It was my birthday last Friday. I didn't post about it to let my feelings settle. Guess I wanted to see where they'd lead me. I did experience a letdown and some disappointment. I've posted about the lack of gifts in my life before - that is part of the reason Valentine's Day is so hard for me. Since widowhood, I haven't received flowers and gifts are a rarity. The ones you buy for yourself don't count.
So, on my big day I got a text message saying simply, "Happy birthday," a phone message and an email message. No cards, no gifts. Three impersonal messages not even given in person. I had to go to my insurance agent for a copy of one of my policies and did receive a "Happy birthday" in person there.
I struggle with whether I should be glad for getting even the message acknowledgments that I did. But I'm that half-empty glass gal and so instead I focus on the stinginess of the messages.
Now I should clarify that I have never sent cards to my family with the exception of my Mom when she was alive. So I shouldn't even expect anything from my family. And two of the messages were from family members. But I feel it would be better to have received nothing instead of paltry, duty messages. Instead of feeling noticed and cared for, I ended up feeling diminished and not worth very much if that makes any sense. Maybe I'm thinking about this all in the wrong way. But I know most days I don't feel very valuable to anyone and often I feel invisible.
I know I often disclose about my desire to remarry. How else will I have someone supportive to be by my side if I get sick like my husband was? I worry about dying alone now. There would be no one who'd come to the hospital and manage all the home care stuff that I did for three years nursing my cancer-stricken spouse. My sad little pathetic birthday is evidence of how small my social support network is. It will be up to me to try and reinforce and build it up by meeting new people and establishing myself in new social circles. But right now extra time is limited and my mood is so low it is hard for me to gain the incentive to get out socializing. I can picture it now - "Hey everyone - let's meet that attractive newcomer to our singles group - she is so depressed and negative. All she does is complain. We get so inspired by her life sucks attitude!"
All of us need to feel as though we are valued and important to others. I want to know that someone out there cares enough about me to go out and buy me a gift. In the past, before widowhood, my Mom always sent a card with a check, my husband of course gave me a gift and card as well as making sure the boys picked out something, my mother-in-law would send a card, and there would be cards and a cake at work.
All week I've told myself that my value as a person in this world is not dependent on whether or not I received a card or gifts for my birthday. I've told myself that my circumstances right now are what they are and not to take it personally. But it is hard to have a birthday seem to pass by without so much as a pause in the day-to-day routine.
I've really struggled raising the boys on my own without familial support on either side. My husband's family has not given the boys one single gift or anything since their Dad's death. Their indifference has been hard to deal with. It seems as though family thinks I'm just fine on my own but I'm not. Out of sight, out of mind. You know what the real gift could have been? A phone call other than on my birthday at any point over the past seven years where someone from my life simply called up and said, "Hey, I'm thinking of you - is there anything you need right now or something I could do?"