Tomorrow is my birthday.
Why am I telling you this? Well, just my announcing it is a step in my recovery. I’ve always had trouble calling attention to myself. Even on my birthday. Especially on my birthday.
I’ve been this way my whole life. When I was little, my mom would have birthday parties for me. She’d invite my classmates, and I would run and scream and hide in the bedroom. This went on every year until I was 6, and I begged my mom to stop having parties for me. I was having anxiety attacks even then. She did stop having parties for me. I’ve rarely had birthday parties since.
I don’t say this to elicit pity. I actually like being low on the radar on my birthday. It goes very well with my isolationist tendencies. Since the advent of answering machines, I don’t even have to pick up my phone. Friends and family can wish me a happy birthday on the machine, and I can accept their wishes with one layer of personal connection removed. I like that. I also like Facebook on my birthday. Here again, I can be showered with birthday wishes–once removed. For this alone, Mark Zuckerberg wins my unyielding gratitude.
It’s not that I haven’t tried celebrating my birthday with friends and family. It’s just that whenever I have, the anxiety attacks come. It’s happened every time.
But tomorrow, I am going to try again. One of my best friends is taking me out to dinner. I am determined to take in his love and understanding, and enjoy it. A big part of my recovery is all about celebrating the people in my life who do accept me for who and what I am. That acceptance is the best birthday gift I can receive.
At my lowest points during the past year, I didn’t want to reach another birthday. But here it is.
I am a lucky man.