Well this one is over. For good.
I don’t even know how to begin describing how I came to this conclusion because it’s all so convoluted but basically, I hate “celebrating” my birthday and choose not to do so anymore. The entire premise of a birthday, from what I understand, is to celebrate the people in your life who you love or like or at least tolerate and do nice things for them.
And every time someone asks why I don’t enjoy my birthday I can’t give the real reason.
During the Mindset Retreat I attended in Miami, Fabienne said something really profound: a belief is something we’ve been told by someone in authority over and over again. The most deeply ingrained beliefs are those that are communicated without words but with actions over time.
My birthday “story” is that I am not worth celebrating.
And as many times as some well meaning person says otherwise, the actions of the people closest in my life for the past 27 years says differently. As a kid growing up it was the family birthday gathering so we could celebrate all 7 October birthdays at once. It was never having a birthday party for just Kelly and then believing for years that no one would attend if we held one. (This was inadvertently reinforced when my parents insisted on throwing a graduation party, inviting my entire class and having 10 people show up. We ate hamburgers bought for the party all summer long.)
As a high schooler my closest friends would repeatedly forget until the day of or ignore it completely. In college, a yearly tournament provided a nice distraction from having nothing to do on my “special day.”
Five years ago I gave up my entire support system to move here and take care of my grandparents, something I’ve written about here before. And since my family support in town crumbled like a sand castle in the waves, I’ve been both isolated and alone here with very few people I would call friends. Especially since I like very few people to begin with, I know that I mostly have acquaintances, familiar people and colleagues in my life.
Nowadays, with the advent of social media, we can do the least amount possible when technology notifies us someone is now a year older. Don’t misunderstand, the dozens of Facebook messages and texts yesterday were nice but ultimately fell flat against the reality that I don’t have one person in my life who put forth effort to show me that they cared. I remember when I was new at my last desk job and they signed my first birthday card – half the office people signed to me, the other half to my boss. Then put the card on my desk to sign.
This is sounding an awful lot like a pity party and that’s not my intent. Especially after spending an hour drive home tonight thinking this out and crying while trying not to crash my car and die.
The important part is my decision. I’m tired. Tired of hoping and expecting and thinking things will be different. I accept that this is my life. I haven’t been the greatest friend myself and especially over the last 5 years I’ve found it’s hard to walk that one way street. It’s exhausting.
So I’m tired. I’m giving in to the desire I have every October which is to say, once and for all, I don’t celebrate my birthday. Please don’t mention it, I’ll take it off Facebook and do not send a card or feel obliged to give gifts or salutations.
Often I try to be out of town on my birthday, in Tahoe or Vegas or anywhere but here. Because if I’m alone in a city of strangers then no one knows what I’m not celebrating. I don’t have to sign for the packages that didn’t come or open the cards that weren’t mailed. I don’t have to attend the party that didn’t happen or sit alone at home thinking that all these years lowering my expectations to the lowest possible setting and having them unmet again is depressing.
Please understand this is not about presents or physical things. It’s honestly just the thought, the card that says something genuine or the gift that was cheap or even free but from someone who says “I know you and what you like and I thought you would appreciate this.”
There are two stories with gifts, I’m recognizing. The first is that genuine gift, the one that says I put time and thought into you, your life, your needs and found something to make you smile or laugh. It’s when I was stressed beyond belief caring for my grandparents and my aunt got me perfume branded Relax. Then there’s the second gift, which is often given out of duty. It’s the one that says this is the first thing I saw or was on sale or I could throw together because I didn’t even think about it until a few days ago so here, take it. Now I can check that off a list.
I don’t want those “gifts” anymore.
So I’m banishing my birthday. No obligations, no expectations, no desire to be given a special day that isn’t. Let’s just take it off the calendar entirely so I can move on without this yearly reminder of a story that I work really hard 364 days a year to overcome. That story, that I am unworthy, isn’t true. But today, on my birthday, I believe it is.