Birthday Banishment

I’ve avoided blogging this week as Friday was my birthday. And birthdays are not my thing as I wrote about in 2008, 2009 and last year.

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.

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4 thoughts on “Birthday Banishment

  1. I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this thinking. I was feeling the exact same way and as a test to myself, I took my birthday publicly off facebook a few years ago. Since then only a select few people have written on my wall on or around my birthday and it’s those who wrote that are my closest friends. All is not lost, I guess. However, I find it incredibly sad that people have to rely on facebook to say happy birthday and then in the most generic way possible…I mean I haven’t even heard from them in a year and all I get is “happy birthday,” seriously? please don’t even waste your time.

    Anyway, despite what you’ve said, I would like to wish you a year of celebration for anything and everything (but especially life) and not let it be for one specific thing, on any one specific day. I choose to celebrate all year long because I am important to ME and that’s what matters!

    I probably sound really creepy now…maybe this once the best post to delurk on…sorry.

  2. I totally hear you!!! I don’t like having a big deal made of my birthday. And I often feel like no one would come to my party. I don’t have any true friends. Just people I know from church or around.
    I agree about the thoughtful gifts. Those are so much more meaningful…then a gift card..unless it’s from Starbucks…LOL!!!

    I just want to say….Blessings to you!

  3. I could not agree with you more. I have no use for Birthday celebrations on my birthday, For others if they like to celebrate their birthdays that is fine and I will always support that. In my case I have family members that lay guilt trips because I do not want to celebrate my birthday it becomes such an uncomfortable time of the year for me for me as they feel I am taking something away from them. I would think that my birthday wishes are not about anybody else and my wishes should be respected. They want to honor me and I keep telling them you can do that any day of the year. Pick up the phone and say hello any day of the year or we can do something together any day of the year! I feel we should celebrate people in our lives every day and not just on special occasions as that at times seems more like an obligation rather than a sincere choice. So as I have been getting more uncomfortable with that day approaching and it is sad as it seems to be about everybody else, I am just not a person who likes special days as a 8 year cancer survivor everyday is a special day and a celebration for me

    I have decided and have taken the following action. I have taken my birthday off face book and informed my family and friends that I will no longer participate in celebrations on my birthday. They will have to accept this as this is who I am. At the end of the day if I am important to them they will accept me as I am and if not I guess I need to know that as well.

  4. It was my birthday two days ago and I feel a little better after reading your post. I couldn’t agree with you more about the description of birthday gifts and their different meanings. I also feel birthdays (whether you celebrate or not) reveal who your true friends are..depending who shows you that they remember your birthday and take time out of their day to acknowledge it. I’ve lost several friends throughout the years because I took notice of who really cared about me on this day of celebration because it was important to me. And whenever it was a close friend or family members birthday I also made a big deal out of it and made every effort to make them know that I remember and that I care to make them feel special. Anyway, thank you for the intimate post. I felt like I could relate and needed to vent also. Just so disappointed this year and questioning if I should Evan celebrate with friends next year. Sadly, my boss celebrated my birthday more than my friends and family did.

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