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Dream, sort of: 7.13.2016

July 13, 2016

++ Dream this morning that was so bizarre and disturbing, I’m not going to recount it here. But I do want to thrash out the things it’s made me think of. ++

What’s something I can legitimately claim I’ve wanted since I was seven? I think a birthday party actually fits.

But I had a birthday party at 11, and it was a total disaster. I didn’t have another one until I was 25; it was meh.

Spouse spearheaded the surprise party at 30 (that I did think I wanted). I have an unfinished poem about it. ‘Disaster’ isn’t quite the right word but… it was really awful.


I have this big milestone birthday coming up in a few weeks. I’ve been puzzling over what to do about it — that is, how to properly celebrate it — for months and months and months.

It’s puzzling precisely because how do you “celebrate” when you hate parties? When you come from a family where parties = celebrating? What can you do instead that feels celebratory?

Spouse put together a shindig at (my) 40. Parts were truly excellent. The actual birthday parts, though, were… meh. I felt so horrible for so long even admitting that to myself. To me, “birthday” means a delicious special dessert, something festive to drink (non-alcoholic). Dancing. Wearing a pretty outfit. Cool gifts to unwrap are a bonus.

Friends to share it with… you know, in the past, this is the part where it all fell off the rails.

If I’ve had friends at all, I’ve tended not to have the kind of friends you could invite to a birthday party. So to “fill in” other people’s ideas of how many people should be there, people were invited that I don’t care about at all, and then I was guilted into spending more time with those people than the people I actually wanted to see, because otherwise I was a Bad Hostess.

Except that, now that I think about it, I can’t be the hostess of my own surprise party. My mother was the hostess. Why wasn’t she making herself spend time with these people I didn’t like?

{Why has it taken me all this time to notice that discrepancy? Hmmmm.}

= = =

I still own two items I received at my 25th birthday party: I kept them among all others because they both have fish motifs.

= = =

I believe every single item I received at my 25th birthday party related to items a person would need for entertaining. Yes, I was about to move into my first apartment. But in the year I was in that apartment, I didn’t entertain once. In all the years Spouse and I have been married (23+), we’ve formally had people over… a handful of times I think. And those people were our parents. In no way, though, could those times be considered “a party”. I hate parties.

= = =

Wait a minute. If I’m writing this to myself, about myself, and yet my unconscious keeps inserting the words “I hate parties” — I mean, I know that — I must be skipping over a blindspot.

I think I need to leave that for the moment.

= = =

What I actually intended to write about this morning was…  celebratory gifts.

I shouldn’t have saved up money and spent all of it on a gift for my mother, for her milestone birthday. This morning, I realized that deep in my unconscious I believe I feared that my father would not celebrate my mother’s milestone in a way she could appreciate, so I was going to save the day.

{Technically, even if that had been true, the $200 a daughter could afford (to save up) to spend could not in any way match the thousands of dollars a husband could afford (to save up) to spend. That seems… incredibly obvious today, although it never occurred to me then.}

It turns out she did like the gift my father spent thousands of dollars on.

She’s probably still talking about it.

My gift she never mentioned. She almost never wore it. I would almost say… it was a dud, except that… I really loved it.

Why didn’t I buy it for myself then? Well, it was the wrong colors for me. It was extravagant. Back then I would’ve never bought myself a gift that cost $200. Even if I saved up for it. It was… showy.

When other people were watching me, I appeared to be… shy. Muted. Dull.

I wasn’t any of those things but… No one else perceived me any differently. If I had worn a necklace like the one I gave my mother, instead of indicating to everyone else they been wrong about me, they would’ve instead assumed that I had terrible taste. That I didn’t realize I was “making a spectacle of myself”. They would’ve felt pity, not surprise. Definitely not admiration, for the beautiful necklace or for me.

= = =

The dream I had this morning… What if I don’t actually want to celebrate my milestone birthday as a milestone? What if I don’t want to do anything that invites comparison with my mother’s milestone birthday 29 27 years ago?

What if I want something completely different? Except that I have no idea what it is.

= = =

Yesterday I found a festive nonalcoholic drink that I thought to myself, “I could drink this for my birthday”. Yesterday I also planned and executed a trip to a local gourmet cupcake bakery, so I could taste stuff. They weren’t there anymore.

I’ve spent most of this year trying to pull together elements for this milestone birthday of mine. These elements (that I defined for myself as being necessary) have defied me at every turn.

That should have been a clue.

Instead, I thought, “wow, this celebration stuff is hard when there’s just one person doing all the work!”

The thing is, if it’s one person planning to celebrate one person, shouldn’t it be easy? Shouldn’t it be fun? Shouldn’t it be kind of… a delightful romp?

It hasn’t been. It’s been one headache after another. One disappointment after another.

So something is terribly wrong.

= = =

If there even was a party for my mother’s 50th (and I don’t recall if there was, or not), the Really Big Gift from my father overshadowed everything else.

= = =

I don’t recall a big deal being made over my father’s milestone birthdays.

Did he pick the Really Big Gift as his own proxy? Given how things played out, I think maybe he did (unconsciously of course).

Interesting, if so, that both he and I acted similarly in the same situation. His effort pleased my mother and mine didn’t, but surely what matters for a proxy is that it pleases you.

Every account I’ve heard of how the Really Big Gift went {it was a trip}… it was my mother telling me how much my father… eventually… enjoyed it. But did he really? I mean, how would my mother know? My mother is terrible at discerning feelings. I think she might have alexithymia. She doesn’t know her own; she definitely doesn’t recognize other people’s.

What she likely “knows” is that my father put a good face on it. And maybe he really did have a good time. But maybe he didn’t, but he said he did, and that’s all my mother really cares about — appearances.

= = =

A party… is all about appearances, isn’t it?

Oh, fuck.

= = =

In my godawful dream, just as I was realizing how the situation between me and the other person was… kind of a crisis, actually… and omg, why am I even here? Now?

Somehow, just then, 3 other people were suddenly there with us. My brother-in-law and his soon-to-be-ex-wife, sharing a sleeping bag (?!), and some random country singer guy.

And I thought to myself, “How is this going to look to them? How can I explain this? I can’t explain this.”

= = =

I don’t know what I want.

I don’t know how to figure out what I (might) want.

But I do know… I don’t want a party. I don’t want a proxy for the party I don’t want.

I don’t want the wrong food. I don’t want… birthday gifts.

I don’t want to have to put on a social face {like I suddenly/inexplicably had to do in the dream}.

= = =

I no longer want what I wanted when I was seven.

= = =

What do I want?


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