It is the week before my birthday.
A birthday of significance by American societal standards.
“The Big 4-0”
“Over the Hill”
Terms now in my vocabulary according to my age: middle age, grey hair, menopause…..Joy!
Physically, I feel incredible. I feel strong and powerful. I am healthy and in peak shape.
Mentally, I am content with the insights that age and experience have gifted me.
I do not wish to be young. I do not feel old.
I am comfortable with who and where I am in life and my journey ahead.
To be able to actually feel that way gives me immense contentment and peace.
I don’t believe that my self doubt and insecurities have ever been so quiet.
Yet, for all this, my current sweet spot of life, I am also deeply sad.
I miss my mom. I am sad that she is not here with me to celebrate. I am heavy. Burdened with my grieving. Internally. Longing for her. She had a special knack for celebration and an ability to make me feel very special. She would send mushy cards, plan a perfect day, sing. Celebrating birthdays with her made me feel as if I was the only person that mattered on my day. And to her I knew I was. She used to call me her sunshine, the one spot in her shitty life that was beautiful. The one thing she did that made her proud.
My last birthday that she was alive, I was an asshole to my mom. Mr. Reinvention, Baby and I were traveling out of the country for my birthday. I completely rebutted her desire to celebrate with me. I nonchalantly blew her off. Telling her we had already celebrated my birthday in Europe and closed the subject for further conversation. You see, after my brother died being “her sunshine” felt like a high pressure, full time job with tremendous expectations. And I didn’t want it anymore. And so I never did celebrate with her that year. And I never got to celebrate with her again.
Now, I am able to verbalize to my family and friends that I am hurting. Externally, my pain is coming out sideways. Impatient, edgy, shortened fuse and angry. Upset with myself that I cannot get a handle on my emotions. Frustrated that I am being sunk by the grief, again.
I recognize the ability to outwardly express what prior I reserved for a very safe few as a shift. Forward motion. Instead of drowning in my pain and drawing deeply inward I can speak my truth. This is progress for me.
“I am hurting. I miss my mom.”
Perhaps, I wasn’t able to speak that truth prior because a part of me felt shame and guilt for the way our relationship eroded. Worn away by years of dysfunction and chaos and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Operating to survive and unable to grow beyond. My brother’s death rapidly crumbled what was already in a fragile state. I was incapable of being the best daughter to her. I could not see her in all her pain and beauty with compassion. It took me losing her for me to become objective and forgive her. To really see her in totality.
Given that oppressive sense of shame I did not feel able to freely express my candor of hurt.
My resuscitation is in the ability to acknowledge my hurt. Exhale it out of me and into the universe. Riding my waves of grief to reach my safe harbor. Without self-criticism. To say it- openly and honestly. To move through it by running and meditating and writing and speaking aloud.
“I miss you mom. I wish you were here to call me your sunshine and sing and have a special birthday day together.”
The funny thing is that when my mom shined her love on you. It was like the eye of heaven basking you, warming you, filling you up with light. She was my sunshine too. I just didn’t realize it until her rays were eclipsed.
On my birthday, I will revel and exalt in gratitude. To being 40. Living this tremendous adventure with all of the gifts life has to offer. To honor us both.