A birthday wish

by Jaclyn McCabe February 05, 2024

Today is my birthday.

Birthdays tend to bring up all my stuff. They are like a gumbo of contrary feelings simmering on the stove. Mostly, they are comfort food––warm, cozy, and taste like love. But just like the shellfish in the gumbo that causes my skin to break out in a rash, birthdays come with things that often trigger old wounds. 

It usually starts about a week or so before the actual day. Something will happen to remind me it's upcoming, and with it, a flash of excitement immediately fills me with dread. 

"Ugh, people are going to want me to do things." 

I immediately start plotting a day away from my phone and any possible human connection. 

Somewhere in the middle of my hermit daydream, this thought comes in: "You love celebrating your friends' birthdays so much that making them silly hats is one of your love languages. Why is your first thought to hide?"

The first layer is practical: I have a love-hate relationship with my phone. I often fantasize about returning to the 90s with a landline and an answering machine. I love the easy access to music, audiobooks, and other apps that make modern life convenient. Still, picking up my phone only to see multiple alerts gives me anxiety, and texting (other than to make plans) is the lowest form of communication. 

But I know there are more layers beneath the surface––the shadowing bits I don't want to acknowledge––and they all point to self-grace. 

In Nadine Jane's book Magic Daysshe suggests that the journey of people born on my birthday tend to struggle with negative bias and self-sabotage. And the way through is complete self-honesty, radical compassion, and intimacy.  

I love looking at my astrology because it instantly leads me to self-acceptance. "Oh, look at that. I'm not broken. I'm simply playing out my soul's contract to heal." 

I've spent a lot of time this past year noticing the wide girth of grace I give others, yet it's hard for me to extend that same compassion towards myself. And I'm starting to see that's the root of why letting others love and support me is wildly uncomfortable. 

While my inner mean girl wants so badly to grab onto that last statement and "should" all over me, I'm not going to let her. Because letting people love you, all of you, especially the messy bits, is real emotional intimacy. And that's not easy. If it were, everyone would do it. 

So maybe in this 45th year of my life, I can practice seeing what it feels like to let folks show me the same love I so easily extend to them. 

What that looks like today is embracing each birthday text and telling the sender how much I appreciate them taking the time to think of me today. And celebrating my beautiful, messy life with a few girlfriends who love me enough to drive to Metairie for gluten-free king cake––and that's a tremendous act of love ;) 

Jaclyn McCabe
Jaclyn McCabe


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