I’ve been struggling a lot lately with feeling broken. I look around me and feel like everything is broken, and it’s directly my responsibility. I tend to get a little rough when I’m sad and angry and alone and no one can see me, and yesterday I took it too far and accidentally smashed the Badger plate my mom gave me when we moved to Florida so that I would “remember where I came from.” I really didn’t mean to, all I did was throw a wooden spoon at the counter and it must’ve hit the plate just right. Then I felt like where I came from is broken, and where I’m going is broken.
So I’ve been sitting with this and trying to figure out what’s been worse and how I can fix it. I know that I’ve been engaging a lot more with my dysphoria and my sadness in the past year, which is scary but I think for the best and certainly better than continually sweeping it all neatly under the rug. However, in order to face this all head on I think I need to work on some new coping strategies. I haven’t been taking as good care of myself as I should be. I’m constantly under pressure and stress and not eating right or staying hydrated. Strangely, I am not stressed by talking about detransition or dysphoria. In fact, it’s almost nice to feel like there is something that I can speak on clearly and logically and be appreciated for talking about it. I don’t feel very competent or valued that way anywhere else in my life these days (outside of my relationship with my partner, of course).
My birthday is tomorrow and although I don’t think about my birthday much or do much to celebrate it, I wonder if it’s sitting on my brain anyway. I don’t necessarily dislike having a birthday, it’s just that I’ve never been in the habit of doing anything for my birthday. When I was 18 I bought myself a pizza and put my own candles in it because I didn’t have any friends to share the sheet cake my mom bought me for my first birthday in the dorms. I was too embarrassed to tell my parents that I didn’t have anyone to celebrate with. When I turned 25 I had to call my own parents to remind them it was my birthday (to be fair, birthdays aren’t a big deal to anyone in my family and it wasn’t malicious, they’re just busy). Unsurprisingly, I’m in the habit of treating myself for my birthday, usually getting a cheap used video game and letting myself order delicious greasy vegan junk food and spending the day alone (I like my solitude, and I’m a creature of habit).
I think part of my propensity for taking care of myself during my birthday stems from the fact that I’ve never felt like I could adequately express excitement or gratitude for the kind gestures or gifts from others. As a child, whenever I received a present I would be overwhelmed with feeling like the person giving the gift would think that I was ungrateful, because I never felt like I could show enough gratitude or that I showed it “right.” I was the five year old who looked adults straight in the eye and tried to tell them in the sincerest way possible that I appreciated what they did for me, but then never felt like it was enough and felt guilty that I wasn’t able to express myself the way I wanted. I watched the other kids just rip open gifts with reckless abandon and run away screaming gleefully with new toys and I carefully removed each piece of tape and gently cradled each book or K-NEX set. I felt like I was defective for not feeling this joy that other kids felt, for not expressing myself the same way they did. Watching videos of myself as a child in these instances now makes me so sad. My parents have gotten very quiet when we’ve watched them together.
Now I’m going back and forth in my head about whether I should send my yearly Happy Birthday text to A tomorrow. I know that I probably will, and I know that I will probably not hear back. I am trying to steady myself for this blow, but I feel it necessary to at least try to reach out. We spent the best birthdays I’ve ever had in my whole life together, and really the only ones that I’ve celebrated properly with a party. Birthday Parties with A were the only way that I ever had actual parties as an adult, and A’s girlfriend always took great care to make sure that I felt like the parties were for me too even though it was 95% their friends. I miss her a lot too, she was a true friend to me when A and I were still speaking a bit and she heard me out when I needed to talk about reclaiming Butch for myself without judgement.
Last year for my birthday I found a recipe for tofu “lox” and made homemade cashew cream cheese a few days earlier so that I could have homemade “lox” and cream cheese bagels for breakfast (an old favorite of mine before I stopped eating meat and dairy – so a very nice treat and comfort). My love and I woke up early to work out and have breakfast together, and then I came to work for a horrendously long day and cried the entire way home. She got me beautiful wonderful thoughtful gifts of food and beer (she knows my excitement for consumables is much higher than material goods, although she also got me a super cute bowtie) and in return I cried the whole time.
I have not prepared anything for myself for my birthday this year, although I know that my love has plans to make me a special dinner. I’d like to stay home and keep all the windows shut tight and to spend the day in sweatpants playing escapist video games and cuddling with my dogs, but I’ll have a very long day at work instead. I worry that work will go so late that I will disappoint my wonderful girlfriend making me a nice meal to come home to. I worry that I won’t be able to express my gratitude appropriately if my birthday is recognized or alternately that I will be disappointed from not hearing from my other loved ones. I’ve been crying every day lately.
My love did surprise me with absolutely beautiful Fest Prayer flags on our camping trip the other weekend as an early birthday present. We hung them next to our tent and I wish that I had taken a picture to look back on now. It instantly felt like home. I think tonight I should put some time into hanging them at home so that I can look at them flying proudly tomorrow, and maybe light some candles and spend some time reflecting on how I want to move through this next year and what I can work on to bring myself more into balance.