• Now you see them; now you don’t

    I’m the oldest of 4 and the oldest of a large group of cousins. We are all about a year apart in age. I grew up spending lots of time around most of my cousins. The main gathering place was my great grandma’s, Nanny’s, farm.

    We had the run of the farm to roam and play and explore. We searched for frogs and salamanders in the window wells. We played hide and seek in the corn field and when that field was plowed and bare, we flung dirt clods at each other. Nanny had a huge, dirt turn-around driveway that was perfectly sized to play baseball with our uncles. Inside her house, one of our uncles used to take us to “the dump”. We wore Nanny’s aprons as dress-up skirts and used her necklaces as tiaras. Nanny’s farm holds so many wonderful memories for me. I still have dreams of her house.

    That all changed, though, when my parents separated. Suddenly, we weren’t allowed around our cousins and aunts and uncles and I didn’t know why. My mom stopped speaking to her siblings. She moved us halfway across the state so she could attend Pittsburg State University. My whole 9 year old world seemingly changed overnight.

    The feud, grudge, whatever it was, my mom had going on with her siblings, lasted for years (my mom is a champion grudge holder; she even held a grudge against one of my dad’s sisters over a goddamn bed). I remember one of the few times we got to see Nanny and our uncles, aunts, and cousins, I could feel the tension. My mom did not want one of her brothers to talk to us. I remember my uncle saying “Trish, they’re my nieces, too.” I was too young to understand what was going on. All I knew was my mom was mad at her side of the family and she kept us away from them.

    My mom’s beef with her family ended years later. By that time my mom had remarried and my stepdad had been isolating us from my mom’s side of the family. We had the means to visit them but rarely the opportunity. An when opportunity arose, we’d have a road tip planned to visit Nanny’s farm and see everyone but my stepdad would always start a fight with my mom. The fights resulted in us not going, mainly because he took away the only car; my mom’s Citation was long gone by this point. I stopped believing my mom when she said we were going to Nanny’s farm. I knew we’d never get to go.

    This alienation, first by my mom, and then by my stepdad, resulted in me losing the close ties I had with Nanny, my uncles, aunts, and my cousins. I did see them sporadically over the years but the damage was done. I felt like I didn’t fit in. I felt like a stranger. In a sense, I was. These were people I used to know. The damage, has, unfortunately, lasted to this day. I’m not close with any of them anymore. I don’t keep in touch. And they don’t reach out much either.

    Looking back, I see my mom was punishing her family and using my siblings and I as weapons. Her need to have control and get back at her side of the family, for reasons I don’t know, backfired. Paraphrasing an author unknown: she permanently damaged her children and took something from us we’ll never be able to get back. The close bonds I used to have with my extended family are long gone and, to quote a Nine Inch Nails song title, they’re now Something I Can Never Have.

  • Music soothes the savage beast

    My siblings and I used to spend a few weeks each summer at my dad’s house as per custody agreement after my parent’s divorce. As I got older, into my teens, we started spending most of our summers there, a sanctuary away from the hell at our mom’s house. Late one night when I was about 15, as I was laying in bed watching tv, MTV2 to be exact, a music video came on. I was entranced; spellbound. The song and video were unlike anything I’d ever heard or seen before. I was utterly fascinated. The video was gritty and dark and had elements of what I later learned to be BDSM. (Incidentally, that is my origin story of my interest in BDSM, of which I eventually got to explore in my 30s and currently-but those are stories for another time). That video was none other than Closer by Nine Inch Nails.

    I think my dad bought that album, The Downward Spiral, for me. This was still the age of portable CD players and I listened to that album all the time. Closer and Mr. Self Destruct were my favorite songs from that album.

    At a time in my life where I was emotionally numb, and had previously taken a Play-Doh knife to my wrist in a moment of suicidal ideation after one of my mom’s attacks on me, this music struck me to my core and resonated deep within. Here was music that made me feel. This music was industrial and angry and let me know it was okay to be angry and to feel.

    After summer ended and I was back in school, I was talking music to a couple of classmates and mentioned The Downward Spiral. One of the people I was talking to asked if I’d ever listened to Pretty Hate Machine, also by Nine Inch Nails. I hadn’t. I bought it, or more likely my dad bought it for me as my mom and stepdad heavily censored music, and instantly fell in love from the first song, Head Like a Hole, to the last, Ringfinger. Here was another industrial and angry album of songs that allowed me to feel. And feel I did. Sin quickly became one of my all time favorite songs. It was the perfect blend of catchy music and righteous anger that I needed. (It is now my go to karaoke song).

    Nine Inch Nails got me through high school. The righteous anger in those songs ignited a spark in me that smoldered and burned. The music,the lyrics, brought me back to life. Most importantly, Nine Inch Nails saved my life.

  • Tooth be told

    Odontophobia is defined as a fear of dentists. The website drwaynepeterson.com states that this fear affects nearly 30% of the adult population and 43% of children, with negative experiences in childhood as the most common cause. My fear of dentists began in childhood shortly after my mom moved my siblings and I halfway across the state to Pittsburg, Kansas.

    New to town and needing a dentist for her children, my mom found one. He had his own private practice, a small red brick building on the south side of town. I will never forget his name, though I have since renamed him the evil dentist. He looked like the Notre Dame mascot come to life. To this day, I cannot look at that mascot without anxiety welling up inside me.

    The evil dentist found fault in my oral hygiene. He became obsessed about my gums. Every visit he berated me about my swollen gums. He told my mom that I needed appointments every two weeks and that I had to brush my gums in order to reduce the gingivitis. At every two week appointment he was never satisfied, even though I was brushing my gums to such an extent that they were cut and raw. My mouth hurt. Every visit he would threaten to pull out all my teeth and give me dentures. He’d even start to get out his tools while the hygienist stood idly by, silent. I’d cry, pleading with him not to pull out my teeth. I wanted another chance to do better. He’d put away his tools, finish the appointment, and then tell my mom, who always sat in the waiting room, that he needed to see me, again, in two weeks. And my mom, knowing I was terrified, would bring me back to my next appointment, my gums cut and raw, only to have the evil dentist threaten to pull out my teeth yet again. I lost track of all these visits.

    Soon, any reference, image, or mention of teeth made me anxious, fear roiling in the pit of my stomach. I dreaded seeing the evil dentist’s office anytime I was in the car with my mom and we had to drive past his office. Just seeing that red brick building made me feel sick.

    The evil dentist also didn’t believe in novocaine or nitrous oxide, laughing gas. Instead, he believed in pinning clothespins onto earlobes, declaring that doing so would prevent pain. It did not. I felt everything. Every cavity drilled, every filling put in, I felt. The pain intense. I wasn’t allowed to close my eyes when the pain became more than I could bear. The evil dentist told me I had to look up at his ceiling tiles and count the randomly drilled holes in them as a way to distract myself.

    One particular visit was to place a temporary cap on one of my back molars because the evil dentist hadn’t fully removed a cavity and the area below the filling in that tooth went bad. I had no understanding of what putting a cap on entailed. As I sat in the chair, he said “You don’t need novocaine, do you?” I said that I didn’t as I’d been trained by him that clothespins on the earlobes were the only “pain prevention” I needed. He put the clothespins on my ears and began to work. He soon discovered that the cap he had made to fit over my tooth was too short so he began to, and this is the only way I know how to express what he did, Dremel saw my molar to a shorter height. The pain was beyond anything I’d ever experienced. My hands gripped the arm rests, my body stiffened, the pain horrendous. Instinctively, I closed my eyes. He noticed and ordered me to count the holes in the ceiling tiles.

    I have no memory of how long that appointment lasted. In fact, I have no memory of going to the evil dentist’s office again. If I did, I blocked it from memory.

    I now have such a high tolerance for pain that, I’m sure, can be partly attributed to him. The evil dentist instilled in me such a fear of dentists that it has lasted to this day. I certainly wasn’t the first patient he tortured and I’m certain I wasn’t the last. Zero out of ten stars; wouldn’t recommend him.

  • Bully for you

    My stepdad once said that he’d rather be feared than loved. He ruled through bullying and intimidation, gaining compliance through threats and violence. He expected his commands to be obeyed without question. “No” and “Why?” weren’t words my siblings and I got away with saying very often if we were told or made to do something, especially if that command made no sense. We were expected to be mindlessly obedient. “Do it because I say so” was how he operated.

    My mom and my sister bore the brunt of his physical attacks. They were his favorite targets for that particular form of abuse. Though inanimate objects didn’t escape his rage, either. He was playing a game on the Super Nintendo one day and, in a fit of anger, because he wasn’t doing well, threw the game console at a glass door and broke the glass. I think the Super Nintendo survived, though.

    I have no memory of him physically abusing me, though there are chunks of time I don’t remember. I do remember him waking me up after I’d gone to sleep one night because I’d forgotten to wash the dishes that I’d been told to wash. So he had me get out of bed to wash the dishes while he stood there yelling at me and threatening to “knock [me] out” if I didn’t get the dishes done. My anxiety and fear were so high from being rudely woken up, yelled at, and threatened with violence that I washed the dishes as quickly as I could, scared he would knock me out.

    Forgetting to wash the dishes was not the only time he threatened to knock me out. My mom had a Chevy Citation, stick shift, that she owned at one time. When I was maybe 15 my stepdad, randomly, told me to get in the driver’s side of my mom’s car even though I didn’t want to. I couldn’t drive yet; I didn’t even have a learner’s permit. He had me drive forward about 20 feet then reverse about 20 feet. I’d never driven a stick shift before and kept popping the clutch. I didn’t understand why I had to keep driving forward and back, forward and back. I was getting frustrated and just wanted to stop. I told him I didn’t want to do this anymore. That pissed him off. He said if I didn’t keep doing what he told me to do then he was going to “knock [me] out.” All I wanted was to stop the “driving” lesson I never asked for, or wanted, but I couldn’t because I would be knocked out for disobeying him. I continued to drive forward and back, forward and back, until he was satisfied and ended the driving lesson.

    As an adult I have a bit, more than a bit, of an authority problem, as confirmed by a psychologist, and it comes from my childhood. “Do it because I say so” does not sit well with me. It triggers in me a very visceral feeling of “Fuck you. You don’t get to tell me what to do.”

    I don’t raise my son in a do-as-you’re-told-and-don’t-ask-questions manner. When I take the time to explain to my child why I want him to do something I get more willing cooperation from him because my explanation makes sense. And you know what, this mama don’t say “knock you out.”

  • Control. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing

    After my mom remarried life became very strict and controlling in general. Both my mom and stepdad controlled everything we watched on tv. The MTV channel, when music videos still played, was blocked so it couldn’t be accessed and certain music was banned, mainly rap. My clothing choices were not my own. I wasn’t the one paying for my clothes and was told I would wear what was bought for me. My personal style wasn’t allowed to be expressed and I wasn’t allowed to wear black. I remember rune stones I saw in a store and wanted were deemed to be witchcraft and weren’t allowed.

    This strict and controlling environment meant I was incredibly naïve and not nearly as socially evolved as other children my age. There were so many things that were “Whoosh, over [my] head!”. One particular instance was while I was in the lunch line with a friend in middle school. It might have been taco or nacho day because she started talking about “sour come” and “whipped come”. I had no clue what she was talking about and when she tried to explain, I was still clueless. And, laugh if you will, I finally realized she was saying “sour cum” and “whipped cum” when I was in my 30s, after I had long since lost my naivety..

    A second instance was end of the school year yearbook signing. Yearbook signings were a big deal growing up. I have no idea if they are still. I think this was the end of 7th grade and a school only friend, her name now completely forgotten, wrote in my yearbook something that was meant to be humorous and clever, as most things written in yearbooks were. She wrote something to the effect of “Have a good summer and don’t be too hard on the boys if you know what I mean.” I recall she included her phone number, this was pre cell phone days, so we could talk. Well, my mom had to look in my yearbook because yearbooks were also monitored. When she read what that particular friend wrote my mom lost her shit. Cue one of the most intense, hardcore, and panic inducing interrogations I ever endured. This was no good cop, bad cop interrogation. There was only bad cop and it was my mom. I was in trouble and I had no clue why.

    In a rage, my mom demanded to know what my friend meant, what my friend and I did with boys, and why my friend would write that if we weren’t doing things with boys. I had no answer, as naïve as I was. She didn’t believe anything I said. She absolutely didn’t believe I had no idea what my friend meant. I was a liar, according to her. Then my mom changed tactics and threatened to call my friend, because her number was written in my yearbook, to find out what inappropriate things we did with boys and to prove I was a liar. I begged, I pleaded, tears streaming down my face, for her not to call my friend. I continued to assert my innocence. At some point, after minutes of begging and pleading, my mom stopped her interrogation. Incidentally I never called my friend over the summer. I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to as I couldn’t use the phone without permission. I also never spoke to my friend again. (An aside: I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 17 and I had sex for the first time when I was 20).

    Strict households serve one purpose: control. In toxic, abusive families, strict households are especially controlling. Children are kept naïve, not allowed the same social freedoms as their friends and classmates. It most usually results in that child, once grown and out of their home, behaving wildly and engaging in risky behaviors at their first taste of freedom. I know I certainly did. The world was now my oyster and I was gluttonous.

  • Dinner and a movie

    My parents separated and divorced sometime in the late 80s, early 90s when I was about 9 or 10. Before they separated, I remember all of us enjoying the occasional dinner of our dad’s hamburgers he hand formed from ground beef, homemade sopapillas, known in our family as sospas, and his hand cut fried potatoes with the skins left on. That was one of my favorite meals. We would eat dinner while watching one of Michael Jackson’s music videos that included the behind the scenes, making of, footage. The Thriller “movie” was a favorite among us children.

    My dad also owned a pair of tall, heavy stereo speakers that had colored lights that came on while the speakers were in use. Every so often my dad would turn on that stereo, play Van Halen and dance around the living room. I seem to recall my mom dancing along as well. No surprise I grew up with a love of Van Halen music, along with other 70s rock bands.

    My life, before and after my parents divorced and after my mom remarried, wasn’t always terrible. There were plenty of happy moments filled with fun and laughter. Those happy times didn’t last long. I look back on them with fondness. They don’t negate the bad times but they do bring me comfort.

  • Boogeyman, I banish thee

    Most of my life I’ve had bad dreams and nightmares. All have similar themes. In them, I’m trying to protect/defend myself against someone who wants to hurt me. But no matter how I try to defend myself nothing works.

    After I left the police department my nightmares started incorporating a gun I’d try and use to defend myself. Either the gun wouldn’t fire or the bullets would hit the threat but would be ineffective. I’d always wake up shortly thereafter, feeling powerless.

    An article I found on psychcentral.com titled 7 Tips to Manage Nightmares in PTSD states “Up to 96% of people living with PTSD may experience nightmares. These emotionally distressing dreams can happen several times a week or more.” I can certainly attest to that. My nightmares are so frequent that pleasant dreams are rare.

    Shortly after I started writing this blog I had a nightmare. The theme was the same as all the others. I remember I dreamt it was night, though the darkness had a bluish color that allowed me to see, and I was in a house and there was an intruder. He was blond and Slenderman tall. (My stepdad is/was blond and is 6’5”). The tall man was enthusiastically playing an upright piano (my mom had one in our house as I was growing up) but I could hear no music. I had to sneak past the tall man without making him aware of my presence. I managed to evade detection and went into my mom’s room where she was deep asleep. I attempted to wake her up without the tall man noticing. From her room I could see he was still playing the piano. I managed to rouse my mom and, signaling she needed to remain quiet, I whispered to her “There’s someone in the house.”

    She retrieved a gun from underneath her pillow and was then almost to the doorway when the tall man suddenly appeared and was sitting on a chair just inside the room. He was smugly laughing but I could hear no laughter. My mom squarely faced him but would not pull the trigger. I took the gun from her while the tall man continued to laugh. I tried to shoot him but the gun wouldn’t fire. I noticed how light it felt like there was no loaded magazine in it. The next instance he was laying on his back on the floor, still smugly laughing.

    And this is where my nightmare deviated from all the others. I used the gun to bash the tall man repeatedly on his head until he was no longer a threat. And then I woke up.

    My mom has never before made appearances in my nightmares as a protector. And she still didn’t protect me. The symbolisms in this nightmare were not lost on me. As I lay awake in bed, pondering this nightmare, I felt a lightness in my body and mind that hadn’t been there before. I am safe and I am my own protector. I am no longer powerless; I am powerful.

  • Catchphrases for $500, Alex

    The Cambridge dictionary defines a catchphrase as “a phrase that is often repeated by and therefore becomes connected with a particular organization or person…”. It can also be known as a pet phrase.

    My mom had three such pet phrases: “Eat it or wear it”, “I’ll give you something to cry about”, and “I brought you into this world; I can take you out of it”.

    “Eat it or wear it” is exactly like it sounds. We children were expected to eat what we were served, whether we wanted to or not. There was rarely an alternative meal option. It was usually “Eat it or wear it.”

    I remember being a witness to two instances of “Eat it or wear it”. Any other instances have not stayed in my memory like these two. In both, my sister was subjected to “Eat it or wear it.” One morning she was served a bowl of cereal. My sister either didn’t want the cereal or couldn’t finish it. My mother’s temper exploded. After the threat of “Eat it or wear it” failed to gain compliance my mom dumped the bowl of cereal on my sister’s head. Milk and cereal dripping off her.

    The second instance was many years later. I was in the kitchen with my mom and sister. Our mom was boiling potatoes. At some point after the potatoes were cooked and drained, our mom got mad at my sister. I don’t even remember why. Our mom had a hair trigger and it didn’t take much to set her off. Whatever set her off this time I’m unclear on. What I do clearly remember is our mom slamming a softened, boiled potato onto my sister’s head, bits of potato mashed into her hair.

    “I’ll give you something to cry about” was said in regards to me or my siblings expressing any upset/hurt feelings our mom didn’t like. She didn’t think our feelings were valid so she threatened to “give us something to cry about.” Years later I learned what she did was called “invalidation” and is a “hallmark of emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse.” It is quite harmful. It taught us that certain feelings couldn’t be expressed because they weren’t believed to be worthy of expressing. I learned to bottle up my feelings. And I did that for years. I’m still unlearning that.

    Pet phrase number three, please stand up. “I brought you into this world; I can take you out of it.” Oh, how my mom seemed to love saying that. I heard it quite often. Whenever she said that to me I thought she was insinuating that she would kill me. She gave life to me. Perhaps she thought my life was hers to take away as well.

    In my later high school years, junior or senior years, I started to become less hollow, empty shell of a person to someone who was beginning to feel some emotions again. I also started standing up to my mom. I’d tell her that when I was 18 I didn’t have to listen to her anymore. 18 and graduation meant freedom from the prison I was living in. She didn’t have the control over me that she was used to having. I’m sure she didn’t like that. And then one day, in anger, my mom, once again, told me that she brought me into this world and she could take me out of it. Something came over me and, unafraid, I asked her “Are you going to kill me?” You’d think I spat in her face. I rendered her speechless for several moments. She sputtered a bit and backtracked, saying that wasn’t what she meant. I didn’t believe her and I think she knew I didn’t believe her. That was also the last time I remember her saying that particular pet phrase to me.

    There is no such phrase as “Eat it or wear it” in my home. If my son doesn’t want to eat what I’ve prepared he is allowed to make something else to eat for himself. My son freely expresses his feelings to me. The happy ones, the sad ones, and the angry ones. And I let him know he is allowed to feel his feelings whatever those feelings may be. And while I may have brought my son into this world I would never threaten to take him out of it. He is my reason for living. He is my “awesome boy and my most favorite person in the entire world.” And this is exactly what I tell him: You are my awesome boy and my most favorite person in the entire world.

  • Cursed legacy

    “A child is not responsible for the unprocessed pain of a parent.”

    My mom would, every so often, talk about her childhood growing up. Her stories were sometimes funny, sometimes happy. Sometimes they were not. My mom’s adolescence, she is the 3rd of 6 children, was not without its own pain and trauma. Her parents had an unhappy marriage and they eventually divorced. She and her siblings were split apart. Some moved away with my mom’s dad, one lived with grandparents, and my mom and the others remained with their mom.

    All was not well. My mom would talk about the fights she and her mom would get into. I always got the impression my mom was headstrong and rebellious. At some point my mom’s mom, my grandma, made a choice to abandon her family. The sister-sister relationship between my mom and her sister (the eldest) soured and disintegrated. My mom had to grow up fast. She was now the caregiver of her siblings. These were the stories my mom told us about her life growing up.

    My mom married young and gave birth to me a couple of years later. Three more children followed, all of us two years apart from the next. She went from raising her siblings to raising her own children.

    I can only imagine how difficult, stressful, and traumatic her earlier life must have been. From the few stories my siblings and I were told (and I’m sure there are stories she hasn’t shared) her life was incredibly unstable. When did she ever get the chance to heal herself and process her own trauma? She didn’t. She buried that trauma.

    I used to wonder why she went from loving me to hating me. I wanted to know why. I needed an explanation, a reason, to make it all make sense. The answer had been there all along in the stories she told us. I just hadn’t put the puzzle pieces together until I started working on myself. My mom’s abusive behavior was learned from her parents. While that explained her behavior, it did not excuse it. She hadn’t healed herself and was passing the pain on to her children, like some cursed legacy.

    The more I read the more I learned about generational trauma. Abuse and trauma are passed down in families from one generation to the next. The cursed legacy doomed to continue until one person makes a conscious decision to be the cycle breaker.

    And as shameful as it is to write this, I realized I had adopted some of my mom’s toxic and abusive behaviors and that was a slap to my face. I didn’t want to be like her. I didn’t want to do to my child what she did to me. Some of my behavior, the explosive anger notably, could be attributed to my undiagnosed bipolar disorder. However, some of my behavior was clearly learned. These explain my behavior but in no way excuse it. I began to seriously read up on toxic families and healing from abuse and trauma. I made a conscious effort to work on myself, not just for me, but for my child as well. And I realized something else: I am that cycle breaker. This shit didn’t start with me but it will damn sure end with me.

  • Happy birthday! Bah, humbug

    Birthdays. Everyone has them. Some birthdays are celebrated in a big fashion. Some are celebrated in a modest fashion. Some are celebrated not at all.

    Growing up, birthdays in our home were modest but, overall, happy events. We didn’t have surprise parties or parties with friends or big parties at restaurants. On birthdays we mainly celebrated at home amongst ourselves. Four children and two adults living on a lower middle class income meant money was not frivolously spent. We didn’t have everything we wanted but we weren’t lacking in basic necessities.

    The 16th birthday is one of those milestone birthdays, like the 21st, 40th, and 50th birthdays. The milestone birthdays tend to be celebrated with more fanfare than normal, surprise parties not unusual.

    For my 16th birthday I remember my mom and stepdad took my three younger siblings and I to the mall in Joplin. I loved that mall. It was big and sprawling with bookstores and accessories shops like Topkapi that I loved to browse. The food court had lots of restaurants to choose from. To a teenaged girl, that mall was amazing.

    I did not have a surprise party; I wouldn’t have wanted one anyways. The trip to the mall was the extra special treat. I don’t remember what presents I got or what kind of cake I had. What I do remember was my mom and stepdad arguing (fighting). That in itself wasn’t unusual. It would be unusual if they weren’t arguing. I can’t remember what they were fighting about but what I do remember is not being able to enjoy my 16th birthday because their fighting soured what should have been a happy day. My birthday celebration was upstaged by two toxic, abusive, and volatile adults who couldn’t behave and let a teenager enjoy her milestone birthday. I remember that day as one of great disappointment and sadness. Their arguing was more important than my birthday. I felt like my birthday didn’t matter. I felt like I didn’t matter.

    Over time I stopped making a big deal out my birthdays. I was sick on my 21st and didn’t celebrate. I usually worked on my birthdays and that didn’t bother me. Eventually I made my birthday private on social media so as not to get bombarded with “happy birthday” notifications from people who only knew it was my birthday because Facebook told them so. The “happy birthday” texts from family and close friends were good enough for me.

    Now, my mother-in-law always makes a big deal out of my birthday. She takes me out to dinner at a restaurant of my choosing, presents me with a plain New York style cheesecake (my favorite) and a gift. I know she doesn’t have to do that but she does. And I’m always appreciative of that. My dad and stepmom make celebrating my birthday enjoyable as well. My stepmom always goes out of her way to make sure she gets a cake I like. She could pick just any ol cake but she asks what kind I want. And I’m always appreciative of that.

    The year leading up to my 40th birthday my mother would occasionally text, mentioning that I’d be turning 40 and that [they] should do something special. They meaning her and my siblings. This birthday fanfare buildup went on sporadically for months. The last text from my mom before my birthday was her saying one of my brothers thought it would be cool to send me black roses. I’m goth. I’d love to receive black roses. I replied back to my mom that that would be awesome. I have to admit, that year long build up got me excited about my birthday and what surprises my family was planning. I was looking forward to my birthday.

    The day of my 40th birthday fell on my days off. I was home. I had nothing planned, just like I like. I thought I’d get birthday cards in my mailbox. I didn’t. That’s normal. No big deal. I thought I’d get a delivery of black roses. I didn’t. Okay, no big deal. Maybe my mom and siblings were going to show up unannounced and surprise me for my birthday. They didn’t. I got the usual “happy birthday” texts from them. Okay, no big deal.

    Only it was a big deal. It was a big deal that I had let myself get excited about the we-should-do-something-special-for-your-birthday text messages. It was a big deal that I let myself believe they would actually follow through on all the things my mom had mentioned. It was a big deal that I got excited to celebrate my 40th birthday hoping that they’d do something special, like I’d been led to believe. But they didn’t. You know what I did get? I got a big bowl of disappointment and let down soup. Happy fucking 40th birthday to me. To say I was disappointed and let down was an understatement. I felt that disappointment like a physical blow to my chest.

    I’ll be 43 this year. I’ve requested that day off work so I can spend it by myself doing anything or nothing. Going out or staying in. Eating out or cooking at home. Only this year, there will be no disappointment and let down soup.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started