The line for so long went…
“It’s my party and I’ll cry
if I want to…”
That was then. This is now…
Today is my birthday and for the first time in a very long time, it feels good to celebrate the day I was born. It didn’t for so long because I couldn’t see anything to celebrate.
My parents were somewhat embarrassed by my birth, just 10 months after my brother’s arrival and have been reminding me of that ever since. I was three weeks early and even just a couple of days ago Mum told me that she wished I had been born three weeks late instead. Their embarrassment has always been somewhat of a family joke, only I didn’t find it that funny. Embarrassment rather than celebration at your birth is not something you’re going to look back on with fondness. No wonder there is only one photo of me as a baby, and even in that I’m with my two older brothers. And to be honest, when you’re struggling to find the will to live, it seemed like a perfect reason to stop living.
My argument was if they couldn’t be excited by my birth, then why should I still be so-called celebrating? It just made no sense. The severe depression that I lived with for so long just added to it. I didn’t want to be alive, so again why should I be expected to look happy, blow out the candles… and celebrate?
I went along with it some years but others I refused. I dreaded them, and I hated them. I wasn’t going to be happy for me! There were a few birthdays that were spent in hospital. A birthday while in a psychiatric hospital doesn’t seem like much to celebrate, especially when most admissions were because I was so intent on destroying myself.
That said, one of the best birthdays in that period was in 1998 when I was living at a residential therapeutic community in Dunedin. Actually that day I felt pretty close to happy and the friends I had made there made it a very special day. There hadn’t been one like that for a while. Perhaps the worst one was to come in 2001 (you can work out the day), another memorable birthday in hospital. More about that tomorrow (in respect of American time zones).
But this year is different. This is now, and I very much plan on no tears (unless they are happy ones). Actually I’m sad that my Dad is not here to see me enjoy celebrating my birth. It would make him very happy, but I believe he knows where I’m at now and can be happy for me.
So what’s different? Simply that I am happy to be alive. It’s simple but radically different for me. I know that I am loved, and I’m even starting to like who I am. It’s definitely a journey I am still on, but I have turned the corner. And while my birth may not have been a celebration for my parents, I am learning to separate myself from their embarrassment. If they chose to be embarrassed by my birth that was their choice, but I don’t have to apologise for being alive all these years later (and no, I’m not saying how many!).
I’m going to party today and while as well as my Dad, one very special person won’t be here to help me celebrate, I am looking forward to spending some of the day with my favourite kids (J,T & L… and their lovely parents). This is a day worth celebrating. Not simply because it is my birthday, but because I’ve finally found reason to be happy about it.
And to finish I send my wishes to my birthday buddies Steve and Rance (who share the same day, just different years and Rance is in a different time zone). Happy Birthday to both of you. Have a great day!
“The year you were born marks only your entry into the world. Other years where you prove your worth, they are the ones worth celebrating. ”
― Jarod Kintz, This Book Title is Invisible