“The main problem… centres in the mind rather than in the body.” Alcoholics Anonymous, page 23
Hey, how’re you doing? Did you survive ‘the Season’ (if, that is, you celebrate it at all)? Or is it still on-going? Here in England we have Boxing Day, not to mention the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are supposed to start with Christmas Day, and extend to just beyond New Year’s - not start twelve days before The Day, which is what I used to think. But then a lot of traditions have just become extremely confused and mixed up over time.
Anyway, enough of that. My point for this post is that it kind of struck me this morning that I’m obsessed with Christmas, and I hadn’t really realised it. (Okay: pick your jaw up off the floor, Dee.) Bizarre, huh? I mean, you’d think that someone who has written an extensive post about the whole thing, every year for the last three years, would actually be aware that they were rather obsessed with the topic, wouldn’t you? But no. Somehow the word ‘obsessed’ had slipped my mind when it came to the C word. Probably because my mind was too busy actually being obsessed with the whole thing to have time or room to notice what it was doing.
And then there’s been the peculiar idea I’ve had that, because I haven’t talked as much about Christmas this year as on previous occasions, I therefore have not been as obsessed. Thinking about it (including memories of past Christmases), listening to Christmas music for weeks beforehand (and having it playing on a loop in my head continuously), watching book-bloggers on YouTube talk about it, and preparing and reading Christmas-themed novels doesn’t count, apparently - in the world of the terminally deluded. Hello? Forgotten what an obsession is, have we? I think so. Perhaps we need a reminder?
An obsession is, fundamentally, something I cannot stop THINKING about. It CONSUMES (good word for a compulsive overeater like me) the mind. As it increases, there’s no space (or very little) for anything else. Everything starts to revolve around it. It leaks out into conversation, AND ACTION. It affects how I feel. It becomes the whole of my world. And, with Christmas, there’s the illusion that, once the season is over, then so too is the obsession - and next year will be different, and I’ll deal with it better. But it isn’t, and I don’t, because I keep missing the point.
And the point seems to be that I don’t accept that I have an obsession with Christmas because I’m autistic, and I get obsessed with everything I think about - because I’m autistic, and that’s the way my brain is wired. But with a lot of those other things I’ve started to recognise, and accept, the part my autism plays in them, and so they pass relatively quickly (some quicker than others) because I’m also now learning how not to feed them. With Christmas I seem to think that it’s different, that it’s down to years of learning and conditioning (which has its part to play, but its now, again, primarily all in my mind because I no longer engage in any of that Christmas celebrating - but my mind is still obsessed with it all).
I have stopped what I consider the major behaviours revolving around it, but it hasn’t shifted my thinking. Well, duh? Have I not been paying attention? Replacing them with a few ‘minor’ habits (like the music) still feeds the obsession: and it takes so very little for me to become obsessed. Or had I not noticed? Seriously? Do I walk around with a blindfold wrapped around my cognitive functions? *rolls eyes and sighs - deeply*
So every year I still get my knickers in a twist about the idea that it’s coming up, and that I’ve got to find some way through it (as if it were some physical obstacle camped out in my flat, or an impenetrable forest that had sprung up outside my front door); whether I should celebrate any part of it at all (like putting a tree up, which I do still own, and actually like doing); or find some other aspect of this time of year to celebrate, like the pagan winter solstice.
Though why I’d want to celebrate the lengthening of the days with the return of the sun is ridiculous when I HATE this time of year. I love autumn and winter, the darkness, and the cold weather; and the fact that it keeps people mostly indoors (especially my downstairs neighbour, who goes into almost literal hibernation, and from whom I hear hardly a peep - oh joy!!).
I find it depresses me when we reach this point, when even though it’s the time that winter begins, spring is on the horizon. And Christmas is messily all wrapped up in that, what with it being the end of December, with a new year on the horizon. I thrive in the dark, like a mushroom. I want to hibernate and hide in the spring and summer.
Basically it seems that, for some reason, I think I’ve just GOT TO celebrate something. Why??!! You know it occured to me just now that it’s probably got a lot to do with the fact that everyone else does (or so I imagine - when I’m obsessed I only ever see that it’s happening everywhere, even if it isn’t), and another of my autistic traits happens to be that I feel the need to copy everyone else.
So, autism all round, then, huh? Copying; obsession; difficulty dealing with change (seasons, end of year, celebration); don’t know how to celebrate; rigidity (seeing it as ‘the end’ of the year, not just a continuation of the flow of time); literality (the ‘magic’ of Christmas, etc); worry and anxiety; and analysing and complicating everything. There’re probably more, but I think I’ve mentioned the predominant ones. Plus I’m bored now.
I even managed to sneak in some impaired social understanding and ineptitude on Christmas day, when I met a nice couple out walking their puppy; and, in the midst of a pleasant interchange (though with me feeling increasingly frantic as I tried to anticipate and keep up with the conversation), they told me their names, which precipitated a paroxysm of confused thought on my behalf as to whether this now meant that we were friends (the exchange of names is almost tantamount to the offering of engagement rings in my world). I conveyed my bewilderment to a person I know to be my actual friend, who assured me that those people were merely being polite. I wasn’t now to wander around my village, anxiously anticipating bumping into them, and being invited to socialise (so I can stop rehearsing responses in my head).
Well, I guess this autism thing really affects EVERYTHING, eh? Who’d’ve thought? And Santa Claus really isn’t real, then? Bugger!
HO HO Hope you’re having a good day.