It’s my birthday today (yesterday by the time you read this), and I have a history of hating my birthday. As a kid, it was always fraught with who to invite to my party (which I was expected to have), and it only underscored what a loser I was. I remember one birthday (but not which one) in which I had friends over. I was blowing the candles out on the cake with all my friends watching, and I was utterly miserable. I felt like they were there because they felt they had to be (my depression started young), and I hated being the center of attention if I wasn’t on the stage.
In my twenties, I actively hated my birthday. I refused to say when it was, and I preferred to pretend it didn’t exist. It reminded me every year that I was still alive and that I shouldn’t be. I got really bitchy* a week or two beforehand, and it carried over for the next few days. I don’t think I can emphasize enough how toxic I thought me being alive was in those days. I thought I was actively harming the world by being alive (which is the weird egotistical part of having a low self-esteem–an outsized sense of impact–and I hated that I was too cowardly to kill myself.
It’s strange how my twenties were when I was both at my most depressed and when I was out doing the most things. I was involved in the theater community, which was probably one of the best experiences of my life. However, I stopped once I moved to the Bay Area for a short time (to get my MA), and I never started up again once I returned because I had a few big issues to deal with at that time.
I became less hateful of my birthday in my thirties. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, either. I would never offer it to someone else, but if they asked, I wouldn’t obfuscate and refuse to answer. I never made a big deal about it, but I didn’t freak out if someone else brought it up.
Side Note: My amusing birthday story. When I first started Facebook, you had to provide your birthday, and they displayed it. There was no privacy option at the time, so I used a fake birthday. I always do this online. I may not care about my birthday, but I don’t need others to have it. Anyway, I set it as one day in January, and I promptly forgot about it. When that day came around, my FB wall was flooded with birthday wishes. I was like, “What the–oh, right.” FB will still wish me a happy birthday every year on the fake day, and it’s still hilarious to me. Thankfully, now the setting is private so I don’t have to explain to everyone that it’s not actually my birthday.
Two or three years ago, I slowly realized that I didn’t hate my birthday or even really dislike it that much. I mentioned it casually and didn’t feel weird about it. Last year, I actually bought myself a piece of (gluten-free/dairy-free) cake and enjoyed it thoroughly. That’s because cake is the best, even when it’s a lie. Today, I ate a banana walnut chocolate chip (GF/DF) muffin, which was delicious. I will have GF/DF ice cream later and call it a day.
Not gonna lie. I still don’t love my birthday. I don’t dislike it, but it still brings with me the feeling of dissatisfaction and unhappiness.
Side Note II: I was looking up the APLB (Asian Pacific Lesbian and Bisexual Women) for a novel I was writing, and I stumbled across the name of a woman I knew from that time. Curious, I looked her up, and she’s been very prolific and active in the community. Plus, she’s still gorgeous. That led me to looking up another Asian woman I knew at the time (in Theater Mu) on whom I had the hugest crush. Also accomplished and gorgeous. I had a crush on both these women (the first was probably more aspirational than romantic), and time has treated them both very well.
The problem was that looking them up underscored how little I’d done with my life. They were both still acting/wring/etc. They’re both connected to communities. Me, I returned from California shell-shocked and dropped out of sight. I loved my time with the community, but I never felt a part of it. I know that’s a me thing because there were plenty of people who demonstrated that they liked me. It’s always been a me problem. I know this. It doesn’t make it easier to deal with.
I’ve always felt like an outsider. Yes, I know many people feel that way. Yes, I know that there are other people who feel the same way I do about any given thing. But, it’s the aggregation of my idiosyncrasies that makes me feel hopeless about ever belonging anywhere. I’m not sure it’s even something I ultimately want.
Side Note III: It’s how I feel about having a romantic relationship. When I was a kid, I just assumed I’d get married and have kids because that’s the natural progression in life, right? I was in my early twenties when I realized I didn’t want children. I mean, I never wanted them, but that’s when I realized I didn’t actually have to have them. I can’t tell you how relieved I was, and I still maintain it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
In my late twenties, I realized I didn’t want to get married nor did I want to live with someone. That one was harder to accept because I still (thought) I wanted to be in a monogamous romantic relationship, and I couldn’t see how those two desires were reconcilable. Still. I accepted it and moved on with my life. Funny story: I had an ex around that time who said, “I know you don’t want to get married, but would you say yes if I proposed to you?” I don’t remember what I answered, but it probably contained the phrase ‘fuck no’.
Sometime in my mid-thirties, I began thinking that maybe I didn’t want a monogamous relationship. I had been in an open relationship before, but that was only because my partner (same as the above) at the time wanted to bonk an ex-student (college) of his. That was a whole different issue and one I had to address with him later. The salient point is that while I didn’t like the situation which brought up the issue, it started me thinking about my own monogamy. Also, it’s funny that he freaked out when I wanted to date someone else (read, fuck. I really, really, really wanted to fuck someone else, and I regret I didn’t), which should have been a red flag.
Anyhoo, I started thinking about what I wanted in a relationship. I knew I didn’t want to have multiple romantic relationships at one time because quite frankly, one was time-consuming enough. I couldn’t imagine putting that kind of energy into two or more relationships. On the other hand, I could see having one primary partner and other sexual relationships to varying degrees.
I like sex. I like sex a lot. I don’t think sex has to be meaningful each and every time. I would love to have one or more fuck buddies to scratch that itch. Sex is fun with a friend or five! I also think it’s hard to rely on one person to fulfill all your needs, be it emotional, social, or sexual. Not saying you can’t, obviously, but I don’t think it’s a bad alternative to spread the love around, if you will.
That was my thought about my sexuality and romantic ideals while I was in my thirties, and I was fairly comfortable with it. Then, a few years ago, I started questioning whether I wanted to be in a romantic relationship or not. At all. There were many reasons for my questioning, and I tried to dismiss my thoughts as cold feet or whatever, but I couldn’t shut up that niggling feeling. I did not want to put that much energy into a romantic relationship, especially if it were with a dude. All that emotional labor which I already do in my personal life. It just sounded so fucking tiring.
I’ve joked that I wanted a fuck buddy (emphasis on buddy) who would cook for me, watch a game, have sex, and then go home three or five times a week, but the more I joke about it, the more I think it sounds really good. I’ll even do the dishes!
I’m not comfortable with this newest aspect of my sexual/romantic personality, and I don’t know what to do with it. It doesn’t really matter at this point because I’m not seeing anyone, but I do intend to have sex again before I die, preferably in this year. That means I need to weed through why I feel the way I do about what I want from sex. And romance. I know much of it is avoidant behavior because I know I get way too attached to a romantic partner, but it’s also because I really, really, really like being by myself. Me and my cat. That’s how I roll, and I know that I would resent having to compromise the way I do things.
If I want to sleep on the couch, I can. If I want to eat the same thing at the same time every day, I can. If I want to have my cat sleeping on my legs for hours on end while I pound out these posts, I can. If I want to run to Cubs at three in the morning because I can’t live without puffcorn, I can. I don’t like answering to anybody, and I know that I would get sucked into doing that if I were in a romantic relationship.
And, to be frank, the rewards of a romantic relationship aren’t worth the negatives to me. The one time I wish there was another person in the house is when I’m sick because Shadow can’t bring me soup. Other than that, I like living on my own. And the sex, of course, but that goes without saying. The idea of being with one person for the rest of my life, with yoking my life to theirs, the whole ‘until death do we part’ bullshit, makes me feel suffocated. I think that’s a good sign that I shouldn’t be in a romantic relationship.
Back to my birthday. I have a few things I want to do this year. One is to learn the Sabre Form. I learned about two-thirds of it before life got in the way, and I never finished. It’s time. I’m optimistic that I can learn it this year or in a full year at the very most. Then, I want to learn a karambit form, the Double Sabre Form, the Cane Form, the Fan Form, and so. many. forms. I want to move forward in my taiji, and it’s on me.
Two, sex. I want it. It’s up to me to make that happen.
Three, my writing. I am not going to get published this year (talking calendar year), but I need to start moving in that direction. I can write until the cows come home, and I do, but it’s too much like me to push off the unpleasant parts for later. Then, later never comes, and I feel ashamed that I haven’t done the thing. So, now is the time to face my weaknesses–the marketing/business side of being a creative.
Side Note whatever: I don’t like that ‘a creative’ has become the new umbrella term for writers/artists/musicians/etc., but I understand that an umbrella term is needed. It’s much better than ‘content creator’ at any rate. I use ‘a creative’, but I internally roll my eyes whenever I use it.
I also want to figure out my digestive bullshit, but I feel as if I’m on the way with that. Those are the important ones, and it’s much more manageable than coming up with two dozen things I think I should do (which I could easily do).
I have nothing pithy to say in remembrance of my birthday, but I’m glad that it’s no longer the horror it used to be.
*As opposed to my normal bitchiness.