|The Dark And Lonely|
Tomorrow is my birthday and it is a time of the year that I am always a little off. I get dark and I prefer to be quiet. Everyone wants to send sparkly cards and smiles and brightness and even the ones who care about me think that will somehow make my birthday bright because that is what they think a birthday should be. All it does is make me uncomfortable and year after year I deal with this.
I know this is not pretty and most of my stuff is, but stick with me.
When I was a kid, from 4th grade until the 8th grade, I lived in hell. My mom had married a cruel man and that is about as far into the details of that era as I will go. Suffice it to say, birthdays were not days filled with cake and parties and friends. I had no friends. Not really allowed. One day, about the time of my 13th birthday, I gave my grandparents a call on the phone. I said two sentences.
"He hurts us. Come get me."
My grandmother just said, "We'll be there in 30 minutes. We're coming to get you."
I grabbed a little blue suitcase and stuffed it with some clothes, some star wars figures and some hot wheels. I had all I needed and the rest I would never see again. I came into the kitchen and told my mom I was living with my grandparents now. They came. I got in the car and I moved back to Bolingbrook. This cry of freedom did not come with ticker tape parades and glitter and rainbows. It came with PTSD and feeling guilty that I was away from my mother who was still in hell. It came with another shitty birthday alone. I had not been to this town in years and it was summer and I was not the same person that left in the 4th grade. I was different. It would be another two years from that point that I would not speak in a quiet monotone, that I would stand up straight without a slouch, that I would have friends again.
Darkness was familiar to me and so was the lonely. My birthday served as a reminder of a man who would tell me how worthless I am and while other kids had parties with cards and invitation and games and laughter, I was alone. For whatever reason, the birthday sticks with me more than any other day as a reminder. Maybe it is that my life before those years was filled with parties and cards and games and cake and all that stuff.
When I was in high school and my twenties I would not even tell friends when my birthday was. When I turned 21, one of my friends solved that mystery and the next thing I knew my picture and the announcement that I had turned 21 that day was all over the local Met paper and everyone who saw me was telling me happy birthday. It was confusing and scary and I felt exposed.
In my adult life, I am a person who knows that man was wrong to do what he did and say what he said and I know that I am no longer a little boy sitting in a dark closet or cleaning up his own vomit after he was punched in the stomach. I live for love and life and light and the good things. On my birthday, however, I am mixed.
The weird part is this. How others make this about them. This is an annual darkness and I am not sad, per se. I am in deep introspection and in a space that I cannot describe well because I do not have words for it. I have been this way every year on my birthday. I likely will be for life. Those that try to make the day sparkly and full of glitter and bright colors get upset when they cannot get me to smile. This is not your story, it is mine. This is who I am and what I am and I cannot describe it. I have told a very select few people what for me would be the perfect birthday. That is not something for the masses here.
This year I will be at a charity fundraiser selling art and half the proceeds will go to help lonely children get a better playground in their space. For me, this feels right. They need something in their dark worlds and I need the money. I also understand what some of those kids have been through. We are kindred spirits in some ways.
So here is the thing. If you have a dark season. Know that you are not the problem. If others do not understand, this is your story and not theirs. You know that you are okay and that even if today is dark is lonely, that it is a passing night or storm or season and you come out of it just fine. If you relate to what I am saying, you know this is true. I just wanted to say it for both of us. The dark lonely in us all is okay to visit if we need to process. It is who we are and we are beautiful.