An Act of Solidarity

It’s a few days before my birthday and my boyfriend forgot. 

Not on purpose, he pleaded, “it was an honest mistake!” 

I can forgive that. 

What hurt me the most wasn’t that my birthday had slipped his mind. No. Rather it was that he was yet another among sooooo many other people who’ve done the same, if not worse. 

So, naturally, I gave him hell for it. 

Even in my sobbing silence, I was enraged and he knew it. Just didn’t know how deeply affected I was, or even why! 

Why… is because he can’t possibly understand the blow of being disowned on a birthday.

Mom called Dad on 18th birthday to remind him about late child support. His backlash, “Bueno Aida, she’s 18 now. She’s no longer my problem.” He hung up before either of us had the chance to respond. Mom looked at me hoping I’d been daydreaming and missed what’d just happened. But the conversation was on speakerphone and his voice – at least what was left of it – was never one to be ignored. Noticing my full awareness, Mom went on, “he’s right, you’ve always been a problem.” 

Why… is because he doesn’t know the disappointment of an entire family forgetting birthdays and age

Every year, Mom felt it appropriate to take me on a random shopping spree sometime in June or July. She’d say, “Angela, get whatever you want, this will be your birthday present!” When I was young that was dope and all. One year, I snagged a Barbie Dreamhouse, a Barbie Jeep, and THREE Limited Edition Barbies. Another year, my sights were set on a Sega Dreamcast – so obviously I got that AND four games. It wasn’t until the year that Mom spent nearly $800 at Limited Too that I realized that I didn’t want any of the garbage that was being packed up to take home. I wasn’t satisfied with the one-day-a-year that Mom acknowledged my existence. Wasn’t happy being showered with goodies or an expensive shopping trip when I knew it’d be over sooner than I could get a smile on my face. This year – in June, as a matter of fact – Mom did the same as usual. I came home to a massive bag of H&M apparel, “para tu cumpleaños, que no quiero quedar comprometida.” “for your birthday because I don’t want to deal with the responsibility later.” I revolted, “Mom, my birthday is in September and you don’t have to get me anything. I appreciate the gesture, but I can’t accept this.” Also, neither of my brothers have ever known my birthday – they wouldn’t know my age either if it weren’t for the base guideline that we’re each 7 years apart. 

Why… is because my birthday has been an afterthought, always. 

It’s the reason I’m conflicted about discussing any of this, for fear of being dealt with a pity party. Whenever I tell people I don’t have plans for my birthday it’s probably because it’s what I’m used to and have learned to accept. However, people sympathize and send along happy birthday wishes when reminded by Facebook or take me out for dinner at a restaurant where a birthday dessert is a pro bono option. It’s sweet and I value the formality but it sort of sucks to be put into a situation that is veiled as rescue. 

WHY… is because birthdays are a big fucking deal not for the basic Hallmark Card reasons 

but rather because a birthday is a triumph. It is a FEAT to get through a year of life, especially as an adult – maybe I’m projecting on that last part. Birthdays ought to be celebrated, life ought to be honored. What’s the point in waiting until post-life to exhibit ones adoration for another. No! Commend someone’s accomplishments whether big or small. Make a person feel as special as possible because life’s tooooooooo short for negi vibes!

The conversation didn’t move along near as swiftly as I’ve managed to write out here. Lots of crying and lots of prying was involved. The crying on my part. The prying on his part. When we felt it was time to eat and well, get on, he closed with, “Angela, I’m really sorry. For what I did, for what you’ve been through, and for not supporting you enough.” 

I closed with, “I accept your apology and I’m not sorry. I won’t apologize for expressing my feelings and my experiences. I won’t apologize for being me.” 

“That’s fair,” he agreed. 

It felt SO GOOD to do this. As a feminist. As an individual. As a work in progress. 


An addendum: glad to know that Starbucks doesn’t miss my birthday! 


Silence

Passionate
Dilemma
Daring
Original
Shine
Rearrange
Eerie
Giant
Bridge

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15 Replies to “An Act of Solidarity”

  1. Life should be celebrated
    You can never turn back the pages of life even if you want
    To relive if they were happy times
    Or to make amends if you have any regret
    And one should never apologise for crying or feeling pain.
    The one who inflicts pain is to be blamed not the one who suffers
    And we have to put up a strong face and wear mask at times manipulate in outside world school, colleges or office.
    But home should be where you get accepted and cared for being you and be celebrated not tolerated
    And emotional pain is sometimes tougher to handle than physical pain

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The erasure is the part that hurts, yes? I get that, I really do, especially if the people forgetting insist on a big deal being made about them.

    But, good on you for not apologising for being cross. Too often, we women give in to our ‘nice’ socialisation, to our own detriment. Nothing wrong with standing up for yourself, especially to the people closest to you.

    Also, unsolicited advice time (which is very rude, but I’m in a jerky mood); try not to think of people taking you out for dinner or Hallmarking you as a pity party. They didn’t mean to be selfish, and they are trying to reach out to you, they just suck at it.

    Finally, I really, really wish all your birthdays ever after are filled with joy and love and the feeling of mattering to someone wonderful who is wonderful to you.

    Like

    1. Right, not apologizing was so empowering and not apologizing for NOT APOLOGIZING was most refreshing.
      I’m working on not having such a negi outlook on people and their actions and rather assuming that people can be well-intentioned. That’ll probably relieve some unnecessary stress in the long run!
      Also, thank you for the birthday wishes. Grump, you’re always so sweet and so present and you’ve no idea how much I appreciate your support
      xoxo (even if it goes against your rep)

      Liked by 3 people

  3. You are entirely correct in the importance of a birthday – especially as an adult. We are alive and we have accomplished so much each year (and sometimes, that accomplishments needs only be that we managed to keep our mouths shut and hold on to that horrible job we hate for a whole year, huzzah!). You have every right to be upset and I’m glad to hear you stood up for yourself, and even more so considering your history.

    And a belated happy birthday to you. 🙂

    Like

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