Yesterday was my birthday. This marks the tenth birthday post I have made since I began blogging. They're not all here in this blog, but many are.
My birthday is interesting. I received a card and a gift from my mother-in-law. She has never once forgotten my birthday since I have known her. I love her for this.
As expected, a couple of my five sisters remembered to send me a birthday text. Another two remembered to send Facebook greetings.
Naturally, my mother remembered this morning and called to send belated greetings and apologize for forgetting. Again. I didn't answer the phone. It's my phone, after all. I get to choose who I talk to on it.
My father won't remember. If he does, he'll think it's funny that he forgot, oblivious to the fact that I have repeatedly told him I am hurt by his reticence. A child should be remembered. I have stopped telling him. My energy is better spent elsewhere.
My brothers won't remember. They were taught long ago that, while their birthdays mean going to dinner with Mom and Dad and a small gift to celebrate their entrance into the world, mine is to be forgotten. It is not important.
I have never posted my birthday on Facebook. Those who remember to send Facebook wishes are people who notice that someone else remembered or friends who know that my birthday is not always a happy day for me. They remember or are reminded by someone else who remembers. My church lists my birthday in the newsletter shared between the women in my ward. A couple of sisters from church posted birthday greetings, as did my stepfather-in-law and my sister-in-law.
One day I will no longer keep track of these things.
Today I cried a tiny bit. Not because I'm sad my father forgot. Not because I wish I was more important to my own family. Not because I didn't do anything fun for my birthday. Because I did.
Two sweet friends were, through happy coincidence, staying with us in the two days preceding my birthday. We spent time together, played games, and shared meals. I celebrated with them, with Darrin, and with my children.
I suppose I cried because it's time. I understand that nothing will change and it's time to let go. There would be less sting, I think, if birthdays in my family were just not a big deal. That was not the case. They were. All but mine. I no longer wonder why. Why doesn't really matter anymore. I no longer try to let family members know that being forgotten hurts. I've grown beyond the painful part. I believe, at this point in my life, I would be uncomfortable and stressed if they remembered at all. My mother left a, no doubt, frenzied and self-deprecating message in the voicemail I have yet to listen to. I'm tired of the reasons why I'm forgotten. I don't really care anymore.
I actually don't believe I'm all that forgettable. I'm remarkable in many ways. Perfect strangers smile at me in stores and some even take time to chat with me. A small part of me believes that I am forgotten by my family simply because they choose to do so. It's convenient. And because I no longer make a fuss about it, they believe I have no problem with being excluded.
I no longer say that my birthday is just another day. It's not. It's my day. And this year, for my birthday, I am giving a very large gift to myself. I am letting go.
I will celebrate my birth with or without those who spawned me, but I will take my gift further.
I will no longer cling to parts of my relationships with others that produce expectations other people do not wish to fulfill - or even if they wish to, are unlikely to have any kind of follow-through.
I will no longer assume that affection is anything but that. One can have affection for another person without being tied to them. I have been guilty of assuming people in my life feel more deeply for me than they do. That is unfair to them. I need to stop.
I will allow my relationships with others to relax into whatever they will be, naturally. Therapist once told me that the only relationship that really mattered, in the end, was my relationship with Darrin. Through the years, Therapist and I discussed how other relationships fit in that construct. Always I insisted that there were other relationships equally important, and their existence was vital to health and happiness. Finally, after more than a decade, I am understanding what Therapist meant when he made that statement. And I am willing to let my insistence that he was wrong relax and morph into whatever it will.
Darrin says I have poured a great deal of energy into trying to create healthy, thriving relationships with many people. He also says that, given the brutal reality of the last decade of my life, I'm understandably tired. I'm noticing that whenever I have a paradigm shift in my beliefs, someone tells me I'm tired. Little credence is given to the possibility that I might actually have thought about this for a long time and made some logical decisions based on life experiences.
Also, speaking of Therapist, last weekend I was able to finish an assignment he gave me a few years ago. He asked me to think about why I no longer have flashbacks, and if I'm ever able to articulate the reason, to share it with any pertinent people and with him. Last month I finally figured it out. On Saturday I shared with the pertinent person. Therapist will be disappointed, no doubt. I believe he was hoping my experience would be something he could use to help other clients who suffer with PTSD and flashbacks. But the bottom line is, it was pure luck.
And now I'm going to go running.