Friday, February 17, 2017

Happy Birthday, Me!

It's my birthday today!
I couldn't find a picture of a cake with thirty-three candles on it. But if I was eating cake right now, it would need to have thirty-three candles on it. Because that's how old I am today.

Thirty-three.

I've been alive for thirty-three years, despite abuse and heartbreak, despite pain and suffering, despite my struggles with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I've been alive for thirty-three years despite chronic health issues. Despite chronic crises, despite bad decisions. Despite kids who bullied me through school, despite inconsiderate or outright hateful people that have come in out of my life.

I've been alive for thirty-three years because I'm strong. Because I'm resilient, because I'm persistent. Because when I turned my back on God, He followed me around and kept protecting me anyway, sometimes even from myself. I have survived thirty-three turmoil-filled years because:

  • when I was young, my father did what he could to protect me. It made me feel special to him - while it lasted.
  • I never had sisters - except for the year I lived in a group home as a kid. There wasn't room for me in the house with girls my own age though, and I was too mature (and too damaged, perhaps) to fit in with them, so I was placed in a house full of troubled teenaged girls. A kleptomaniac taught me to shave my legs in that house, in midnight moments stolen during the night, when we'd sneak into our shared bathroom and block the light with towels stuffed under the doors so we could talk without getting in trouble. I wish I could remember her name.
I survived because:
  • I met a girl in fourth grade. We became instant friends, the two of us. It worked so well, because she was as broken as I was, as damaged. She felt just as tossed about, just as powerless, just as violated. Perhaps more so. She gave me camaraderie, a safe place in the storm that was my life, Sometimes, she still does.
  • In fifth grade, a woman named Mrs Tosh lit a fire in me - the love of books. She gave me Maniac MGhee, Island of the Blue Dolphins. Hatchet. She gave me an escape my real life could never offer, a sense of secret safety that couldn't be taken away, an adventure trailer-park me could never dream of experiencing. She taught me to dream, gave me imagination. I had already been writing by that time, journals and poems and short bits of nonsense stories. But Mrs. Tosh nurtured that little matchflame into a flickering blaze ...
  • Which became a raging inferno when a boy named Cornell Tulloch told me I couldn't write a book. I never would, I never could. It was silly and stupid. And although it took me much longer than I expected, his not-so-playful taunting is probably part of why I finally found what I needed within myself to actually write - and publish - my books.
I survived because:
  • Although most of my family was broken and dysfunctional in pretty much every possible way, I had some family that I could turn to, that I could lean on. That I could share my secrets with, that I could run to for friendship, for protection, for conversation, for understanding. My cousin is my best friend, and some of the better days of my life are directly attributed to her place in it. I also had my grandmother, although I didn't feel close to her at all in those days. I still think she saw me as an added burden in her life due to the circumstances that were thrust upon us - but looking back now as an adult, I am gifted with understanding for what she must have been dealing with, too. Alzheimer's is taking her now, and although her body still lives, her mind is ... not hers anymore. I feel the pain of her loss deeply already - even as I celebrate the aspects of her personality that live on in me.
I survived because I met a series of boys that taught me things about myself I never even knew I needed to know:
  • Scott taught me a sense of justice - to stand up for myself even when it scares me.
  • Brian taught me that time passes, but love doesn't - and your first love lives with you always.
  • Craig taught me the thrill of excitement.
  • Jason taught me that when you won't kiss a boy (He dipped in seventh grade! Gross!) and he goes off kissing someone else, you don't have to put up with that.
  • Kevin taught me how to have fun in a relationship, how to laugh together and play together. He taught me that friendship is the basis for relationship. He taught me to flirt - but also to respect myself through his respect for me.
  • Jon taught me to be sure I'm ready before I make life-changing decisions - and he taught me the line upon which I will defend my boundaries ferociously. He taught me heartbreak, and the power of my own forgiveness.
  • Larry taught me to let myself feel - even if it hurts. He taught me thrill, and joy, and passion ... He taught me to love basketball. He taught me heartache.
  • Richard taught me ... to stand up for what I believe in. To go my own way when I have to, even if other people don't always understand. He taught me how fierce I can be as a woman, how strong I truly am, and the level of sacrifice I'm willing to make for those I love. He taught me compassion - but he taught me the fire of hatred and scorn, and the lasting power of words spoken in anger. He taught me fear of my own toxicity - he taught me caution.
  • Ryan ... he taught me ... more than I want to go into here. Among other things, he taught me about my breaking point, he taught me about life at rock bottom. He taught me about digging deep and finding what it takes to keep on keeping on. He taught me strength and perseverance. He taught me about being pushed down and held back, being broken. He taught me about powerlessness.
And then there was the other one. The one that taught me I'm special, the one that made me feel beautiful, that made me feel talented, that made me want to be a better mother, a better woman, a better Christian. The one who was so unafraid to be vulnerable with me that he showed up at my door once in the middle of the night when he needed a safe place to fall. The one who allowed ME to be HIS safety. The one who was always there when I was on the ledge, when I needed to talk. The one who, ironically, gave me the strength it took in the end to break things off.

The one who I will always feel "got away."

The one who called me his Guardian Angel.

The one who told me this:


and made me feel like this:


and even this:


I survived because I am a survivor, a warrior, a fighter. And as I enter this next year of life, I intend to live it fully, in honor of - or in some cases in spite of - the influences that touched my life until this point.

And it's going to be the best year yet. I hope you'll follow along with me to watch it unfold.


63 comments:

  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOPE YOUR DAY IS AMAZING

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    1. Thank you!! It was a pretty good one, actually.

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  2. Happy Birthday... Whatever you believe to be broken within you, it certainly isn't your mind. The scabs are always in a state of healing and I've learned not to pick at them. Forward is my only direction because I would lose my mind trying to relive or recapture or even justify my past. Be strong warrior!

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  3. amazing post..loved those songs...and yea "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" hope you achieve wayyy more success in this blogging world and gain more visitors & subscribers in coming years :) SUBSCRIBED :D

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    1. Thank you - I greatly appreciate your support!

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  4. Happy Belated Birthday and let god Continue to bless you! many more years to come! ♥

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  5. Happy birthday,good wishes for all!!!

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  6. Happy Birthday to you. I loved being in my 30's. I think I had more fun then than I did in my 20's. I hope you have a blast.

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    1. I can't decide yet which I like more, but I definitely think so far, my 20s were better. But then, my 30s still have time left to pull ahead and become spectacular, so we'll see.

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  7. Aww Happy Birthday! such a thoughtful post! how you had an amazing day:)

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    1. Thank you! It was definitely one of the better ones.

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  8. Happy birthday month! I love how real this post is and how you have taken everything as lessons learned and realized how much stronger you are thanks to this!

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    1. Aww, thanks. I think that's how it has to be - you have to play the hand you're dealt, even if you don't always like the cards. You can still give it your all though - and I'm trying to do that.

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  9. Happy πŸŽˆπŸŽ†πŸŽ‡πŸŽπŸŽ‚πŸŽπŸŽ‡πŸŽ†πŸŽˆ Birthday, hope you have a wonderful day! I love πŸ’œ how you used parts of your life as the lessons learned. Thank you for giving me the courage to go ahead an write abt my deepest and biggest fears!

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    1. Thank you so much. If sharing what I've learned and what I've been through can help someone else learn or accept what they've been through ... then ... mission accomplished.

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  10. Happy Birthday to you. May your future be bright

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  11. Happiest birthday to you! I love how much you love life despite everything that you went through. It was nice reading about the things that you learned through all the experiences and people that you encountered in those thirty three years.

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  12. Hope you had an amazing birthday. It's always hard to let go of something sometimes. But when we let go of control we can see beautiful things happen.

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    1. That's what I'm hoping for. I'm definitely reading for some good things to happen!

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  13. We share a love of books. Most families are dysfunctional and it only takes one person in the famiiy to make a difference. I am so glad you are not the exception. And I hope you had a wonderful birthday!!

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  14. Happy birthday!!!! Hope you have an amazing year and achieve everything you want

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  15. Happy birthday! I hope you have an amazing week! You have such a great outlook on your life!

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    1. Thank you! I definitely find that staying positive makes a big difference when things in life are going wrong.

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  16. I hope you had a wonderful birthday! I used to love birthdays as a kid...then for a while I hated them because I was getting older... now I love them again!

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    1. It was a great day - I was glad it went so well. They don't always, especially as a mom. Sometimes it just ends up feeling like just another day, but this one was nice, and I loved it.

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  17. Happy birthday! Although you have been hurt. Im so glad you have had people in your life to encourage you.

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    1. Me too - it makes all the difference in the world.

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  18. happy birthday to you !! Have a wonderful celebration!

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  19. Happy, happy birthday to you! Isn't it amazing what we can survive when we have people there to help and encourage us? I'm sorry you went through this, but it really does make you a stronger person (I used to hate people telling me this until I realized just how true it was). ;)

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    1. Haha! I hated it too - but I've come to love the reminder now. I really am strong and resilient, and I'm proud of that.

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  20. Happy birthday! Life starts at 35. Or at least, that's what I keep telling myself to make me feel better about being 35. Anyway. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
    Katja xxx
    www.katnapped.com

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    1. Hahaha! Well I suppose I'm almost ready to begin then! Thanks!

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  21. I love that you reflected back over the years. This is probably the best birthday post I have ever read. Happy Birthday. We are all survivors in our own way.

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    1. Oh my gosh, thank you!! Your comment made my day!

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  22. happiest birhtday! have a blast!!
    -Catsvill

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  23. Happy Birthday.... u have shared so much about your life. it takes guts to put everything out in the open. i admire your courage. keep going and don't look in the past.

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  24. Happy Birthday! I am so happy to see a reflection as you turn older instead of a bashing. Here's to many more years!

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    1. I can get behind reflection - I feel like there really is a place in life for introspection and "navel-gazing," so long as it doesn't become a way to bash others or look down on them for what they are - or what they aren't.

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  25. Happy birthday. May the next 33 years filled with joy, laughter and success. What can't kill you will make you stronger.

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  26. I find your stroies to be very raw and genuine. I find that quality amazing. Thank you for giving us the snapshot into your life.

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  27. Happy Birthday! There is much emotion and strength in your post. You are truly a strong person, maybe not despite your experiences but because of them. They make break some people but not you. Everything made you stronger and now you are ready to conquer the world! Go for it!! X

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  28. Happy Birthday to you and Wishing you an empowering year that would make you more resilient. Wishing you more happiness and love.

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  29. Happy Birthday I hope you had a wonderful day :D

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  30. Happy birthday! I enjoyed reading this, a sweet sentiment on your birthday!

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  31. Awww I didnt want this post to end - not at your life expense, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post! It really gripped my attention and i was filled with both sadness and joy. It made feel giddy inside, almost like a child falling in love with a new toy - i know so weird. anyways, I really enjoyed it. Happy 33rd Birthday! You're a strong and wonderful woman! God Bless. xx

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    1. Thank you. This is one of those comments I keep for the days when I'm not sure I should keep doing this. Your encouragement is so much appreciated!

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  32. Happy Birthday. I hope you had a good one.

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