It’s my birthday today. You wouldn’t think so, the way I’m feeling, and behaving. More like someone’s funeral. I am as happy as Eeyore sitting in his gloomy place. But, apparently, this is the way I am every year, and at every celebratory event. My best friend tells me that this has been so ever since she’s known me, which spans the last thirteen years. I have no reason to doubt her any longer. I know she’s right. I know I’ve been like it for a lot longer than that. It has something to do with the aspergers.
I don’t know how to celebrate but, unfortunately, I seem to have this ingrained belief that I have to do it, that I have to mark each celebratory event in some way, even though it actually has no real significance to me whatsoever. My friend tells me that it’s just another day, and that I should just enjoy it as such and not put pressure on myself to make it symbolic by trying to do something special. This is how she does it, how she approaches life: she sees that every day is special, none more nor less so than another, and that all of this hype that surrounds events like birthdays and Christmas is just part of the societal pressure and conditioning that we are subject to in order to make us conform, and spend lots of money!
I get this. I agree with it. I like the way she lives, and have tried to copy her (taking it to the extreme at times, of course, not being able to make the distinction between the differences in our personalities, and the need for me to adapt what I see in her to suit me, rather than trying to copy outright her whole way of being in order to become almost a carbon copy!) Unfortunately I just don’t seem to be able to do it, and so every year is the same – a whole load of heightened unrealistic expectations, followed by a massive plummet into disappointment.
The thing that makes it worse is the fact that I keep thinking that I’ve got over being like this, because I no longer do exactly the same things, nor do I consciously think much about my birthday in the run-up to it. But, apparently, this doesn’t matter because this thing is buried deep in my subconscious, and we all know how difficult it is for an asperger to change anything, and how long it can take to let go, no matter that the thing may well have been proven to be ineffective, not to mention downright harmful.
And it’s not just events about which I have unrealistic expectations. Oh no. It’s things, too, and people (which I am now beginning to see are often confused in my mind as being one and the same – yet another delightful autistic trait!) I think this is probably part of the reason why I hate having to buy anything new, or get to know anyone new – it takes me so long to get used to one thing, after the initial period of finding fault with it and, if applicable, comparing it to the old one that it’s had to replace, and then I’ve got to go through the whole process again: is it really worth the effort, not to mention the stress?!
So, basically, everything in life is a disappointment to me until I get used to it, and manage to reduce my expectations to the level of something vaguely resembling reality. Of course it’s never going to resemble anyone else’s perception of what you can realistically expect, what with being autistic: and it is rather difficult to know what is realistic when you have nothing against which to compare it, what with being from a whole other dimension! But then this could ultimately turn out to be a blessing in disguise, a gift from God as it were – if only I could find the right circumstances in which to use it. Failing that I could always complain to Him/Her/It (delete as applicable!), and ask for an exchange for the life I’ve been given or my money back, ‘cos I’m just not satisfied with the one I’ve got!
Just to end on a happy note, Eeyore did eventually cheer up and enjoy his birthday, after he’d started out with heightened expectations. And you know what cheered him? Being given an empty honey pot from Pooh (it was meant to be full of honey but Pooh had eaten it on the way!), and a burst red balloon from Piglet (it had been a blown-up one before he’d tripped and fallen on it!) And there he sat, like an autistic, putting his bit of balloon in his empty pot and then taking it out again. Bliss!!
"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin.
"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by that name, but what does th' name matter? I warrant they call it a different name i' France an' a different one i' Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th' sun shinin' made thee well lad an' it's th' Good Thing. It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th' million - worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th' Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it - an call it what tha' likes. Eh! lad, lad - what's names to th' Joy Maker."
From 'The Secret Garden', by Frances Hodgson Burnett
"There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way."
The Dalai Lama
"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."