I think that it is hard to believe that any small child never had his or her birthday celebrated with candles, songs, friends and cake. In most cultures (if not all?) all children have parties to celebrate the fact that they are loved and prized. Some of my own birthday parties stand out as somehow more remembered than others. A lot had to do with the fact that I was remembered as someone special to my family and friends. Much of the talk at those parties, centered around our birth day itself, with Mom telling about her experiences on that day. I also love pictures of those childhood parties–showing candles being blown out and the receiving gifts from family and friends.
I want to quote from our manual Depressed Anonymous (pages 90) which relates how not receiving love and acceptance for who we are has for some led to those sad feelings of anger, and rejection when mention of children celebrating their own birthdays is illustated.
“Many times persons depressed find that the more they get in touch with their feelings, painful as they might be, the more they need to remain with the feelings and feel them. This is the beginning of getting free from their tyranny. We have to get in touch with our feelings of anger, sadness, and the fact of our denial that we have even experienced the fierce feelings of rejection so early in life. There may be some covered-over rage resulting from these unpleasant childhood experiences. It’s amazing to hear people say that as children they never had a birthday party. We know that sadness, guilt, shame and a few other losses coming at one time in our life, can slowly push us over the line as we find ourselves overwhelmed with stress and feelings of defeat. It’s this subtle feeling of being out of control that brings a deepening sadness we feel totally immobilized.
…(Many) times when we describe what we feel we begin to release in ourselves the feeling “stuck ” that keeps us in a mood of hopelessness.”
I can understand what a party which celebrates the fact that we are special and loved by others can do to our self-esteem. It just might cause us to prize ourselves and then to share who we are with others. I’m not saying that to have or not have a birthday party as we grow up makes all the difference in our lives. It’s just that it may give us the message that we are loved just as we are. To be prized and made to feel special can add a wonderful dimension to young lives.
The date of your birthday and how it is remembered is more than just another day on the calendar. It’s your day! You can ask your self “how was my last birthday” and how will it be different this year? Will my birthday be a day where I will reflect on all those persons in my life who I feel prized me for who I am? And are there certain persons who you will always feel a gratitude for their presence and love for you in good times and bad? Write down in your journal who these people are and what they mean to you today.