And So this is Christmas. My birthday. Another year over, a new one just begun.
So I wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear.
Sorry, no I’m not. That’s always been my favorite song.
I wasn’t planning to stay up till midnight, but the cough syrup isn’t work. I think I might go take another 2 doses of it. Nothing’s been working, really. I hope I don’t have to go bug a doctor. Dunno if there’s anything he could do, anyway. Prescribe stronger cough medicine? Well if that means I can breathe…
Ahem. Right. Back on topic.
The last few years I have been afraid of birthdays. That’s going to sound weird to some people. I mean, isn’t getting older better than the alternative?
Well, to my way of thinking, until very recently, no. I would rather have died than get old. I had plans to kill myself on my 40th/50th birthday. Actually, with the popularity of Alzheimers/dementia in my family, I probably am going to kill myself at some point, because I don’t want to go out like that. But don’t worry everyone, That day is far off, and I might never develop the disease at all, so it may never come.*
I looked forward to 21, because that meant I could drink alcohol. But after that, I began to get scared. I turned 22. Then 23. then 24. Each year I got more and more panicked. What was happening?
You see, Dear Reader, I did not think that I would live this long. That confuses people, when they hear it from someone so young. How does a person not expect to see their 25th birthday? Was I a survivor of a terminal illness?
No. I am a survivor of a Seventh Day Adventist childhood.
Growing up Seventh Day Adventist, you are told that Jesus is going to come before you hit x milestone. I was told he was coming before I got to high school. Before I graduated high school. Before I got to go to college. Before I graduated college.
Eventually I realized something: Jesus isn’t coming, and I don’t have a backup plan.
I guess my backup plan, back when I believed in God, was to either kill myself (something I’ve attempted a few times over the course of my life, but not recently, and I am not now suicidal.) or to slog through this life, thinking that the next one would be better, until I finally died. And so, I dreaded each year passing, each year I aged. I was frightened of aging. I never wanted to be old, after all, I wasn’t supposed to! I wasn’t supposed to survive to 25. Jesus was supposed to come first.
I also was (and still am, I guess) terrified of death. I was also terrified of Jesus coming, terrified I wouldn’t make it into heaven.
Letting go of my belief in a God has freed me from all of that. (Well, almost, I’m still afraid of death… I’m still working on that one.) You see, when you’re a Christian, you don’t believe this life is all you’ve got, and so most don’t bother to live it to the fullest. Becoming an agnostic has shown me that I only one life to live, one chance to do it right. Only, if I do it wrong, I won’t go to hell, I’ll just be miserable. Because I’m free from fear of hell, and because I believe I only get one chance at life, I suddenly find myself enjoying life more.
I don’t feel like I’m wording this very well at all… as a Christian, I basically thought this life was something I had to “get through,” like a hazing ritual before you’re allowed to join some prestigious club. As an agnostic, I understand that this life is all I’ve got, and I’ve got to live it to the fullest.
Yes, it does make me frantic that I won’t be able to fit everything that I want to do, but that just makes me more determined to plan things better and to succeed where I haven’t before. Now that I’m an agnostic, I’m no longer killing time until Jesus comes, I’m truly living.
And so, as I turned 25 years old 2 days ago, I was not afraid. The mere absence of fear would have been good enough, but no, I was… joyful. Happy. I got to live another year. Despite everything I’ve put my body through, I get to live. And so what if all my friends forgot my birthday? Maybe it was time to find some new friends. So I texted a bunch of people and asked if they wanted to go out for my birthday.
And they did. I didn’t plan it well, so not all came, but still. I had people celebrating me, that I existed, that I lived. Maybe I don’t have to wait for someone to plan my birthday party. Maybe I just need to plan one myself. Throw my own party. Hey, I’m allowed to be grateful I survived to 25, right?
And I was even more surprised that The Adventists did something. Not a lot, and not for long, but the Campus people acknowledged I existed. That I was born, that I lived, that I was in their lives, and they were, for some reason, happy about that. Bamji orchestrated it. He made smoothies, which I thought were really good. Joanna, Lincoln, and Geoffrey were there. It really meant a lot to me to have that celebration.
I usually do a separate new year’s post, but what the heck. My birthday’s close enough to New Year’s anyway no one would even notice.
A lot has happened this year. Much has been gained, much has been lost. Here are the highlights of 2013, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
1. Gaining and losing a best friend
2. The Spring Texas Mission Trip. That trip to the doll store was the highlight of my week, and the visit to the zoo was the icing on an already perfect cake. I am so grateful to Miriam for taking me to the doll store, but not just for that. I am grateful that she chose me to work with her on the seminars. Not many people choose me when it comes to anything religious (this was before I came out as agnostic, so you can’t even say that that’s the reason.) So it meant a lot to me that she did.
3. The Zoloft Overdose. Shudder. That was like, the 3rd worst drug experience I’ve ever had. Actually, make that the second worst, since it was spread out over a week instead of the usual one bad night. It was not a suicide attempt, and that is all I am going to say on the subject.
4. Having my appendix taken out. As a kid I was fascinated with Madeline, but once I hit adulthood I pretty much assumed it would never happen to me. Or that if it did, I would know what to look for, because I had studied to me an EMT. Well, my doctor and I both missed it. I am thankful for the friend who encouraged me to go to the hospital in the first place. I only went because of her, and it’s possible that saved my life. I’m tahnkful that she stayed wtih me in the hospital and put up with my post surgical craziness (or, so she says, anyway, I swear that I was coherent.)
5. At the beginning of 2013 I had a job that I liked. Then I had to leave it because I left school. And, given my age and amount of student debt, I am scared that this time, I will not be able to return.
6. This is the first year I got brave enough to try anti depressants. God hasn’t struck me with lightening yet, so I’m pretty sure that either he approves, or he doesn’t exist.
7. This was the year I couldn’t keep the questions, doubts, and wonderings inside any longer. I no longer was satified with the half answers I was getting, and even when I wanted to be, I couldn’t. It’s a long story, so I won’t go into it now because this is already a long post. Basically, the cognitive dissonance got to me.
8. This is the first year I’ve truly acknowledged what I am. I am not a heterosexual, I am an aromantic asexual. And I’m ok with that. Now I must learn to be ok with the fact that almost no one else is. And this year, I took a step of courage and met other Asexuals in my area. I’ve made new friends, and they’re even like me. It has led to even more friends, all of them secular, which is what I also wanted. It’s also because of all this that I discovered,the hard way, that I can never come out to the SDA church. Ever. If I stayed with them (and let’s face it, I haven’t been Adventist in years, even though I’ve gone to their churches off and on) I’d have to pretend to be someone else, someone I’m not. And I’m not ok with that.
9. I didn’t meet this person this year, but I now have a name for our relationship: queer platonic partner. Google it.
10. I won’t mention how many new dolls I bought… in case Marina is reading this.
11. I got a job. The 3rd one I’ve had in 2 years. This is unprecedented, and I’m extremely happy. Let’s hope I continue to et enough hours… that’s one of my 2014 fears, I guess.
12. I’ve moved out of my parents’ house and am living in a place that I pay rent for, and it’s (mostly) all mine. That and the above are HUGE accomplishments for me, even at the age of 25. But you know what, I’m tired of stressing about the fact that I’m a good 5-10 years behind my peers in these things. If they care about it, SCREW THEM. So what if I’m behind them in all stages of life? Maybe I’m ok with that.
13. I’ve gotten in touch with and am attending an A2 writer’s group. I’ve gained friends and it motivates me to write.
14. I’ve lost my grandfather to Colo-rectal cancer. May he rest in peace, and thank whatever Diety is or isn’t out there that he’s no longer able to inflict Alma on us.
15. My step grandma Alma is no longer with us either. She moved to Georgia (*sings* the devil went down to Georgia….) Whatever I may think of her, she’s been a part of our family for 25 years, and it’s strange to have her and grandpa gone. This Christmas was weird.
16. I started drinking again. It’s a tossup as to whether or not this is a good thing.
If there’s more, it’s 1am and I’m zoned out on cough syrup.
2013 has been full of ups and downs. I fully expect 2014 to be an uphill fight, but the important thing is that I KEEP fighting.
Am I glad that I was ever born? I’m not quite ready to go that far. However, I think this really is a step in the right direction: I am 25, and for once, I am so thankful to be alive.
In fact, I think I’ll adopt that as this year’s motto.
I won’t have one next year, though, cuz I can’t think of anything that rhymes with “six.” Except
I ESPECIALLY hope that I don’t have to deal with those last 2 this year. And also not the ticks, because, um, eww. House centipedes are bad enough.**
*Please do not tell me I can prevent Alzheimer’s and or Dementia by constantly learning new things. My great grandma Glenna was a teacher, ok? Teachers are statistically less likely to develop these diseases for simply the fact that teachers are always learning. Well, it didn’t work for Great grandma, and that means it probably didn’t work for a lot of people, so please don’t tell me that prevention is that simple. Thank you in advance.
**Please don’t google that one. You really REALLY don’t want to know what I’m talking about.