Growing up, one thing my parents did EXCEPTIONALLY well at… was birthdays. My dad loves giving people gifts, and my mother loves giving people attention. That combination led to some of the best birthdays and birthday parties the world has ever known.
For my fifth birthday, we did a pizza fest at Rocky Rococco’s – and it was awesome. For my seventh birthday, we went to Chucky Cheese – and it was amazing. For my tenth birthday, we went to the YMCA. For at least four of my birthdays, my parents threw me a surprise birthday party. My childhood friend Mandy (she is still my friend today) likes to joke that my parents threw me a surprise birthday party just about every single year.
Then, something terrible happened. I started dating my ex-husband around age twenty, and he did not believe in birthdays. If I listed the top five worst days of my life, they would easily be: 3) my 23rd birthday, 2) my 22nd birthday and 1) my 21st birthday. By the time I got to my 24thbirthday, I gave up on celebrating my birthday altogether. I stopped wishing for cakes. I stopped hoping for presents. I stopped wishing for breakfast in bed, flowers, attention, or anything else.
Not long after my 25th birthday – I got divorced. You would think that I ran around and painted the town red after years of crappy birthdays. Instead, I told no one it was my birthday and spent the entire day alone. I did the same thing for my 26th birthday.
Several months after my 26th birthday, I started dating my husband Del. For my 27th birthday, Del asked what I wanted, and I told him I did not want anything. He refused to do what I wanted. Instead, even though he had very little money, he got me ice cream cupcakes and wine. He then proceeded to shower me with love and attention.
He asked me what I wanted for my 28th birthday, and I told him I wanted nothing. Then a few minutes later I told him one or two things I wanted. He asked if I told anyone it was my birthday, and I told him “No” and that “I don’t want anyone to know.”
The altogether sad reality is that years of abuse takes longer to break then you think it will. When I married Del, I thought the cycle was broken and a shower of new love and light would rain down upon me. Instead, I am finding that the cycle is gradually cracking.
Today, I told two co-workers that I love dearly that it was by birthday tomorrow. Tomorrow I will be 28. I wasn’t going to tell anyone. However, someone at work brought in the exact same ice cream cupcakes Del got me for birthday last year. If that wasn’t a sign from God to share what is supposed to be a day of joy, I don’t know what it.
I write this blog as my (passive aggressive?) way of telling people that it is my birthday. I probably can’t tell you in person, because I will most likely start crying. I don’t want gifts, because I haven’t really coped enough with the past to accept gifts very well.
Tomorrow is my birthday. I am not old, but it is the first birthday that I feel older. College sports players are all younger than me. Super Bowl winners are younger than me. I have seen some birthdays come and go. As much as I can be, I am ready for this birthday.
Bring it on God. Bring it on world. Bring it on family and friends. I don’t know what I want, other than to say, “Hey, it is my birthday tomorrow.”