It is my birthday today. I am in no way as excited as my three-year old daughter was last week, and can’t bring myself to find much joy at all in the day. I recognize that most of that darkness is a direct result of the down spiral that I am currently floating. But I also have come to recognize that getting older isn’t so much about the number but about the honest change that happens.
I don’t really sweat my age. Of course, my son tells everyone his mother is 22 and I plan to keep it that way. But for the most part, other than the completely normal new gray hairs, and the growing “adult acne” nothing much changes in my daily world. For my children, who are young, excited and growing everyday at this point, everything is still new. New games, new friends, new height, new weight. Birthdays are grand celebrations for my children, and that is exactly how it should be.
But like the old saying regarding Valentine’s Day, and our habit of only showing affection on that one day when we are programmed to do so, birthdays are not and can never be “my day” again. Part of that is responsibilities in my life, and part of that is just guilt. The combination of the two is rather depressing in and of itself.
There was a time in my life when my mother would wake me up early so that I could open all my presents before school – which always included something new to wear that day. Friends gave gifts, and people stopped me to say hi. And I played that fiddle desperately. There was my favorite dinner cooked by my mom, and the table surrounded by my family. Then there was the story of my birth recited to me faithfully each and every birthday night. It was always the last thing I heard that day. The story of a mother and father’s love, and the absolute joy they had in bringing me into this world. Everything was exactly how it should be on that day.
Even as I got older I would make a big deal of my birthday. Telling my co-workers, wearing some silly hat or t-shirt so everyone would know; it was a way of my life. This year, however, I didn’t tell a soul. I just didn’t feel like grabbing that attention. Partly because my current depression won’t let me and partly because it can never be the way it once was.
I think the hardest part of growing up is the realization that no matter what happens, who is there on your day, nothing is as grand and magical as it once was. I got up alone this morning, like I do everyday. And that was fine. My husband sent me a wonderful email, and while it made me smile there just wasn’t that magic for me. Why is that? Our love is still magical, our being together is still everything to me. But even on this great day, I can’t find the energy or the need to celebrate.
My mother called like she does every year and sang to me. And she even told the severely edited version of my birth (hell, I have heard it a hundred times…I can fill in the blanks now). My father made me laugh, and my children are excited about their gifts to me.
But the beauty that I once revealed in, that special day that was all mine, isn’t there anymore. Or at least it just isn’t there now. Even the beauty that this day promises out my window isn’t reaching deep into my soul. Instead there is the knowledge that however much I build the day up in my head, it truly is just one more day. No matter how clearly I remember the days of absolute greed and being ego-centric with incredible permission, those days are gone. Now they belong to my children. Now they belong to the next generation, and I am just another arbitrary day older. I don’t look different, and not much has changed since yesterday, and honestly the parade has passed me by.
It is hard not to sound fatalistic, especially when I know the reason I am writing these words. I can clearly see in the punches of keys that my depression is rearing its ugly head. I can clearly see the words that are expressing an opinion I only have in my downs. Were I standing in the light today, this post would be much different. I acknowledge that, and even sometimes consider that a unique part of me.
But I still can only feel lonely on this birthday. I still can only feel sad on this birthday. Maybe I don’t need what I had at five, but I long for a silent angel to come and give me what I need today.