As parents, we spend a fair amount of time agonizing over our mistakes. Certainly, we would have done many things differently. If only we hadn’t been grown children ourselves when we made our relationship choices and eventually married. Most of us had no idea our marriages would end. If we had, we wouldn’t have walked […]
Let’s face it. Relationships are chock full of expectations. We enter them and wait for people to show us exactly how much they love us.
Birthdays? They just amp it up. Consider them expectation on steroids.
I remember in the early years of my marriage hearing a knock at my front door. I swing the door open to find my sister standing on the stoop of my townhouse.
“What are you doing here?” I ask.
“I think, at a minimum you deserve a cake on your birthday,” she says.
I am surprised she has driven more than an hour to deliver me this sweet confection. After all, we not only live too far away from one another to make this daily trip, we are now grown. adults. The age where we are supposed to make loving ‘on the actual day’ birthday calls and polite other day arrangements to celebrate them. Thus, making room for our now full family lives.
This sums up my marital birthdays. They simply didn’t exist.
My husband used to say, “My family didn’t celebrate birthdays. They weren’t a big deal to us.”
To which I would respond, “That’s fine. I respect your feelings and therefore, on your birthday we do not need to celebrate. My family, however, made a ridiculous fuss and birthdays’ were just one sloppy, overexaggerated love-fest. Therefore, on my birthday I would like to celebrate it.”
The funny thing? Periodic milestones, such as holidays can make us realize what is otherwise missing in our relationships.
Sure, everyone celebrates differently. Only we weren’t celebrating and transitioning our family differences. I was being ignored. The fact of the matter is I was also being ignored on an average day. It just took a day where I demanded temporary attention to comprehend that reality.
I celebrated my birthday this past weekend.
Family and friends made me the priority my husband somehow found too difficult. I politely declined their invitations for a variety of reasons. I didn’t say I wouldn’t celebrate. That, in my opinion, would be ungrateful and controlling. Instead, I asked if we could celebrate on a day other than my actual birthday.
I know it seems strange. To actually find comfort in being alone on your birthday while divorcing. I mean, shouldn’t divorcing birthdays be a depressing realization that you are actually literally alone?
Not for me. It is empowering to have zero expectations of love. I watched for that expectational pot to boil for years. And you know what they say about a watched pot.
I wake on Saturday morning. On my original ‘entrance to the world’ day.
I have a type of peace I have not known while married. There are no false expectations. No sadness. No sense of living with someone yet feeling completely alone. I do not need nor want to go out. Instead, I relish the sense of control I have in my own special day.
I scroll through Facebook. My sister posts one of my baby pictures. This is not my cake yielding sister. It is my other sister. She too is showing up at my proverbial front door. I know her well. This is no innocent gesture of sibling birthday love. She purposely picks a baby pic of me to remind me of who I am. A smile so big my eyes are just barely visible.
She reminds me why my mom always said, “Colleen has joie de vivre.”
I stare at that pic. I smile. I am alone yet no longer alone.
I am returning to the days of sloppy, over-exaggerated love-fests.
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