Next week is my birthday. I’m saying this mostly as a self-imposed therapy homework assignment.
I’ve been protesting against my birthday. Team Leader offered to bake a cake (she’s a fantastic cook), and I rather vehemently refused and said I didn’t want any birthday celebration.
The thing is, I do want it. I want to be surrounded by friends and family that love me. I want perfect gifts that are all about the relationships with these imaginary people. I want the best cake in the world, candles, bad singing, and maybe even dumb little pointy hats. I want a surprise party because then it would mean someone actually cared enough to think of me and plan it in advance. I want the perfect birthday.
I can’t have it. It’s an impossible ideal, and I know that. Since I can’t have perfection, I want nothing at all, not even acknowledgement. I am ashamed for wanting such childish things. I’m going to be 26, and I just want to live in a childish fairy-tale land. I should be growing up, but I feel like I’m getting younger.
When I was growing up, I never got to have a big, awesome party at the roller skating rink or Chuck E Cheese. We didn’t have enough money, and I didn’t have enough friends. The few friends I did have were usually at summer camp, so birthdays were always kind of a letdown.
This time four years ago, I was getting ready to go to Riggs. I was force-feeding myself because I had to gain nearly 20 lbs to be eligible for admissions. Between the ED and the dissociation, I was a total mess, numb all the time. I didn’t feel anything and didn’t care about anything. I just agreed to go to Riggs because I didn’t have anything better to do.
This time two years ago, the day after my birthday, my grandfather called to tell me he was yanking me out of Riggs, the only place that had ever helped me. I had been doing well reassembling my life, was starting to make plans for some future. Then that phone call came, and I seriously contemplated suicide.
This time last year, I had just been diagnosed with DID. I was terrified and out of control, suicidal all the time and knocking myself out with a lot of Benadryl and Klonopin so I wouldn’t be conscious enough to make a suicide attempt.
So yeah, not all that great of a track record for birthdays.
But I feel like my extreme reactionary “NO FUCKING BIRTHDAY” stance isn’t the right way to deal with it. It’s like I’m a kid who wants the entire gallon of ice cream but refuses to eat the one scoop her mother offers because it’s not the whole thing. It’s a stupid, childish reaction to not getting a stupid, childish want.
But where and how do I find the middle ground? I could call Sarah, Bob, and/or Susan and get dinner or something, but I have this internal resistance to it. I know I’ll come home feeling emptier than if I’d been alone. It would be too much contrast between what I want and what I have. I feel sad just thinking and writing about it, like I might cry. I could still ask Team Leader to make a cake, but see above for why I’m resistant. I could go buy myself some nice yarn or something, but then I’d feel like (A) I don’t deserve it and (B) it’s completely pathetic to buy my own birthday present.
I guess the real question is how do I grow up and truly accept that my childish dreams won’t come true? How do I learn to make what I do have feel like enough? How do I fill the hole in my chest when it’s a black hole that swallows everything in its proximity and still feels empty?