Today is my birthday, and so I could not really avoid telling you about my birthday experiences :)

For the first 25 years of my life, my birthday was not celebrated on my date of birth. Since the Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas (their version of exchanging Christmas gifts) on 5 December, my parents thought is was more practical to move my birthday. That way people would not forget about it, and I would be able to separate between the birthday gifts and the Christmas gifts (at least that is how they explained it to me). So, from the age of 1 my birthday became 3 November instead. This was my normal, and it confused me whenever someone asked me for my birthday (do they mean my birthday or my date of birth, I would always ask). Now I can understand how manipulative that was, and how clear the underlying message of having an “impractical birthday” must have been.

When I was 25 I met my significant other. Surprisingly enough, we have the same birthday. My family assumed that he would follow suit, and move his to 3 November too. Instead, I decided that -as an adult- I was perfectly able to differentiate between my birthday and Christmas. In fact, I think I might have managed it as a kid too. So from that moment on, my birthday was back to being celebrated on my date of birth. You would think that I was free to make this choice, but they accepted only begrudgingly.

Wind forward seven years, and my partner and I are throwing a birthday party. Of course my parents are invited. They show up with two of my aunts in tow. Not that I mind my aunts coming, but it would have been nice if my mother had mentioned it. More damaging still is that she had told my aunties they would attend my birthday. MY birthday… no mention of my partner’s birthday. So they had got me a present, but were empty handed when they found out it was his birthday too. It was an awkward and painful moment for us all. And it communicated loud and clear what my mother thought of my partner…

Fly Free,


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Having gained experience while working for a variety of European non-profits, I am proud to now work with SwanWaters. My connection with the website is not only professional. I am glad to tap into my personal experiences to help those who are living in toxic relationships whether with parents, partners or in their professional life. We need to make the world more aware of the devastating effects of emotional abuse and help more people on their way to heal and thrive.

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