The Birthday Witch Makes Her Sacrifices
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Life in the Third Degree.
Witch that I am, Iâ€™m about to make another sacrifice, several of them, and all of them unexpected. They hurt, all of them. Theyâ€™re all another level closer to truth and bone, and I thought I was already there. After all, itâ€™s nearly Spring and the appropriate time of year for sacrifices is in the Autumn of the year, and in the last round of sacrifices, I gave up an 18-year marriage and several decade-long friendships that Iâ€™d once thought Iâ€™d die without. Apparently, the bloodshed isnâ€™t over, and even newer treasured relationshipsâ€”like with The Treatâ€”are at risk.
About ten days before my birthday, I sat curled up on my bedroom floor at midnight, phone pressed to my ear, wrapped up in a conversation with The Treat and explaining that, contrary to those asinine television shows and movies low on plot, I donâ€™t sacrifice goats, fawns, or kittens. But I do make sacrifices. Every fall I cull the things no longer of value to me. Itâ€™s a time to clean out closets and get rid of clothes I havenâ€™t worn in years. A time to clean out my relationships, too, if there are too many takers in my life and the relationships become too much one-way without reciprocating even occasionally. I have a habit of giving and giving until suddenly I get tired of the taking and the cut the taker out of my life without a second thought. Iâ€™m sure it seems abrupt to them, when theyâ€™re suddenly shut out but to me, itâ€™s been a long road. Culling may seem heartless or it may seem like good housekeeping, but it makes room for new stuff that might be better for me, whether itâ€™s new shoes or men.
As I told The Treat, I severed a lot of close relationships last year, and from now on, the only personal relationships I have will be those that have value, those that have meaning, those that treat me right. He applauded me, not knowing how soon he might be relegated to the same fate. But if so, itâ€™ll be as a direct result of choices heâ€™s about to make, choices which unfortunately and sadly donâ€™t serve our friendship. He has a list of fabulous traitsâ€”Iâ€™ve counted at least 500 that knock my socks offâ€”and yet his damage from his divorce may be enough to negate them all, if he lets it. Iâ€™ve seen his soul and seen his heart and seen his pain, and I do what I always do when someoneâ€™s in painâ€”I try to find ways to ease the hurt, even at my own expense. I make it easy for him, maybe too easy, and he may like the results but he doesnâ€™t appreciate the efforts when theyâ€™re not something that has to be paid for with his own sweat. Itâ€™s a faulty pattern of mine and Iâ€™m seeing it already in this relationship. If it canâ€™t be corrected, our budding friendship will be among those culled in this early Spring cleaning.
Itâ€™s not the birthday present I would have planned for myself. I would have much preferred a new book contract with Silhouette Books or a Celtic knot tattoo on my lower back where none but the truest of lovers would ever know or maybe even a bouquet of irises. But this year, Spirit has other thoughts on what the perfect gift for me is…and itâ€™s more culling to make room for better things.
I had no idea that my birthday party this year would be the tool for such important decisions.
For years now, Iâ€™ve thrown my own birthday parties. The parties were to celebrate my birthday and were attended by my children and my husbandâ€™s extended family. None of my friends or family ever came. My family lived too far away, and my friends really werenâ€™t welcome and those who were deemed moderate enough to be my friends usually bowed out in favor of buying me a birthday lunch. Every year, I cleaned the house until I could have dropped from exhaustion, usually alone, and prepared the foods and agenda for my own party. When everyone left, I usually stayed up past midnight and cleaned the kitchen alone and swore that next year, I wouldnâ€™t have a party at all, regardless of how my in-laws and husband might be disappointed. It wasnâ€™t until the last year of my marriage that I didnâ€™t have a birthday party at all because I didnâ€™t throw it myself.one else bothered to throw it for me.
So this year, my first year on my own again, I decided things would be different. This year, I was going to throw my own party, but instead of my husbandâ€™s family, Iâ€™d invite some of my closer coworkers, new friends Iâ€™d made, and friends from my â€œold lifeâ€ before my divorce. First of all, I wanted good friends around me this year for an honest celebration of my independence and of my life. Second, many on the invitation list have special gifts as healers, seers, and counselors, and I wanted to see how they meshed with my new friends and whether they might become part of my regular weekly healing circle. And third….well, third was something I hadnâ€™t planned onâ€”that how certain people responded to my birthday invitation would determine whether I severed the relationship and moved on to spending my energies on people who respect my efforts or whether our existing friendships deepened. Iâ€™d already issued the invitations when I realized Iâ€™d issued a test.
The first to respond was a co-worker Iâ€™d covered for when she was having serious marital issues (before I had mine). Sheâ€™d been in danger of losing her job, so for two years, I did her job for her. Seriously. In addition to my own job. No one in the management chain knew. If theyâ€™d known, she would have been gone. She hadnâ€™t been there for me during my own marital issues though when I was able to talk about it, I filled her in in-depth. I invited her to the party anyway because I still felt a closeness to her…or perhaps just the memory of the closeness from years ago. She said no, but maybe, and then gave a long list of reasons why she probably wouldnâ€™t be there but might under certain conditions. I still have no idea if sheâ€™s coming, but in my heart, I know she wonâ€™t. Itâ€™s time to let this relationship goâ€”itâ€™s already over.
Another basically told me that she had a preference for a TV show that night, but the next time she got bored, she looked forward to hanging out with me for entertainment. After all, Iâ€™d always been there in the past when she needed something and she assumed I always would be. But I wonâ€™t. Iâ€™d thought our relationship was based on mutual interests, affection, and respect, but in hindsight, I was wrong.
Another wanted to know if I would provide babysitting for her toddlers or, at least, since she didnâ€™t know any of the people coming to my party, if I could make sure none of the other guests said fuck in front of them. Iâ€™m not cold to the plight of finding a babysitter, but she hires sitters several nights a week for other grown-up events and parties she attends. I had the feeling she was looking for a reason not to comeâ€”particularly since Iâ€™d asked her not to bring them to a private healing earlier in the yearâ€”for me to say she couldnâ€™t bring her children so she could gracefully back out. Instead, sheâ€™s now manufactured an excuse not to come, but she did let me know she â€œmightâ€ show up. And yet, she calls me for a counseling session sometimes several times a week. The last time, she left me on-hold while she chatted with a friend and forgot we were in the middle of a free session. Iâ€™m reasonably sure she wonâ€™t show up for my birthday party, even though Iâ€™ll buy food for her and her husband and something for the tots. Itâ€™s a message I already know and didnâ€™t want to hear: itâ€™s time to end this one-sided relationship.
The list goes on, with surprises on both sides. People I didnâ€™t expect to drive over an hour to attend tell me they wouldnâ€™t miss it for anything. People who call on me for help regularly and expect me drop everything when they call late at night…havenâ€™t even responded. I still have no idea how many guests Iâ€™ll have, since so many didnâ€™t RSVP and so many who did gave wishy-washy answers. My freezer will be full of leftovers, but thatâ€™s okay. This is Spiritâ€™s way of weeding out the relationships that arenâ€™t right for meâ€¦or at least not right for me right now.
And itâ€™s gonna hurt. Gods, itâ€™s gonna hurt.