Sunday, October 8, 2006

Why I Hate My Birthday – Well, I Think I Am Over That Now

There are very few people in this world who I truly consider to be my friend, and whose friend I consider myself to be. I know a lot of nice people. A lot of people think well of me. But there are those few people who really know me, and love me. These are the people who stayed up all night with me when my parents died. They are who came to the funeral home with me to make arrangements. They are who have been there for me when my family wasn’t all my life. Besides all the irrational, yet understandable, family related issues I have surrounding my birthday, I have managed to do a few other things to compound the torment.

One of those things is to have what are unrealistic expectations about what it means to have people remember your birthday. Intellectually I know it does not mean they love you if they do, or they don’t love you if they don’t. Sometimes, they are sucking up if they do, and are just too damn busy to find a card, and put a stamp on it, and get it to a mailbox because they have jobs, and kids, and spouses and issues with their family of origin of their own. To me a birthday is kind of like Valentine’s Day in that if it is the only time you show up, you might as well not bother. Friendship, being part of a family, or nurturing a relationship happens between holidays, not on them.

All my friends know I hate my birthday, and because I am generally a very happy, very supportive, kind and gregarious person, it is hard for them to see me upset. It is hard for anyone to see someone they love unhappy, it makes you feel powerless. Consequently, everybody kind of lays low, knowing, I will come up for air eventually and be my old self. I will talk about it if I need to, I will stew if I need to, and I will call them up and tell them I am pissed if I need to.

Like a lot of people my birthday is a benchmark to me, a time to reflect, and review. In the past, it was a benchmark of all I had not accomplished, all I had not done, all I had not achieved. I was very glass is half-empty about it. I reflected on failed romances, failures as a child, sibling and friend. My failure to have achieved some sort of stability in my finances and career. Failure in my educational aspirations. FAILURE. After my Mom and Dad died, I had a lot to do. It is so hard to deal with the death of a parent, not to mention losing both of your parents within days of one another. No matter how grown up you are, how independent you are, and how you know to the core of your being you did everything they asked and everything you possibly could, it still is one hell of a shock to the system.

Major life events bring out the best in good people and the worst in not so good people. I’m a good people. A lot of things in the wake of my parents’ deaths were hard for me. My family fell apart, and I was the only one who cared. Probating two wills is expensive, and time consuming, and heart wrenching. My parents were of very modest means, but it was still complicated. They made a lot of legal decisions that were not popular with most of the family. Have you heard the expression kill the messenger? No, death would have been a relief; it was more like torment the messenger. For my thirty-sixth birthday, I did not care. I was in no mood; I just wanted to curl up in my pajamas for a couple weeks. I was so beside myself.

For my thirty-seventh birthday, I did not want to do anything special. I spent the day doing dorky stuff I like to do, such as; not work, sleep late, drink tea, hang out with my cat, talk with friends, work on my house, read, and sipping a Dunkin' Donuts medium mocha coolatta with skim milk and no whipped cream at the beach at sunset. I used it as a time to reflect. I thought about how wise I was to finally have gone to a shrink for the first time in my life to talk about everything that pissed me off, and what a priceless gift that was to give to myself. I thought about the college degree I had finally earned. The career I finally have. I thought about the house I now own, that is the house I grew up in, and how each and every cobweb I literally clean corresponds to a cobweb in my heart that I lovingly and necessarily clean. I thought about men I have loved, and how smart I am to not have married them in spite of loving them so much, and that I have pretty damn good taste in men all the same. I thought about all I have accomplished in my life, and how far I have come. I thought about how next year I ought to go to Aruba and become a cradle robber of cabana boys with a poor grasp of the English language. I thought about how lucky I am that I was able to talk to my parents about our family, and forge a good and healthy relationship with them. I thought about how lucky I am that the last thing I ever did to each of my parents the last time I saw each of them alive was to hug them and say, "I love you."

My glass is full.

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