Because this year, everything is FINE, really, but my birthday sent me stark, staring mad.
First, on the day, there was the uncontrollable crying jag that started in the morning and lasted until early evening. Proper, groundless woe. Existential keening. Ugly, in the street wailing. This even though - and slightly because - I had very kindly been given a spa day. Which was lovely, truly, and such a kind, thoughtful present. But I felt ugly and vulnerable and ashamed of my new bizarrely stained front tooth and my foul toe claws and my various facial wounds that I have been picking at like a teenager (which is an excellent new nervous habit I have developed over my thirty eight year, so go me). I was definitely not feeling up to explaining the wig thing. I both felt, and felt I must look, like this:
(I've thrown it out now. The decomposition was sort of intriguing to watch, but when it started seeping I regretfully drew the line)
In the end, of course, it was basically lovely. The masseuse was Russian and stoic and quite kind and understated. She barely spoke. I only cried a few times. There was even a moment of massage comedy, when she selected the background music: rather than the usual unearthly new age whale wailing, pan pipes or plainsong, it was a frenetic techno backing track, over which a male voice would occasionally whisper "sex vibe". Perfect!
In the evening despite much more loveliness - cake, blinis, prosecco, a card of my face composed of thousands of pictures of animals courtesy of L, the first episode of the rubbish French version of the Great British Bake Off, featuring a delightfully incompetent Belgian grandmother - there was the return of some of my absolutely top quality anxiety. The triple A grade anxiety, where I lie in bed and my brain searches with the implacable efficiency of a Google algorithm for every shred of bad behaviour, outstanding accounting anomalies, health worries, work tracas, every argument, grievance and failure I've ever been party to. Then it parades them in front of me, like a never-ending slideshow of my own crapness until I am bathed in sweat and existing in a parallel state where I have bodies piled so high they are fracturing the tiles on my patio and a European arrest warrant out for me and not even the dog will deign to chew my corpse. Then I picked at my face until it bled in 73 places again.
The day after I was irrationally angry at nothing and no one (except possibly myself). I walked the dog in the forest extremely swiftly, round and round like a whirling dervish until he ran away and hid behind a tree and refused to come out. I spent two hours agonising about whether to drive somewhere and finally decided not to. I walked home from where I went in the heavy rain, in unsuitable shoes, because I couldn't galvanise myself to do anything more sensible and when I got in, I broke some blameless inanimate objects. I broke things! I don't normally do that kind of thing, because when you do, you just feel silly and have to clean up the bits afterwards. So I cleaned the bits up, feeling not silly, but completely psychotic. Finally, to top off the day in style, I started vomiting violently.
What the fuck.
I feel a bit better now. The sickness has subsided. I no longer want to rip things apart with my tiny dinosaur arms and stamp on them. There has been no crying today. It was like some kind of disturbing birthday exorcism type event but during, I honestly thought I was going mad and it was quite frightening. I mean, I know lots of people don't like birthdays, but I really, really do and what's left in miserable November if I don't enjoy my birthday? My friends talked me down from my ledge of dread. "You probably miss your mum" said F. "You should just embrace the end of year suckiness" said M. "If the worst thing you can say is you were sort of bitchy and then needed an injection of ketamine, well it sounds to me like one of my Saturday nights at university", a particularly wise man commented, comfortingly. Then sent me a picture of me with unicorns and rainbows superimposed rakishly on it. My friends always know the right things to say and do.
Resolutions for my thirty ninth year, both huge and tiny:
1. Be braver.
2. Stop picking my face until it bleeds.
3. Try not to define happiness/success/fulfillment so narrowly that I do not enjoy my really lovely life.
4. Earn enough (somehow - fraud? Blackmail? Jewel theft?) to cover 2012 tax bill.
5. Buy more nail clippers.
6. Do at least one of the following: join a choir, ride a horse more regularly, get unsightly stain removed from my front tooth.
How do you deal with birthdays?