Today is my birthday, and it won’t be my happiest one.
Last night I was awake until 1am, crying into the warm shoulder of my best friend and the love of my life. I’d taken that same old bait my intrusive thoughts like to lay for me, and descended down that black hole of despair so many of us are familiar with.
It starts off like a breadcrumb trail, those old tapes on repeat:
If I’m honest, I expected this.
I knew the malignant parts of my subconscious would suit up and come give me a good kicking for daring to think differently. I knew it didn’t want me to deviate from the old patterns of jealousy, self-loathing and inadequacy that have dogged me my whole life.
How can you be happy, when you’ve been rejected so many times?
How can you keep writing, when you don’t even know anyone will read it, or care?
You’ll never be content, don’t you get it? Never.
It’s all or nothing, and you’re getting nothing. Because you deserve nothing.
I know these aren’t my words. They don’t even sound like me. They’re spoken in the low, hateful voices that plagued my childhood. Voices I’ve thankfully put firmly into the past, but still manage to sneak in if I leave the door ajar for too long. They sneak in when I get tired, sick or linger too long in that envious place that waits for me whenever I log onto social media. Subconscious doesn’t care what’s real and what’s for show, only that another opportunity’s been spotted to remind me how ‘pointless’ this all is.
Abusive words from the past have no mute button. The resulting depression isn’t something you can clock in and out of like a shift at a factory. It’s in your head, your skin, your words, your clothes, your vision. It makes everything feel heavier, tighter.
On its worst days, it won’t be contained. On its best days, it tugs the corners of your smile towards the earth, and says “I’m still here, stupid, and when you’re over this delusion that you can be happy, I’ll be waiting, knuckledusters at the ready.”
This last year’s been full of painful acceptances. It’s been a lot of howling noiselessly to the sky that life isn’t fucking fair. Innocent people die. Little sisters get sick. Mediocrity is rewarded. Snacks given by friends do count towards your daily calories.
It’s also been a year of little blessings too, blessings I haven’t always given due attention to.
Opportunities to improve my writing.
Living in one of the best cities in the UK (Leeds made the Lonely Planet Top 5, so there!).
Great colleagues who make me smile.
Rewarding work helping people deal with their debt problems.
Exciting comic collaborations.
New places to visit.
Watching my nieces grow into powerful young women.
Watching my sister kick Leukemia’s ass.
Consistent confirmation that not only did I find my soulmate, but he’s very fond of me and isn’t going anywhere (glutton for punishment!). He’s also unbeaten when it comes to getting me fantastic, thoughtful presents, as evidenced by this beautiful canvas of Akko and friends from Little Witch Academia:
Yes, my black dog didn’t do the decent thing and go nap in the kennel for my birthday this year. It snores in my earshot, and lets out the occasional meaty fart, but its not chewing my leg off today, so that’s something.
Tomorrow I’ll get back to work chasing it into the forest with its tail between its legs.
Today, it’s about beautiful friends, smiles, and memories, the only things that matter.