Today’s Your Birthday

Today is my birthday. I’ve never been much for birthdays. Even as a kid, I didn’t want a party or much of a big deal made out of the fact that it was my birthday. Presents are nice, as is cake, and the addition of either of these things to the day was (and is) appreciated. Birthdays, mostly, fall under the category of “just another day” for me.  I never could figure out what the big deal was about them. There is something spectacular about knowing you made it through a whole year without dying. In that way, I guess birthdays could be a big deal. On the other hand, I am often just as happy knowing I made it through a typical Monday without dying, and without any major catastrophes or dramas popping up to ruin the day.

This year, I find myself waxing nostalgic and delving into the realm of introspection. Perhaps it stems from feeling I am firmly entrenched in middle age. After all, the clock isn’t going to turn itself backward. I’m not sure I would want it to, but that’s another story for another post. Whatever the reason, I find myself thinking about the year that has passed, as well as looking forward to the year to come. Where have I been this year? Where am I now?

Pier on Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

At this time last year, I was lost, in many ways. I felt stuck in a life that didn’t fit me, or like I was wandering around a strange building looking for an exit amid a warren of deserted hallways and wrong turns. I was struggling with depression and health issues. I was not writing. Writer’s block had hung around for so long that I was beginning to believe I had fooled myself with the whole writing thing. I wasn’t attending church. I felt isolated and afraid of life. To say I was unhappy is a massive understatement. I was miserable. I was trapped, weighed down by the expectations of others, by their fears, and by what they wanted from me and for my life. I wanted something different. I wanted freedom. I wanted everything. And yet, I didn’t know what I wanted at all. Although I had made progress in many areas of my life, I still felt like I was spinning my wheels and accomplishing nothing. I wasn’t sure things could change. Thinking back on it, I am not sure I had any hope for the future. When I think about myself a year ago, sitting at my desk in front of my computer, everything is a big splotch of black. I remember feeling like such a failure — the biggest, dumbest, most ridiculous failure ever to walk the earth.

cafe tables, delaware

I wish I could go back there and give “last year me” a hug … that I could tell her to hang in there because things will get better. I don’t think she would believe me, but, perhaps, she would appreciate the attempt. When I think of last year compared to this one, I am stunned and amazed at the difference a year can make.

The most wonderful, most profound, change in my life has been finding my way home to the Church. It had been years — more than ten but probably less than twenty — since I had attended church. Going back to God wasn’t easy. I felt I had failed Him, that I had failed myself, and, even worse, that I had failed my family and my daughter. I was afraid. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if God couldn’t forgive me? What if I burst into flames upon crossing the threshold of the church? Okay, so that last one is a bit of a joke, but the fear was real. A combination of fear and uncertainty — not knowing where I belonged or where I should be — had kept me away from God for many years. At long last, almost out of desperation, I sucked up my courage and headed to church. My hubby is Catholic, whereas I was raised Baptist. We decided to go to Mass first. Then, we would explore other Protestant churches in our area to figure out what was the best fit for our family. Once I walked through the doors of St. Mark’s, I knew: I didn’t want to be anywhere else. I didn’t want to try other churches. I had come home. I attended inquiry sessions for a couple of weeks, and then I enrolled in RCIA. Eleven days ago, I was confirmed at the Easter Vigil. At last, I am at home, happily in the embrace of the Catholic Church, and thankful beyond measure for forgiveness, mercy, and grace. I find myself all smiles each time I approach the priest for Eucharist. What a wonderful, amazing gift it is!

National Cathedral Window

I am writing again. I started this blog in October 2013, more or less as a last-ditch effort at writing. Again, I was desperate. I didn’t feel capable of communicating or connecting with others through my writing. I had come to believe I was not meant to write, but I needed to know for sure. I figured, if this isn’t meant to be, then no one will read. If no one reads, I will know. Maybe I can stop this ridiculousness and find the thing I am supposed to be doing with my life. But people read it! The impact of this simple statement on my life cannot be overstated. Blogging gave me the courage to write poetry. I am an unskilled poet, but putting my thoughts into poetry gave me the courage to write more. I wrote a short story. And then another one. I had ideas for a few more. On Monday, I pulled my forever-in-progress novel out of a drawer, blew the dust off of it, and started working on it. It needs a lot of work. I see massive edits and rewrites in my near future, but, for the first time in a couple of years, I don’t feel overwhelmed or terrified by this task. Yes, it is a big undertaking. But I have ideas. I have direction. Finally, I have somewhere to go.

pooh shelves, my house

This year, I have hope. I find more humor in life. I laugh more readily. I worry a little less. I smile more, and I look forward to the challenge of each new day. Don’t get me wrong. I still struggle. I still have days filled with depression.  I still have days when I wonder where I belong, or if I really belong anywhere at all. But those days are spaced apart a little bit now, instead of coming at me all at once. Ever so slowly, I feel I am learning to find peace in my life. Things aren’t perfect, but they are better.

Happy Birthday to Me.

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32 thoughts on “Today’s Your Birthday

    • Thank you! I will take and appreciate all the well-wishes that come my way. 🙂

      Yeah … sometimes life does feel like two steps forward and one back. I would hazard to say most of my life has felt like that. I realized today that I finally feel as if I am moving forward in my life. This is a good thing.

  1. Happy Birthday to you indeed! I’m so happy you can look back at last year and see how things always get better. God will never give us more than we can handle. He often puts us into difficult situations only to benefit us in the long run. I’m happy for you!

    • Thank you very much! 🙂

      In many ways, it has been a hard and difficult year for me. Realizing, today, that I had hope (something I thought long gone from my life) and happiness and peace was like a breath of fresh air compared to where I was last year at this time. I know everything won’t be magically fixed or perfect, and I’m okay with that. Just knowing I have hope is enough.

  2. Happy birthday to you! Today we can celebrate where you are headed and that you finally reached the top of your hill. I am so happy you found peace and a new home away from home. Faith, and hope along with some playfulness can make a major difference in a life and in a year. You are my blogging buddy and I really hope that this year will be your very best one yet! Hugs and love to you…

    • Thank you! It’s weird (well, for me, since I’ve always been very “un-birthday”), but today has felt like a celebration. I don’t think things will magically be easy-peasy, but I do feel I’ve reached the top of a hill in many ways. A huge, long, stressful hill. There are probably others to come, but at least I can tell myself there’s always a top up there somewhere!

      Thanks for being my blogging buddy! I love that, and am so glad we “met” here on WordPress!

  3. It may still be April 10th just east of the International Date Line…. so happy birthday Pish!!! I’m not much into birthdays either and hate the fuss over them, but given the changes for the better that have occurred for you over the past year, maybe this is on you can definitely celebrate wholeheartedly! 🙂

    • Ha! I’m glad I’m not the only one out there who doesn’t like the whole birthday fuss thing. One time, when we were dating, my hubby took me out to a restaurant for my birthday. Unbeknownst to me, he had purchased a cake and told the manager it was my birthday. (He had also invited several of my friends, as sort of a surprise b-day party.) When they brought out the cake, the whole restaurant sang “Happy Birthday” to me. It was such a sweet thing for him to do, but I thought I would die from embarrassment. Shyness is a tough burden to bear — LOL.

      I do feel I can celebrate a bit this year, though, because there have been good changes. That’s definitely a “yay!” thing. 😀

      Thanks for the b-day wishes and for your continued support of my blog. I appreciate both very much. 🙂

  4. I like other people’s birthdays but, like you, I think of mine as just another day! So glad I’m not alone. If I had to deal with the surprise thingy, I think I’d run fast enough for the olympics 🙂 although I wouldn’t want to hurt the people who thought they were doing good 😦
    Your post touched on so many other similarities. A few times in my life I’ve had that ‘lost’ experience and the future looked bleak. Athough I tried to be little orphan Annie (the sun will come up…) and play Pollyanna’s Glad Game, I felt like I was walking through deep, deep sand. Thankfully, the sun did come up again and I have lots to be glad about.
    Happy late Birthday, my friend, and lots of hugs for those ‘last year’ you and me’s 🙂

    • Oh gosh! It makes me happy that I’m not the only one who doesn’t care much for their own birthday. The surprise thing was … not a good surprise, ha, ha. But the folks there all thought they were doing a nice thing for me. I didn’t have the heart to run away, no matter how much I wanted to. But my hubby hasn’t ever done it again, bless him 😀

      It’s hard to feel “lost”. I am like you, in that I try to remind myself there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, eventually. In recent years, it became impossible for me to believe, but I think things are starting to get better. This is a good thing.

      Thank you for the birthday wishes and for the hugs. I’m sending hugs right back to “last year you”, too. 🙂

  5. 1) Belated Happy Birthday. I need to check the blog more frequently! 🙂 Many blessings to you this year, and always.

    2) You are not an unskilled poet. Or writer. Or photographer. Your blog is lovely.

    3) Thank you, thank you, thank you for the gift of sharing your journey, and letting us accompany you as you grow in happiness, freedom, love and grace. It is quite amazing to see and to hear all that you have been through, and all the good that has come from it.

    Hugs!! (Cyber and otherwise)

  6. Happy Birthday. I love the concept of hugging the old self. I have always been far too hard on myself but like you I am learning to ” hug my old self” rather than berating. I also remind myself ” today is what matters” but we have memories for a reasons.
    May your future memories be happy ones. 🙂

    • Hi, hi! I am so sorry for the late reply in here. I thought I had replied much earlier — typed up a reply and hit “send” and everything — but it seems WordPress decided to eat my comment, instead of posting it. Hmmm. I wonder if my words were yummy. Ha! 😀

      Thank you for stopping by to read, and for the lovely birthday wishes. I could not agree more that it can be hard to hug one’s old self. It’s funny how I have so much more compassion and patience with others, but almost none for myself. This is a hard thing to learn to overcome. Hopefully, we will all continue making baby steps in that direction.

      Many internet hugs to you!

  7. Wow what a beautifully honest and open piece you have written here. I love your style and courage. There is real emotion in your writing but it’s normal emotion so many people feel. I have been in a very similar position to you hence my blog now and I love writing! It’s really nice for me to not feel alone in this introspective mind of mine.
    As for religion, it’s also what keeps me said. I remind myself of this quote very often and I’d like to share it with you. “James1:12 – Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
    Keep up the work! x

    • Hi! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, and for your wonderful and kind comment. It means a lot to me, and I am glad you enjoyed reading this post. 🙂

      That Bible verse is beautiful, and a good one to remember. Thank you for sharing it with me.

      I’m happy that you found a place to blog here on WordPress. I look forward to visiting your blog later this afternoon or evening, when I have time to linger over your posts.

      Thank you again! 🙂

  8. I so enjoyed your post and your honesty with us your readers as well as yourself . So deeply moving as you describe your health issues ad your depression. It was also amazing how you moved back toward God. I so am trying to do that each everyday. I struggle since my brain tumor surgery. Your story gives me hope.
    Happy Birthday sweet WordPress Friend! Alesia

    • Hi! Thank you so much for stopping by, as always, and for your wonderful and kind comment. I appreciate the support so very much.

      I was reading back through my written journal last night, and it amazed me how differently I feel about my life from last year at this time … or even earlier this year … and now. I know it has everything to do with finding my way back to God and the way He has been showing me how to renew my faith.

      I wish for you to always have hope. I feel that, compared with many people — and, particularly, compared with yours! — my struggles are so small. I can’t even imagine what you had to go through with your brain tumor surgery — and what you are still going through. I know it’s going to sound mushy, but so be it … ha! I think you’re an amazing person! I appreciate your posts very much, and they always help me to look for a different side of life or to look for different things within myself. 🙂

      • Thank you very much. I can tell you there are days I just want to give up when I am in a lot of pain, but somehow, someway I am still making my way through this thing we call life. I as you believe it is a strength so mysteriously given from the Almighty…

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