There is a store down the street from my daughter’s college dorm that sells all sorts of papers and cards. I love going there and checking out the hand made papers and journals and writing accoutrements. On a recent visit I was perusing the offerings when I found the most outrageously wonderful birthday card. Without going into too much detail, it was a card that addresses forgotten birthdays. It resonated with me, as the person who managed to hold my emotions hostage for an extended period of time (I haven’t quite figured out what to name him – that’s the subject of an entirely separate post) forgot my birthday. It was kind of a big deal to me…after all. It was my 50th birthday…and the act of forgetting it really pissed me off. And the reason I’m bringing it up now is his birthday is a few weeks out. I saw this card and bought it on impulse, thinking it would be the PERFECT card to send to someone who forgot your birthday.
I’ve gotten fairly adept at gifting people whose birthdays can – and should – be acknowledged. On a recent trip to San Francisco I discovered the exact thing that I will give to my ex husband for his birthday. My daughter and I both marveled in the exactness of this gift. Not too personal, not extravagant, not cheap – thoughtful and respectful and slightly funny, it’s the kind of gift that deserves a pat on the back. The beauty of a gift like this one is no card is needed. A simple Happy Birthday…here is a little something…will suffice.
Cards on the other hand can be far more personal and intimate than a gift. Think back to those first notes that were passed in math class…the transmission of the written sentiment can have far reaching implications, and the memories and emotions can last a lifetime.
The birthday card in question has been sitting in my “Deal With It” file for a few weeks now. It taunts me. Should I send it? Should I not send it? Should I write a note inside or just leave the pre-printed sentiment as the message? Is it too snarky, or is it actually very sophisticated in its subtle humor? Will he laugh upon reading it, or think I’m a raging bitch? Am I violating the intimacy of my current relationship by acknowledging an ex’s birthday, or am I demonstrating my general good will and benevolence in this simple gesture?
I’m not quite sure what to do with this particular card – one that has a very limited audience – and frankly the whole thought process is taking up way too much space in my frontal lobe. I spent almost an entire hour in my therapist’s chair vacillating about sending or not sending said greeting, which makes this the world’s most expensive, mass produced birthday card in the history of mankind. Finally I looked at her and said “…tell me what to do. Don’t make it a rhetorical response, just something definitive…”
Her response was simple. “Send the card.” I must have looked shocked – OK, I actually was shocked – at her response, and demanded an explanation.
“By sending the card you are giving yourself permission to free yourself from the relationship. You are no longer making a conscious act of not thinking about him. You are simply letting go. Sending the card says ‘I think about you sometimes, but you do not dictate the terms of thought. I do.”
Makes sense to me. Now I just have to find a stamp…