Most years, the holidays & my birthday make me absolutely miserable. Festivals of giving and bright shiny objects remind me that I am poor, and never manage as much as I would like in terms of material generosity to those who are so good to me. The new year means that another old year has gone by with little change in my situation. And my birthday, right in between, not only makes me feel old; this is usually a blah day at best, or outright terrible, especially if I try to make plans.
For example, last year I was in the habit of attending a weekly game night at a certain pub. At the beginning of December, the game night moved from Tuesday to Sunday for the winter months, meaning the event would coincide with my 3rd annual 29th birthday. So, I decided, what the hell I would be there anyway, many of my friends would be; so why not invite everyone? So I did, I listed the event on social media and encouraged people to drop by, buy me a beer, and wish me a happy birthday.
Not only was the first Sunday so empty that the guy running the event declared he would skip the rest of December if the second didn’t improve, we never got a chance to find out if it would because the pub suddenly anounced that that would be the date of their farewell event–I tried to plan something on my birthday for the first time in ages, and the venue shut down. That’ll teach me.
So this year, I've been spending it the way I have for most of the last decade: with no plans whatsoever, just a few of my favorite treats & videos, all on my own. Occasionally, something will materialize and work out O.K.; but not most years, and even though there have been a few offers and suggestions, I don’t think I’ll be doing much this year.
Looking back on the year, I have a lot to be down about this holiday season. Two good people close to my heart passed away in the prime of their lives. I got a number of fantastic opportunities and didn’t make the most of them; although they weren’t completely squandered either. I failed to save a good friend’s important relationship when my help was sought, then botched my own chance with the object of his affection–also mine. I not only failed to demonstrate that trust isn’t weakness & there are people in the world one can rely on; despite instantly recognizing that we aggravated each other's codependent tendencies, I allowed myself to be taken advantage of and badly screwed by someone who didn't intend to and probably doesn’t even realize happened, and may be incapable of understanding the great enduring love and the deep sense of loss I still feel over our parting. Not to mention the time spent making that attempt pulled me away from every goal & every other good thing in my life.
So it’s odd to realise that, for all I grieve the lost, and I miss & worry about the living lost to me, I haven't been particularly unhappy lately; in fact, this year has ended kind of O.K., if a bit lonely. And this is probably the best birthday I’ve had since I started turning 29. Frankly, among the best that I can ever remember. What’s going on? I’ve even been less affected by SAD than usual( although the bright lights could have something to do with that).
There's a saying that one can learn far more from defeat than from victory. As many could attest, I'm not a gracious loser, at least not without seriously strenuous effort; but it's true, these are the best lessons. Earlier this year my mother mentioned to me that if I wanted to find my birth parents, I would have any resources I needed. At the time, I wasn't ready. If I met my birth mother, how could I show her whom I've grown up to be without even knowing that myself? But after catching Kung Fu Panda 2 on TV the other day and seeing the( marvelous!) new Annie on Christmas Eve with my parents( both movies about orphans seeking answers about their past & finding their place in the world), I told them it's time for me to start looking.
In 2014, I learned a lot about loss, & about weakness–my own & others’; in the process, I have grown stronger. I'm retarded, slow; it's not about giving up or being lazy, it's about knowing when the approach that works for many others isn't the best use of my energy. I'm disrupted rather than motivated by discomfort and thus I must count on being more drained after certain endeavors, perhaps foregoing rewards that I wouldn't be able to enjoy in the same way as a neurotypical person after toughing it out. I have ADHD and thus I'm prone to distraction; in any given time period I can I only count on getting done a quarter of what I wish to, although perhaps many other things that are better off done, even if I wouldn't've prioritized them.
My awareness of the world around me is far more acute than most people’s in some respects, and sorely lacking in others; sometimes it is too much to ask me to hold on to a piece of paper for two hours, sometimes I lose $500 cash walking from the register to the edge of the parking lot, get to the concert and don't have my ID, remember your favorite soda but forget you hate those chips; & sometimes you should ask me things just because you've got nothing to lose and, being me, I might have an answer no one else would think of. Sometimes I look like a normal person to whom those things happen every now and then, and sometimes that's going to make it hard for you to remember & understand that on the days I seem to be purely a screw-up , what's wrong with me is the same thing that's always wrong with me, every moment, and I’ve just run out of plans or energy to fight it on that particular day.
As I return to this blog; read the prior entries; look back on my experiences of Sean, of Rebecca, of the great & unique friend that might have been the love of my life if we could even stand to look at each other now; there are two golden threads woven through each story, two shining truths binding me & everyone around me:
We as human beings all have unique strengths & weaknesses, and each of us deserves to have his or her strength recognized & relied upon, also to have his or her weakness known & covered without hesitation. Love( the unqualified belief that for lack of that person in it, exactly as s/he was/is, one’s world would be poorer) stems from that moment of recognition, of fully accommodating & appreciating, in some context, in some way, at some time, that strength & that weakness in the beloved; real love can never die because that moment is an immutable fragment of the subjective truth of one’s reality.
That is my greatest weakness. In joy & in comfort, in sadness & in pain; I love people, no matter who they are. Although I may retreat & regroup, although I may lash out at those who hurt me or my loved ones, although my time & movements in this world are not infinite and desire must sometimes lose out to practicality in my actions; I will never give up on people in my heart, no matter how I am battered or exploited. This often leads me into trouble, it may yet lead me to ruin or death. That is my strength. If I believe someone needs me, I will strive to do the best I can. I will make stupid mistake after stupid mistake pursuing a world that is made of moments which are love; when people cover each other's human weaknesses, and rely on each other's awesome strength; when they know their own too and can love themselves without fearing others will cut them down for acknowledging it. I will love people knowing that many who do not love themselves will become my enemies. I will love myself, and when necessary, prioritize myself, knowing that this will make me many more enemies.
Today I was astounded by all the people who said happy birthday to me, both publicly & privately. On social media and in my calendar, I watched so many of theirs go by thinking how it didn't really matter if I sent birthday wishes to people I haven’t seen in years. I am truly humbled by the love that surrounds me, & despite missing those who are no longer with me, I’m happy to be looking forward rather than backward on my birthday. I'm ready to find my roots because now I can see what they're holding up. So there's a change of plans; the 4th annual celebration has been canceled, and all thereafter–plans never really work out for me on this day anyway.
Goodbye 29, hello 32.