Birthdays have long been kind of weird for me. Feeling like this is finally a day when I deserve attention, but not knowing how to accept positive attention, feeling like I have to brush it off and make it seem like it's not a big deal so I don't seem full of myself.
Last year on my birthday, as I was reading through the lovely birthday wishes that friends had posted on my facebook wall, trying to decide whether or not to thank each one individually or if that would make it seem like *I* was paying too much attention to the attention. . . I became aware of a curious feeling within my body. It was as if each "Happy Birthday!" was pulling the string of a motor inside my stomach- much like you pull the string of a lawn mower to start it. As I read each loving wish, I felt almost a vibrating, a stirring of butterflies, a light beginning to spin. And then, like a lawnmower that hasn't had its string pulled quite hard enough, it would stop. Each time I read a new wish I would feel this way, and I wondered what that feeling was about?
The right to be happy that I was born.
Really? At first I was confused, and then the understanding started to sink in. On some level, I felt that if enough other people were happy that I was here on this Earth, then I could be happy about it too. Each "Happy Birthday!" was bringing me closer to what I thought was a "tipping point", where I could finally stand up and say "I'm happy I'm here, too!" and it would be okay because enough other people felt the same way- it wasn't just that I was stuck up or thought too highly of myself. But until I reached that tipping point I had to stay unhappy about being here, I had to keep my head down, I had to be meek and modest and downplay all of their happy wishes for me, because I didn't deserve them.
And then a switch flipped in me. Because gosh darn it, what if no one else in the world was happy that I was born, what if they all thought the world would have been better off without me- couldn't *I* choose to be happy to be here? Couldn't I chose to delight in the experiences I get to have, the breaths I get to take, the beauty I get to see? Even if they don't see a single positive thing that has come from my birth, can't I choose to be happy simply because I am alive? And a phrase popped into my head-
It is okay for me to celebrate myself, I don't have to wait for others to do it.
And I went over and wrote it on my white board where I write quotes and things that inspire me. And I felt a little nervous and a little excited at the same time. ;)
See, I'm not a big celebrater. I do pretty well being grateful for things as they come, seeing the awesome in the day-in-day-out type stuff, but celebrations- parties, holidays, etc- tend to make me nervous. I mean, they're fun and all but the lead up is stressful, there are often too many people around who converse only in small talk, food to be prepared, best behavior to be on. . . But I started to see that, if I were the only one who was happy I was here, then I could celebrate my own existence in my own way. Celebrating myself could just mean being with myself in a loving and excited way, to honor my true self and my decision to come here to this planet, to rejoice in all of the amazing things I get to experience because I am on this Earth and I have a body to experience it with! To fill myself with love and joy so fully that the party would be IN me, just me, myself, and I marveling at this existence. And that motor in my stomach that was trying to start before, that
couldn't get going on the love of others, started to ever so quietly and
gently hum under the power of my own love. The only power that could actually get it started.
Looking back over the past year, I can see how I started to slowly, very slowly relax into that possibility, into that realization that I can celebrate myself and the fact that I am here without having to wait for others to do it first. And really, how on earth can other people celebrate my true self when I'm not happy enough with it to even share it with them? My most recent birthday was earlier this week, and the change from last year to this both amazes me and leaves me grinning. Oh, I'm still not fully there, I still look to others to get my motor started at times, but I am at least conscious of it now so it's easier to shift from thinking it has to be an outside job to remembering that it's an inside job. Always is. And I have finally embodied that enough to paint it.
A fantastic thing happened this year- my dear friend birthed an amazing BIG soul into a new tiny body on the same date that I was birthed. I have a new awesome birthday buddy! And while in the past I would have felt sorry for the poor guy to have to share a birthday with me, this year I am overjoyed to get to share such a special day with such a special guy. I'm so glad he's here on this planet! And for maybe the first time, I'm so glad I am too!