Wow. Smack dab in the middle of my forties. This morning I’m 45 and still alive! Twenty years ago, I was smack dab in the middle of years of suicide attempts and an inability to see myself ever finding the capacity to feel joy or carry on. Either I did, or time just wore me down. A little of both, I imagine. What would it be like to enjoy my twenties like I do my forties? More energy and effortless beauty, to be sure, but no more fun. I’m pretty good at that, no matter what age I reach.
45 is square, solid, standing on the horizon, looking behind and ahead, pretty darned satisfied. I loved 44. I don’t know why. I’ve joked that it’s because Obama was #44, but I loved it. I don’t know how. It was the hardest experience of my life. I’ve struggled giving myself permission to say that. I came up in an abusive home and entered my twenties in a tailspin of someone else’s choosing. I chose drugs and alcohol, and had the fight of my life in my thirties getting clean. How could those 3 weeks last September be the worst thing I’ve ever been through? I don’t know, but it was.
I also wonder how I can feel so fond of 44 when I’ve noticed a disturbing change in myself. For the first time in my life, I feel jaded. I don’t feel it in connection to what happened last fall, necessarily. I feel like that broke it loose and now it’s here to look at honestly. Texas, therefore, was exactly what I needed. I can’t process anything fully without my best friend.
Rebecca confirmed the shift and actually pinpointed the beginning of it to years ago in a shitty little temp job I felt superior to. I was only there for 4 and 1/2 months, but she was absolutely right! It was then that I stopped “choosing higher,” in actions and attitudes so small at first that I didn’t notice it happening. Here I am several years later just a little bit… uglier, I guess, than I’m familiar with.
In spite of my lifelong struggle with dark thoughts and despair, my nature is optimistic and buoyant. I didn’t consider that, like everyone, I have to do the work. My habit has been to keep close to home when I’m in a bad space. I don’t isolate. I let friends know that I’m not my best, but it’s usually not too alarming. I always come back to my playful self. That has remained true, but there was this piece that had changed.
I’m at a place now where “resting on your laurels,” as my mom would say, doesn’t cut it. When I catch myself looped in angry, unkind thoughts, I have to redirect. It’s not enough to wait for the real me to come back. I have to fight for her.
So I love 44. It was a year of learning. And I love my best friend. Going home to her family is a respite and my second greatest joy. (Cats are superior to all things.) Here are pics of me finally making it to Texas at the height of bluebonnet spring!