Friday, April 6, 2012

The Birthday Blues

Have you ever known someone to dislike their birthday? If you asked me that question I'd say sure, someone who doesn't like getting older. But lately--for the past, oh, five years or so--I've been horribly uncomfortable on my birthday and it has nothing to do with the number of candles on the cake.

I hesitate to even tell you how I feel for fear that I will offend you with my "poor me" attitude. Believe me, I spent all day telling myself to get over it. But perhaps if you've felt this way you will know you're not alone--so here goes.

Birthdays are overwhelming. Expectations and reality are sometimes different. From the moment I wake up people are singing to me, serving me, making plans for me, checking to see if I'm happy. Are you? Do you like it? Do you want to do this? Eat this? Wear this? Watch this? How are you? How about now? The more my husband and kids spoil me me the more anxious I feel. My heart races and my stomach churns. I want to cry. I want the attention off of me. I begin to hear those ugly voices I only hear a few times a year mock me: Who are you to deserve any special attention? What have you done with your life?

My birthday is the one day that exposes who I really am--not what I do or think, but who I AM. A whole day celebrates that fact that I exist, that I was born, that I am here another year. Peel off the layers, peek inside my soul, see if that's worth celebrating or not. Like an open house for my life--Everybody, come in! Poke around, notice the bare spots and worn spots, the shabby parts that need work. Traipse on through. Open every closet. What do you think? Do you love me anyway? I feel embarrassed to have been seen naked, exposed, vulnerable. I didn't really invite you in, did I? I should have cleaned up. I wasn't ready.

I prayed all day yesterday to rid myself of those thoughts.

But I found myself snapping, criticizing, finding fault yesterday. It was as if I was making myself unlikeable to justify my feelings. A self-fulfilling prophesy, as it were.

And I cried. Oh my gravy, did I cry. Buckets and rivers all over the house. Just when I thought I could take a deep breath and handle people, someone would say something (nice) and I'd have to leave the room. I couldn't even sit there for my birthday candle lighting. It was just too much.

And how does it look to my family when I boo-hoo every few minutes, when they've spent all day making sure I was happy? Ungrateful and selfish, I'm sure.

Wow, really? After all they've done for you? You're hurting their feelings. You don't deserve them.

And I know I don't. They are so good to me.

They cleaned the whole house, made me dinner. We had my favorite, Chinese chicken cabbage salad. Bryce got a babysitter and we, plus the two older kids, went to an amazing performance of The Color Purple. It was all I could do to get dressed and go but I'm glad I did.

I was glad to finally get to bed and put that anxiety away.

This morning I woke up, grateful for the attention to be off me. Business as usual. Back to normal. Relief. I can appreciate you for you, and let you appreciate me for me because I truly am thankful to have your love, support, and friendship. I am glad to be alive another day.


C.A.L.L.L.L. said...

Can't think of anyone I know who is more amazing than you. Not for what you have or haven't done in your life, but exactly because of who you are on the inside-insecurities and all. And I know there's no scorecard for who does what in a family, but since you are the mother you automatically get extra points. Hope this doesn't make you uncomfortable, but I think you deserve some special attention, especially on your birthday.:)

Rebecca and Co. said...

Carmen, you are the best. I am not uncomfortable with your praise because it's not my birthday anymore. ;)

The Hardy's said...

Well happy belated my dear!