My son is turning soon seventeen.
Every year at this time when his birthday is approaching I have found many good reasons to explain why I had so much anxiety. They are all very sound and rational, and they have changed over the course of the years to adapt to every single event that was to be remembered for that time of the year, and each year has brought their share of dramatic events surrounding these dates, on or around, always combined with the effects of the fall.
So one could easily think that I get the seasonal blues and discard the feelings as not that bad, which is what I have consistently done, all my life, as a matter of fact: finding good and rational, sound reasons for every single anxiety bit that I have accumulated deep inside, just to discard it as just part of what I have to overcome over and over.
I have been blaming myself mostly for just feeling those.
Every time I think about my son’s birthdays, or other celebratory events for the matter, I have had that kind of uneasy, uncomfortable feeling of being unable to celebrate, unable to rejoice, like any normal person would do, and I have felt like a freak for those feelings. So I hide them. I keep them under the rug.
The problem is that they are so numerous, that after a while, walking on that rug becomes nearly impossible, it shows bumps and tear and wear, and who would dare changing it would certainly scream to see what is under, like a pandora box of horrors, which is appropriate for the season of preparing for halloween, but a little too scary for the regular scene of a quiet home.
I feel guilty even to feel guilty.
I have friends who can’t celebrate one birthday after an other at all. I could be thankful that this happiness is still given to me. I have birthdays to celebrate. What not to rejoice about? It is so selfish and unconsiderate of others to be so self-absorbed in one’s condition and be gloomy about happy events like a birthday.
I want to rejoice. I want to celebrate. I want to be thankful for what has been given to me. Including the anxiety and the panic that plague me. Everything is a gift. Autism is a gift. It made my son who he is. I don’t know him any different. He is my son and I love him how he is. I do not compare him but to himself, and how sweet, independent, kind and disciplined he is. Compared to himself. Not to any other boy that anyone knows of. Not to any other person with generic characteristic like beeing this age or that age would let you think of. So I can’t answer the nice questions from strangers whether I am letting him drive a car or get ready to head to college when they learn that my older boy is turning seventeen. I just can’t, without my eyes welling, and heart getting pinched one more time, as if it had not been pinched the minute prior to it by some other pinchable painful realization, or a wonder, or a scream, or a not strange but perseverative sound that would not stop for another ten minutes.
There are ways to look at everything, and it is our duty to change the way we look at something if it makes no good sense, if it makes us unhappy. There is our own power to rejoice over any small thing rather than feeling desolated because it is raining again. We know that the rain will stop and that some nice weather will show up. We know that the earth needs the rain to grow the bounties of nature. We know alll this. The birds don’t stop singing because it is raining, they keep on being busy. I am the only one to be stopped in my tracks all the time because of anxiety, because of fear and sadness, because of feeling so disconnected.
My reality is that I can’t rejoice on my son’s birthday. I can’t recall any of the good memories that this birth brought the world and myself. I just can’t. I can look at each and every step since the first minute this life came to my world, and I can still feel that pinch in my heart that I was going to go through something I did not see coming.