It has been a hard week this week. Since being much more aware of my feelings and emotions I have to deal with stuff rather than block it away. First xmas and now my birthday approaches. In the past I have blocked out thoughts of my birthday and just not thought about it. This one is a big one so people are aware of it. Thank goodness my family know that a surprise party would be the worst possible event. It is a bit lose-lose in that my overall preference would be that no-one celebrated birthdays at all, but then I don’t want to celebrate other people’s birthday and be left out on mine.
It’s tricky. There are 2 prongs, the gifts which I don’t want, (even if I do actually want the thing!) and then the attention. And my ambivalence about both those things. I don’t want to be left out, ignored, forgotten, but I find the gifts and attention hard to navigate.
So I’m trying to do things differently:
Firstly I’m writing it out here as at least laying it on the table and looking at it is a step forward from my inner octopus which is trying to curl up under the duvet and hide or distract me with films, books, anything I can focus on obsessively to avoid the elephant in the room.
Secondly I remind myself that my last few birthdays have been ok. I will run through our plans for the day with my husband. So far we are planning business as usual, exercise class and yin yoga (I don’t want to miss them, I enjoy them!) and maybe lunch out in my favourite healthy cafe. Then my children (and partners) are coming at the weekend and we will have a special meal with them. And a week later a meal at my brother's. So it’s all good, no need to panic. It’s good it’s spread over time, not all at once.
Thirdly I went and spoke to my husband about how I was feeling. I found myself upset as I remembered birthdays at boarding school and waiting every time to see if my Dad would remember a card. Also pupils’ parents would order a cake from a nearby shop. The one ordered for me was always the smallest version, it was embarrassing small, the majority of cakes ordered were much larger, they would be on the hall table where everyone could see them.
Talking about it made me realise that how much I enjoy my day is now in my hands. I can decide exactly what I want to do etc. I am no longer at the mercy of parental input. I think the blocking I've been doing is to block the painful experiences of being regularly disappointed on my birthday, my inner child would actually LIKE a nice birthday but just doesn't want to be let down again.
I'm actually feeling much lighter since I realised all this, would it be going too far to say I'm looking forward to it?? Let's not run before I can walk! I'm happy to be "neutral" for now and if I enjoy it, I'll put it in the plus column for next time.