Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Focusing on Me

Every year I start my birthday countdown over a month in advance. I mark off each day with anticipation, thinking about what I'll do, who I'll spend it with, and how much cheesecake I'm going to consume. But this time I was blindsided. When I saw that the date today is October 1st I realized my birthday is less than ten days away and I didn't even care. If fact, I was dreading it.

I thought back to only two weeks ago when it was Blake's birthday. I started planning three months ahead for my drive out to Arizona for that weekend. I wanted everything about that day to be perfect for him. The flowers, the gifts, the cemetery visits, everything. Even though I knew I couldn't spend Blake's birthday with him, I thought incessantly about how I could feel as connected to him as possible during that time.

Looking back on the amount of energy I put into Blake's birthday makes me feel strange about the attitude I have towards my own. But this stark contrast isn't only about birthdays. Actually, it's not about birthdays at all. The opposite reaction to my birthday only stands as a reflection of a bigger problem: in letting myself be consumed by mourning Blake, I have pushed my own needs aside.

Since Blake died, I feel incompetent at taking proper care of myself. Most days I'm just grateful that I got my body out of bed, so what that body looks like doesn't seem as consequential. This means wearing glasses every day, no make up, and ragged hair piled messily on the top of my head. But this apathy isn't limited to just the superficial care. I also find myself choosing to ignore basic practices that keep me healthy. Eating well, sleeping, exercising, and time with friends are all casualties added to the list of things that no longer command my attention. It's nearly impossible to focus on myself when my mind is working at full capacity ruminating about Blake.

So as crass as this may sound, I need to remember that I am the one who is still alive, not him. I am the one who still has the ability to learn, go on adventures, meet new friends, and have birthdays that serve as more than just a day of remembrance of the life I once had with the people I once shared it with.

Gradually I need to shift my focus back on to me, my health, and my future. Although it's going to take time to learn to prioritize my personal needs over my preoccupation with Blake, I am going to take the first step by starting with my birthday. I will take back the happiness associated with one of my favorite days of the year and reclaim it for myself. Because I am alive, and that is reason enough to celebrate. My birthday this year will be all about appreciating my life, the people who are a part of it, and creating new memories with them.

And cheesecake, lots and lots of cheesecake.