Today was my birthday. For the first 35 years of my life, I celebrated the wrong day, hence the title to my autobiography, “The Woman with Two Birthdays”.
My mother came to my house on my 35th birthday and she handed me my birth certificate. “Here, you’re old enough to take proper care of this now.”
So I took it with a confused look on my face and went to the dining table to look over this ancient parchment just handed to me by my mother.
My mom had never liked me. Growing up, she frequently told me how fat, stupid and lazy I was and that I would certainly never amount to anything. I remember this one event vividly.
My best friend, a gorgeous blonde named Vicki, came over one day and said, “I’m going to join the gym and work out every week. I want you to do this with me.”
I gave her a funny look. “I know I may be a few pounds overweight but you are gorgeous. Your figure is perfect. Men will not stop staring at you. So joining a gym seems stupid.”
She laughed. “Be ready at 10 in the morning.”
So we got up early and went to the gym the next day. The first thing they do is weigh and measure you and make a chart of where you are now. Then they tell you to outline your weight loss goals. Vicki didn’t need to shed a pound but I was sure I needed to lose at least 20 pounds.
So the girl weighed and measured me and then she said, “Okay, what weight do you think would be ideal for you at your age and height?”
So I shrugged. “I guess about 125 pounds would be perfect.”
She gave me a strange look, then handed me the piece of paper with all my weights and measurements on it. I weighed 123 pounds. I was stunned.
I couldn’t believe her. I went to the mirror to look at myself. I couldn’t understand why, when I looked into the mirror, I saw a fat girl. But then I recalled all those times my mom had told me how fat I was. I believed what she told me even over what a mirror told me.
We left the gym that day without joining. Both of us had beautiful bodies and weren’t a single pound overweight. But we had both been told by people we trusted that we were ugly and fat.
But back to my original story. I carefully read over my birth certificate and noticed something odd. “Mom, it says here that I was born on the 17th of July, NOT the 16th. Mom, why does it say that?”
She was sitting in the living floor rolling a red ball back and forth to one of the kids. “I guess we got it wrong or something.”
I stood up. “We got it wrong? How do you get your daughter’s birthday wrong for 35 years? How does that happen?”
She frowned at me. “I knew you’d make a big deal out of this. You always make a big deal out of everything.”
I knew when she said this that she was not going to discuss it with me. She dismissed me like it was nothing. Later, when she went home, I went to sit down on the couch and cry.
My husband came over. Men are always clueless about women and their emotions. “Honey, what’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong? I’ve been celebrating the wrong birthday my whole life. Don’t you think that’s a big deal?”
He didn’t think so but he lied. “Okay, I can see how much this is upsetting you. So how about this? From now on, we’ll celebrate both the 16th and 17th. How many people have two birthdays each year?”
I just sighed and nodded. I knew no one would understand how sad and frustrating it is for a child to be grown and to have never really had the love and acceptance from their parents that children need to be emotionally healthy.
It messes you up. But nobody really gets it unless they’ve been one of those inconvenient kids who were always a BIG disappointment and never could measure up no matter how hard they tried.
The birthday thing was just confirmation that my suspicions had been right all along. I was a worthless human being on the road to nowhere. There was really no hope for me.
In defiance, I became a pretty decent writer and went on to write hundreds of poems, dozens of short stories and several dozen novels.
This is my autobiography: The Woman with Two Birthdays