Today is my 23 birthday.
I know, I know...you have seen the pictures and the one thing you are pretty sure about is that the woman smiling for the camera has seen the age 23 come, go and fade far in the distance.
Well, you are right. I am more than twice that age in terms of time spent on the earth but for all intents and purposes, today I celebrate the 23rd year of being born all over again. I have no doubt that I would not have made it this far if it had not been for the Sacrament of Baptism, conferred upon me in 1956, at the ripe old age of six weeks.
Let me see if I can explain.
Like too many people I did not have the best of household situations when I was a child. I had one sane parent, however, which is a lot more than many of you had but still my life was battered about by violence and upset and constant worry as a child. What would set him off this time? Was I going to be good enough? Is it my fault he left? This, of course, was worsened by the fact that I was an pretty easy target for bullies growing up. I am a pretty woman, and I was a pretty child. I was also very smart and very talented. That combination might be appreciated by adults but oftentimes the kids on the playground see that kid as a real threat to their own place on the perches of society and man they can be tough. I am exceedingly grateful we did not have the internet and facebook when I was a kid - I may not have survived.
I struggled through until the age of 17 when I found the magic - it came in a bottle and the particular bottle I was handed had a label that said "Southern Comfort". That label would change - from Southern Comfort to Cutty Sark to Glenlevit to Winners Circle Vodka (1.92 for a gallon - what a deal!) but the magic remained the same. I would add to it - cocaine, marijuana, sex, music, psychedelics, whatever you have on you, but the magic remained the same. I killed my own children so I could live 'free' to pursue this magic. When I tried to save myself it was through a loving man and an expected child and when they both died I just gave up. Why bother...it wasn't going to work anyway.
In the 1990's I tried again. The struggle was long and hard and frightening. I had lost my good looks. My talent was non-existent. The love of my life was gone and the possibility of being a mother was fleeing fast. I was dying, but by GOD that magic was tough to give up, even if the spell it was now casting over me was flat out evil.
May 4, 1992 I through off the shackles of that magic. I had no idea it was going to be my first sober day in a long, long time. The other times hadn't worked longer than ten or fifteen days. However, for a reason known only to God that was the first day of my new life. I have remained sober one day at a time since May 4, 1992 so today....today....
Today is my 23rd birthday.
I wish I could tell my readers that I have been little Miss Perfect ever since I put down the bottle but if I did that would be a lie. I am far from perfect, which is why I am so grateful that I found my way home to the Catholic Church. The Church does not expect me to be perfect; rather, She wants me to try to be perfect. There is a huge difference between the two. She does not pat my little butt, talk down to me and tell me everything I want, feel and desire is perfectly ok with God and with Her. Instead, She puts her loving arms around me, lifts me up again and again, and then kicks my butt when I need it. Holy Mother Church is the ultimate sponsor - She tells me Truth and then lets me decide if I want to accept it or not.
I am grateful today. My life is not as I would have it but it is as God would have it. I love my family and friends and I love the world in which I live. I am glad I have a way to be of service and I am grateful that I have been able to do this deal for this long.
Today is my 23rd birthday.
Happy birthday to me!