If you know me or know anyone on the Autistic Spectrum, you will know that we truly dislike change! The small changes can effect us the same way big changes can.
Even if it involves a chair…
For most of my life at home, I have always sat in the same seat at the dinner table. It didn’t matter if I was by myself or with the whole of my family I would have to sit in the same seat at the same side at the table. The thought of sitting in a different seat caused me great anxiety and, to this day still does!
Two years ago when I started dating my boyfriend, Kieran, I decided that it was time to invite him over to have dinner and meet my family. I was extremely anxious. I really liked him (I still really like him!😂), I wanted my family to warm to him and genuinely wanted the evening to go well. My Mum constantly reassured me that she wouldn’t embarrass me, interrogate him and that it would be the best meal ever as there would be pizza. But of course, that didn’t stop my nerves!
Kieran arrived, I introduced him to everyone, showed him around and blabbered from my nerves. We talked, we had a laugh and eventually all the nervous butterflies disappeared. Then it was dinner.
As the last pizza was placed on the table, I asked Kieran what he wanted to drink and went to the kitchen to get it. I couldn’t help but think about how well it was going. I couldn’t wipe my smile off my face. I walked back to the dining table, my smile suddenly disappearing. Sat in the seat I always sit in, was Kieran.
A wave of panic and anxiety swam through my body. “He’s sat in my seat! I can’t sit anywhere else, I’ve always sat there! I’ve always sat at that corner of the table, I can’t sit at the end of the table next to the picture.” Every thought ran around in my brain, my body stiff, my fingers and toes clenched. My Mum was glaring at me as if to say “Stop it! No! Don’t you dare have a Meltdown, please do not ruin this moment!” It was like a scene from the Big Bang Theory when someone sits in Sheldon Cooper’s spot and he just explodes!
I looked at Mum, then looked at the very unaware Kieran, then looked at the seat next to the picture and reluctantly sat in it.
I had fun with everyone that night, even though I occasionally looked longingly at my usual spot. It did make me anxious and a bit out of place, but I knew that I couldn’t tell the guy I was dating to get out of my seat! 😂
Eventually, my Mum told Kieran about the seat situation as she was worried I was giving him the evils and scaring him off! But Kieran listened and didn’t judge me and, happily said that if it was making me anxious and upset we could swap seats. But I declined, 1) because he was a guest and 2) it was a change. Sometimes change can be a good thing, even if it is just sitting in a different seat at the dining table!