I have been feeling neglected and ignored lately. I think it comes down to a lifetime of doing everything I could to please others, to make them comfortable, to do whatever was necessary to keep the lid on the pending explosion from my father or ex-husband. In many ways, I have made positive changes. I no longer tolerate explosions at all. I no longer accept guilt trips tossed at me from the maws of those seeking to pull me under. Sometimes I put myself first. But not often enough.

I am 42 years old and have never had a birthday celebration of my own. Never. When I was a child, I shared a few parties with my younger brother. As an adult, I have baked him birthday cakes year after year, then watched my birthday pass by, unnoticed, a few days later.

Perhaps this is why it is so heartbreaking to me that my son has trouble with friendships…I want him to have those celebrations I never did. Hell, I would give anything for someone to think to throw a party for me. I don’t want him to have these same non-memories haunting him in his middle age. Despite his challenges, I want him to be recognized and cherished for the amazing person he is. Like I never was.

Recently, I graduated with my Master’s Degree. I did this while working full-time throughout my studies. I did this while beginning a completely new career. I did this while fighting a hostile work environment. I did this while sitting for and acing several career exams. I did this while juggling and putting out the fires that came with Dom’s diagnoses and therapies and routine changes. I did this while battling my own chronic illnesses. I did it, though. And the moment passed by. No recognition. No dinner out. Nothing.

I don’t believe this lack of recognition is necessarily the fault of those around me. I have trained others by minimizing my needs on a regular basis. I have trained others to dismiss my needs altogether, even to pretend they don’t exist.

Nevertheless, I have spent my life trying to accomplish enough, to be enough, to become enough, that someone would notice. That someone would care enough to celebrate me or even hear me when I speak. I am 42 years old and that has not happened yet. I am beginning to realize that if I want to be celebrated, if I want to be considered important, if I want my voice to be heard, it is up to me.

I am trying to reach the point at which it won’t matter that others don’t notice. For now, I am at the beginning. I have no idea where this journey will lead, but on the next nice weekend it will begin with a getaway celebration of me, of my son, of my Master’s Degree..the start of a new noticing of myself.