Just Another Birthday

Birthday Cake. Blowing out the candles. Making wishes. Fancy dresses and funny hats. Balloons and silly games.

Remember when we were younger, how excited we were to be celebrating our birthday?

Then as we got older birthdays became meh.  “Just another birthday” we mutter, and every year we wince in a bit of pain as the years start to accumulate.

This month is a big number for me.  40!

As much as I want to cringe and complain about getting older, (maybe just a little) I am actually excited.

It took me 40 years to be where I am today. 40 years to learn the values of my life.

You see, this birthday is not just another birthday- at least not to me- it is a mark of success- a hope of great abundance yet to come- a symbol that love does overcome.

You see, I wasn’t born privileged.  I was born to a couple, not yet married, no money, no education, no home.

In fact, my dad was an alcoholic.

You have to understand, that this is not uncommon in our little town. Drinking, drugs, unplanned pregnancies.

The first five years of my life I watched my dad get drunk and high. 

There are some things in life that are hard to talk about. At least in your mind you feel that they are hard to talk about because of the fear of shame, invalidation, or worse indifference.  Then courage begins to surge and you know you have to talk about it because it’s the only way to light the path.

You could say that I didn’t have a very good start in life. I’m not saying this to blame my dad- he did the best he could. In fact when the drugs became too much- he quit when I was 6 years old.   If I don’t say anything else about my dad- he was able to stay sober ever since. 35 years of sobriety- quit cold turkey and never looked back. It sure says a lot about his will power and convictions doesn’t it?

Life is hard and unfair to begin with- so when you mix in addictions, poverty, and dysfunction life can feel hopeless. And when hopelessness is the norm, you can bet there is a lot of resentment and anger.

You see, even though my dad was able to stay away from the bottle, he had a bit of a temper and used his hobby of building and restoring old cars as his new drug of choice.

The anger that stormed inside my dad manifested itself in abuse.

His go to put-downs to my mom, my sisters and myself were, “stupid, worthless and lazy.” I was 14 years old when I got my first real job- it was a program called “Summer Youth Program” for low income families. Children were able to find work at the ripe ol’ age of 14 to work during the summer. I got a job at our local hospital filing old papers in a hot room with no windows, and no air conditioning. My dad drove me on my first day  and do you know what was said to me? “I don’t even know how you got this stupid job you’re so damn lazy!”  Needless to say, I didn’t perform very well at the job.  So I grew up feeling unseen, unheard and unwanted. As a little girl who desired to be cherished, I internalized these words and grew up believing I was stupid, worthless and a burden.

I hit the re-play button for many years. Over and over again I heard in my head “you’re stupid,” “You’re not good enough,” “People don’t like you.”   I constantly apologized. Apologizing for taking up space. Always apologizing.

I had a lot of fear in me.

In my search and desperation for love and acceptance I followed a pattern:

~I was married at 19 and divorced six months later. I didn’t want to get married at 19- but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
~At 21 I had my first baby- with a guy I hardly knew. I didn’t want to have sex yet, but I wanted him to like me.

~We had our second child when I was 24.
~We married. More of the same- addictions and abuse.
~We tried so hard to make it work.

You see, I was the type of person that thought I was being unselfish and caring to give the other person what they wanted, regardless if it didn’t match my needs or wants. I wanted to be the exact opposite of my dad. Yeah, that didn’t work out so well.

I am a recovering co-dependent.

Believe it or not, there are support groups for that!

Imagine- sitting in a basement of a church saying, “Hi, I’m Roxanne and I’m co-dependent.”  Yes, that happened. I worked the 12 steps. And in working those 12 steps I found God- or God found me.

I had a sponsor and everything. She was very wise and a little nuts. She helped me see the truth of who I was. Turns out I was better at abusing myself than the other people in my life.

I also went to therapy, read a ton of books to help me learn and understand co-dependency- I was determined (and still am) to conquer this flaw in me.

In working those 12 steps I had to forgive my dad. I did.

It took years to understand what forgiveness meant and why it was important in my recovery- and even though I wish my dad and I had a better relationship, I know what happened all those years ago was not my fault. I also learned that even though my dad hurt me, and our family, I know that he loves us.  See, my dad was playing the same game that was taught to him. Addictions have a way of doing that–The same game played with different players as each generation steps up to the plate.

Lucky for me, there were angels in my life that were able to light the path for me and my sisters- people who showed us that there was hope, joy and that life is actually fun and meaningful.

I am forever grateful for my extended family- they brought fun, joy, and showed me and my sisters acceptance. The biggest lesson I learned in the last forty years is that although our families may be broken, dysfunctional, and maybe a little crazy, family is the most important aspect of our life. Every pleasure and pain in our life will be experienced in the context of our relationships. We may fight with our family, we may not even like them that much, but they are our roots, our bridge, our pathway to discovering who we are in this big mass of mess we call home. Family teaches us humility, forgiveness, compassion and what love really means.

I’m turning 40, and I couldn’t be more excited. The next 40 plus years are not going to be wasted by fighting wrinkles and grey hair , or sagging skin and trying to look 20 years old again (maybe a little).  The battles I choose to fight are not physical at all. I choose to fight for me- to fight those demonizing voices. To fight for my family. In my opinion, the best thing anyone can do in their life is to forgive.  Forgive your parents. Forgive your siblings. Forgive the Universe. Forgive yourself.

The next 40 some years is something I want to enrich with adventures with those I care and love about.

Cheers to 40!

img_1793.jpg

If you are interested in some of the books that helped in my journey, click on the links below. (Amazon is supporting my blog if you just click the links and make a purchase from the site). I appreciate your support!

Love Always

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=roxyjaecks-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0894866370&asins=0894866370&linkId=046e1f3bcd0e7b07f31ef38c942cd5cb&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>The Language of Letting Go

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=roxyjaecks-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0981501788&asins=0981501788&linkId=5a43b01f1f2bcd01537dbe00fc8bf301&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Al-Anon The Twelve Steps and How it Works

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=roxyjaecks-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1592408419&asins=1592408419&linkId=451978a840cddd19346ccba289ceaffd&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Daring Greatly

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=roxyjaecks-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=159285849X&asins=159285849X&linkId=f874d054be7f23341fd9b5c1e4ec1cc9&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>The Gift of Imperfections

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=roxyjaecks-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400200385&asins=1400200385&linkId=93fe9f1625749ac713e313f93bbf1561&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Captivating

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=roxyjaecks-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1878424319&asins=1878424319&linkId=e88cc71bd8719a8ef8a4dd311c2a31ae&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>The Four Agreements

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=roxyjaecks-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0310351804&asins=0310351804&linkId=688bd82195f850ff53e878e5ea8b9fd2&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Boundaries

Self-Help Books

amzn_assoc_ad_type = “banner”; amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”; amzn_assoc_region = “US”; amzn_assoc_placement = “assoc_banner_placement_default”; amzn_assoc_campaigns = “books”; amzn_assoc_banner_type = “category”; amzn_assoc_isresponsive = “true”; amzn_assoc_banner_id = “1E12T8MN3QGRR49EP802”; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “roxyjaecks-20”; amzn_assoc_linkid = “15461a81275c46061127fb411d48a42c”; //z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&Operation=GetScript&ID=OneJS&WS=1

“>Amazon