The above photo was taken today in my living room. As you can see, my birthday is off to a good start, with today being only Saturday. I have already received 2 cards for Tuesday's birthday: one from my best friend in NY whom I met in 7th grade, and the other, the smaller of the two, is from what's left of my biological family. The zinnias are from myself; I bought them at a farmer's market downtown yesterday.
Today happens to be the birthday of a 4th grader named Ian. He is The Child's former best friend. This morning when I was out buying corn on the cob I ran into Ethan, one of The Child's classmates. Ethan wanted to know where The Child was, and I explained that 2 of our adult friends had taken The Child to a waterpark. Then Ethan wanted to know why the Child wasn't going to be attending Ian's overnight birthday party today, and I said that The Child had not been invited.
A healthy-minded, well-adjusted adult parent would not become undone by the fact that her Child had been snubbed for a birthday party to which many other kids from school had been invited. I know this. And I am completely undone.
Rejection just sucks; there's no way around it. It's bad enough that The Child has been mysteriously left out of a party for his close friend who has been our guest many times, but why do I have to take this personally? Is he somehow being excluded because of me? Have I raised a social reject? Or does this ring a bell, dredging up memories of my own painfully lonely childhood? Maybe someday I'll have such an incredibly strong sense of self worth that I will not be affected by the absence of party invitations for The Child, but I'm not there yet- I'm not even on that planet.
And in the case of my birthday, there's no party, so there's no lack of invitation to worry about, thankfully. But there's still the profound disappointment which I first felt the year that my mother died. On my birthday the year that she died, I was hit by the realization that nobody would ever care about me as much as she did. I did have a boyfriend that year, but I've always chosen men unwisely. He picked a horrible fight with me on that birthday, and I received no cards or gifts from anyone. My biological family had disintegrated after my mother's death- they felt nothing but resentment toward me even though I paid for the funeral (she had left her tiny "estate" of a couple thousand dollars to me). There were no birthday wishes coming from them.
To make matters worse, my mother used to spoil me. I was her youngest, and I was the one she became good buddies with. She showered me with thoughtful, appropriate gifts on my birthday, Christmas, Easter, and even Valentine's Day. The woman was a shopper- no, she was SHOPPER- which was good for me, because I was NOT. She even used to buy my clothing, and my current wardrobe reflects her absence.
I miss the presents, and the ones I receive now I hold dear. My friends Doug and Cathy gave me two wrapped gifts for Christmas last year, and I have yet to open them. It's important to me to know that I still have two unopened gifts available.
Thus, I now suffer immeasurably on such occasions as my birthday. Again, that missing Sense of Self Worth could save me, I assume. But who wants to feel alone? I am grateful for the friends who do remember my birthday, definitely, but something bothers me. I do feel as if I'm moderately important to several people, yes. And a Child depends upon me, yes. But I am not the main focus of anybody's life now.
The Wise Answer to my problem is this: Become the main focus of your own life, Betty.