I’m 30 years old today.
30 years since my mother gave birth to me. Now my mother is taking care of my 10-year-old.
30 years since my father whispered something known only to us in my ear. Now my father and I don’t speak.
30 years since I was new, and unknown, and beloved, and everything was possible. Now I am older than I have ever been, unknown in a completely different way, disregarded, beaten down, robbed, stunted, impossible.
Today is my birthday, which for me means despair.
I have always wanted to be loved, but if this life has taught me anything, it’s that love can’t be forced. Not from your family, and certainly not from others. I know I’m not loved. I know I’m a burden. That most people don’t care about me, and those who do–bless them–do it out of a stubborn allegiance to a person long dead. Or maybe their own sense of human decency, I don’t know.
I know enough to know that I’m trash. I stole that from a story I wrote. But it’s true about me too, isn’t it?
We–you know, people–like to tell ourselves that we are inviolably special. We like to imagine there is at least one special thing that makes us worthy or desirable or good. For me, that thing used to be writing. Elizabeth Brico: Writer. But I can’t shake off the feeling that actually, I’m pretty common. And being common will never be enough to pull my life from the trenches where it’s floundering. Unfortunately, being unloved also means nobody else is going to pull my life out either.
30 years feels like I’ve passed the point of no return.
Of course, so did 29 years. So did 28 years. So did 27…when did it not? I can’t remember when I still felt like I had a chance.
These are the thoughts that plague me every year on the days leading up to my birthday. These are the thoughts that, each February 8 since I turned 18, have overtaken me, plunged my head into the pitch, and held me down until I am empty of air and filled with darkness. They’re the reason I ask not to be alone. Why I beg to be celebrated.
You can’t beg to be celebrated. People celebrate you, or they don’t.
When I attempted suicide in 2016, the ER nurses at Harborview Hospital mocked me. They treated me like a whiny brat, because I wanted people to care about me. I was on a gurney, half dead, wishing I wasn’t alone–and the nurses made fun of me to my face. That’s who I am (that’s who they are).
It’s not just whining. I’m not just demanding a birthday celebration; I’m begging for my life to be valued–to be shown that my life has value. People constantly say, “you have to find your own value. You have to love yourself–it can’t come from anyone else.” And that’s probably true. There are a few people who care, but I still can’t feel that caring inside of me. Nothing touches me but anger, and loneliness, and dread. And yet, the people who say those things still have birthday parties.
This year, for my birthday, I will be more alone than ever. Husband in the hospital. No solid plans until the following day. I’ll be fighting the monsters in the pitch all on my own. If anyone wants to help win the battle, I’m here.