Christmas

Dec. 28th, 2013 01:13 pm
morethanthese: (Default)
Every so often, my brain undergoes a "reset" about certain information. It tends to be following some sort of trauma or negative experience, and the information tends to be at least tangentially related to the bad thing that happened. "Reset" might perhaps be the wrong word, as I don't forget that things exist, but I do fail to understand them personally anymore. After graduating from my old school (probably the most traumatic thing I've ever had to endure), I underwent a reset about empathy. This was rather difficult and I've still had trouble getting my ability to empathize back. Sometime after my mother died, I inexplicably underwent a reset about hugging - that is, I forgot how to properly give people hugs. (The fact that I am touch aversive does not help matters.)

This year, I underwent a reset about Christmas. I remembered what Christmas was, its history and meaning (that is, an observation and celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ), and how people celebrate it in my country (that is, with Christmas trees and presents and hanging up stockings). But it was the customs I failed to understand on a personal level. I saw everything as though I were not a foreigner who didn't celebrate Christmas so much as an alien who didn't even understand holidays.

If you think about it, a lot of things we do at Christmas are a bit strange. We put socks near our fireplaces, we put trees in our house, we put decorations on the tree, we put lights on the tree, we put lights on our houses, we put lights on many things, we sing songs we don't sing any other time of year, we give people presents regardless of whether or not we like them and we expect the same of them. I have a penchant for realizing the strangeness in things everyone else takes for granted, and this year, this penchant extended to Christmas.

I watched The Nightmare Before Christmas this year (I couldn't remember the last time I'd seen it since then), and I related perfectly to Jack Skellington in Christmastown singing "What's This". I was delightfully puzzled by the things we do for Christmas and how we seem to do them in mass numbers, like some madness takes us all in December and we act upon it. It wasn't a bad thing. I actually really liked it, because like Jack Skellington, I was discovering something new and being perfectly enchanted by it. I like Christmas and I always have, and it was strangely enjoyable to do all these things that didn't make sense to me but that were fun nonetheless.

Around the time Christmas Day rolled around, I had fully internalized the Christmas traditions we collectively do, and I thought they were "normal" enough for me to have a normal Christmas with everyone else.

Well, I thought I was having a normal Christmas. My dad and sister and I opened presents on Christmas morning, like we've done in years past, and we went to our Aunt Suzanne's house to meet with other family members like we've done in years past. It all felt normal, and since I couldn't really remember what other Christmases felt like, I went along with it.

However, when we came home, my dad told us that, since this is our first Christmas without our mother, we don't really know what a "normal" Christmas is like, so we did our best under the circumstances, and we did pretty well.

I agree with him that we did well, but with that statement, I understood why I had undergone a reset about Christmas. I understood why I didn't personally understand Christmas traditions and why my memory had purged itself of the feelings of Christmases past and why I didn't recall what a normal Christmas was. It was the same reason people's memories often purge themselves of traumatic incidents. It was a self-defense mechanism.

It was because, if I had remembered, I would remember that my mother wasn't around for this Christmas, and given that she was always so involved with us during this holiday, I wouldn't have been able to deal with that.

I spent the rest of the night (not that there was a whole lot of it) feeling kind of traumatized and not actually covering myself with a blanket and rocking back and forth in the corner but definitely feeling like that on the inside. I stayed like this long after my family had gone to bed (I often stay up later than them, and I don't know why), and after a while, I realized I had to go to bed, too, despite the fact that my feelings hadn't gone away.

It was a shame. It really was. Because I had enjoyed my confusion over Christmas until then. It made the holiday season whimsical and interesting, and on Christmas Day itself, I had to go and realize it was for a very unhappy reason.
morethanthese: (Default)
I've been having these really bizarre moments of self-awareness lately. And it's not pleasant self-awareness. It's the sort of thing where you realize that you exist and everything you're doing and have done have happened to an actual person and that person is you and everything gets existential for a bit and you can't quite get over it for a while.

The first incident was on Tuesday. It was night, and I was at my grandparents' house like I usually am on Tuesday nights. My grandparents were asleep, and I went to the bathroom and noticed myself in the mirror. Maybe it's because they have a lot of mirrors in their bathrooms so I saw myself reflected more times there than I'd see myself reflected in most bathrooms, but I saw myself in the mirror and thought, "This is me. This is the body I pilot. I am looking at a human's body, and it is my own. It is the one associated with me. This is me. I see actually me in the mirror." And it was one of those moments and I had to leave the room and just sort of calm down for a bit.

The second incident was on Wednesday. I was in a bathroom again and I saw myself in a mirror again, and the same thing happened. Not quite as intensely, but it happened.

The third incident was on Thursday. I was trying to wake up my Arthur Shappey facet, because we were finally going to do a "cookie party" at my aunt and uncle's house that I had promised Arthur we'd do (he likes Christmas and I asked him if he wanted to do "Christmas stuff" with me, and this was the most appealing "Christmas thing"). He was sort of there but not entirely, and I wanted him to be there to enjoy it, but it just wasn't working. And then I realized how weird it is I have people in my head and how they're not really associated with my body, they're associated with my mind. And it was just so weird and I realized the surreality and weird layer of existence associated with them.

There was a bit more about Thursday than just that, though. It was also on Thursday that I realized, after two days of writing-related difficulty, that my characters didn't feel real to me and never quite had. There's a certain extent to which I'm willing to stretch my definition of "reality". I accept the world around me as real in the sense of physical reality. I accept the things in my head, like my facets, as reality in my head - you might call it head-reality. I accept religious things like God and angels as real in not just a physical sense (in that they are things that exist not just in my head) but also in a surpassingly-physical sense - like a super-reality, one might say. I accept stories and fiction as reality in their own contexts - not like I actually think things like A Wrinkle in Time or The Great Gatsby or Doctor Who happened with real people, but I accept them as having a sort of continuity that makes them "real" in their own contexts. There's different kinds of real.

Anyway, I'd been having trouble with my writing. I didn't feel motivated to write, and I didn't care about the story. I kept productive during those two days by writing some details about one character's backstory (or rather, things he did before the story's start) that would help me further the story's point if they actually appeared in the story, but I don't think I'm going to be able to conveniently work them into the story. I don't think that's what made me come to my realization, but I did realize that I hadn't been able to see my characters as real. I was invested in them and their relationships, but I didn't feel like they were real. I didn't believe in them. And as a writer, you have to believe in your characters and you have to think they're real on some level. It just wasn't working for me.

I told all my grandpa about this today while I was hanging out with him. He asked me how I was going to deal with it. I thought about it for a moment and said, "I'm going to stay away from mirrors." He laughed. I went on.

"I think I'm going to dissociate for a bit," I said. "I live in pretty much a constant state of dissociation - just doing things and not really thinking that it's me who's doing them. Just doing them. I think the reason other people don't think about these things like I do is because they're busy doing their own lives and not thinking about the fact that they're the ones doing them, that they're actually them, doing things in their bodies, in this reality. So I'm going to distance myself from the fact that I exist and just think about other stuff. Which is kind of the exact opposite of my problem. It's kind of ironic."

(My grandpa thought this was all quite interesting, and he said something to the effect that this is why he likes talking to me. We can get curiously philosophical together.)

That's been my experience with realizing that I'm real and that I exist and I pilot a body in the physical world and weird stuff like that. Interesting stuff to think about, as long as you don't have to think about it for too long.

My day

Dec. 20th, 2013 09:27 pm
morethanthese: (Default)
Today, I got a Christmas tree with my grandpa, did chores for my grandma, learned what to do when I want to have a nice, relaxing time at my grandparents and young cousins won't let me because they're loud (I barricade myself in the room I sleep in at their house, that room without internet), did some unexpected Christmas shopping, got some rad stuff for my cousins and figured out what I'm going to give Ashley and Rebecca, got a small Lego Bilbo Baggins on a keychain for myself, started playing Ib, and opened the contents of a Christmas cracker that one of my dad's employees gave him.

It's been a cool day.
morethanthese: (Default)
I just got back from a dinner with my family. My dad brought home tacos as well as some food his music students gave him. My Aunt Suzanne was there and my dad told us interesting and awesome stories about his childhood and his adventures as a professional musician.

Before that, I was at an event at my library where they showed The Nightmare Before Christmas for the teenagers (I go to many of the teen events despite being in my second year of college; no one needs to know how old I am). I'd seen the movie a few times before but it had been years since I last saw it and wow was I struck with how it works on a really deep symbolic, almost allegorical, level. I might write a review of it where I explain that. But watching it was a really enjoyable experience.

Tomorrow, I'm going to a "cookie party" with my sister at my aunt and uncle's house. My aunt's not going to be there, but my uncle is. My uncle's fantastic. He's a really funny guy and he appreciates everything my sister and I say. We're going to make Christmas cookies, and I've announced my intent to make "gingerbread Doctors" - that is, I'm going to decorate gingerbread men so they resemble various versions of the Doctor. Then we're going Christmas shopping together.

The day after, I might do some more Christmas things with my aunt Suzanne. If we do stuff, we're going to get a Christmas tree for her house and we're going to wrap some presents and quite likely do some other stuff. Also, my dad confirmed that we're getting a Christmas tree this year. I thought at first that we weren't getting a tree, but we're getting one! I don’t know when, but we're getting it! And we get to decorate it! (Sorry, this makes me really happy. It doesn't feel like Christmas until you’ve got the tree, and we're actually going to have one this year, when I thought we wouldn't!)

It's finally beginning to feel like Christmas, and stuff's going well with my family, and this is essentially all I need out of life right now.

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