March 10, 2016

Happy Birthday to Me (or Not)

Wow, have I really not written a word here since November?

Well, it's my birthday; and a sorta big one. In recent years, I have been rather cagey about my birthday; keeping it private on Facebook, removing it from various databases where it might leak out, and fastidiously deleting or hiding social media posts throughout the day. My primary motivation was somewhat self-protective - most such posts, as well-intentioned as they are, focus on a traditional birthday celebration. Party, drinks, cake, presents, dinner, a gathering.

I enjoy none of these. I generally spend my birthday completely alone (but for a trip to do an errand for a friend this year); I've had a handful of cards, but mostly, birthday celebrations are something that others enjoy, but not me. And yes, I'm sure that some of this is self-imposed, or self-chosen, or cultivated by a lifetime of introversion, but it is what it is at this point.

So it's always seemed easier to just sweep it under the rug - that the outpouring of social media and virtual birthday wishes contrast to the nearly non-existent birthday reality and make the latter even more difficult, sad, painful.  Let's just pretend it's not my birthday so I don't have to feel like shit about it.

For whatever reason, I decided to do something different this year; simply removing the privacy guards on FB so that my birthday is visible. And my timeline / wall has been bubbling all day with well-wishes, comments, cute photos and videos. Which is all nice. But truth be told, it feels specious, somewhat disingenuous, when held up against the emptiness of reality.

My intentions were, really, pure - I wanted to break the cycle of birthday denial, be open to something new, different, better. But as the day has unfolded, it feels a little more like the real reason was because I want to feel the deep pain of the day, because I want to snuggle into the discomfort, loneliness, sense of alienation that spending a birthday alone entails.

So thanks for all the Facebook posts. I carry each well intentioned missive on my back as I sink into the morass.

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