Taking Back What’s Mine

UW - bdayToday is my 31st birthday!

But before I get on to that, I have to write this post. I need to write this post. And I’ll warn you now…this one’s got some language.

I used to be a birthday hater. I dreaded it. And not because I hated being the center of attention or because I was getting older or anything like that, but because I had been straight-up conditioned to hate my birthday.

My childhood, without getting too much into it, wasn’t the greatest. Our household was run by my adopted father, who was a literal – diagnosed and everything – psychopath. Birthdays (along with Christmas of course) were his favorite days. He’d give us gifts, only to make us watch him destroy them. He handed out abusive, creative punishments, without any reason except to “test them out for later”. Each week leading up to our birthday he’d grow giddy with anticipation, while the rest of the family lost sleep and wondered what horrible thing he would come up with. Each year, as my special day got closer and closer I’d plead to any powerful existential being willing to listen to please, please let my birthday go unnoticed this year…but it never did.

Every birthday I could ever remember had been controlled by this man, so even when I moved out, I remained terrified of my own birthday. The thought alone still made my hands shake and my stomach queasy. I kept it a secret from everyone I met. I wanted absolutely no part in it.

Then, one day, as a freshman in college, I got a phone-call from my dad. He screamed at me from the other end of the line. I placed the phone on the dresser and sat on my bed. I could hear his voice, but not what he was saying. I didn’t want to know what he was saying.

My roommate pointed to the phone and asked, “Who’s that?”

“My dad,” I answered.

“What’s he yelling about?”

“Nothing, really. He just calls to yell.”

She stared at me, then asked, “Then why don’t you just hang up the phone?”

I stared back for a second while I considered it. I hadn’t lived at home for years. He’s 8 hours away in a different state. He doesn’t pay for a cent of college. Everything I own (car, cell phone, etc.) is all in my name. There is literally nothing he could do.

So I hung up the phone.

“Better?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I replied. Then out of nowhere, I confessed, “My birthday was 2 weeks ago.”

“Really?!” she shouted, “We should celebrate!” and darted off into the kitchen.

Sitting in the kitchen of my dorm room, watching my roommate bake some cupcakes, it occurred to me that for the first time, I was actually going to celebrate my birthday.

And I. Felt. Free.

UW - float

I’m not sure why it took so long. I had moved out long before I was 18. I’d had plenty of birthdays without him, but I still had the same frame of mind: that no matter where I was or who I was with, every year on October 16th my life would turn into a living hell.

What a bullshit way of thinking.

As understandable as it is that I should hate my own birthday, there comes a point when I’ve got to make the choice: let someone drain me of happiness 1 day of every year for the rest of my life, or to take back something that is rightfully mine, and goddamnit, it’s my motherfucking birthday.

So I’ve been making up for stolen time. Now, every year, I want a cake, loaded with candles. If I’m at a bar, I want a free shot. If I’m at a restaurant, I want free desert with the entire staff singing a horribly embarrassing version of ‘Happy Birthday’. I also want balloons and streamers and a birthday hat and any other cheesy birthday item that I’m technically too old to have. I want to be a kid again, every year, on my birthday.

And it’s worked – my birthday is now one of my favorite days of the year. There have been surprise parties and get-togethers with friends, quiet movie nights at home and long walks around the neighborhood. Hell my husband even asked me to marry him on my birthday.

Even if every single thing goes wrong, it doesn’t matter. My birthday is mine again. I have one extra day every year that I never had before.

We all have a part of our past that is holding us back in some way. Some sort of insecurity that just keeps hanging on or an outdated fear we’ve never confronted. Something that’s robbing us of a better day, a better relationship, a better career…a better life.

What do you have that is stealing thunder in your life? Is it a toxic person? A job that hasn’t challenged you in years? A reoccurring negative thought process? Whatever it is, there is always an opportunity to do something about it, and it might be something as small and simple as hanging up the phone.

Take a look around. If something is holding you back, I beg of you, sit down, take a few deep breaths, and confront it.

As for me, today is my birthday. I turn 31, it’s going to be awesome, and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it.

UW - bday 2

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Posted on: October 16, 2015, by : jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

24 thoughts on “Taking Back What’s Mine

  1. Wonderful story Jenna! It has taken me many years to learn that there are those who insist on trying to suck the life out of you in their own demented way. I let it go, I let THEM go. I’m glad you did as well, and now truly enjoy a very special day – your birthday! Congratulations and may each new birthday be filled with laughter and smiles!

    1. Thank you!! It always surprises me how many people give a free pass to toxic people because they are family. It doesn’t matter if they’re family, friends, strangers – if someone treats you like shit they have no business being in your life! Glad you made the choice to let them go as well!! 😀

  2. Thanks! I’ve been thinking a lot about what has shaped me. You are a wonderful example of dealing with whatever life has thrown your way and you’ve decided to embrace and live the life you want to live. Happy, happy birthday!

  3. So glad you took back what’s yours. I still hate my birthday. So many years my husband ruined what was a great day. I don’t get a cake, no presents. Maybe one day;)

  4. Thank you for the post Jenna… Inspiring one on that. If someone don’t give a shit about you, you don’t either… Let them go and they don’t have a place in your life (I “Erase” them from my memory… Not even a delete, It’s a Shift+Delete for me!)

    And a belated Birthday wish to you from one of your fanboy. 🙂

  5. Sad story with a happy end!
    I wish you a very very awsome Birthday, Jenna.
    Celebrate ’em, …it’s your day, now and ever.
    Happy Birthday from Germany!
    George

  6. You made me cry. I am sitting here in my living room with tears running down my face. Your story is sad yet courageous, and ends in the bset way possible. On some level I can identify, Though my story is not like yours, and not nearly as dark, it is my story. I am stuck. By my own fear and my own comfort. Thank you for sharing Jenna. Happy birthday.

  7. Thanks for sharing your story! I really got so many feelings coming up while reading it. I understand you and believe in you. Happy late birthday Jenna, and may all your next ones be one time better than the year before.

  8. My birthday is the 18th of October! I’m so in love with your writing style… the beginning made me wanna cry and then at the end I was busting up laughing!! Happy Happy Birthday Jenna!! I hope this year is just another fabulous one for you!! =)

  9. I just happened across your site via the rabbit hole called Pinterest. I rarely comment on old blog posts because it seems so creeperish, but I feel compelled to do so on this one. So grateful you found your freedom from a toxic parent, which can be SO hard. I am yet one more stranger celebrating for you and cheering you on. I’m happy for you.

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