August 8th, 1983

Confession from the Broken Ballerina

Turning 10 was a big event for me. I was going to officially be a double digit. As it got closer to my birthday I began to search the house trying to find the hiding spot for my presents. I checked the refrigerator and freezer waiting for my cake to appear. I promised myself I would just look at it and not touch it. I imagined it saying ,”Happy Birthday Madi, love mommy”. My sisters birthday was in June and she had a beautiful cake!  I didn’t even mention my pending birthday because I wanted to contain my excitement. My mother didn’t mention it either. I just knew she was waiting to surprise me. On the day of my birthday, I couldn’t wait for her to come home from work. I strategically waited until she got herself settled. She called me downstairs. I walked down slowly trying to hide my big smile. I imagined the cake with candles and her smiling while she held that cake out for me. 

I walked into the kitchen, nothing was there. I thought to myself, ” She is just going to surprise me after dinner.” I checked the freezer and fridge- nothing was there. I looked at her, tears swelling up in my eyes. She snarled,” What’s wrong with you?” I replied,” Nothing, it’s just my birthday.” I smiled meekly, waiting for her to soothe the fear that was swelling in my gut. Her response, “ Oh, it’s your birthday, I will get you something when I get paid next Friday.”  I smiled again and said ” Good evening, okay.” I went to my room and silently cried all night. I felt so small and insignificant. Then I told myself well, at least she said next Friday. I put a bandaid on my broken heart. Friday came no cake. Maybe next Friday? Next Friday- no cake. I must have continued that for an entire month after my birthday. Then I finally realized that that cake was not ever coming. I told myself- I’m nothing. I’m not special. My sorrow was hidden. I made a promise at a young age to always make others happy and smile because it helped soothe my internal pain. So, if you wonder why I am not particularly happy around my birthday- you now know the root cause. I continue to mourn in silence.