Well, it’s my birthday, too. The fact that I can state that is pretty amazing. I have a strange and complicated relationship with my birthday, as I do with so many things. When I was a kid, I did the whole slumber party/ballerina cake thing (stop laughing, I did). I enjoyed the presents part, but I never quite got the whole hoopla over me being born.
As I became a very depressed teenager, I hated my birthday. I didn’t want anything to do with it. I don’t remember the reason for hating it other than I just did. When I was a teenager, I hated pretty much everything, so why not my birthday? In addition, I didn’t have many friends as a teenager, so my birthday seemed yet another way to underscore that fact as I struggled to think of something to do. My parents, of course, insisted I celebrate my birthday (a fantasy they hold dear until this very day. I expect a phone call from them later in the evening). It was, needless to say, a painful time in my life.
Somewhere along the line, in my late twenties, I started actively disliking my birthday. I refused to tell anyone when it was, and I certainly didn’t celebrate it. I began to see it as a marker of all the thing I hadn’t accomplish that year, which would immediately put a damper on any celebratory feelings I might have entertained (which, admittedly, weren’t many). I would sit and think of how wasted my life was and how time was slipping away. I would castigate myself for being such a failure, and that would send me further into depression. Needless to say, it was not the most conducive mindset to embrace in order to move forward.
In addition, I didn’t see the fuss because it was my mom who did all the work. Every year, she would call and make a big fuss about my birthday. My dad would ask if my brother had taken me out to dinner or how I celebrated it. My answer was always the same: I didn’t. It would upset my parents and hurt my mother. Then, I would feel guilty because I hurt my mom. Despite all her accomplishments (and there are plenty), being a mother is her highest (in her own words). Then I would start to think about how my mom must also be deeply unhappy because my life is pretty much a refutation on what she holds dear. She is a devout Christian who believes in the sanctity of marriage and kids. She believes in standing by her man (my father) for better or for worse. She made dresses for me when I was a little girl and made me wear them. In exchange for her love and care, what does she get? A bisexual, unmarried, agnostic, tattooed woman who is unabashedly pro-sex for pleasure and against having children (for myself). What a spit in the eye that must be for her.
Actually, I am still bothered by the latter idea. I have thought (for a second) about having kids because it would make my mom feel better. Fortunately, that insanity passes fairly quickly. There are many valid reasons to have kids–pleasing your mother is not one of them.
Ok. So those were the lost years. I hated my birthday as they just reminded me how much I sucked. I was with someone who didn’t care for his birthday, either, so the idea of not celebrating my birthday became somewhat normalized. Yeah, I still wasn’t telling people my birthday (and I lie about it online), but so what? Birthdays as an adult didn’t really matter, anyway.
It was still pathological, though, because it had to do with how much I felt like a failure. It was never the big number years–thirty didn’t matter much to me–and thirty-five was harder than thirty. Thirty-one and no real job. Thirty-two and no book published. Thirty-three and no blog started. Thirty-four and no sex. It didn’t matter what I had done in my life until that point because it was never enough.
Then, at thirty-six, things shifted slightly. I still didn’t celebrate my birthday, but I wasn’t dreading it, either. I didn’t voluntarily tell people when it was, but I didn’t lie about it, either, or refuse to say when asked. I still disliked the actual day, but it was pretty mild in comparison to the years before. I still had the blues and got grumpy (grumpier) the day before, but it was manageable.
This year, today, I am thirty-eight. Yes, I was grumpy yesterday, but I expected that. Today, I am sulking slightly, but other than that, I don’t particularly care. I still grapple with all I haven’t accomplished, but I feel like I may actually finish one or two on my list before I die. Ideally, it would be meeting Alan Rickman, but I think that is pure fantasy. I have become, birthday-neutral. Well, as neutral as I get. I am not pro-birthday, and I may never be. Still, I am not spending my birthday apologizing for being born and for not having accomplished anything. I’d say that’s a step in the right direction.
The video for you today is not The Beatles’ Birthday song as quoted by my title and lede sentence. By the way, why can’t that be lead? Why a whole new word for it? Anyway, it’s the much cooler Happy Birthday by Concrete Blond. Enjoy.
P.S. Notice the two black cats in the beginning. This song was made for me!