Thursday last week was my Birthday.
Yes, it's official, I actually made it to 30 whole years of being alive on this crazy planet spinning around the sun - WOOHOO! For anyone who's known me in the real world for any number of years, you'll know how many ridiculous - and sometimes unbelievable things have happened along the way, which is why I say that I've "actually made it". I'm beyond grateful for everyone who's in my life at the moment, and the many exciting things which are yet to come.
But the truth is, that things haven't always been this way.
Now, the idea of turning 30 doesn't worry or stress me out at all (in fact, I've been excited about becoming this age for a few years now), so I haven't exactly spent the last few months poring over blog posts, or articles on news sites about all of the stupid shit I supposedly "MUST DO/BE/HAVE BEFORE 30".
What has happened over the last couple of weeks, is that I've been noticing the STUFF I've let go of over the years, particularly in the years since high school.
Now when I say STUFF, I don't just mean THINGS, like possessions.
I mean the Relationships, Friendships, and Hometowns.
Loved Ones, and Old Lovers.
The Dead Dreams.
And most of all - The Dramas, and The Demons.
While there's always an element of sadness, and sometimes pain when letting go - and there can be when looking back with that heady mix of Hindsight and Nostalgia, that's not the sense I've had recently.
In the lead up to my party over the weekend, Jordan and I spent some time talking about the kind of vibe I wanted for the event.
I wanted for it to be super fun, and a little bit special, but still feel relaxed - and to be perfectly honest, for a while I was really considering NOT DOING ANYTHING. I didn't want things to be a fuss, and I didn't want to have to put in a lot of work - but I still wanted to celebrate with my friends. As I've written recently, the weeks in the lead up had been super busy with work, and all of the planning had to happen at the last minute, so it would have been REALLY EASY for me to flake out and kill the whole idea of having a party.
More to the point, I think I was scared of a fuss being made about me.
As Jordan and I chatted about some of my Birthday Parties Past, it became clear just how fraught with drama and other peoples shit (as well as having a whole heap of my own piled on top), my birthday celebrations have been. Without having to get too far into events, let's just say that I've witnessed a wide variety of super-serious early-twenties style, alcohol-fuelled emotional events go down at my parties, and I'm not going to lie, my responses to them haven't always been stellar.
One year in particular that does stand out, was my 24th Birthday Party. The dude I was seeing at the time showed up wasted, told everyone we WEREN'T singing Happy Birthday, then spent the rest of the night behaving like a total dick to everyone. The night ended when I threw him out of my apartment and went to bed. About two weeks later I adopted Felix the Guard Tiger from the local shelter, thinking I wanted someone to cuddle. It turned out, that he wasn't particularly fond of being cuddled at the time.
Somewhere along the line, I must have internalised the idea that I didn't want anyone to sing Happy Birthday to me, because it's taken me years to feel as if it would be fun again.
Case in Point: Protesting while my friends and family sang to me when I turned 27.
Rather than spending this time feeling shitty about previous experiences, or sad about the people who are no longer in my life - for whatever reason - this week has made me ridiculously appreciative and grateful.
While I may not be 100% proud of how I've behaved at all times over the last 30 years, I AM proud of the person I've become as a result of them.
I'm proud of the way in which I live my life now, and the people surrounding me.
I'm proud of the boundaries I set, and the expectations I keep.
I'm proud that I've learned so many things from all of the people I've met along the way so far - whether those lessons were gentle, or felt totally unfair and left me feeling as if I'd been beaten across the head with a plank of 6x4.
I'm proud of the relationships I have room for now because of the ones I lost along the way.
I'm proud of the impact I get to have on the world because I found my voice again.
I'm proud that I can fill The Kitteh Palace with giant foil and pink balloons, hire caterers, and serve drinks for my friends.
I'm proud that I'm working at accepting and forgiving myself for the shittier things which I've done, and others for the things they've done which have hurt or upset me.
In the meantime, I'm learning that I deserve to be loved and celebrated in the ways I choose to be.
I deserve to have parties filled with friends, laughter, cake, balloons, and yes, even singing.
And do you know what?
After almost 6 years since he chose me to be his person.
Tonight, Felix the Guard Tiger FINALLY let me pat his belly while he curled up and purred in my arms, and pressed his face to mine.