Not one of my birthdays aged thirty-one to thirty-five were particularly memorable, but thirty-six certainly was!
It was eight months before when my marriage had ended, and I was two months into a relationship with Nathan, the covert narcissist I mention in my first post. During the ‘love bombing’ phase, Nathan talked endlessly about buying me a present. He had stress dreams about my gift saying he had bought me a present but sent it back because it wasn’t right. He talked about it a lot!
Now, on the day of my birthday, Nathan had already booked and pre-arranged a trip away with his children. We arranged to see each other on Saturday night, two days before my birthday (I recall him being very vague and non-committal then), and he also joined us on a family outing the following day. Again, I wasn’t sure if he would turn up.
We did have a nice time in the end and the day before my birthday (when we said goodbye), would have been the perfect time to give me the present he’d talked about so much. All I really wanted was a card, but while driving away, I found it odd that on the eve of my birthday, there was no gift or card from my boyfriend. I was hurt and confused.
Maybe he had forgotten, and he would drop it round later that evening. Nothing.
Too many tears
I woke up on my own on my thirty-sixth birthday but to a lovely text message – HAPPY 36TH BIRTHDAY with lots of balloons, cakes and party poppers. It must have taken him a while to type and design.
I cried on my way to work.
I cried in the toilet at work.
I cried on the fire escape when someone was in the toilet.
I just felt crushingly disappointed. Now, owing to the love-bombing from dear Nathan and my co-dependency, I was utterly addicted to him. The gift to demonstrate how he felt about me never materialised on my special day. It was as if I was not able to get the fix of whatever it was I needed from him. And I needed confirmation of how he felt about me. And it wasn’t there on my birthday.
I cried for the duration of my family birthday dinner. When I got home, a bill from my divorce lawyer was waiting for me. To make things worse, I had been horribly ungrateful for my loving parents’ efforts. I ghosted Nathan. He’d text, he’d call and I ignored him all day.
Eventually, we did speak and I broke up with him. Sobbing for the rest of the evening and telling him we were incompatible. I wish I left our relationship there.
Oh no. The red flag ignored. After a twenty-four-hour communication break, Nathan came over the next day, and we made up. Having spoken to various friends, I believed I overreacted. Two months later, for his birthday, I took him for lunch, arranged VIP tickets to a popular TV show and sourced a rare piece of 70’s TV show memorabilia.
My thirty-seventh birthday turned out to be another teary-eyed day. My son was sick in his bed that morning and then in mine. After washing the sheets, the day was spent at home worrying he’d caught a sickness bug. All plans subsequently cancelled. Neither did it help that two days earlier, I fell out with my mum after Nathan had been incredibly rude to her. The meal arranged for my family and Nathan’s family (keeping it simple, remember), was a disaster. Nathan was late, and my mum refused to come along as she was (quite rightly) angry.
I didn’t cry as much as I did the year before, so all things considered, would we say thirty-seven was a relative success?
By the time I reached thirty-eight, well, I had learned my lesson, and this time I was going to get it right – a family holiday with Nathan and our children. We had a good day at the waterpark; Nathan tipped my rubber ring upside down on the lazy river, hurting my nose, but luckily there was no bleeding. Nathan’s eleven-year-old son insisted on holding his hand all day (I suspect Nathan arranged this knowing I liked holding hands). By setting the bar so low nothing could go wrong and I wouldn’t be in tears all day. And fortuitously, I didn’t have a broken nose.
By thirty-nine, Nathan was no longer a feature in my life, by which time I really did manage to get birthdays just right. It turned out to be a lovely day together with my parents and son sitting on the beach and swimming in the sea. Absolute bliss.