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I don't know about you...but I'm feeling 32!

Bubbles before Breakfast- accepting tears as gifts and gifts as gifts!

I swithered whether to write a cliched birthday blog for fear of seeming a bit desperate or opportunist but I mentioned it to a friend and with her response being the guarantee of at least one reader I decided to go for it. I suppose I am a bit of an opportunist as if I didn't use this cheesy, catchy Taylor Swift-inspired title I'd have to wait 10 years (aged 42) for the chance again which would be a tragedy in itself. I also figured that everyone has a birthday, or at least a date they were born (for those who don't celebrate birthdays) and most people will either be 32 at one point in their life or have, at one point in their lives, been 32. Talk about relatable, eh?

On a slightly more serious note, I think birthdays can be quite a challenging time, fraught with anxiety for many people and no one really talks about it. So hear I am with a tale of how Tuesday the 16th February saw me crying into my cornflakes (well really before breakfast but I liked the alliteration), falling apart a little and ultimately piecing myself back together. It's not a piece to attract sympathy as I genuinely feel great now but it's more an account of overwhelm, (slight) self sabotage and for some strange reason not feeling deserving of gifts and kindness, despite heaping this onto others at every and any opportunity.

I feel it's important to give a bit of background on why for more than half my life now I've had a lot of anxiety attached to my birthday. Two days after my fifteenth birthday my parents separated and I recall the day so vividly and with a wee bit of humour- partly because there's a funny story attached to it and partly because humour is my most overly used defense mechanism. SO firstly before the slightly more, but not too serious stuff I'll do what I do best and start with the funny story. I walked through the door after school oblivious that my 15 year old life was about to be obliterated. I was asked by my parents to sit down and I felt a total dread at the pit of my stomach. "Imagine being so intuitive at 15!" I hear you say. Nope. I instantly remembered that 2 days before my parents had allowed 5 of my friends for a sleepover and trusted us with one or two Reefs, Bacardi Breezers or whatever alcopop was popular at the time...oh, the nostalgia! Anyway, being 15 and let's face it we'd been drinking "on the fly" for at least 3 years (sorry mum), we obviously took the p*** and sneaked a bit more and also smoked cigarettes out the tiny, around one foot in height, dining room window. Anyway, this was what I thought I was going to be confronted about and to put it plainly I was s***ting myself. If any of my friend's (who I'm still besties with) Mums are reading this of course it wasn't your daughter who was smoking. Also, for the record I no longer smoke, not that I have anything against anyone who does. So anyway, you've guessed the rest- it wasn't the teenage 'crimes' hot topic but the shattering of our household as I knew it. Still kinda relieved I still came out the entirely innocent party, nonetheless.

Anyway, I won't go into too much detail about how this has affected me over the years and the approximately one million things which have ensued since, but I feel that this explains a little which I have a weird attachment to my birthday or at least it is a story I have told myself for almost half my life. It's made it particularly difficult for me to receive gifts, whether compliments or physical presents, in my day to day life in general, but even more so on my birthday. I've mentioned (maybe once or twice) that I'm doing a lot of self-development work and I had tried to visualise, through meditation and affirmations (all tools which I've been learning) an enjoyable day where I would completely embrace and accept others' praise, gifts and adulation.

I really tried, honest I did! All was going well (up until 8:30am). I received 2 lovely books from my best friend, niece and nephew. Strangely, one of the books, The Daily Stoic, I had heard about on an episode of Fearne Cotton's podcast Happy Place, featuring Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro. This is someone I admire anyway and hope to see in June, now p*** off please COVID! It was great to hear Simon Neil, an amazing front man and importantly, a male talking about his own coping mechanisms and embracing meditation and mindfulness. This episode really struck me as he was making reference the tragic death of Frightened Rabbit's, Scott Hutchison which always strikes a cord (no pun intended) with me as I seen the band live at Social Bite's Sleep In The Park in 2017 and then Biffy stepped in to support (in more ways than just musically, I'm sure) in Scott's much mourned absence, the following year. I feel like music, homelessness and mental health should be given the space and attention it so deserves in another blog piece so I won't say too much about that here but I

guess my point is that I felt that the fact that she had bought me it without my mentioning it to her that she must really be tuning into my goals and interests and that in itself was a very precious gift to receive. I feel proud that I am radiating this and being outwardly confident about the new things I'm learning and keen to embrace. Good job bestie!

So about half 8 and all going well right? WRONG! Now for the morning meltdown! I headed downstairs and my mum had put up banners and bought me lovely gifts and I got really defensive about it. I absolutely love pulling out all the stops for everyone else's birthday and it was my Mum's just last week and I did just that so why was there an issue when it was for me? I was so flustered, anxious, borderline nasty and appeared ungrateful at the thought of anyone spending money on me...and then the guilt and tears came. WHY? WHY would my own mother not spend money and effort on me? WHY am I uncomfortable with it? And WHY oh, WHY don't I deserve it as much as everyone else? I think there is definitely a few other issues perhaps around getting older and not being where I necessarily want to be in life and also not being in control. I'm the organiser in my family, and in most aspects of my life, so I definitely feel a bit unsettled when someone else takes the reigns. There are many parts of this aspect of me that I like but also things I want to work on to channel this in the right way and "go with the flow" when someone else takes over. To be continued...

Anyway, good news! I got myself ready, went out a birthday run, complimented by an awesome Spotify playlist which had been gifted by a friend (music is my saviour) and I changed my vibration. I then went on a Facebook Live to one of my "Tribes" to explain what had happened, which I could only explain as "bizarre" and then the most surprising thing of all, I asked my mum to watch the Facebook Live as I felt it was the only way to articulate why I had acted what could have been perceived as 'bratty'. This wasn't planned but I think it was useful for us both to understand and I had made some amazing insights, 'Live' and unscripted. I have to say my Mum is an absolutely incredible, non-judgmental, borderline saint who didn't think me ungrateful at any point and I can honestly say that is a fair assessment- I'm not like that. I also didn't just write that last sentence because she'll probably read this, it's true! What I was experiencing was just total overwhelm and an inability to cope or understand my many emotions.

As mentioned, this is not a tragic piece, so pop your tiny violin away please anyone who has it out! It's a real and honest one. It's even one with a happy ending. Like most stories with happy endings, there was a dramatic climax, moments of struggle and even a "baddy"- this being my mind and my limiting beliefs. In this tale, the heroine (me) changed her vibrations, used the tools which she has learned and turned an ugly cry into a pretty smile, even if she does say so herself! The rest of the day, I've received every gift, kind word, comment, socially distanced visit, someone even pulled a tarot card for me (which was beautiful by the way!) with total love and acceptance. The only 'impostors' Among us! today were the ones on the popular game of the same name. I spent part of my birthday playing this online with my 7 year old nephew. I'd love to say I was forced into it but I have to confess I'm getting quite into it. Not the typical activities of a 32 year old but you can make the rules on your birthday, and every day actually!

I started off the day with bubbles (of the wrong kind) before breakfast and I'll end it with ones of the right kind! So...cheers! Here's to me and here's to you, and here's to turning 32!

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