I recently had a birthday. Birthdays, for me, have been rough since I was a teenager. The rest of the year I can manage the desperation caused by my deep certainty that I’m not living out my values. Leading up to my birthday I’m paralyzed with guilt, frustration, and shame.
My close friends and family understand that I hate my birthday and so, understandably, tend to not make a big deal of it – leaving me to feel alone with the meanest of voices. Enter cycle of frustration: me woefully ignorant of why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling and unable to set things up so I’ll get what I need, my friends kindly trying to give me some peace and quiet, totally unaware that what I want is company and support.
Blame yourself for the infuriatingly stupid cycle, double down on the shame, get nonsensically mad at your friends, know that’s ridiculous, triple down on the shame. Eugh.
So, in keeping with my new tradition of asking for help in weird, awkward ways, this year I threw a small party. I invited only people I really like, and told them in the invitation that I was embarrassed but that I’ve been trying my ass off and what I really want is some validation and positive reinforcement. I opened my notebook to a blank page and people left me notes while they munched on Thai food and enjoyed some whiskey and NA beer.
It was the best birthday I can remember.
I was told that I was doing positive things for others that I never would have guessed. I was told that my friends were rooting for me, fiercely. I was told things that cut through the fog, things that made me honestly, happily proud of myself. I was told things that validated my seemingly glacial improvement and shamed that mean voice into silence. For once – silence.
Sometimes you ask for help and you get liverwurst. Sometimes you ask for help and you get kind words and actions that you’re not ready for, that you can’t really hear or appreciate. Sometimes you ask for help and you get thanks.
Sometimes the victory is in the asking, sometimes it’s in the helping. Sometimes it’s in the – TAKE THAT SUCKAAAAA!!!! Mic drop – you get to hurl toward that pesky, finally weakening, mean voice.