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I’d had a rough time with my birthday for as long as I could remember. Kind of like how the holidays hurt once having lost someone. I had always fought to make it princess special but the older I got, the more that was because it was what I “should” want without even knowing how I really felt. Ironic when all it did was trigger associated pain from the past. Something amplified for that particular year by the way the ITP was hitting and the way it had started making everything go sideways. I was deep in the stages of grief. Somewhere between anger, resentment and bargaining. A lot of the anger and resentment against myself. The realities of how much I had pushed everyone away and tried to isolate as I had reached the stage in life of finally fighting back while struggling with all the negative emotions that came with. The bargaining came in when analyzing why the majority of the people I considered friends had been MIA and how to stop that from happening again. I was still too frozen for those thoughts to really formulate yet though. Especially with the stressors of getting ready for S Korea.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
A lot of the details from the past were hazy but I’d never forget how it all felt. Plans not working out and the birthday spotlight shining on what I didn’t like about myself and my life. Worst of all, all of the times people hadn’t been there for me. Note my brother trying to attack me the night before I left for my solo 40th birthday trip to Costa Rica after so few friends had been interested in the cruise I had been planning in order to make their lives easier. Also note that my sisters, biological and honorary, along others in a small group of friends majorly did come together in other ways, so it wasn’t like I wasn’t getting love. Maybe the worst trigger about my b-day was the childhood days when my parents did less for me than my sister and Mom canceled my parties because I would get too excited and act bananas. I’d been a difficult person my whole life. I was aware of that and understood to a certain extent but at the end of the day, the people who were supposed to be there tended to drop the line when it mattered most. It was a recipe for a foundation of dark clouds and short-circuiting instead of happy celebration.
Regardless of everything, my 42nd was the only time I remember ever genuinely wanting my birthday to go away. It was nothing but a headache given how overwhelmed I was between the recruiter stressing me out, working nonstop to come up with the funds for the move and dealing with all the ongoing ITP drama. Also because it was the 40th of others and it felt weird to steal any of the birthday sparkles from them. The only importance the day of my birth did actually carry for that year was that it was a reminder of my still being alive. Holy shit. The reality of that almost not happening froze me in my tracks. I almost hadn’t made it to 42 years. The whole thing hit harder than it had up to that point. I suddenly felt like I had parachuted into the sky, both spinning in slow motion and too fast at the same time.
I fought it but Nikki insisted on doing something to celebrate. She kept throwing out ideas, lightly starting to plan. Finally giving in about the third time she brought it up, I told her that we could just combine it informally with the block party my neighbors and I were already planning. I also offered, despite my financial situation, to pay her band to play there. My neighbors were excited about it. Especially the woman who also had a history of playing in bands.
A chick named Angie (or as Team OB called her, Skang) who had been living in Temecula for years had planned her 40th on my actual birthday to cater to her friends there. Think Real Housewives of fake tits and CrossFit (insert silly and immature jab here). She had been one of those who was a nurse and hadn’t contacted me even once after accidentally seeing me when I was going through my scare. We weren’t close anymore but I still thought it was pretty shitty given that she had actually seen me and had plenty to say about it when she had. For her celebration, she had apparently taken note that it was on my birthday but decided to go ahead anyway. No biggie given that we weren’t much more than acquaintances. What was super fucking lame was that she hadn’t even mentioned to Kate and Nik that they do another celebration on a different day. Even after my having mentioned doing a champagne brunch for her the next day. I thought for two seconds about moving my own, one that wouldn’t had been happening if Nik hadn’t insisted, but instantly got resentful and pissed at the idea. How often do birthdays fall on a Saturday? And it wasn’t even her actual birthday! Nikki made me feel more like garbage when bringing up the idea again. I mean, I hadn’t wanted to celebrate in the first place but she had insisted and now was the one making me feel worse about it. Really though, the way I felt didn’t have much to do with my birthday. It was about my having been made to feel like my life didn’t matter as much. That my literally managing to stay alive was an afterthought to one of the two most important people in my life. And if she felt that way, it could almost guarantee her sister as well.
Kati and Nikki were insisting on swinging by earlier to hang before going to Angie’s birthday. Talk about heightening already bummed feelings, it threw the feeling in my face of what a side-note swing-by I had become. I also didn’t appreciate being disregarded when I told them repeatedly that I didn’t want them to come by for that very reason, not to mention that it was an evening adult thing and that I was busy during the day. Kati still swung by regardless with the same LED light-up shoes in my size that I had bought for her along with her daughters and a cake they had made. Totally not playing fair. Nikki continued making me feel worse not only by denying having been the one to push doing something but also for having never bothered to get back to me about booking her mom band. The most I got out of her was a happy birthday text, though it was more of an unintentionally sarcastic jab by that point. What I did get later as the perfect little present was when I accidentally saw pictures of the two of them with Angie on social media. Unfollow.
Nik tried to call to talk about it a few days later when I was driving back to Nor Cal. Exhausted from a rough night of insomnia that left me with only two hours sleep, let’s just say it didn’t go great. Both being horrible verbal communicators who had a tendency to run from confrontation hadn’t exactly set us up for success either. The strain of it made me come off as cold and detached while making her spazz out. I didn’t want that but doubted we were going to get away from it. The difference was that I got the impression she seemed too defensive to hear anything I said while, though it was hard to take in the moment, I always thought about it later. A lot. I didn’t hate myself the way I had as a kid but I was still critical, especially when I was in such a bitch phase. Triple that if it was anything either of the sisters had to say. They were good people. Way better than I was.
I understood what she said about how my reaction came off as being a selfish brat who wanted all the attention. It upset me that I had been so bad at delivering how untrue I believed that to be and even more that she grown so far away as to know so little of me. I just didn’t want to feel like my life was second and didn’t matter as much, not anything about my birthday. It was frustrating to lose that understanding but I doubted it would have mattered if I could have explained it better. She had no interest in hearing what I had to say. Instead of communication, I was under an emotional freakout spitfire attack. I knew her type of reaction happened, just as I was sure she knew how cold and detached I could be in mine, but I couldn’t recall it having ever been directed at each other. Even though we were different in that sense, I had always thought us more similar in emotion than not. And yet there we were, on opposite sides of the battle field.
Constantly and harshly saying “I’m not going to let you talk to me like that” in a condescending tone I heard come from her husband/my bud every once in a blue moon, it became obvious pretty quickly that she wasn’t willing to hear or understand where I was coming from. She had called to lecture with her mind already made up, even if she hadn’t realized it yet. Typical thinking of those being influenced by the suburb world. At least, that’s the way it felt to me.
The shit hit the fan. I may have understood where she was coming from but her saying that I was being selfish made me feel even more like my life didn’t matter. Also like I was being punished for the ITP situation finally hitting with so much vulnerability, confusion and hurt. An extreme emotional reaction in the moment but it hadn’t happened yet and it was hitting hard since it finally was.
Then she thew it in my face how much her and her sister had done for me. Heartbreaking as doing so just watered it all down and put up a wall that made me unsure I could ever trust either of them with being so intimately vulnerable again. I instantly and angrily resented that she did that not only in general but also to my relationship with Kate. Yes, they had indeed done a lot for me. They had also been the closest people I’d ever had in my life along with the only ones I could always count on. Absolutely. It tripped me out how they had been my angels for a couple decades without falling. The love story of my life. I had always thought about how I wished I could be there for them the way they had been for everyone else. Kate especially. She had been the lead as a mother figure and source of healing power, even when we were kids. She had always been the one setting the sails.
What Nikki had failed to see was what I had done for her for years by enduring the suburbs. A place that triggered torment and darkness and I’d have chosen to stay away from forever if I could. Though the requests were spread apart, I had continuously asked if we could do more in my world, far away from that of the stay-at-home suburban wife life. Great if it made her happy but it suffocated and scared the hell out of me. Also, had she made an effort to be a part of my life and who I was? Had she ever even read my blog? Or thought about going on one of my adventures with me? She’d had good intentions to honor my requests, of course she did, but it hardly ever happened. In fact, she’d go out of her way to do it for others but it was almost always back to her house for me. Don’t get me wrong, I was full of gratitude and love for being considered part of the family like that. Also the way her and Brent made their house the gathering point for family and friends in a way that I dreamed of doing myself. So much of their community, though, was in the typical kind of suburb world that I had a lot of childhood scars from. I had managed to endure it for years, going back to that hell over and over because I knew they were worth it but it had finally started getting too heavy for me over the previous six months. I had been able to feel the strain starting to seep in. It wasn’t much, especially after all they had done for me, but I consoled myself with the thought of my own little sacrifices after she had made me feel like I had been such a burden.
The last thing I remember saying to her during our fight was to thank her for not even bothering to get back to me about trying to do her a solid with her band. Well, the second to last thing. When she said the last words I would allow of her rant, to not call her, I said “OK, buy” and hung up. No problem. I’m good a that.
There you have it. It had to happen eventually given that we’re all human and I had her on way too high of a pedestal for way too long. Honestly, I had known it wasn’t fair for a long time. One thing’s to be sure…it was the ride of a lifetime. For then at least, I was to get through those dark times (that were about to get a lot darker) and start a new life without her. At least at the beginning of it. It had taken twenty years but my angel had fallen. And just like that, I no longer believed in angels.