It Only Took 38 Years

Growing up I dreaded my birthday. It was a constant reminder of the turmoil my birth caused. I was the shame of a fourteen year old girl who was forced into marriage.

There would be no hugs or kisses from my mother, none that I can remember anyway. What I do remember is the perpetual cold shoulder, the look of loathing in her eyes and the constant verbal abuse. Her leaving my dad only made it worse.

Couldn’t she see how hard I tried to make her love me? I changed diapers and made bottles. I let her sleep all day while I tended the house. I took it upon myself to get dress and walk to school. I never complained. Why couldn’t she give me the same half-hearted attempt she gave my siblings. I tried and failed.

Then one day the truth I feared was confirmed when she left and never came back. I was unwanted, undeserving of even my mothers love.

Even after being rescued by my daddy I couldn’t bring myself to feel worthy. The damage was done. The soundtrack of my mothers words were stuck on reply in my head. Year after year I smiled, blew out the candles and gave thanks for my gifts. Inside I was slowly becoming a victim of depression.

I became rebellious in my teenage years. Turning fourteen, the same age my mother became pregnant with me, set off a downward spiral. I was done feeling sorry for myself. It was my time to be angry. As a daughter of an alcoholic I made the obligatory pledge to never, ever drink but my rage won. I started drinking to numb the pain I was hiding inside. A deep yearning to be loved.

Reunited with my mother when I was seventeen only reconfirmed my inability to be loved. “You are nothing! You could never be loved. Who could ever love you?” Are the words said with laughter that haunt me to this day.

On my twenty-fourth birthday my daddy, as he did every year, said, “You are my pride and joy. I always wanted you. I have always loved you.” Less than a month later I held his hand as he took his last breath and died.

I am an orphan in a world where my mother still lives.

A mother at twenty-five and a wife at twenty-seven, I still felt undeserving of being loved. Mr. C loved me anyway. For years on my birthday he tried and for years he failed. Despite the celebration, depression would win.

I have forgiven my mother. I am at peace with what might never be but still save just enough room hope.

Last year I went to war with depression. Battle after battle it won but I survived. I learned. I grew. I forgave myself and allowed joy into my life.

I turned thirty-eight yesterday. I woke to the sweetest “Happy Birthday” chatter followed by hugs and kisses. Mr. C prayed and thanked the Lord for my birth. I am a blessing to him and my offspring. I am loved. I am worthy. My birthday is a celebration.

It has only taken my thirty-eight years to believe I was not mistake. I am part of the Lord’s plan. He knew me in my mother’s womb. He will not forsake me. My story is not a story of tragedy to be pitied but a story of triumph.

God if you are willing, I am ready…


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