How do YOU handle birthdays? Especially ones with a zero at the end? I think I must have some trigger related to birthdays from my childhood. I have never liked celebrating my birthday because it somehow never measured up. Not sure what I was comparing it to, but I know this about myself and was determined to face the big 5-0 with grace and appreciation.
Total fail. I spent the night before my birthday going through old family pictures looking for certain ones for a project. The grief completely took my breath away. Tears ran rivers down my cheeks. The sobs overwhelmed me.
Transparency time. About six or seven years ago I went on an antidepressant for situational depression. My life was full of so many difficult challenges: wounded children acting out in the home in many destructive ways; older parents that ended up in a nursing home with me responsible for every life decision; false accusations by our adopted daughter no longer in the home; financial struggles; parenting older teens and young adults. Life felt like it was one crisis after another. I needed help, not because I was lying in bed all day unable to function, but because I had so much stress I developed insomnia, unexplained fibromyalgia-like symptoms and many fears.
These past six months have been a time of rest and restoration for me. My oldest daughter got married, my oldest son graduated from our homeschool and went to college and my youngest two have made steps in healing. I have gradually gone off my antidepressant because my life is less stressful and I feel better. This tapering off has not been a big issue until this week. I realized that the antidepressant has kept me from grieving over the last 12 years. Grieving the sudden loss of my sister at the age of 53, my dad in 2009 and my mom on Christmas Eve 2010 due to hypothermia. The medicine kept the depth of these feelings at a distance; yet I realize this is something I need to do. To really acknowledge and feel the pain and allow myself to process it and continue healing.
My feelings are raw. My mother said to me many years ago that I was an accident. Or that I wasn’t planned. I always suspected it because my sister was 15 years older than me and my brother five. Somewhere in the fiber of my being I believe I am not wanted and am not good enough. I have confronted many of these lies but in the most innocent of moments they come back and take me by surprise. I know this about myself but in those moments of grief today I couldn’t find the truth.
Would I ever have been able to acknowledge these failings of mine if I wasn’t parenting wounded children? I doubt it. I know what it feels like to be completely unlovable but want someone to speak life into me with words and actions even when I don’t deserve it. God has given me a way to relate to my children with the common bond of pain. I can help my children confront the lies spoken to them in infancy by facing up to my own.
I share these things from a burdened heart tonight because I did not act in any way lovable or mature today. I sulked in my pain, hoping someone would figure out what I needed, without being able to voice it myself. I had a pity party, complete with party hats and streamers. Yeah, not pretty. I disappointed my family because I wanted to be alone with my pain and my thoughts and emotions.
So happy 50th birthday to me, with a grateful heart that tomorrow is a new day. “His mercies are new every morning.”