I haven’t felt quite the same since three days before my 50th birthday. I feel like I’ve lost something.
You see, I have always held my preconceptions about my world and myself quite close to my heart. In fact, that hold is a sensation around my heart and chest. I know that our emotions are actually generated within our brain, but I believe they’re manifested by muscle constrictions and relaxations in our gut or chest. This particular preconception has told me, every day for most of my life , that I’m not going to get what I need. That I’m neither seen nor heard. And it feels like a tightness in my chest that only goes away when I make a deliberate effort to relax it and open my heart and trust to the world.
I have been aware of this belief for a number of years and know that feeling ignored or disrespected is one of my hot buttons. You know – the kind that can send you into an irrational fury or to tears for what seems to others like no apparent reason. Physically, it’s a welling feeling in my chest that seems to rise up to a boil as my chest squeezes in like a boa constrictor. That is the nature of our schema, after all. And I feel like I’ve done a better job each year of being aware of when those feelings surface and then managing them so they don’t ruin my day, afternoon, or even hour. But they still surface.
So on my 50th birthday, or rather starting three days beforehand, my friends and family have been conspiring to make me feel loved and appreciated. A surprise birthday party, complete with friends and family coming from across the country. A champagne party with birthday tarts afterwards, followed by words of appreciation from my loved ones. Fifty candles, truly, fire hazard notwithstanding. And not one but two birthday tiaras (I’ve never had one of any kind), one with sparkly gems and the other with pink feathers. Gifts galore, flowers, meals out, and all kinds of birthday wishes across electronic media in the ensuing days. It feels as if not a single person has failed to try to make my birthday as special as possible.
You may recall my blog about dreams being the portal to our personal mythology. I had a dream last night about deciding that if I wanted to, I could fly. So I did. I flew for the heady feeling it provided. I flew for exploration. I flew for expediency. I flew because I could. The only other time I had a flying dream, I was riding on the back of my then-husband. The flight was not within my control, ala Kate Winslet on the bow of the Titanic, quite literally. This flight was on my own will and volition, and it lasted what seemed like most of the night.
So my unexpected 50th birthday gift is an increasing lightness in my chest borne from the love of my friends and family. Thank you, dear friends and family, for the most amazing and memorable gift ever: being in my life.