Last month, I visited Disneyland for the first time. This is something I’ve dreamed about since before I could tie my own shoelaces*. I remember wearing out my Beauty and the Beast** VHS to re-watch the Disneyland advertisement. Everyone had giant, beaming smiles while they walked around with their families. All of my favourite characters in one place. What could be better?
I grew up consuming a lot of Disney media. That’s not really unusual for people my age or younger. The main difference was that my family communicated in Disney quotes. My severely autistic brothers are obsessed with Disney. When I would come home from school, there would be a Disney movie playing.
And when I say my family communicated in Disney quotes, I mean it. It’s time for dinner? BE OUR GUEST, BE OUR GUEST!
You know how people ask you to describe yourself and you suddenly forgot your name and favourite colour? Who am I? That’s what I’m feeling at the moment. I’m sure if I took a break and came back to this, I’d suddenly remember all of our Disney based conversations. I’m sure I’ll wake up with a bolt next week and think “Dammit, why didn’t I remember this? That was a hilarious example!”
Let’s all pretend I wrote a witty anecdote here.
The quotes would help my brothers explain what they couldn’t put into words. When my brother yelled “GET OOOOOOOOOOOOUT” just like the Beast, it was because he wanted to be left alone. He wanted to have his own personal space. And although he said it in what could be seen as a rude way, those words were all he had to express his feelings. He wasn’t able to say it himself so he imitated movies.
Teachers would pull me out of class to ask me what movie my brothers were referencing. In retrospect, this is kind of fucked up that they would interrupt my education like that. Or you know, considering that they were primary school teachers why didn’t they go watch a Disney movie or two.
Sometimes I wonder if my ability to recall random movie quotes is because I’m slightly autistic. Or did I just have to learn these quotes quickly so I knew what my brothers were trying to say? Nature versus nurture, I guess.
Back to Disneyland.
As I stood in line for my fourth turn on the spinning tea cups, I started to feel bad. Very bad. It wasn’t dizziness. It wasn’t the sugar levels of everything I had stuffed in my face. I don’t know if it was the realisation of “I wanted to do this thing and now I’m doing it oh my God my life isn’t just a bunch of hoping and dreaming and what if I actually start to achieve real things like getting a house” but I started to feel like the world’s worst person. I thought that I was a massive bitch.
I didn’t deserve to be at Disneyland. My brothers love Disney so, so, so, SO much and they will never get the chance to go. Even if we saved up the money, the flights and travel and new situations would be too much for them. It’s just never going to happen.
Who did I think I was? I shouldn’t be there enjoying myself when they would never get to experience that.
And through all those dark thoughts, I actually managed to turn the light on. I’m so thankful that I learnt that I know how to get through those thoughts. That I shouldn’t talk to myself this way. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be at a point where I won’t even have those negative thoughts in the first place. Maybe one day. Maybe I’ll just learn to shake them off quickly and move on with my day.
I stopped and wondered why I was even thinking those thoughts. A benefit of those long waits for rides.***
My father is financially and physically able to care for my brothers. And yet he has not done either in years. Legally, he should be paying adult child maintenance. Instead, he skipped off to Thailand to marry a mail order bride.****
Does this stop him from sleeping at night? Does he ever stop and think that he’s a terrible person for trying to make his children homeless? Does he feel bad for leaving his only non-disabled child to care for his disabled children?
I don’t think so.
Do my cousins and aunt who knew he was running out of town when my mum was trying to file adult child maintenance papers feel bad for lying to my mum? Do they think they’re terrible people***** for sitting across from my mum and telling her bold faced lies when we knew that they knew what was going on?
Do my cousins, aunts and uncles ever stop to think that they should offer to care for my brothers for a few hours to give my mum a break?
I know that thought never crosses their mind.
So why should I feel bad? Why should I feel bad when I care for my brothers? Why should I feel bad for saving for a holiday for myself?
It’s a ridiculous thought to have.
Not when I was at the happiest place on Earth.
The happiest and conflicted for ten minutes when I should have been enjoying myself and not over-thinking place on Earth. Motherfucking Disneyland.
It’s impossible to be sad on a spinning teacup. You just have to let go and watch the world spin around you. As the world always does. It keeps spinning. Just as long as you keep your thoughts straight.
*I was a late shoelace tier. When you’re a left handed kid surrounded by right handed adults, sometimes these things take a while. But better late than never.
**I’m not going to criticise the new Beauty and the Beast movie because I know I’m going to give Disney my money anyway but I just wanted you guys to know that I’m not that keen on Belle’s yellow dress. ALSO WHY DOESN’T BELLE HAVE BROWN HAIR OH MY GOD.
***If you go to a massive theme park (sorry Perth peeps, Adventure World is shit and doesn’t count as an actual theme park) then going on the rides by yourself reduces the wait times.
****You have no idea how much my fingers are crossed that his new wife is a black widow. Not that I’d get anything out of his will but dying like that would be nothing more than he deserves.
*****They are truly terrible people. If you watch a bad person do something bad and not only do you not stop them but you help them- you’re rotten to the core.