Several years ago if you would have told me I would be celebrating my 31st birthday today, I would have secretly chuckled inside with disbelief. For some reason ever since I was a child I had a fear that I was going to die when I turned 28. Pardon the morbidity, but this is real talk.
My life did drastically change when I was 28. Everything I thought I knew about myself and the world around me dissolved into complete chaos. A romantic (but highly dysfunctional) serious relationship to a man I thought I may marry crumbled to pieces, I began feeling like an impostor in my ‘dream’ career and realized it wasn’t actually what I wanted anymore, and I saw my birth mother for the 4th time in my life and came to terms with the reality that, at least for this season, a relationship with her or my birth father wasn’t possible.
I guess you could say I hit rock bottom. I generally felt like I was coming apart at the seams and developed a near debilitating anxiety disorder, which only strengthened my (then) life long struggle with depression and suicide ideology. In a way, a lot of things in my life (dreams, hopes, relationships) did ‘die’ while I was 28.
However, bottoming out also woke me up. It made me realize that unless I did some major work, I was going to lose out on a life that each of us deserves. One that includes having the freedom to cultivate your own passions/dreams true to your heart, building healthy relationships and a future family, and even the ability to celebrate without guilt or shame, and as often as possible.
Everyone’s ‘rock bottom’ looks radically different. For me I know it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, although at the time it sure felt like my life was over.
So, what did I do? I decided to commit to myself and do everything possible to get better. Granted, I had been arbitrarily going to counseling for a number of years. But, let’s be honest, I was hoping for a quick fix and I was doing an amazing job of circling my core issues without actually dealing with them. I stepped up my game and, as best I could, along with my extraordinarily patient and compassionate counselor, began the process of facing my junk. It was awful.
But over time, it slowly began to get better. I started to experience freedom in ways I didn’t know were possible. Instead of zoning out, I could stay present with people for longer and longer amounts of time. Most importantly, I started to have compassion for myself, my story and my trauma. I began to give my deeply hidden dreams room to grow and I even started to slowly learn how to celebrate. The next two birthdays, I planned my own party. Not out of shame, but out of a place of knowing we all deserve to embrace love and affection from others.
This year, my husband conspired and surprised me with birthday cake at our dear friend’s dinner party. I wanted to cry, and indeed I did. The tears were wonderful.
My birthday wish this year is for those of you who are currently where I was. My hope is that you will be able to avoid a rock bottom like mine, and eventually, with time, replace tears of sorrow, pain and anguish with tears of joy, redemption and celebration.
Happy Birthday to me, and you.
I love you.