Today is my 31st birthday. And at this time last year (unlike many women) I was looking forward to being 30 years old. I was prepared to say goodbye to my 20’s and enter into a new decade filled with a good attitude, good decisions and good people. But my 30th birthday didn’t go exactly as planned.
Last year, I spent my entire birthday (literally from the time I woke up until mid-evening) listening to someone (who still claimed to love me at the time) try to explain how he could love me and not want me for the millionth time. I cried as he detailed my physical flaws. I screamed at him for hurting me and embarrassing me. And even though I no longer craved his love or attention by then, it was still difficult to listen to him point out my flaws – particularly the flaws in my body.
My 30th birthday (in spite of my glamorous party a few days later complete with caterers and a cake that rivaled the work of the Cake Boss was, no doubt, the worst birthday I’ve ever had. It’s pretty humbling to go from feeling like you have it all to feeling like you have nothing. I know this from personal experience, but I also know that out of pain comes growth – if we allow it, and I have allowed it.
One beautiful thing about life is that time passes and things change, and this year my birthday is poised to be much different. Maybe I won’t be lavished with fancy schmancy presents, but no one will make me feel like a worthless piece of trash. No one will spend the day telling me all about what’s wrong with me, nor will anyone spend the day trying to apologize and justify their feelings regarding their utter disgust with my still-too-fat body. No one will cry at my feet and beg me to understand how he can claim to love me and not want to make love to me. My birthday will be much better this year.
But yesterday my step dad (who is usually awesome and totally loving) tested my grace and patience. He said, “At this age you should have a husband, some kids, a big house, a nice car and friends.” Well, no shit. I wish I did, but what can I say? I don’t have most of that, but I’m closer to it than I was just a few months ago. I have friends, I’ve committed to buying an adorable car…and I’m a fan of apartments not houses. I’m sure I’d love a house if I had a husband to live in it with me, but I don’t so for now, I’ll be happy with the prospect of my one-bedroom with a small kitchen and a nice balcony that overlooks the pool in one of the coolest cities in the US.
As he continued, I promptly urged him to change to subject, stating that I had too much respect for him to say what I really thought of his opinions, but he’s old school. He laughed and kept talking (not realizing that he was making me feel like garbage) so I said nothing else, walked out of the house, slamming the door then throwing my Nalgene bottle across the porch. I have never been so angry that I’ve thrown something so fiercely like that before…ever. Note to Nalgene: Your bottles truly are indestructible. Wow.
My step dad has good intentions, and I would guess that he said those things because he feels sorry for me because I’m alone. I can’t count the times in which he has said to me “Beb, forget your dreams. Let’s find you a husband here so you can be close to the family.” He hates that I’m alone because in his mind, being unmarried at 30 makes me a failure (though he’d never explicitly say it.)
I can only assume that he thinks I should have stayed in the loveless relationship I was in when New York was still home to me, never mind the fact that the love I initially had for that guy slowly grew into resentment that bordered on hatred in the end. Or maybe thinks I should have married the first guy I dated. He was tall, handsome and sweet, but I wasn’t in love with him. Or maybe he just thinks that turning 31 with a divorce or two under my belt would have been a better choice for me. Regardless, his opinion while it has never exactly mattered, matters even less today.
Today, I am 31 years old, and yesterday I shopped for a shower curtain, an egg poacher and a rice cooker. I have a new, awesome mixer, some adorable kitchen gadgets from Williams-Sonoma and a clean slate. I may not be a stay-at-home mom living in a McMansion with a perfect husband and perfect kids, but my future looks pretty damn bright. And there are some exciting things on the immediate horizon.
If you read my blog, you know that I wish that someone I loved would love me back. And recently, I have been pretty candid when it comes to my desire to be in a happy and healthy relationship, but I think I’ve also been pretty clear that I will not settle for a boyfriend/husband just because someone asks.
And hearing my step dad’s thoughts on my life and what I should have, pissed me off in a major way, but it also reminded me of the reasons that my life is awesome – reasons he will never understand. I am intelligent and talented. I have friends. I am loved. If I meet a hot, single guy who’s interested I can….well, you know where I’m going with that, right?
At 31 years old, life is hardly over for me. It’s just getting started. My 30th birthday was rough and so were several months following it, but somewhere down the line, that changed. The feelings of anger, betrayal, abandonment and self-hate began to subside, and I started to replace them will feelings of self-worth, freedom and happiness.
I’m not done. I’m still evolving…still growing into the person that I want to be, and perhaps it hasn’t happened on the time table in which others think it should have, but it’s happening now regardless. This is my life, my journey…and I’m doing just fine alone. I am a complete person with or without a guy who calls me at the end of everyday and takes me out for Sushi on Friday nights. I don’t need someone else to show me how to love myself. I’m learning that right now ON. MY. OWN.
So listen up universe…I have made my desires known. I want to love someone and be loved by someone, but I’m not going to spend another moment pining over that illusive relationship that may or may not ever be mine. I am proud of myself for facing my fears, challenges and regrets, and I will be content with my life with or without someone in bed next to me. So…if love is going to make its way into my life, it’s going to have to find me. I am done looking.
I will not be celebrating my birthday today with a pity party. Instead, I am thankful for the life I have…And like my favorite poet, I am thankful that I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul. I have so many reasons to celebrate today, and that celebration starts now.