I had a lowly start. Not George Washington lowly... that dude had it rough with wood teeth and all that (isn't that a myth?), but my upbringing was rough. We were food insecure, frequently hungry, and usually homeless. Food or electricity was a decision my mom frequently would have to make. Those were frightening and uncertain times where my self esteem struggle and I felt a constant pang of insecurity. When families struggle with poverty, like we struggled, it is easy to feel isolated. We frequently felt isolated. Birthdays and holidays were days of stress about what we didn't have... how my mom was trying so hard to give us something our childhood hearts could remember with joy, but to no avail. Life was hard and my mom did the best she could.
Flash forward to now and I still have remnants of wounds from that upbringing. People talk about their childhood, their first days of school, holidays, and birthdays with such nostalgia. Meanwhile, while they recall such fond memories, I sit quietly remembering birthdays of mine completely forgotten because of the stress of trying to find a place to live. To a child a birthday is a very very important day. When I got married it turned out the man I married wasn't so much in to remembering the importance of a birthday either, which added a layer of, "WHY DOESN'T ANYONE LOVE ME OHMYGAWWWD!"
So after several years of my mom not honoring my birthday, and several years of my husband forgetting that I even had a birthday, I make the decision to celebrate myself. This was a decision that had to be made. I had the choice to celebrate myself or continue being brokenhearted every time I one of my loved ones came up short on the birthday planning.
Instead of waiting around for my friends and family to make the most wonderful birthday experience for me, I decided that every year I would do that for myself. I am not a child, after all, and I can parent that broken inner child, now, better than anyone. I took myself to dinner, got a pedicure, a massage, spent time with people I love, had brunch with new people who are bound to be AWESOME friends (Talking to YOU Tim and Chris), and I shopppped all day. I even stayed in a hotel by myself. I sprawled out in the whole bed and turned the air conditioner down to 65 degrees! Luxury, y'all!
Imagine my surprise when I woke up on September 4th to over 150 Facebook birthday well wishes and snarky comments. MY Grinch birthday heart grew three times yesterday. It felt like I finally took the time to care the most about how I feel about me, and then all these lovely comments come rollin' in. Lots of people joke about the inevitable, "all the people you never talk to wishing you happy birthday on Facebook" but I LOVED it. It was a like a huge internet hug.
I think the lesson in all of this is is this: Whatever difficult memory or experience you've had, you have the power to rewrite those moments. You can create new moments that are marked with triumph and joy. Though those difficult memories and experiences will always be a part of your baggage they don't have to be chains. Free yourself by determining that you will live the way YOU want to RIGHT NOW. Birthdays have a new meaning to me, and I feel a sense of pride that I didn't wait around for someone else to rescue me. I rescued myself. Happy Birthday to me!
I think the second lesson in all of this:
THE INTERNET IS FUCKING AWESOME!
September 4th, 1985... I was a chubby lad. Some things never change!