For 20 years now, I have convinced myself that it’s best not to celebrate my birthday. People do this for varying reasons from not wanting to get older and sticking their heads in the sand to hating the attention. I decided a long time ago that if I stuffed my birthday in a suitcase and tucked it away in the deep dark recesses of my heart then maybe, just maybe, nothing bad would happen. You see, every year on and around my birthday there was always an “incident.” An “event” that left me traumatized and terrified and in later years, my precious kids were exposed to this vicious cycle too. And so, I decided that if my birthday wasn’t celebrated then there wouldn’t be/shouldn’t be any reason for anything scary to transpire. Of course that wasn’t ever the case. Abuse doesn’t negotiate. Abuse loves when you are compliant, snuffing out your own light. In doing so, you’ve done the dirty work for abuse.
So here I am ….. I turned 40 yesterday and I felt off all day. I don’t think it was the big 4-0, which in our culture is quite the milestone. As my husband stated, “It’s just a number.” I agree. However, I went through the day feeling, meh. I really couldn’t put my finger on it until this morning. As I was preparing for the listening exercise I participate in for my EGCM certification, it hit me and tears welled up; I felt forgotten. I wasn’t forgotten. I knew I wasn’t. However in my heart, I felt sad and forgotten. By denying my birthday was I denying myself? By staying tight lipped about it and not mentioning my birthday, was I causing my own heart, my very soul, to feel rejected and unloved? Definitely worth pondering to say the least.
My birthday wasn’t made public on social media until recently. When I re-signed up for a Facebook account (I don’t like Facebook and had deleted my account after my abuser had hacked into it for the umpteenth time. Facebook is this necessary evil like Walmart), I decided it was okay to list my birthday for others to see. I had plenty of well wishes yesterday from others via Facebook and each and every one made me smile. Social media reminded people that love me but are bad with dates that it was my birthday and plenty of others who otherwise wouldn’t have known at all. Most of my family sent text messages of love and my baby brother called me from Italy. However, my kids have no idea it was my birthday yesterday. They’ve been raised by a mother who makes a big deal out of their birthdays but essentially has never had one of her own as long as they’ve been alive. There was no cake or hullabaloo over it. No one gathered together for a yummy meal to celebrate. It was an ordinary day like all the rest that have passed. And I did it to myself. It’s not anyone else’s fault I felt forgotten. I intentionally and quite deliberately have made myself small and no one is responsible for that except me. And I take full responsibility.
I have decided that it’s time to fish the suitcase out from the dark corner it’s been stowed away in, dust it off and begin to unpack it. It’s time to heal that hurt and trauma and celebrate me because well ….. let’s face it ….. I’m kind of a big deal 😉 Really, aren’t we all kind of a big deal! Our very conception, birth and life is a miracle that should be celebrated every day but especially on our birthday, not stowed away in a dark corner. I was given a 50% chance of survival when I made my entrance into the world. Day in, day out my parents sat in the NICU next to an incubator praying I would live. Is that not reason to celebrate!?! We all have our reasons for feeling blah and sometimes life is pretty convincing when it argues that there’s no reason to celebrate anything however that simply isn’t true! The very miracle of the sun rising in the east painting the most magnificent of water colors is reason to rejoice and celebrate!
Marianne Williamson wrote to Nelson Mandela something that I’ve heard read many times, I quote:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I don’t know what birthdays moving forward will look like however they will be celebrated, even if that means I organize the get together and buy the cake 🙂 I owe it to my heart and soul to rejoice and be glad everyday but especially on the day I breathed my first breath and was given the miracle of life!