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I’ve Never Quite Known What to Do With Birthday Cards

·314 words·2 mins

I’ve never quite known what to do with birthday cards. Especially ones plastered with flowers. Or Bible verses.

Clearly intended for another recipient. One who has done a little better living up to what other people expected of her.

Not for me. Not for the little girl whose hair never behaves. Or who always says too much. And at the wrong times.

The little girl who asks questions that no one else wants to hear, let alone answer. Questions she never knew would hurt folks in simply the asking, without the answering.

At least without the out loud answering. Because there are questions that people can’t help but answer silently once they’re asked. And those silent answers are the most painful. The answers that close up your throat when you go to speak them. That bring your body to its knees with grief.

I usually keep the birthday cards. For a while anyway. Maybe on the fridge or up on a shelf. But sometimes tucked away into dark drawers, where the well wishes decay quietly. Where their power to invoke guilt and shame for not being what others meant for me to be undergoes a kind of half-life transformation.

And when I finally throw them out, it’s always tied to some virtuous task. Tidying up. Doing the spring clean. Saying goodbye to anything that doesn’t “spark joy.”

I swear there are days that if I did that, I’d be sitting in an empty house.

Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to be straightforward. To be “good” without trying. I wonder what it’s like to effortlessly slip into other people’s dreams for you and be a perfect fit.

Rather than forever struggling because you didn’t come out quite right. You don’t fit the blueprints they dreamed up when they planned you. You haven’t grown into what they thought you would when they celebrated your birth.


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