XXIII. hate birthdays. I always have, my own anyways. They are meaningless, random days of the year. A hollow, empty measure of numbers that act as made up milestones for what is essentially any other day. Any day derives its meaning and memories from what happened that particular day, whether seized, lived to the fullest or not.
Anyhow, twenty-three short years ago today, I was born. This past year, years twenty-two to twenty-three of my life, I do not think I have ever felt so much loss in one single year in my entire life. My twenty-second year of living was less than stellar and failed to live up to the promise of its potential. In other words, it was not so great. I am already usually moody on my birthdays, but this year will be a doozy. Aside: on my eighth birthday, my father and I discovered my grandfather dead in his apartment. That was not fun.
I remember exactly where I was, in mind and body, and what I was doing a year ago on my twenty-second birthday and I cannot believe how far away I am from that life, one short year ago. I was decidedly in a much better position and place in my life. Today, I am hardened by the the realities of the year past and broken down by my struggles, if not at least a little rebuilt. It all seems like a complete other life, from then to now. I miss that time; I miss it so much, I can barely stand it. Although I was filled with much of the same uncertainty and anxiety I feel today, I had so much hope, optimism, and potential in my heart and my mind was relatively clear.
Pretty much everything that happened after that day a year ago exactly (I kid you not) has been an epic shit storm that has continued more or less since then with varying degrees of shittiness throughout. Forgive my over-dramatization, I am not sure if this last year was the worst year of my life (probably not in retrospect), because who would be sick enough to quantify such a thing. However, I cannot think of another year in my life where I have lost so much and gone through so much personal pain, sadness, grief and tragedy in my struggle for a continued existence that I know of.
I have had to muster all my energy, maturity and growth as a human being to deal with the problems and lives falling apart around me. I was so very tired without the time to properly recover and recuperate, but my instinct was to tough it out and not complain... to protect those I love. Do not get me wrong, a lot of good times and good things happened last year, which I am very thankful for and I mean not to discount them, but I doubt they are anywhere even close to overtaking all the sadness and struggle I dealt with. Many who saw me day to day who were not a part of my hardship knew only what I shared and were surprised at my bright, laidback, cheerful demeanor, strength, valour, and maturity. I do not mean to dwell, I am not the kind of person to be down in the dumps. I move on and recover, but I am human and need to time to heal from circumstances.
Never have I experienced so much fear, dissatisfaction, disappointment, shock, horror, sadness, and disinterest in my own life. It has reminded me of my humanity, as the year previous (my 21st) was simply an over joyous delight and one long ride on cloud nine. I can barely muster the strength or will to comprehend my twenty-first year and its sheer magic. It feels like another time and place that ended vehemently and coldly with sheer force of which I never understood.
I've never been so disappointed so consistently and thoroughly by life in general. A hard part to deal and cope with is my own actions. I feel that I have acted relatively appropriately, effectively, and somewhat admirably under the given conditions. My strength and content of character have not failed me yet. I have often suffered to be there and protect the ones I love only to receive more grief in return. And while I do not feel necessarily let down by those in return, an emptiness and and lack of fulfillment prevails. What I want stands behind what others need, which is unfortunate for myself obviously.
It has become increasingly difficult to do the right thing when it comes with fewer rewards, more hurdles, and only little promise of future growth. But steadfastly, the right thing is always right (obviously) and invitations for selfishness and mistreatment outwardly, while easy must be rebuffed. Vindication is unlikely to come clearly, but I may have to settle for peace of mind and long-term self-satisfaction (which is as personally unfulfilling as it sounds). Some people will inevitably let you down, but they must always be given a chance for redemption. I need to be fearless and rise above the actions of others. This last year has undone a lot of the work I did for years to make myself and better, happier, more cheerful person, which is depressing. However, I doubt I would still be here if all that work prepared me for all the challenges I faced. I wonder if those closest to me realize how much they hurt me. And the thing is that most of these hardships have happened to those around me and not to me directly, which is all the more frustrating for me to handle.
I am afraid of what this year's birthday will hold for me. Birthdays generally hold is the hope and expectation to celebrate another one, but I am afraid of what another birthday may hold. I expect my twenty-third year to bring a new set of challenges and struggles and cautiously welcome them with their as ups and downs. I hope I am able to receive the same kind of love and patience, I can give. In order to take care of others, you must look after yourself. I have learned and further developed my incredible capacity for understanding and care as my strengths that have been thoroughly tested. I hope and expect for all the best, but fear the dark places that follow the worst of times.
I will always stand and stand tall, but I doubt how much more I can take and more importantly, how much more I am willing to take. I refuse to hold onto anger and blame in my head and my heart. I want to be uplifting. I welcome forgiveness and growth, but it must be earned, not handed out. Wounds heal, tears goes by as my desperation for something meaningful and worthwhile persists. The easiest path is seldom the correct one. I refuse to let my spirit be broken as my will is tested again and again. My trust in the human condition and paramount skill for care and understanding will guide my strength and will, despite my lack of faith. Here's to you and to me.
Today, I am twenty-three years young. Happy birthday to me.
Note: I originally wrote this a month ago when I was in a strange, murky place mindfully and subsequently felt much better afterward, until a few days ago, and now I am exceptionally moody again. But I digress, anyways...