Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Why I Hate My Birthday – The Early Years

My birthday comes around once a year, God willing, just like everyone else. I have a lot of feelings about it. Most of them are neurotic, I think. Some of it stems from my childhood, but I also know some of it has to do with things I have done and/or tolerated since I have become an alleged adult. Being a Virgo, I’m going to be free and clear of any raging birthday related anxiety for several months now. Somehow I would like to figure out a way to reframe it for myself so that it is not such a suck deal for me anymore. I actually have made some progress, which you will see, I think. Of course as an adult, I know lots of people had similar experiences, and have similar anxieties, but this is my blog, so it is all about me.

There are a lot of issues from childhood that make birthdays a psychic wince for me. My family growing up was a cross between the Manson family and the Addams family. It was very scary, very strange, and very inappropriate at times. It was really kooky, and quirky, and hellaciously fun at times. If you had a "bad childhood" you get that it does not suck all the time. If you didn't, well, now ya know. Some of the things you learn from having crazy parents, or crazy relatives, or craziness in general are not so bad, and actually carry over into some pretty formidable life skills as an adult. I can spot bullshit a mile away. Most of it amuses me. I really appreciate and recognize good situations and good people. I am very flexible, organized, and have a strong work ethic.

I have four siblings. Four of our birthdays, including mine, are within a month of one another. Of those four I am the youngest, quite significantly younger. The older kids have a different biological mother than me since my Dad had a total freak show ex-wife. Everything got lumped together. When you are very little and all kinds of people show up for your birthday, the one that is lumped together with everybody else’s, and don’t even say hi, or happy birthday, it is very hurtful and damaging, and devastating. Why did my parents allow all these crazy people over my house on my birthday? Why did I just get all lost in the shuffle like that? What the hell possesses anyone to be such an asshole to a little kid? Oh, and another thing, we are mostly Irish, a little Dutch and really Catholic about it all. This is a good time to point out another good thing about my bad childhood; I am a wickedly cool guest at kids’ birthday parties. I am not an asshole to kids, ever.

Even though there were all kinds of screwed up catastrophes going on at home, we never talked about it. Yes, that changed, our family changed, things changed eventually, but not for a long time.

It was violent sometimes, lots of times. It was unbelievably terrifyingly violent.

Like most crazy, screwed up, hair trigger tempered, overzealous party animal, lace curtain Irish, guilt ridden Catholic families special occasions in our house were ripe opportunities for all the shit to hit the fan. Birthdays, being special occasions, were just one of the many opportunities for family wide dysfunction to spin out of control. I stopped having birthday parties, like any friends at all, when I was in third grade. When I got into junior high I would go skating or something with a couple friends. As a teenager, my family was way too embarrassing to even admit I had one. Mostly I just hated my birthday.

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