Every year, for as long as I can remember, the time before my birthday is more challenging. I become more depressed, easily agitated, and just overall grumpy. The thought of commemorating a life I had become accustomed to trying to exit has always seemed asinine. I never felt “deserving” of celebration. To me, any type of festivity was tied to achievement. Birthdays included. So how then could I ever feel like I was worth the excitement of another year gone by? I had wasted another year of my life. I had survived, sure, but at what cost. It didn’t matter if I had just skipped fourth grade, scored well at my gymnastics or track meets, had talks of scholarships, became a doctor at 24, gotten married, had a child…. Any, and all, life “achievements” have always been overshadowed by the darkness in my mind. Even if I had hit the goals I set out and technically “qualified” for celebration, my thought processes over the prior year, any missteps, my burden to others was always heavier. The scales have never tipped in my favor.
I understand how wild this must sound. And rationally, I know that it doesn’t make sense. I understand that I am a beautiful creation and that my existence alone is worthy of celebrating. Especially when I have fought so hard to stay alive, to be here in this world that breaks me daily. Yet, the feelings linger. And so my fight with my mind continues.
Yesterday, I spent the morning in bed. I just really struggled to want to get up and do anything, have any conversations, participate in life. But a dear friend had already locked in brunch plans with me, so I had to get up and meet her. And it was a blessing to have had that lined up, making me get dressed and get out of the house. Following brunch I met Gabe and Olivia at the auto dealership where we were looking at a truck. We ended up purchasing the vehicle, but it took longer than anticipated. Again, this was probably better as it kept me busy for much of the afternoon. That evening I had scheduled in a little pampering and so went straight to that appointment from the dealership. I picked us all up dinner on the way home, relaxed with my little family, and then curled up under the heated blanket (don’t judge me, it’s still snowing here) for the night.
Today I also struggled with getting out of bed. Olivia is sick, but despite that, she had been waking up on and off since 6am trying to get Gabe to let her come see me and wish me a “happy birthday”. She is such a sweet little soul and couldn’t wait to celebrate me and shower me in love. She is truly the biggest blessing of my life and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for her and honored to raise her.
After a quiet morning at home, we met with my sister and her family and another good friend’s family for an afternoon of bowling. It was such a good time and I felt the most like myself while bowling today than I have in quite some time. I am grateful for these laughs and fun distractions. And I am so grateful for these friends that know how I struggle and respect and honor me in the process of still trying to celebrate me. I know it is not always easy to ensure somebody feels heard in such odd circumstances and I appreciate the efforts of all those around me.
I know birthdays carry a lot of different emotions for people. Some really have a hard time with aging. Others feel similar to how I do and struggle in the same ways. And then there are those with healthy views of this annual milestone that find joy in their personal holiday. However your birthday makes you feel, please know that those emotions are valid. It may not be rational. It may not be true. But you deserve to have those thoughts heard and respected, even if gently rebuked to remind you of the beauty within. You, my friend, are an amazing creation. God decided every last detail of yours, perfectly molding you into what you are. Can you imagine how time consuming that had to be? It takes us 40 weeks to grow a baby within us, and in that time we don’t also craft their image with painstaking detail. You are so, so loved. You are incredibly special and unique and worthy of all the celebration! So even if it feels uncomfortable, even if you don’t feel “deserving”, plan the get-together anyway. You are worth it!
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” -Psalms 139:14