"Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then, it will be a really good day." Louie Schwartzberg
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Beating the Bad Birthday Blues

posted by Susan Dominikovich on , , , ,


I have been in a bit of a funk for a few days and haven't been able to write.  I knew exactly what the problem was and it couldn't be avoided, no matter how hard I tried.  

Today is my birthday.  And I've had a prolonged case of the bad birthday blues.

For ages now I have been dreading it.  To have written about what I dreaded would have been ungracious and I just couldn't bring myself to do it, even though I am sure I am not the only person to feel the way I do about birthdays.  The problem is, I haven't always felt this way.

I have always celebrated birthdays--mine and everyone elses.  A birthday has always been a reason to celebrate the life of those that I love.  And I have no problem with turning another year older.  I hit 40 a couple of years ago and believe me, I am growing grow old gracefully; I have an assortment of beauty products to prove it. 

No it wasn't the ageing part of my birthday that I dreaded.  It was a bad memory.

The problem is that last year I had pretty much the worst birthday on record.  Right along with an anniversary that went pear-shaped.  Actually, Paul's birthday was memorable for the wrong reasons last year when a tummy bug ripped through the house.  And then it was a pretty awful Christmas.  2012 was definitely a year to forget when it came to the big occasions.  Come to think of it, a year to forget full stop.  My faith in celebrating life with those that I love took a huge hit last year.  I wasn't sure I could go there again.

That is really hard to say because I know I lead a privileged life and I know I am well-loved and extremely blessed.  Still, stuff happens and it hurts.  And sometimes the hurt turns your view of things a little bit askew.

Birthdays are about celebrating the people we love.  Making sure they know how glad we are that they are in our lives.  How glad we are that they were born.  I know I haven't always got it right and I have let people down, but when I can, I do try to make those I love feel special on their birthday.  I am not talking about grand gestures here...it's the little things that make a difference and in this day an age, that can simply be a text or a facebook message.  

Last year I was let down in that respect (not by all, just by some) and it really bothered me.  It crushed me.  You see I love people intensely.  I quite naturally love by sharing, giving, doing, serving, hugging and encouraging.  Pretty much all 5 love languages are my love language.  That doesn't make me extra special...it makes me extra needy and pretty intense, I realise.  But I felt that I had invested all of myself into some relationships for a number of years, trying to create a bond of community amongst us, and that at the end of the day, my birthday 2012 in fact, it didn't amount to much.  And then I felt guilty that I had expected too much in the first place.  I should never have expected to feel special or important to anyone on my birthday let alone on any other day.  Why should I?  What right do I have to want to be shown that I am loved?  On top of all that, I have missed family.  Again, I have no right to complain since I made my choices in life, but lately I have missed having family nearby that I know I can count on.  I have seen other friends with family together at Christmas, with family who are there for them at the drop of the hat.  I admit, I envy that.  

I miss family. 

As this birthday approached I really desperately wanted to put blinders on.  Pretend it wasn't happening so I wouldn't feel that same disappointment again because no matter how many people would get it right, someone was going to let me down and it would bring back all those memories and hurts of the worst birthday on record and believe me, I just didn't want to go there.  I didn't want to once again discover that the community I thought I had, that I thought I could count on, really didn't exist at all.  

Furthermore, I decided I would stop loving so much, and stop celebrating other people's birthdays too.  I simply cannot do birthdays anymore.  So there.

But of course I could not make it go away, and I cannot change how I love and I was simply in a funk.  A bad birthday blues sort of funk.

Until God kicked me up the backside and said, "Susan, you silly woman.  You are loved.  You have family.  You have community.  Look."

My husband, children and dearest friends love me more than I deserve.  I have been an ungrateful, wallowing, funk-ridden silly woman.  At some point yesterday the funk lifted and I knew when I woke up this morning, it was going to be a good day.  Bad birthday blues a thing of the past.

And it has been a very special day and I have not been let down.  The children wrote me poems and cards that made my heart ache with gladness.  And I cried.  Madeline gave me her silk roses (again) and a little figurine that she says is Thorin from The Hobbit, because she knows how much I am in love with Thorin.  He's beside my bed.  Sam gave me Lego.  Bless him.  But inside the little Lego container that he built were all the little bits of Lego treasure he could find.  Sparkly, glittery, tiny, precious Lego.  Beautiful things.  And I cried.  

After dropping my precious treasure (the children, not the Lego--that too is beside my bed) at school, a dear friend took me to town in her brand new Mazda 3 so we could indulge in our favourite activities...Starbucks and shopping together.  

It was perfect and fun and we were rather successful in our endeavours (except she finally made me admit for once and for all, I cannot do hats).  It was sunny for June (literally) so after she left me with a happy birthday hug, I grabbed another coffee and made my way to the foreshore where I watched the waves, listened to the gulls, breathed in the salty air and enjoyed a little time thanking God for blessing me.  In abundance. 

From there I made my way to a waterfront restaurant where I sat on the patio and sipped a chilled sav while waiting for my love to join me from school for lunch.  I had the fish of the day that was pan-fried and divinely delicious and just begged to be accompanied by another glass of sav.  

I told Paul excitedly about my shopping successes and he listened with a smile instead of his usual "stop spending money!" grimace.  And we laughed and gazed and chatted until it was 2:45 and we really had to pay the bill and head back to Inglewood where our kiddios were waiting to be picked up from school. 

The day was pretty much perfect but then another dear friend baked me the most beautiful chocolate cake and brought it around with gifts, including a very special thing.  

Because she is more than a friend.  She is a sister.  She is a sister who understands my journey.  She understands my needs.  She understands me.  

And a few others came around to share the cake with us.  I cooked and prepared some nibbles and we had a lovely time with friends.  Dear friends that I love and who loved me back tonight.   On my birthday.

Before bed, our Abby gave me a hug and said to me, "I don't want this day to ever end."  It meant a lot, considering I had hardly spent any time with any of my kiddios today.  It meant, "I have enjoyed celebrating this day with you Mummy; I have enjoyed celebrating you."  The occasion, the cake, the sharing it with friends--with family--it all meant a lot to the children as it did to me.  

It's a funny thing, this day I was dreading; I don't want it to end either.

And I think I have decided I can do birthdays again.  


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