Birthday Suit


Lying in bed as I watch the clock display 12:00 am, June 16th, my birthday has officially begun. Like so many, I experienced a year comprised of good and bad days. Those who know me can attest to my tumultuous relationship with my birthday.

My mother gave birth three times in the month of June. Mine was the first, followed by my brother’s two years later. June soon became a month of sorrow, as my brother would pass away just a few days within turning a year old. A year after his death and my mother gave birth, in June, to another son. My brother and I would celebrate our birthdays together, void of individuality, but convenient for our mother. Perhaps it was in those very early birthday gatherings I learned how to hide myself, despite the elaborate birthday suits our mother would have us wear. Every detail of our clothes was perfect, down to the matching colors and she would warn us of the consequences if we were to get them stained or blemished. The parties were not about me, nor were they about my brother, for years it was about my mother attempting to get through the month of June as quickly as she could. The month of our birth would forever be linked with such loss and grief.

Through the years, I have continued to struggle with the anniversary of my birth. After years of not celebrating my birthday with all the fanfare, I decided to have a party for my 45th. The invitations were mailed and for the first time, I felt excited. However, June would again be linked with pain as I was diagnosed with cancer just days before my birthday party. It was too late to cancel the party, and as they say, “the show must go on”. Once again, I donned the party with the perfect suit, smile, and hospitality. As previously, the party wasn’t about me, it was about making sure my friends had a good time and didn’t learn of my diagnosis. I had just about perfected hiding the real me, I mean, I had forty-four years to practice.

Needless to say, I have traveled a long road since my 45th birthday. I have had surgeries, went through a third divorce, received another diagnosis, career setbacks, suffered loss, yeah; it has been quite the journey. The path to learning yourself is difficult and sometimes it isn’t a choice. What I have found more challenging is accepting myself and thus finding my purpose. Having a June 16th birthday made me a Gemini, and I have had conflict with the duality of the sign, twins, the identical outward appearance but the inner self is where two dwell, the public versus the private version of me. Circumstances have broken me down; fear came in with a stronghold and left the door wide open for doubt to enter. The inner voice that says people will not understand or accept the real version of you played on a continuous loop.

I lost myself on more than one occasion this past year, but I am determined to stay the course that will lead me to who I am and ultimately my purpose. So, today is my 51st birthday, the first day of a new year, and I am not going to live in hiding. I am on my way to becoming comfortable with my birthday, suit and all.


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