Sunday, February 22, 2015

Awful Birthday #44

Happy Birthday to Moi. Alex got a good
mouthful of the icing before this baby
got cut. He's pretty good at sneaking
up and getting bites out of baked things, as
demonstrated in the previous post.
Today was my 44th birthday. And I realized something as the day wound down, complete with both its moment of smiles and its moment of sadness; I will *always* be disappointed on my birthday. Always.  But it isn't what people imagine. It isn't about having unrealistic expectations of the people I am close to, and I use the word close based on what close is for me. The disappointment stems entirely from me.

You see, I want what I see other people having on their birthdays. A crowd of people giving a person a lovely surprise party that they were completely unaware of. A party that people they care about came from afar for because the person is so valued. I want the warmth and inclusion of normal people. To feel what it's like to be valued like that; the way normal people value one another. But sadly… I am not normal.

Toes cozied up for the crisp cold up the mountain.
Relationships; friendships, romantic connections, family—they are all about investment.  The people who get all the special treatment are the people that invest in their loved ones in a way that inspires that kind of reciprocation. They deserve it. They receive what they put in.  But I, as someone who is chronically affected by depression, and social anxiety, and what is now forming into a type of agoraphobia and anxiety, simply are not equipped to invest that much in that way.

I am just not normal.

Hwy 26. Mount Hood. About ten minutes up the road
from my home.
Normal people get up in the morning and face the day without an inner battle. Normal people are not obstructed by chronic and sometimes debilitating fatigue and lethargy. Normal people don’t have to lean on medications to get them through the day. Normal people do not let emotions rule everything they do. Normal people do cool things just because they can just do them; and don’t have to be cajoled or humoured into doing them, into leaving the house; into going to social events. They face strangers with open smiles and let people into their lives.

I don’t.  I let *some* people in, in the most limited fashion. What I consider close, is a far cry from what anyone with a normal perspective would consider close.  I over-share with strangers, but I only feel comfortable with a few people.  And I let them into my life, and into my house; but I still keep everyone at arm’s length. Not out of spite, not out of anything maligning… but because I just can’t have normal relationships.

So people like me require a HUGE imbalance in our relationships. I hide, and my *close* people have to seek. The burden is on them, mostly. It’s a lot to ask. It’s why I don’t have many friends, and why I have a hard time with relationships. It’s why anyone with the same condition as I have do as well.  To have a lasting relationship, that person needs to care about you enough to WANT to give; to travel; to be the one doing most of the ‘investment’ in the relationship (insofar as ‘investment’ is interpreted by normal standards).  See, I invest too. For the people I care about, going to them takes a HUGE amount of personal strength and energy, but they don’t know that. Showing them the courtesies that normal people show is a massive step out of the comfort zone for a person with social and depressive issues.

Not a huge snowpack up here yet. New England is getting
it all.
If I want what normal people have, it’s like investing fifty times what normal people have to invest; and because it’s not to normal standards, nobody really understands that. They think people like me are willfully being distant and remote.  As an extroverted introvert (yes, that does exist), I both long for the company of my friends and family, but I also dread it; because the cost of it on my emotional being is very high.

Breakfast at the Cascade Dining Room with mom-in-law
and step-father-in-law.
So yeah. I will always be disappointed. I will often expect to be disappointed and I will sometimes even welcome the disappointment, so that I don’t have to be surprised by it. My birthday will never be the vision I hope it will be because I don’t have it in my capacity to make it so. I’m not socially capable of it. And I can’t be shitty enough to expect people I care about to make it special for me even though I can’t really reciprocate that kind of investment.

Mt. Jefferson, saying hi from his layered nest of hills.
It all sounds very selfish in many ways, but it’s difficult to explain. Depression and Anxiety and all those conditions are not selfishness, they are genuine roadblocks to normality.  Finding people that understand that is paramount, and even those paragons you are lucky enough to find who can play that role are prone to get sick of your shit now and again too. They want to feel special too.

The Oregon Cascades. It was sooo windy and cold up there today.
That is why I absolutely DESPISE my birthday. Because I KNOW for a fact that I will end up in tears at some point. I do it because I am so disappointed in myself for not being normal. And for hoping that the people I love understand that all the time.  I’ve spent a great deal of my life being taken for granted by my family, and having my birthdays forgotten or dismissed as ‘just another day—get over it’. So that baggage is already the looming sword of Damocles that dangles above February 22 every year. Add that and my fucking depression and this confounded anxiety that makes me want to SCREAM, and frustrated family and friends who feel like they can’t do anything right, and it’s just the shittiest day of the year for me. Cake or no cake.

I hate my birthday folks. It’s the one day I want to be important, and I can’t even put in the energy and the investment to make it that way. And so, it sucks, and I hate it. I really do.

The thing I worry about most is my abnormality having an adverse affect on my child's upbringing. His birthdays will always be special. Even if I have to cut off a leg to make sure of it.  He is my horizon. I watch him when everything else feels like it's crumbling around me. As Dan once said: "He is the light in your very dark world." He is. He was the best birthday gift I have ever received (and conceived--meh heh). 

My beautiful horizon. In overalls no less.
...and my stoopid cat. Just because I love this pic of him and his mouche-mole.
/wallowing in self-pity

1 comment:

Dan said...

Well I will ALWAYS feel bad for you hating your birthday, I'm supposed to make it special but lately since we don't have two nickles to rub together (quite literally) more often than not here we are. You get to settle for a hug and a birthday wish.
I'm sorry I ruined your birthday, you and our little son mean the world to me.


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