January hurts to the core.

How could a month that holds both the fortunous reputation of a clean slate and a month that holds my beautiful wedding anniversary be the toughest one of the year?


Simple stories include that I often get sick.  This week, case and point.  I missed the first two days of work post an extended change of pace during winter break due to illness.  

Another is I am not one for the holiday busy, it clutters my mind and whaps my center of gravity out a bit.  I have theories as to why, but this torch has burned for decades and so it rarely surprises me that I start the year with a disheveled heart. 

A deeper layer reveals that it is also my birthday month.  However, in hearing stories and recallings of my youth, it is suspected I am a December birthday. This unanchors me.  To know one’s birthday seems woven into being human, being known, being worth celebration. 

I do not know mine.  

I have an assigned birthday by dear catholic sisters and a gracious adoption paperwork system, but it is false and that has always mattered to me.  I used to loathe the phrase and mention of the day.  I have grown to appreciate the sentiment and the reality that I have a day, like others–inaccurate, but still mine. I look forward to intentional extensions of love in January due to my “birthday” now as a grown adult, but the little girl in me will always falter a bit when the month rolls around.

Foundational imprints of the month have history and hurt.  Statements said, recovery from pain gone ary, and cloudiness of memories and moments that have both shaped and stripped from me–they edge the month with grief

Stark streaks also invade the month.  Life lived through that I now have to coach my mind in. My mind must believe these wounds can connect to my call to others for their courage despite trauma. 

But how I wish the cavernous  wounds away.  The loss of our first child in our first miscarriage in 2007 was anguish.  Standing amid 70,000 mourners and respect-givers as the late President Gerald R. Ford was driven through my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, I stood there when I could not stand in front of my classroom of 10th graders. My body reeling from the physiolocigal  truth of the miscarriage–I stood there wondering what the little life could have done in the world as this hometown boy gone President was laid to rest.  My heart asunder in lies that I was a failure in yet another way.  

Not even a decade later from that life lost, I found my mind hurtled into the chaos of depression from re-exposure to abandonment and trauma.  

The dark felt insurmountable and I became a shell of myself. A suicide attempt tore through my own story and consequentially the lives of those close to me. I may never like the month because of this unforgiving blemish on my action record.  I beg many, each week, to know their worth and turn towards help… It does not lessen my shame, but it is what I can offer their hurting place. 

January has fallen to a place of remembering and always questioning if my rise from the grips of ugliness is true and trustworthy. 

But hope wins. 

Not as a strategy.  

Not as a method.  

Not as a privilege or a luxury.  

But as a Truth

Students need to know this. Grieving parents need to know this. Trauma victims, homeless, and struggling people need to know this.  It is not swift and it is not mess free, but life — whether gone too soon or grappling for another day, it is comprised of hope and breath.  

For all of us still standing, breathe deep, this month and every month.  If you have extra air, lend it in your service, your faith, your extra hand, your benevolent spirit, your career, your neighborhood, your people. Lend hope to those who need to be fought for.  

I will.

Join me.  

18 thoughts on “January hurts to the core.

  1. My precious friend, just this weekend my heart was ripped apart by the story of a woman who shares your name in Pakistan. Her life has been one of unspeakable poverty and oppression, loss and reunion. Like you, I pray that her story will be redeemed to speak life into others and that she will know a strength that I see in you – even when you are at your weakest. It is in your honor and because of your openness with your own story that I have made commitments to work on her behalf and all those with no known birth dates. I know of 24 girls lovingly adopted, given days of honor and names by a pastor and and his wife in india. It is your face I see as their potential. I am a Hope dealer by trade now. It is a humble privilege to even attempt to make a difference and to empower others to be the heroes of their own stories. Your bravery is an example to me, and it is a high privilege to know and be known by you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was not able to read this until today. My delay was simply in my own shadows casting boundaries on my intake of emotional stories. Thankful I read it today. To how you will pursue your commitments and how speechless I am to what I give you in my story–keep bringing your hope dealings and gifts to the world. You are a hero when you see others and raise their stories high. Peace to you!

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  2. Nasreen, I see and hear you. December is that month for me, for many reasons. Today I thought of my college roommate, to whom it was never made clear when her exact birthday was. I grieve afresh for her as I read your story. Receive a sisterly hug from me. Stay well, and thank you for sharing your heart. It is an extreme act of courage.

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    1. Sir, it was told to me by my adoptive parents and the nuns who cared for us. They constructed birthdays to the best of their knowledge, but with babies abandoned near the houses or found in the jungles, the Sisters had to assign birthdays. Due to walking and getting teeth earlier than my birthday would denote, a December birthday is likely, a November or October birthday is not out of the question.

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  3. Beautifully written. As one person responded, actual birth dates are incidental to the creation of the person. My husband doesn’t know the day, month or even year he was born. He is on his 4th different birthday now since we were married, due to various people telling him their ” I think “s.
    I believe you are a woman of great value.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You opening up, has cleared the vision not the window in life I call you. I agree that though you would love to know your actual B-date,bit matters not to us. We are blessed that you are here.
    No one could ever understand the pain, both physical and mental big the loss of a child as you described. Please do us all a favor and continue to bless us with your words, positivity, and beautiful smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When it happened, we don’t know.
    THAT it happened the world rejoices

    That baby girl from a far off land
    would bring so much love to others.
    Joy and hope.

    Nobody actually knows Jesus’ birthday either. He got one assigned to him based on older holidays. Doesn’t stop him from having a really big impact. Doesn’t stop you either.

    I’m happy that I’m still on your mailing list. You’re still a beautiful, hopeful person, and I’m thankful that you’re part of my life. Happy to see you posting a couple things lately.

    Liked by 1 person

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