It’s Monday again – time for Coffee and Conversation.
Today’s Topic: Birthday desires, past and present, and what lies beneath them….
When I was six, my family was driving on an interstate highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living their lives, lives as important to them as mine was to me.
I wanted to see what those lives were, and to share my own…
Here, each Monday, I strive to reach that understanding through offering ideas and tidbits from my life. Settle in for a while, and share something of yours.
Today, I am forty-four years old. I like the number; the two fours fit together nicely, and it feels welcoming, this place between forty-three and forty-five.
Four days ago was the tenth anniversary of our son Elijah’s death. He was 12 days old.
Since he died, I haven’t wanted any kind of party-type celebration of my own birthday. The two dates are too close together. It’s a classic case of “you can’t get there from here.” I tend to be in a more contemplative place. Instead of a celebration, I take account of the journey I’ve made over the last year, and where I would like to go from here.
I’ve known that feeling! I’ve walked through stores with money in my pocket, but too little in the budget, looking for something new with the quiet desperation of a empty-lunged drowning woman sinking below the surface.
It was as though I could fill the emptiness and jagged edges of my soul with some thing that would heal all my hurts, sorrows, and furies.
It didn’t work any better than filling my lungs with water would. I was still drowning.
When I was a child, I wanted many things for each birthday. Or, I thought I did.
What I wanted , really, was something I had never had, or felt – power in my own life. I wanted, more than gifts chosen by others, an allowance, so that I could have money of my own – the means to get and do things I wanted.
I wanted to be able to make choices:
to not eat sauerkraut.
to have a dog.
to stay inside and read all day, even when the weather was beautiful,
to take my book outside.
I wanted freedom, and equality:
I wanted my brothers to do the dishes and set the table,sometimes, instead of my sister and I doing it because “we were girls.”
To take out the trash even though I wasn’t a boy.
To stay up all night, sometimes, reading, writing, and delving my own depths.
I wanted things that would feed my soul:
My own voice, and the freedom to use it.
For my interests and passions to be taken seriously, not scorned or ridiculed.
I needed to feel safe from:
The too-frequent spontaneous combustion of too many tempers and far too little peace.
I also wanted:
To learn what, when, and in the way I wanted.
To be accepted just as I was, with no labels attached.
To not be shamed for my failures.
For others not to claim ownership of my triumphs.
To own my own life – and, like many kids, I didn’t.
It’s taken me nearly all of my forty-four years to learn that I wanted all these things, and to start learning ways to finally meet these deep desires. I’ve still got a lot to learn…but life today has a vastly healthier, easier feel to it.
I ordered a new printer this week – The kids have been using the one we have, and it’s seen some wear and tear. I plan on editing two novels beginning next month, and I wanted a new one that will be up to printing out several hundred pages, and ready for scanning stacks of old-style film photos I’ve been meaning to get to for years.
As I’m learning to heal my hurts and meet those old needs, largely through raising and living with two children who, at 9 and almost 12, have owned their own lives for years, now, the nature of my desire is shifting from wanting to have things to fill my empty places, to wanting things that serve my life and passions.
And it feels lighter, freer, and more fulfilling!
Which could be the biggest and best gift of all.
Do you take account of your life periodically, on your birthday or at other times? What are your biggest or most valuable personal victories? Do you have unmet needs from your childhood? Have you learned ways to meet them, as an adult?
Grab a fresh cuppa, and join the conversation in the booth below!