30. 1. 20.
We attach so much significance to our measurements of time.
I recently turned 30.
It’s been 1 year since I realized I have Asperger’s.
Jars of Clay is celebrating 20 years as a band. (Their new album is excellent, btw).
30. I don’t feel 30, of course. I’m not sure what 30 is supposed to feel like. Of course, life doesn’t look the way I expected it to look at 30.
One thing I wanted to write about was my birthday, and how it was an example of what I’ve learned over the past year. Here comes the Aspie problem of not knowing exactly how much back-story to give. . . to be brief, my 28th birthday was very sad and emotional because of a relationship situation. The next year, I planned to have a better birthday. I even had a party for the first time in years, complete with goodie bags! Some of my favorite people came to visit, and the house got noisy when some family friends were in town and came by also. But another relationship situation went down shortly after, which ended up tainting the weekend.
So this year I was back to not looking forward to my birthday. Since the previous two were tainted by guys, I decided to not even mention that my birthday was coming up to the guy I was chatting with online. Every time I thought about my birthday coming up, and tried to decide what I wanted to do (such as invite people over) I would just want to cry. My very wise best friend encouraged me to “do something fun . . . like eat ice cream for breakfast, don’t do any school work, and watch HSM3 or Darren Criss.”
I took her advice. (Well, I saved the HSM3 for the next weekend when she was coming to visit, and I had a different dessert for breakfast.) I went to my morning work session, then relaxed at home with my parents and watched some movies with them. Mom made delicious food. I got a few thoughtful gifts from my family.
While some might see my change in behavior as “giving up” or withdrawing, I recognized it as growth in understanding and accepting myself. Ever since I was small I have loved the *idea* of a party, but the party itself was often problematic. I have a hard time splitting my time and attention properly when I’m with multiple people. I have to be constantly “on” socially and concerned about how people from my different circles are getting along. It can easily get noisy and overstimulating. There’s the inevitable disappointments (too often I ended up crying in my room at parties) and the stress of opening gifts. Tangent time!
I hate opening gifts.
I have theorized that this goes back to getting things like Barbie dolls as a child from people who don’t actually know me (like if I invited a classmate to a party and their mom never met me). Talk about disappointing! Like most people on the spectrum, I was never good at hiding my emotions and lying. I know I’m supposed to act happy and grateful when I receive a gift, but that is SO HARD when it’s a disgusting magenta box with an ugly doll inside. (I used to avoid the magenta toy aisle at all costs; I thought about taking a picture of one for the blog and decided it’s too awful, so I’ll skip it.) So imagine it – being a little kid, excited to see what new toy is under the wrapping paper, but then seeing the hot pink and feeling seriously disappointed while having an audience – including someone who will feel sad if you show your disappointment, and you don’t want to make them feel sad. It’s not fun. And while I slowly got better at acting thankful, that trepidation still accompanies every wrapped gift and every surprise. (Second tangent – I don’t like surprises. . . unsurprisingly, my relationship with a magician did not end well).
So, instead of stressing about organizing a get-together that would inevitably stress me out, and thinking about all the ways my birthday could be different, I decided to honor who I am and what I actually enjoy, and give myself the gift of a relaxing day of good things. And I got to have other good things to look forward to, like my best friend and her family coming to visit and the arrival of the not-yet-available LEGO Mini Cooper my parents wanted to give me for my birthday: