T W E N T Y T H R E E

23.

A prime number.

The number of Olympic medals Michael Phelps has.

The retired jersey number of Michael Jordan.

And how old I turn tomorrow.

—-

I’m really not looking forward to my birthday this year.

I love birthdays, but this year is just different. For one, I’m in a huge transitional time in my life, I just picked up and moved eight hours away from home for an unpaid internship and the opportunity take a chance on myself and find myself and my dream in a new city. In order to give myself that chance, I’ve given up many things and made some choices that aren’t to my preference…but it’s just where I am right now.

Here’s the thing about moving away from home, you leave everything behind. My family, my friends, my therapist, my treatment team, the support I got from the programs Carolina House offers for alumni. I am alone. No, I’m not physically alone for the most part…I live with a family of five and there is almost always someone around and something to do. But they don’t fulfill me. They aren’t my people. They don’t make me feel safe and loved. They make me feel even more transitory than I already am and that’s hard to deal with. I have friends here, but only a couple and they have lives of their own and schedules completely opposite of mine.

 

Tomorrow is my 23rd birthday and I am still unemployed and I am ashamed of that. Tomorrow is my 23rd birthday and I am currently working a part-time job that is immensely unfulfilling and anxiety-provoking. Tomorrow is my 23rd birthday and I am not proud of where I am in my life. Tomorrow is my 23rd birthday and I feel overwhelmingly alone. Tomorrow is my 23rd birthday and I am not happy with where I am in my life, not because of what other people think, but because I feel like I’ve let myself down. I haven’t lived up to what I know I can do.

I’m not excited for my birthday because this isn’t where I should be right now. On May 8 it will be a year since I graduated from college. On May 10 it will be a year since I went to treatment at Carolina House. These anniversaries are sneaking up on me and reminding me that I am not where I could have been now. It’s hard for me to wrestle with the idea that I have been out of college for almost a year and have not moved forward in my life or career.

I really truly feel this way. I know that in a large part, this is my insecurities and demons trying to keep a grip on me to continue to find ways to pull me down. I know that the journey I have taken was necessary and leaves me better off in the long run. I know that everything that has happened to me since I graduated has served a purpose in my personal growth. I know that if the universe had a different plan for me, I would feel a calling for that and be moving in that direction. But I don’t think it does because I am stuck.

Tomorrow is my 23rd birthday and I feel unfulfilled, ashamed, lonely and lost.

This birthday is just a reminder that I am behind, that time is moving forward even though I feel like I am stuck in one place.

This post really probably isn’t what you thought you were getting yourself into, but it’s true.

I’m sure you’re looking for the point of this post, or at least something to convince you that I’m not miserable all the time. Here it is:

—-

This birthday is really hard for me. I can’t really change that, but I can reframe it.

Tomorrow I turn 23 and move into the first year of my life in recovery. I didn’t spend today restricting, thinking about how to lose as much weight as possible before tomorrow (lol), putting off plans tomorrow so I could overexercise or loading up on laxatives. It’s hard, but it’s also a relief.

Tomorrow I turn 23 and I’m going to get to spend the day with one of my best friends who I met through treatment and wouldn’t be in my life it weren’t for that journey. I wouldn’t be able to see her or spend this precious time with her if I hadn’t taken the leap and moved here. She brings me joy and comfort and makes me feel loved and safe.

Tomorrow I turn 23 and I’m going to have to spend some of my day babysitting…which I am not supposed to do on Saturdays, but it is what it is and I don’t have plans for the entire day so it’s okay how it is.

Tomorrow I turn 23 and I won’t get to see my family or most of my friends, but I’ve already received cards, packages, letters and flowers from the people I love. I am not forgotten. I am not unloved. I am lonely and a little sad, but I am not alone. I am allowed to feel those feelings and move forward with my day.

Tomorrow I turn 23 and I don’t have a job or the life I hoped to have a year after graduation, but I have my health, my sanity and recovery…and this year, and that has to be enough.

—-

Tomorrow is my 23rd birthday and instead of focusing on everything that isn’t how it “should” be, I choose to focus on the amazing things I do have on my side.

I live in Nashville, one of my favorite cities in the world. I currently have free rent, that’s cool. I have birthday packages to open tomorrow. Today I got flowers delivered to the house and flowers make me happy. The weather was really nice today. My parents are coming to visit in a few weeks. The Tar Heel’s are kicking Butler’s butt in the Sweet Sixteen game I am watching while I write this. I got my nails done today. I had a great therapy session this morning. I get to spend the day with my girl SB tomorrow. I have AMAZING friends…I know everyone says their friends are amazing, but mine are literally top notch. They are goddesses that walk this earth and are kind enough to share their amazingness with me and the rest of the world. I am lucky to be a star in their galaxies. I am in recovery. Tomorrow is my birthday.

Tomorrow is my birthday and I am in recovery.

I am in recovery.

That’s what it all comes down to.

—-

 

 

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