It’s my birthday today, and a significant one at that – I’ve turned 60, which is a nice round number and one that I get to celebrate sober. Another achievement is getting myself around the Sun one more time, as they say. Ha.
As much as I look forward to seeing my loved ones and enjoying their celebration of my milestone, I am starting to understand that this is more about them, and that I would rather skip this day altogether. Or at least not make such a great deal out of it.
For us relinquishees, this is a little more complicated than just a day celebrating a milestone. Birthdays might bring anxiety, pain, and too many expectations. For those of us who have abandonment experiences, this day can bring a lot of negative emotions. When we don’t experience what we expect, our abandonment issues flare. It’s no wonder so many relinquishees just want to get this day over with!
As for me, birthdays are hard because they cause me to review and reassess all the dynamics and challenges of having been born and relinquished at birth, and adopted at one week old. I was adopted into a loving family, but even that presents some impressive mental gymnastics. The people who celebrated my birthday with me were my mom and dad, but they were not my biological parents. Yet, I’ve always referred to them as such and will always think of them as my parents. And I will think of the woman who gave birth to me and relinquished me as my biological mom, who got pregnant by my biological dad. That’s a lot of people involved in creating a person, one who, 60 years later, is still sometimes struggling with my identity.
I know I will have to put a smile on my face today while all this chaos is happening in my head, and it will feel exhausting, and I might even find myself in the position where I will be counting down the hours until the day is over. This is not because I’m an ungrateful sort of person! I know that my family will have prepared something for me and that they would be hurt were I to ignore their efforts and goodwill.
But, though it’s difficult for me to celebrate my birthday, I think it is essential for me to acknowledge the reality of my birthday – that it is yet one of those challenging days for a relinquishee, and that our realities are oftentimes a little more complicated than those of people around us. I think it’s essential for me to connect with those people and try to work out the uncertainty and confusion that we feel about the day that for others means balloons, smiles, and cakes. The good thing is, tomorrow is no longer my birthday, and it’s back to regular programming with all its ups and downs and the reality that I cherish so much. I love my life. Amor Fati!
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