his siblings and there spouses had essentially ganged up on us. We definitely felt attacked. I was at the end of my rope and went into an autistic meltdown. This was probably the biggest, outward, meltdown I can remember having as an adult. If you would like a great explanation on what a meltdown actually is and ways you can watch this video from an amazing autistic YouTuber, Mom on the Spectrum.

I sat there in a dark room melting down for a short while. I could hear my husband Dave in the hallway saying to T and K that this was a meltdown and to let it run its course. He later came in and helped me calm down. I felt so embarrassed, hurt, angry. But mostly I felt confused.

After a short time I left the room to look for my SIL K, as she seemed the most grounded person there, to thank her and to try to finish what I was trying to say before I was triggered into the melted down by my BIL’s G & C. K seemed to want to actually talk so I agreed to go outside. On my way outside I noticed my niece crying with her mother M. It felt horrible knowing that I may have scared her. Later after some time and inner work I realized I did not have to hold all the responsibility for the emotions of a child.

While talking outside with K it became clear that she had a very limited perspective on what had been going on the last few months, and more. She could see that things were weird and said she was uncomfortable about the sibling visit that didn’t include us. Her questions seemed so far away from what Dave and I had been focused on. Also, what little she seemed to know of the current situation very much felt like it was from M’s perspective. She kept going back to the idea of me specifically feeling left out and asking why I didn’t talk to her. Keep in mind that she “has a good relationship” with M, and K and I haven’t really been able to connect in that way. I don’t understand why she thought that I would be able to talk to her about any of it. Remember, this entire situation wasn’t about me feeling left out, it was about my husband’s siblings completely disregarding him, his family, most importantly his feelings, and my husband reaching out to his siblings for support and understanding. I do really respect that K made an effort that night to understand, but what has been going on is not something to work through in one conversation. 

While I was talking to K my husband was sitting inside in the hallway, in shock I suppose, trying to compose himself. He overheard something kind of cemented that his siblings don’t care about him. He overheard G and C make themselves another drink and talk about how “wrong” Dave was. How can you be “wrong” about the way you feel, as Dave has said.  All while his father, who up until this point was MIA, sat in the room watching TV. For context Dave went to a small high school with C and was supposedly good friends with him. Afterwards Dave then heard M crying while G told her over and over again that he was on M’s side and Dave was wrong. Listening to his brother say these things was so hard on Dave. Since then he’s said quite a few times, “you can be supportive of one sibling without throwing the other under the bus.” G finally noticed Dave in the hall and asked how long he had been there. Dave was so hurt and disgusted at that point that he knew he couldn’t engage with G. He simply said that he had heard everything. G immediately became defensive and pleaded with Dave to go for a walk with him to talk things over. Dave held his ground and repeated some form of “I am not talking to you like this” as G followed Dave outside.

While I was talking to K, which I felt was beginning to be productive, T came over and wanted to participate. K fell silent and let our MIL talk. I was still feeling agitated and was uncomfortable, knowing how defensive T had been in the past. Recalling the specific words here is difficult as I was still in the realm of a meltdown, but I recall some things quite clearly. As T was talking I began to stim by rocking, trying to regulate myself, she then requested that I look at her. T had previously said she’d read the materials we gave them and difficulty with eye contact is definitely something covered. I believe this is where I first said “for fucks sake”. It is a phrase I tend to repeat when I am beyond frustrated. It could be considered a form of echolalia. Her request for me to look at her was too much and I got up to pace. I let her know that her request was out of line. When I turned back I saw that T’s hands were thrown up in exasperation. I was beyond tired and quite angry at this point. I called her out for the exasperation of my very natural autistic stimming and she claimed that her hands are her stimming, clearly not understanding what a stim is. I very assertively let her know that that is not stimming and this wasn’t about her. She claimed that it is about her because “it’s about family.” To which I reply “For fucks sake T it’s never been about you.” This was probably repeated. T asked me a question, about what I can’t recall, but I knew I wasn’t able to engage anymore.

Dave then approached to support me as he had heard me raise my voice. He was followed by his brother G who immediately switched from pleading with his brother, to aggressively yelling at me, demanding that I answer his mother’s question. K tried to get her husband to stop, but he was beyond reason. Dave actually physically stepped between me and his brother. I told Dave I couldn’t do this anymore and we just walked away. We gathered up the kids and left.

I remember stopping in the front walkway and all four of us hugging and crying. 

I honestly couldn’t believe what had just happened.