Meh. I’m feeling old today. Yeah, it is my birthday, and no I’m not really doing anything fun besides the usual Wednesday activities with my husband and son. I normally dread my birthday because in the years when I was still in contact with my family, there would be the cringe-worthy calls I’d have to take from them.
My mother would call me first thing in the morning to remind me how this day wasn’t about me, really. She would lament how many hours she spent in labor, how magical it was for her, blar de blar blar.
She would always leave out the obvious part of my birth story I’d learn when I was a teenager, which was that she was married to another man and I was the product of her affair with my father. She’d leave out how she was in the waiting room of the abortion clinic, waiting for her name to be called, only to change her mind at the last minute. She’d leave out how she passed me off as another man’s child for nearly two years before the ruse was discovered because of obvious family genetic resemblance to my father’s side of the family.
No, today is about how she spawned the perfect way to get more attention, by having a little girl. She called me her “dolly” which was exactly how she always saw me. I was her accessory, her plaything, something she could control and give orders to until she got bored and needed something else to do.
In the years of our estrangement, she’s always done something to ruin the day for me. She used to send cards, reeking of Charlie perfume and cigarettes, pink envelopes with glitter sparkles falling out, which went right into the trash. I’d hear about it later from my dad, how I could throw away what was certainly a check inside, as if any amount of money could buy my dignity.
A few years ago, it was my father who stabbed me in the back, sending information about my son to my mother, and used his sister to pass on photographs of him. When I got word of this, I was heartbroken, feeling as though I couldn’t count on anyone. I called him to confront him, and he didn’t deny it. That was our last conversation. A few envelopes came from him with what were certainly letters and checks, but by then I was done. I don’t open them anymore.
These two humans, the ones responsible for my existence spent so much of it truly ignorant of who I was, assuming I could be bribed back into compliance. So, each year that passes, I dread the day when it comes, knowing there’s some people out there still making it all about them.
And as much fun as it sounds to celebrate, it comes at a price, knowing my happiness includes that bitter aftertaste, and after a while I begin to wonder if it’s worthwhile to even notice the day anymore.