There are a number of reasons I don’t celebrate “birthday month” or even acknowledge my birthday at all (it’s the 16th of August – hey there, Madonna, my better birthday sibling). It goes back years, to when I was a tween and my mother, who decided to do nothing special for my birthday that year told me that the only person your birthday will ever matter to is you.
Birthdays themselves have always been pretty miserable affairs for me. My earliest memories of them involve my mother screaming at me that she wished she’d never had children, that my being born had ruined her life. It was pre-Roe, so I guess I’m lucky to even have a birthday, let alone a birthday month. Elvis died on my birthday. My mom found out she was pregnant with my sister on my birthday; it was unplanned and she spent 3 days sobbing in bed, and I didn’t get a present or a cake and was told to shut up if I mentioned it. I was Murph’s age that year. I mean, I guess it should be some comfort that she never wanted her to be born, either. But it wasn’t. Later, she ceased acknowledging it all unless there was something truly hateful she could do and then let me know on my birthday. If there was a way to make anything hurt, she did it then:
- cancelling my car insurance without warning,;
- cutting me off the family’s AAA without warning;
- disconnecting the cell phone (again a family plan for which I was helping to pay) on that date with no warning;
- sending me letters filled with all the things she hated about me or that I’d done to offend her that year so they’d arrive on that date;
- delivering awful news, usually in an email or a letter, on that date;
- offering me and Murph her house at the beach for a couple of days on my birthday, then reneging with no notice or apology and devastating him;
- suing me for grandparent’s visitation when I wouldn’t let her very alcoholic, drunk driving friend be around the then 5yo Murph;
- and then, last year. Murph asked, begged and pleaded with her to send my Vitamix down to Key West because we were really missing our kitchen stuff, and I was sad, and she sent the pitcher without the base. Not even kidding. She sent the damned top part and not the bottom and we sat in the living room and though about how much she must hate us because sending nothing would have been better.
She has since completely refused to return another thing she agreed to keep for us when we moved — even HIS things, even when I’ve offered to have them picked up, even when I’ve offered to pay for shipping them, even, even, even. And she took all of the things that were meaningful to us from our professional Kitchenaid Mixer to our Cuisinart (the kiddo is actually competing in a national baking championship and needs to use these things, and she won’t give us back the thousands of dollars of equipment he needs to compete) to all of my pre-digital photographs. My child literally has not got one photo of me as a child or young person or teen because of her. She’s got the few baby things of my only child that I cherished. And my sister? Oh, the same. She’s got important, meaningful things, too. And they will not return them, if the even have them and haven’t thrown them in the trash. Because yes, that is who they are. I’m going to have to sue them for the money that it will cost to replace them (to which I am entitled by law), and I have a lawyer in place to do it, but it’s hard to sue your family. I mean, for me. Not for my mom. It’s easy for her. Especially on my birthday, or during my birthday week, or during my birthday month.
Wonder why I’ve had a migraine since July 31? Pondering why I get so depressed in the middle of the summer? Growing up with this is not without impact, and while I’ve resolved a lot of it and let it go, birthday month is still really, really bad for me, every year, no matter what it looks like on social media. It’s gotten to where I dread everything about my birthday, my birthday week, and now my birthday month, and then I expect awful things, and am relieved if it’s simply forgotten. It’s a stark reminder that the most important person in my young life wished and still wishes, I had never been born.
Truly, it’s a fraught and stressful time. Were I alone, I’d ignore it completely and hide because of the dreadful feelings it brings to the surface and all the panic that characterizes August because of August’s past. But there’s this amazing kid I have now, and he wants to make a fuss. Because he’s really glad I was born, and he enjoys a party, and he makes a mean cake, and he loves me. And I tell him that his birthday is my most favorite day because it’s when I met him. And it’s true. So he likes birthdays of all kind for all people and critters and video games.
This year, I told him that I wanted a rose quartz bracelet with a St. Therese of Lisieux medal (the little flower of Jesus) from PowerBeads by Jen and that was all. We’re not particularly religious, and even less traditionally “Catholic,” but we do love her. We keep her statue with roses wherever we live, and Daniel even found a Pop Vinyl one for travel. She does miracles. And magic.
Murph has gotten me PowerBeads bracelets before for birthdays. They’re truly stunning. I have turquoise one with Ganesha, and a green jade one with a Nepalese medal inscribed with an ancient blessing for health and long life. I wear them a lot. People always ask about them. He wasn’t happy that I was picking this year because he had something else in mind, and he likes to shop for me. But he agreed in a grumpy kind of way.
I reached out to Jen a couple weeks ago to ask if it was possible to do one (her business is growing fast, and I didn’t want to have to stalk all the local shops, and I didn’t know if she was still able to do custom things), and this week, THIS arrived as a gift from her, with her blessing. I’m not a huge believer in crystals or oils or religion, but I can tell you that when I put it on, I could feel the energy in it. I won’t even let the kiddo touch it. It’s exactly what I wanted, and it was so unexpected.
Thank you, Jen. It’s perfect and powerful and beautiful, and I may never take it off. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.