Every year right around this time, I have the same set of issues. What it essentially comes down to is an utter conviction that “nobody loves me.”
It’s a bullshit lie that I have stuck in my brain. And sadly, it comes down to comparing popularity.
One of the ‘traditions’ we had while I was married was to have a big birthday party on each of our birthdays. It wasn’t about getting presents (not that any single one of us would have refused them), but about bringing people we cared about together to enjoy our birthday. That meant – for us – birthday parties in October (the ex-husband), December (me), January (ex-wife #2) and June (ex-wife #1). Mine being tomorrow, December 8.
Two of those parties tended to be well attended each year (October and January). Two of them, not quite so much (June and December). For a long time, I tried to deny the popularity lie in my brain by telling myself it was simply the curse of having a December birthday (i.e. “the holidays” are a busy time for most people, and last from late November through the beginning of January).
Except, noticing that the June party was also often sparsely attended argued with that idea.
I also responded to that popularity lie with “well, snow!” And yes, at least one party was completely fucked because we got 17 inches of snow that year on my birthday.
What made that lie so very attractive was that my ex-husband’s birthday seemed to always be the most popular birthday to attend. There has had to be some part of my brain that was aware of, and resentful of, the abuse I suffered – because it was always his parties that made me feel so horrible.
Yes, I got stuck in the idea that my ex, the abuser, was far more popular than I was.
Thing is, I know damned well that those people who are still in my life from that time in my life love me quite well. And I’m not just talking romantic love here, but also platonic and familial love. Just because they’ve not always had the time, energy or health to celebrate my birthday doesn’t mean that they don’t love me, or don’t love me as much as I love them.
And yes, sometimes even getting presents made the resentfulness and depression worse. Resenting the presents gave me an “out” – a way to be selfish and materialistic – so that I could lie to myself in regards to the whole “nobody loves me” lie. And given that most of my “chosen” family considered me materialistic and mercenary, it was easier to believe that I was just being selfish.
And, yes, I’ve been struggling with that for the last few days. I wanted to have a party up here, but the reality is that it’s hard to get people to come 2 hours away for a party, and the house is still pretty much destroyed because the kitchen isn’t complete yet (mostly a money issue). So, I gave up on that idea, because I don’t want to put any of my friends and loved ones through an extra difficulty just for me to feel “popular.”
The only thing I can say is that I know damned well that it is a lie. And I’m working to remind myself of that truth every time it comes up.