Today is my birthday. It’s a very loaded day for me because both my father and my grandfather died on my 28th birthday, 4 hours apart from each other. For years, I was convinced this meant I was cursed in some way. I still think it is very bizarre timing (and when I’m in a bad frame of mind, a really sick joke), but today, I don’t think I am cursed. I used to look forward to and love my birthday, but I don’t really like it that much anymore. For those first couple of birthdays after my 28th, I felt overshadowed, forgotten, unseen, depressed. Now, I tend to brace myself a little less for this day. I have felt fine on some birthdays, and full of tension and emotion on others. And as much as I want to change the macabre narrative around this day, I think it’s always going to be a tombstone bookmark in my mental calendar. Maybe that’s okay, maybe I don’t need to rewrite the story (not like I can, even if I wanted to).
Even though I’m feeling blue today, at the same time, I’m so very grateful. Because it’s not just any birthday – today I celebrate 40, yes FORTY, years of being ALIVE. All through my 20s and early 30s, my morbid joke was that I would never live to see 40. People laughed, sometimes uncomfortably, and I laughed too, but I wasn’t kidding. People in my family die young. And I was well on my way to following their path until I decided to get sober.
I used to think I’d be upset about leaving my 30s behind. But I’m not upset at all. If anything, it has lit a fire underneath me to get moving on things I’ve been procrastinating. Because while I’m a big proponent of trying to stay in the present moment, I can’t help but be reminded on this day that life can be short, and that I’m not guaranteed anything. I got sober at age 33, and no lie, ages 34 up until now have been the absolute BEST years of my entire life. I have no reason to believe that my bonus years will be any different, as long as I continue to stay sober both physically and emotionally. I’m calling them my bonus years because I should have been dead in my 30s the way I drank and drugged. I beat my body and my organs to a pulp with the bottle and lived with complete disregard to my own wellbeing. It is not lost on me that I am living on borrowed time. This is how I am starting to evolve my birthday narrative.
I have been feeling very reflective this past week, trying purposely not to psyche myself out for this birthday, but to give myself permission and space to feel whatever I am meant to feel on this September 9. My intention for this year is simple: I intend to spend more time doing what makes me happy, less time doing things that I do not enjoy, and even less time worrying about bullshit that does not matter. Hopefully, writing this down and publishing it to the world wide web will help keep me accountable!
I also want to thank all of my dear friends who continue to make me feel loved and seen and special on my birthday, because they know that this is a painful day for me. I rarely let them be nice to me on my birthday because I’m too busy putting my protective walls up every September 9, but I do appreciate the love and outreach more than you know. Now, excuse me while I go do a seltzer cheers to my bonus years!