I’m in Budapest and yesterday was my 25th birthday.
I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited for a holiday and my birthday as I have been in the run up to this trip.
On my 13th birthday I was actually allowed a house party (a novelty for me). I got ready with my best friend and silently really looked forward to the next few hours. The party was great – until I heard one of my oldest friends say they were bored. It crushed me. The first party I was ever allowed to have at my house and my friend was bored.
14, 15, 16, 17 I can’t remember – obviously not very remarkable. One of them I remember being at school and it was okay, despite the fact that I despised school with every fibre of my being. My birthday usually fell in half-term so I imagine it was something slightly different.
18 was devastating. I went for a meal and only two people turned up. The rest had gone on holiday or had chosen Halloween parties over me, which was often the case. Not even my mum’s vile boyfriend wanted to turn up. For someone who has always had a constant voice in my head telling me that I’m not worthy of friendship or love and that there will always be someone better than me, this really solidified that thought and amplified that voice.
19 I was at uni and my flatmates had got me a card, which I thought was lovely and it made me happy. I drove over to see my family and spent the day there. I can’t really remember what else I did. I think my family wanted to get rid of me and weren’t understanding that I had only been at uni one month so I hadn’t made solid enough friendships yet. I remember crying at the end of it.
20 was fun. Probably the best birthday I’ve had to date. I was at uni and spent it with my new uni friends. They all made me feel really special; even the ones who didn’t usually go out came out for a couple of drinks. We ended up drinking for ten hours straight and only three of us made it to a club. I will always remember this birthday and how my friends made me feel.
21 I went for a meal with my friends and family. Nothing special. I had just dyed my hair blonde and felt sassy as hell.
22 and 23 were not great. 22 I don’t remember. 23 I had to resort to begging my family to celebrate all together as they had fallen out over something stupid yet again. I remember wishing that they would just put their differences aside to celebrate with me but they wouldn’t. It was the start of the realisation that they did not think enough of me. Them not seeming to care enough about me to spend time together for one day was enough to bring all the thoughts of worthlessness come crashing back and landing at the forefront of my brain with an almighty thud. I went for a massage with mum which was unexpected as this is very unlike her and she does not usually do things she doesn’t like doing for anybody. I then went for a meal with my grandparents, which was nice too. In the days before that birthday I remember my mum yelling at me and saying “I don’t understand why you make such a big deal out of your birthday”. Maybe because I want to have a least one day a year where I feel a little bit important.
*TW: Suicidal ideation*
24 was horrific. Probably the worst birthday of my entire life. A couple of months before I had hit rock bottom. I had started planning how I was going to end it all. I’d had no job for the best part of a year, I had no friends, no money, and I’d just been evicted from the flat I was barely holding on to. I was in such a deep depression but it felt like nobody was listening. I didn’t want to celebrate me and my life as there was nothing good there. To top it off, I had to travel back to a city I hated to see my family on my birthday because they did, and still do to this day, refuse to make the 45 minute drive (or twenty minute train journey) to see me. I cry on every birthday I have but I have never cried so much as I did on my 24th. Although I want to point out that my best friend took me for a lovely meal that I perhaps didn’t appreciate as much as I should have.
But this year – 25 – I’m in Budapest. I haven’t received any presents or messages from my family (except my dad). I’ve barely received any facebook messages but I no longer care. I’m was so happy yesterday. I no longer talk to my family so, without spending every Sunday being made to feel like a burden and being spoken to like a stupid piece of shit, I have started to develop a love for myself. I think I have people in my life who like me. My work colleagues – some who only started on Monday – all said Happy birthday. I feel valued and appreciated and not completely worthless.
And I’m spending time in a beautiful, historic city with my best friend (who I think likes spending time with me). I’ve had Budapest on my bucketlist for an age and I’m so glad I get to combine it with my birthday (and spooky season, which is an added bonus). We strolled along the Danube, got drunk and went to the basilica, has donuts and more drink, went for a nap, then went to the Four Seasons for the best birthday meal of my life.
I no longer see my birthday as a popularity contest about who gets the most expensive gifts or the most messages on facebook. It’s about living and embracing life and celebrating yourself with people who are glad you are in the world with them.