It finally happened. Blue Eyes and i have seen a clue or two and we wondered if it was coming – but yesterday it definitively happened.

Dallas let Joseph know that he is DONE being his best friend, DONE being his friend at all.

Joseph has autism. He doesn’t gain the understanding of how to be a friend by osmosis. And as social mores change in puberty, he has not adapted. Sometimes he seems like an 8 year old hanging around preteens.

To make matters worse, obsession, which often seems to link arms with autism, formed in Joseph’s feelings toward Dallas. He thought about him, wrote about him, spoke about him, dreamed about him, sang silly songs about him (the latter in front of Dallas’ peers). He joined sports teams that Dallas joined. He shadowed Dallas everywhere he went. I experienced the shadow thing during the cruise and it nearly drove me crazy. Poor Dallas didn’t get a break.

Being the good guy that he is, Dallas put up with it way longer than he probably should have. Now it’s boiled and spewing out of the volcano, and it is OVER.

But he couldn’t tell Joseph. I had to be the one to do that. Gulp. When we teach Love and Logic we often show Dr. Brene’ Brown’s short video clip on empathy, and I leaned on that when I told him.

It broke my heart, truly it did. I had to tell him, as gently as I could, that Dallas wanted nothing to do with him any longer. Ouch ouch ouch. Joseph was understandably sad. We talked about the shadowing, the silly songs, the way Dallas felt embarrassed in front of his friends. And Joseph felt that Dallas was 100% right. He immediately wrote Dallas a letter apologizing and saying that, from now on, he would give him lots and lots of space.

As painful as it all is, it’s also what we’d call an affordable lesson. This is a great time in Joseph’s young life to learn what being a friend involves. As a kid with autism – which most definitely includes a huge social deficit – friendship-forging will take actual studying, strong observation, and perhaps (finally) listening to his parents’ input (one can hope, anyway!).

In A Course of Love, we are told that there are truly only two ways to go: Fear or love. My mother’s heart keeps jumping from one to the other, but as I was reflecting tonight I remembered the concept of putting trust into the gap. This is the idea that, when there is a gap between what we expected to happen and what actually happened, we always get to choose what we put into that gap: Blame, suspicion, trust, etc. Take your pick.

Suddenly removing Joseph’s best friend creates a gap in what we were expecting, and I am choosing to intentionally put trust in there. If, in deepest love and benevolence, life is giving each of us exactly what we need, then all I can do is trust that this situation falls into that category. Whatever difficult and/or lonely times lie ahead for Joseph (and, therefore, his mother!), I want to stay in trust and gratitude. Oh, I might jump over to fear too, but ultimately I choose love.

Yesterday we had the painful conversation. This morning Joseph sang me a song he’d made up, a rendition of Shiny from the movie Moana. Whereas the actual lyrics go, “I’d rather be shiny,” Joseph’s sang of Dallas’ leaving and the chorus was, “I’d rather be happy,” declaring his determination to be happy regardless of losing this friendship.

Fortuitously, Joseph and Blue Eyes had an overnight camping trip planned for tonight. Blue Eyes texted that Joseph is already thinking of ways he can be friends with other kids. So, God bless him, my kid is showing resilience and understanding in a time of trial. What a kid!

I am reminded of the woman in Australia who, when the earth started violently shaking, threw herself down upon it and embraced Mother Earth in her movement. And so I end this post with an intention to embrace the change, trust the gap, and, above all, to be thankful. Because those things, my friends, have me choosing love — the only true reality — over the great illusion of fear.

 

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