The Little Known Secret to Why We Hide

What do you mean you stay hidden? Do you actually hide? Where? And are you trying to tell me that there’s a secret to your hiding?

It’s time to share

Most of us have a safe circle. These are people that love us unconditionally and don’t judge our actions, our children’s actions, or even our cat’s actions for that matter.

To start, let me define who “we” is. “We” is defined as a family who has one or more regular looking kids who have very different brains  . . . “We” aka “the family” don’t go out nearly as often as we might want to.

Interestingly, I’ve actually forgotten that this is an accommodation because I’ve spent so much of my last fourteen years staying hidden (at home or with close friends and family). I didn’t remember that going places on a whim was an option.

Today, I want to share about families like mine, who choose to stay home rather than go out.

Important note: We don’t always hide out, but it is more common than you might imagine. I’ve heard parents say that the happiest and most peaceful times with their different-brained kids is at home, doors locked, alarm system on. And I concur.

We definitely have to go out sometimes, and dare I say, we’ve had lots of fun and we’ve been joyful and successful! For the most part, though, we avoid difficult outtings because it’s simply not worth the screaming, tantrumming, difficulty, fear, on-lookers, etc.

My revelation

We were recently invited to an outing with some people we wouldn’t normally go out with. My very first reaction was panic and a vehement “no!” And that answer is sticking because, well, we have to stay hidden sometimes and I don’t want to deal.

Interesting thing, and the reason I even realized how I accommodate myself and why I wanted to share with you, is that we also got another invitation to spend a day with another group of people. My first reaction to that invitation was “Yay! I can’t wait–what day can we go?”

Can you guess the reason my reactions were so different?Safety is important to autism families

The little known secret for why we don’t go out in public

The little known secret for why we don’t go out in public is because of safety. We need to stay safe from judgement and we need to stay safe from the breakdown that is almost guaranteed when we go to certain places at certain times to do certain things with certain people.

We stay hidden because we want to stay safe. We don’t want our children screaming and tantrumming in public, much less having to listen to it and help them through it ,knowing full well we could have said no and avoided it. Not to mention there are probably siblings that we have to keep safe and try to minimize their exposure to the tantrums. Yes, they get to go out sometimes too, but I’m pretty sure staying hidden is a mutually agreed upon tactic.

So we say no more often than you might imagine and we stay hidden in the safety of our homes and routines.

When we’re on the outside, we typically have to shlep through the judgement that is so lovingly heaped onto us by strangers, just like that rich, thick, sausage gravy is heaped onto biscuits. Trust me when I tell you, judgement is pretty much inescapable in the public arena.

Love and support for parents and autism children

I will fully admit that we make up stories in our minds about people staring at us or whispering under their breath to their buddies. Know, though, that those mind-stories started with people actually staring at and whispering about us. It happened with people we trusted, which is very difficult to handle.

But now we know the drill.

This is just another day and we’re dealing with someone else who wants to tell us to do it differently or they could do it better or ______fill in what you’ve heard here_____.

In the beginning when all of this craziness first began, mostly it was me that was judged–as the parent. There was a little bit of “Hey, can I help you?” Or “What’s going on with him?” Mostly it felt like and sounded a lot like, “You need to socialize him and put him in school.” “You made him this way.” And other such ridiculously unhelpful things.

So I started hiding from the judging people.

Then Michael started to stop being a baby and he started being a toddler. And he screamed. A lot. And people looked at me like I was harming my baby and wondered why that cute baby screamed at that high pitch.

So I started hiding him and me from the judging people.

During that time, there were two people who loved us more than we could ever imagine. It was then that I worked very hard at surrounding myself with loving, kind, and supportive people. It was also then that I learned to drop the unhelpful people and anyone else unless I had some obligation to see them. This organic process of choosing my tribe members continued until I only hung out with people who loved us as we were.

And here I am today seeing this stark comparison of my responses to invitations. One is a clear no, and one is a clear yes.

Do you know what I know? I know that we really do need each other. So be nice. Or find people that are nice to you and your children and your story. Find people that are open, loving, and kind. They’re out there, but I can unfortunately guarantee the others are out there as well.

It pains me to write this

There are those human beings who will not support you. There are those who will not see you for the perfection that you are, or your child is, or your family is. And I’m sorry for that. It pains me to write that. It pains me that I actually believe that. I didn’t used to.

In my younger days I was the eternal optimist with glittery toots and wildly vivid visions of life filled with lollipops, pigtails, and tricycles. Everyone was my friend and I embraced the world with the zest of a young, beautiful, Anglo-Saxon, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, entitled woman. I was a woman who also turned out to be an alcoholic (I’ll be ten years dry on April 10!), survived some truly cray-cray experiences,  birthed two children,  married and divorced, and lived some mighty, mighty ups and downs of life all along the way.

I found though that there are people who are not willing, able, inclined, or even have time for you and your life. And really, once I stepped back and found out that not everyone else toots rainbows and glitter or rides their tricycle to work sucking on a rainbow lollipop, well, it was a heck of a lot easier to happily choose who I would hang out with . . . and of course who I wouldn’t.

And that is perfectly OK. 🙂

There are too many people in the world to fall in love with all of them. So fall in love with the few that create a better life for you and your family and then you, too, can toot glittery rainbows when you’re together with them.

I might even throw a big Gratitude Bash to celebrate these members of my tribe! The invitation might read:

“Thank you for being you,

And thank you for accepting me and my family.

Come make (and eat) cupcakes with us,

And fully accept my hospitality!”

If you can, throw a party for them next weekend! Call them and say thank you after you realize who you’ve had to say good-bye to. Or who you know has said good-bye to you because they just couldn’t handle it anymore.

We can always remember that they are perfect where they are too.

So we stay hidden when we need to and we come out when it’s safe. We are brave when we have to trek beyond our comfort zone and we come back to rest and rejuvenate.

And we live our lives each day the very best that we can.

So much love and safety to you, your family, and your story. Your story is important, you are important, your family is fully worthy, and you are very, very loved.

In truth,


Do you hide out or do you know someone who does? Share your hiding experiences with me on Facebook.

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