Birthdays come to us merely once a year, just that one single day that is ours, to celebrate our lives.
I remember a parent in a group therapy session saying once, ‘a birthday is your day, it’s just for you to celebrate,’ and it was said with such conviction and simplicity that it has stayed with me since.
Birthdays were great as a kid, whether it was the coke floats, the planned activities out with family and friends or even just pass the parcel; they were always made memorable for me.
But then, like most things, they became a struggle. A landmark in my life reminding me that I was going nowhere, contributing nothing; just getting older and accomplishing none of my goals.
This time four years ago, I didn’t want to see another moment let alone another year. I didn’t think I could conceivably fight my way through, I didn’t want to, I had no more energy to try find my way in my life.
And that’s a hard memory to have attached to my birthday – my special day just for me.
But it also reminds me now how much has changed, how I think so differently these days, how I now want to embrace life with both hands and see what it has in store for me and actively go pursue all of its opportunity. I’m nearly tripping up over all the ideas, dreams and hopes for my future that I have!
I remember two years ago on my birthday, I wrote 20 of my learnings since beginning recovery and that was just the starts of my shift in thinking.
Today was my birthday, and I cannot think how else to explain how I feel but full of joie de vivre. I am so content, so excited to have a day that’s MY day and so happy to be able to celebrate it negativity free, rather than shrink away from the festivities.
It has been such a lovely day from start to finish and I wouldn’t be able to say that if I hadn’t worked hard to change where my mind was at and follow the hope and belief that it could improve.
I'm so grateful and nearly emotional that I am still here today, sitting on the bus into work I was just short of both giggling and crying for most of the trip.
It just hit me really strongly today how much better I feel now, and how I didn’t have a clue that such a good feeling was possible, this same day years ago.
Change is possible and so worth fighting for.
So I want to share my learnings to date, 22 this time;
- Letting go of old fears is liberating – hugely liberating. And generally not as big of a deal as I made them out to be in my head.
- Taking risks outside of my comfort zone is worthwhile, and talking myself out of them is not.
- Everybody is not judging me, nor looking at me, nor constantly thinking about my flaws.
- I have a lot to offer and I have dreams worth pursuing. I also have a voice with a lot to say.
- Little things add up to being big solid wonderful foundations.
- Clarity is important to me; as is honesty, determination, commitment and expression.
- There’s a whole world out there that I’m excited to see.
- I love using positive language and find myself more interested in positive conversations and stories than the negative I used to surround myself in. I love hearing the good news, learnings, and energy filled sharings of others.
- I am more than my body, my body does not define me and as above, everybody is NOT judging it! In fact, my body is frickin incredible and deserves respect and nourishment.
- If you want something, you might as well ask for it.
- All people are just people, no one is superior or inferior.
- I’m NOT useless or stupid or a waste of space/air/attention or out of control or crazy – and not because I’ve suddenly become amazing but because it was just never true. I deserve better than believing any of that about myself.
- Life is full of choices, and I am in the position of choosing.
- I can be a victim or a survivor, it’s up to me
- Guilt is a luxury I cannot afford. Likewise with shame – starting fresh and doing what I can is all I can expect myself to do.
- I can be my own support and a very good supporter at that.
- Embracing vulnerability is important to me. Allowing myself feel and be sensitive allows for more connection and honesty.
- Being true to myself is important, there’s no need to try be anyone else.
- Trust is important in a journey like this, as is patience and both are worth strengthening
- If you want something to change, sometimes you have to be the one changing it, being the change you wish to see in the world is the birthplace of this. Being the type of person I want to meet, creating the things I wish existed - these all motivate me to keep learning and growing in a positive way.
- I am incredibly lucky with the life I have.
- Perfection is not attainable, my best is good enough and there’s a lot of things that simply aren’t worth stressing over.
Life is constantly teaching us – it’s not there to be fought, but to learn from. We might not get everything right, we might need to revise some parts, but we can always keep trying again.
Hope has paved the way for a lot of my learning; hoping that it could get better, that I could see things differently, that I could enjoy life as I saw others doing.
It can and does get better. Birthdays can become something to look forward to, to remember fondly and to embrace again.
I didn’t think I’d be saying this back on that birthday nor feeling anything like I do now but here I am.
Life’s not perfect, but it’s mine and I want to live it now :)