That’s how old I’ll be tomorrow. This year like most years before it, I loathe May 11th. Nearly twenty years ago my dislike for my birthday began and over a party. I was turning thirteen years old and had just moved to a new town. I was struggling to make friends and adjust from a decent sized school to one that had no more than a handful of students in my class.
This was the year that my family moved from Bronson, Florida to Risco, Missouri. It was a move that left me feeling alone, hated, and lead to depression and ultimately self-harm.
I had just started attending school at Risco Middle School when my birthday rolled around. I had been badgering my parents to allow me to have a birthday party. I had never had one before, and I was going to officially be a teenager. Finally, my parents gave in and gave the okay for a birthday party, but because I was living with my grandmother at the time I had to get her okay as well. That took little convincing, however, instead of allowing me to have my party on the Saturday before my birthday she demanded that I have the party on my birthday.
Every so often my birthday falls on Sunday, and usually, that Sunday is Mother’s Day. It just so happened that the year I turned thirteen, my birthday fell on Mother’s Day. No matter how much I tried to convince my grandmother it would be better to have my party on Saturday she refused. If I wanted a party it would be on my birthday not before.
So I gave in. I wanted to have a party so very badly. I wanted to invite the kids from my school over with the hopes that I could finally make some friends.
I invited everyone from my class to my party and a few other people from upper and lower classes that seemed to be nice people. Most of the people I invited said that they were going to come, which made me ecstatic! I was so excited that I was going to have “friends” over and we were going to have a great time, or so my nearly teenage mind thought.
I was so nervous when I woke up on Sunday morning on my birthday. It was finally the big day! Just as I was finishing breakfast, I was informed that if I wanted a party I would clean the house and do the setup myself, otherwise, my grandmother would cancel the party and turn away anyone that showed up.
I spent the entire morning cleaning the house to my grandmother’s specifications. It was nearly noon before I was done and I hadn’t even had the chance to set up the decorations. It had taken me so long because I was cleaning up after myself, my brother and sister and my grandmother. I was not allowed to have any help either.
After I had cleaned the house I was allowed to set up for the party. I had bought streamers with my allowance and decorated the living room area of the house that I lived in. I set up a table with snacks for the party and cake as well. Then I started to wait, by the time I was done it was nearly 2:00 in the afternoon which was about the time everyone was supposed to show up.
2:00 came and went, then 3:00. It was nearly 4:00pm when my younger brother drug his friends in the back door to eat my cake and ice cream before disappearing again.
No happy birthday.
I was crushed.
To this day, it still hurts. No one wanted to spend their day with me when it was Mother’s Day, though I have a feeling even if I had held the party on Saturday before the results would have been the same.
I spent that entire summer trying to figure out what I had done wrong. Why I was such a bad person that no one would show up. This was one of the biggest turning points in my life. It was the beginning of my isolation from everyone at my school. I hadn’t gone to the school since I was a young kid, therefore, I was viewed as an outsider and not wanted. It was the beginning of my depression which would later lead to self-harm in the form of cutting.
I was just a kid, barely a teen and my world was ruined because of broken promises from the people I was trying to fit in with. No matter what I did, I was never at home there. I was never welcome.
Now, I look at my birthday as just another day. Nothing to be excited about, even though my wife tries so very hard to make a big fuss about it. I hate it. It’s just another day that holds nothing but a broken child struggling to fit in. It’s just another day that begins a path of depression, self-harm, and massive social anxiety.
It’s just another day…