Every birthday from thirteen to nineteen featured two things: me being cussed down and then being thrown out of the house. Nothing drastic or dreadful ever happened to trigger these rather strange birthday ‘gifts’ other than the arrival of the birthday itself, and my head would be near spinning at the speed at which nothing or something that seemed minor, could escalate into chaos and then, if there were guests arriving, switch back to acting as if everything was perfectly normal.
For a while I thought it was not cleaning the house to a high enough standard or helping out enough, or buying the ‘right’ gift, and then I realised that it didn’t matter what it was–these occasions, which included Mother’s Day and Easter, were very triggering for my mother.
For a number of years, these experiences were baffling, painful and embarrassing, until I discovered that a number of my own friends as well as plenty of Reclaimers, have been through similar experiences where their parents wrecked occasions that should, in theory, be a source of happiness and good memories.
It’s not something that’s talked about a great deal, possibly because aside from all of the associated memories and feelings, there’s a societal expectation that we’re supposed to be happy at these times and that if we find it difficult, that there’s something odd about us, so we grin and bear it to fit in, while often experiencing great pain within. In fact, just like the images of motherhood that are often at odds with reality, we’re peddled this idea that ‘everyone’ has positive memories of birthdays and that if they don’t, well, there must be something wrong with them.