Trauma. Pain. Scars. The past.
These are the things that we have been molded by. Enslaved to.
I have, in the past, always hated my birthday. I couldn’t ever really figure out why. Every year, like clockwork, about one week prior to my birthday, I always get a sinking feeling in my heart, and lots of anxiety surrounding my birthday.
I loathed making any plans for it. Inviting people freaked me out. And anyone making a big deal out of my birthday would get me so overwhelmed, I would sometimes be reduced to tears.
It has nothing to do with the aging process. In fact, I turn 40 years old in 30 minutes, and I look and feel better today than I have in years.
So…what is it? Why am I so inclined to feel dismal on what is supposed to be such a happy occasion?
Looking back and taking inventory of all of my birthdays, going back to childhood, I remember something that really affected me. My 11th birthday. It was the last birthday I celebrated while my parents were still married.
Like any child, I was ecstatic. Big birthday party at Chuck E Cheese. Friends all coming. Gifts. Excitement. And happiness. That innocent happiness that only a child has.
I remember skipping down the corridor of my house, expecting my dad to be dressed and waiting with a big smile on his face. He usually would swing me up in his arms and call me his “little monkey”. But, that wasn’t how I was greeted. Instead, my dad was sitting on the couch, still in his bathrobe, unshowered. I ran to him. “Daddy..why aren’t you dressed? My birthday party is starting soon.” He replied, “I can’t go, son.” It felt like I was being slammed into a wall. I ran to him and jumped in his lap. He wouldn’t look me in the eye. “Please, daddy. Please come. I don’t want a birthday party without you there!” Tears were already streaming down my face. Just then, I heard my mother’s heals clicking down the corridor towards us. My father said to me, “Your mother doesn’t want me there.” At that moment, my mother appeared in the living room and responded to my father’s remark..”Not this time, Joseph. You’re not using me as an excuse for not showing up.” I pulled away from my father. I ran. I ran as fast as I could. Out the front door.
Emotionally, I never stopped running..for over 25 years.
The moment I realized my father wasn’t coming to my 11th birthday by his own accord, a great darkness shrouded my young, impressionable soul. I believed it was my fault that my dad didn’t want to come to my birthday. I told myself form that young age that I was not lovable. I was a bad child. And I hated myself. I carried those beliefs with me for years. In fact, whenever a person (especially a man I care for) flaked on me, didn’t show up for me, etc…I became angry, resentful, hurt, and self loathing. I became that 11 year old child, being abandoned by his father all over again.
It got me to thinking…Do we all take unresolved pain and trauma from the past and displace it into other areas of our present day lives?
How does that serve us? It never served me. In fact, I allowed that single incident to mess with many events and occasions in my life…for decades!
My father is dead. That incident is nothing more than a memory. It’s really just a metaphorical photo in a scrap book, in my mind’s eye.
It is my choice today, to either close that metaphorical photo album of sadness and hurt, or strap it to my back and carry it with me everywhere I go. Do I want to be free, or do I wan to continue to suffer from the weight of a memory that darkens my soul?
Today, on my 40th birthday, I will celebrate.
I start my celebration by telling the truth about my past. Allowing myself to be honest and vulnerable. I celebrate by living in the solution. And, I let go of the painful memory of my childhood.
How do I do that?
Once I’ve written the truth it sits before me. Right there on paper is My soul. My truth. My covenant to myself.
And once I post this story, it is no longer a painful secret, weighing on my heart. It has been set free.
My birthday wish for all of you, is for you to trace your pain back to its source. Understand that it is not happening to you in the present. And, find a healthy outlet to free yourself from it.
I’ve said this before…this is not a rehearsal. This is life. Let’s not waste it by chaining ourselves to the pain of our past. Let’s go for freedom in 2014.
“Cuz my heart is sick of being in chains…” ~Tori Amos