It is also my little dog's birthday. Happy birthday, Lily! She is five years old! And I meant to blog about that. But I've been a little distracted and didn't even do anything for her birthday... so I am telling her it is her birthday all week, giving me time to get her some prezzies and treats!
What I want to write about is how I felt today. Which was, actually, pretty good!
My birthday is very close to Mother's Day, so all of my life, my mom hosted the family Mother's Day celebration and combined it with my family birthday celebration. One of my cousins, Soxboy (not his real name), also has his birthday right around Mother's Day. Since I am grown up and he is only ten, after he was born his mom, my Aunt B, started hosting the Mother's Day celebrations and combining them with his family birthday celebration. Which is also sort of my birthday celebration too, still.
So the point of that whole paragraph is, today we were headed to Aunt B's house for Mother's Day/Soxboy's Birthday/My Birthday. Usually family gatherings are a little stressful for me. Not because I don't enjoy seeing my family members. I do. Its just that I get a little overwhelmed when there are so many people together. Plus sometimes if we go to my Aunt B's house or my Uncle A's house for a celebration, their spouse's family members also come, adding people I don't know very well and don't feel too comfortable with to the mix.
So often, in the days or weeks before a family gathering, I am trying to find out as much information as I can. Who will be there? When will we get there? When do we have to leave to get there? How long will it go to? What will we be having to eat?
Then usually I am a little moody on the morning of the family event It is mostly just anxiety. I know there will be a lot of people, and a lot of voices talking on top of each other. I know as soon as I walk in, and for a while afterwards, there will be a lot of noisy greetings and hugging. And depending on the weather and if some people can sit outside, it can be stressful to figure out where to sit at meal time (Kids' table with my little cousins? Next to my mom? Squashed between my grandparents? What to do, what to do?)
Usually when I first go in I will still be really anxious and stiff, working my way through all the "hello merry christmas how are you i'm fine how are you good how is work it is fine thanks" and other small talk. Then I will usually stake out a place to sit in whatever room people seem to be gathering, and I will try to stay put there. That way I can watch everything, and others can come and talk to me if they want to, and it is less confusing and overwhelming than "mingling." Generally the people who come and talk to me are my grandparents, my Aunt B, my two cousins SoxBoy and KraftyKid, and sometimes my youngest cousins Professor and Shirley Temple. (SoxBoy and Kraftykid, ages 10 and 12, belong to my Aunt B. Professor and Shirley Temple, ages 8 and 5, belong to my Uncle A.)
I have two more cousins who are recent college graduates and live in other areas. Sometimes they are at the family events, but they rarely talk to me after the initial greetings and eventual goodbyes. They think I am odd.
I enjoy talking with the people I feel most comfortable with (mainly the group of people who seek me out to talk to me) but it is sometimes so loud, with so many different conversations going on, that it is hard for me to follow any single one conversation. When we are all together in a big group, such as at meal time at someone's house where we all eat at one table, or in the living room with a bunch of people, I find that sometimes when I do talk, nobody seems to hear me at all. Or sometimes someone will be talking to me and asking me questions, but someone else will interrupt and start a new conversation with the other person, and I will be abandoned mid-sentence.
Another thing that used to happen a lot would be that I would sort of be shuffled off to go hang out with whatever little cousins were at the event. Of course I love my little cousins and enjoy seeing them. But I often felt like I was being treated (mainly by my mom) as just an older kid, like a 14-year-old cousin among a group of younger cousins, instead of an adult with a group of children. I think I've blogged about that before.
I will almost always linger at the edges of the family event for the whole time. It is often a blur to me. But then when it is time to leave, I often feel kind of sad... like I missed out on something. Like I was looking in the windows of a family event but never got the chance to actually go in through the door and experience it.
But today seemed different! And really, the main difference was me! I don't know what it was... maybe the beautiful weather and the fact that most of the gathering took place outdoors, or maybe it is the therapy that I've been going through. But I felt like more of a person.
I handled the initial small talk well. I said Happy Mother's Day to everyone who was a mother, and hugged the appropriate people. I hung out with my little cousins (mainly KraftyKid, because the two boys were inside playing video games and Shirley Temple was on the swingset) and held KraftyKid's hamster, and played Ladders with my mom and KraftyKid, and jumped around hooting when I beat KraftyKid at Ladders by one point, and laughed and mocked my uncle when he bet me $100 that I couldn't get the little rope thing over the ladder and then I did and technically he owes me $100 now, and I helped myself to a second slice of birthday cake, and I said thank-you to the people who gave me birthday presents.
Of course there is always the flipside... if I find myself getting too comfortable in a situation, I really have to watch myself so my ADHD doesn't take over and make me get too hyper and silly and talk too much and do dumb stuff. But today I was, for the most part, able to walk the fine line between ADHD and Aspergers, and just be a person.
And when it was time to leave, I didn't feel sad and wistful like I usually do. I felt happy, and ready to go home and relax!
Was it just a fluke? Just the weather? Or is it really me who is starting to be more comfortable with my own self? Only time will tell.
In fact, I may not have to wait very long for time to tell. Next Sunday is Professor's first communion. This will involve all the relatives from both of Professor's parents' families, plus a lot of Professor's parents' friends, and random others. The gathering will take place at a church and then a banquet hall, and not at someone's somewhat familiar house. Will I be able to assimilate into this strange environment, or will I shrink back into my alien shell? Stay tuned for next week, boys and girls!
|Me getting ready to go to my Aunt B's house. I was|
wearing a skirt!!!