Another year. Another birthday….hard as I try, somehow I always seem to end up feeling the same: a curious kind of ambivalence.
I feel happy to still be here, another year alive is something to celebrate I’m sure, but I also feel this yearning, a pull towards something that is absent and intangible. I struggle to put my ﬁnger on it.
So, I said this year would be different, I would come off Facebook and not spend the day checking in to see if she has remembered or deigned to wish me a happy birthday, because I would be spending it with family…well, I didn’t think that one through very well as my birthday has fallen on a weekday, people are at work and the Bank Holiday is stretching out like a promise on the other side.
It’s me and the kids. Which is lovely. We are hanging out, going swimming and out for a meal later but still, something inside me feels unfulﬁlled, needy.
Am I just ungrateful? My husband made me a lovely breakfast and my kids showered me with kind, thoughtful gifts, I have met up with friends throughout the week and done something nice with each, I have done something I never do and planned a meal out next week with the people who make my life really special. What more could I want? What is it?
I oscillate between wanting to celebrate life, to wanting to crawl into a dark space where no one can ﬁnd me. to be or not to be. Maybe that’s how it’s always going to feel, understanding and acknowledging that being born was a good thing (I hope that by doing what I’m doing I create/ﬁnd some meaning out of being here, like we all do) but that being relinquished, given up, separated- whatever, was a sad thing- a really sad thing.
An act that wasn’t a one off decision, but something that reverberates throughout a number of lives, for entire lives. And I feel it most keenly today. Each birthday not only a demarcation of another year but the anniversary of a wound. Of all the days, this one day always feels like a hurdle, a thing to be got past and then life returns to some kind of normality.
So, like a scratched record, I return to the tried and tested behaviours of the day. Trying to put on a happy face, being buoyant and doing what we are ‘supposed to do’ on a birthday but also, spending time alone, shedding some tears, mourning what has been lost and can never be. And, foolishly, naively, logging back onto Facebook for ‘the message’.
It doesn’t hurt as much as it has done before though, so that feels like some kind of progress, but I wonder why I still need it? Why does it still feel important to have acknowledgement from her on this day?
I guess its a throwback to all those years before I did ﬁnd her, wondering if she thought about me on that day- I ﬁgured that if she was going to think about me on any day that it would be that one. Since ﬁnding out that I was adopted, I always thought of her on my birthday, wondered, fantasised.. and hoped.
Hoped that she was ok, hoped that she was alive and happy and in a better place than she was at 16.
And maybe thats what keeps me stuck in this place, on one day every year. Hope. The thought that for one day I could be the person on her mind and that she could value me enough to acknowledge that I’m here and can be contacted.
Mine was never a family that celebrated ‘Adoption Day’ – I was brought home from the hospital 10 days after birth and presented to my brother as one of his 2nd birthday presents. Apart from the conversation where I was informed of my adoption, we never really spoke of it again and children’s birthdays were never such a big deal (and anyone who shares a birthday that falls in the summer holidays will know how awkward they can be!)
But I always liked celebrating other peoples days (if that’s what they wanted) I’m of the thinking that a birthday is a special day and is one where it’s ok to be made a fuss of/cry if you want to etc. For children that are adopted I don’t imagine it’s unusual for a birthday to be a time of mixed feelings, where things don’t go in a straight line and perhaps even with the best will in the world, it will always be difﬁcult.
For me, tomorrow, life will move on and I can inhabit my adult state again, but birthdays seem to have the effect of taking me back, like falling down a rabbit hole to a time and a place where I felt vulnerable and worthless and small. Roll on tomorrow.