On Friday I turned 42 years old and celebrated my 19th wedding anniversary.
I have a lot of things to say but so many conflicting thoughts are vying for light and butting up through them all rudely is a carelessly thrust collection of dagger stabs from a stealthy source, the kind I can’t come out into the open to fight because they were so quietly laid into my skin.
I’m pleased to have turned another year older. I am not afraid of age. I’m not in great shape, it’s true. Philosophically speaking, I like getting older. I like the view from here. I have never liked youth. I don’t wish I knew then what I know now nor could any amount of money on earth tempt me to be young again. Youth is a terrible joke on the soul. At least it is on a soul like mine. I have not grown more bitter because of age. I have certainly grown more bitter because of circumstance. That’s something I am working on letting go of. Bitterness is one of those feelings that is only useful in transition. It’s corrosive if left to sit and grow swampy in your heart or mind. The moss it hangs in your body is a curtain of discontent that grows calcified the minute you give in to it and becomes bone. Being older is not cause for bitterness but cause of perspective. It has gifts and one of them, if you’ve made it this far, is that you’ve made it this far.
I’ve been having dreams lately revolving around stressful journeys where my luggage is always going missing and the traps to the body are many – a grassy field hiding a bog that one inevitably stumbles across, vicious wild dogs let loose by strangers, charlatans looking for the first opportunity to strip you of your freedom, and filthy broken over-flowing public bathrooms and porta-potties. Always the luggage left behind and the broken filthy public bathrooms. This theme has been with me for as long as I can remember. Last night there were truck thieves stealing and hiding trucks and then selling us older more broken ones. The feeling is of moving towards something worse and worse while hoping for better and better. Not an optimistic sleep.
The dreams (nightmares) feel poignant. Something of the truth is sleeping with me. My sleep patterns grow more and more irregular as well. I go to sleep early and can’t sleep even though I’m completely tired. When I finally get to sleep I wake up at least 6 times a night. I get tired of it by 5 or 6 AM and crawl out of bed completely awake and alert. I work for a few hours, get my guys out of the house, and then at the ridiculous hour of 10 AM I take a two hour nap. It’s not a question of keeping myself up to establish new patterns and get tired enough at night to sleep more deeply – I just HAVE to sleep in mid morning. Or mid afternoon. Whenever. Nothing is settled. Nothing is normal or fitting in any pattern. I’m less bothered by it than I should be. I’ve just been going with it. My body is changing with my age. We often see change as all bad unless it means we’ve just won the lottery. I’m not attributing any value to these changes. I’m not fighting them.
Though I know I’ve been a lot more depressed for a lot longer than I’ve liked to admit to myself and though wanting to sleep all the time is not how my depression has ever played itself out in the past, that’s a classic symptom of depression in others.
My body hasn’t been regulating it’s temperatures in any predictable fashion either. For the last year this has become more and more noticeable. I get hot and flushed after I eat a meal, actually breaking into a sweat at times. I get overheated in the middle of the night and push my covers off only to discover that I’m freezing cold. We had the heat on at a modest 62 degrees the other morning and I was uncomfortably warm while my mom was piling more sweaters on. The next day I couldn’t get warm.
I believe that my body is getting ready to shut down the old reproductive equipment. I’ve been looking forward to menopause for years. I’m done with babies. I have no need for baby making hormones. I have no need for a period. I’m done and ready to move on. I’ve been done and ready for a long time. I was ready the minute I had my sweet baby and knew I didn’t want another baby. Still, I know the body has its own clock and you just have to wait. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe there’s something else going on. I’m not overly concerned either way. I still go on the rag as regularly as Christians sin, so it’s early days.
This weekend I experienced some low points. I know I’m dreadfully fat. I know I’m a lush. I know I have an unhealthy relationship with soft cheeses. I know I’m mentally ill and can’t always help letting my petticoats show. I know I’m full of faults. Truly though, the one I think others forgive the least is the fault of being so huge. I hear it in what people say about others in front of me. You may as well be telling me how you really feel. I’m good at reading between the lines. I’m good at seeing what’s underneath other people’s skin. I’ve always been one to see the elephant standing in the middle of the room.
In spite of this, what I’m meditating on this evening is that I must have something valuable at any size because for every negative reflection of my obesity I see in the eyes of those around me, I also see a positive reflection of how I make other people feel. I was reminded this weekend by all the well wishing and sweet comments by friends both old and new alike that no matter how deeply flawed I may be, I’m one hell of a lucky lady with so many people who find value and enjoyment in knowing me and hang on for so many years with their flashlights raising the dark. So the daggers of those with small hearts fall short of their sheaths into the mud and I put bandaids on the scrapes and bruises they’ve delivered and feel my true fortune.
I have no expectations of what 42 will be like.
The universe keeps delivering what it will and I keep picking myself up off the ground and pulling myself out of the clouds trying to find that place of balance between dirt and sun. I have only one directive for my spiritual growth this year and that’s to truly let go of the tenacious bitterness that ill-fortune has grown in my heart. However small in the great scope of the world my own misfortune may be it has been a bitch to shake off my shoulders. Much of it has come clean but there is a lingering aftertaste I haven’t been able to wash away. Like birds that have been covered by oil in the ocean water, it takes a careful cleaning to groom feathers to fly again that have been plastered and stuck with black grease. Patience and determination in the muscles that work against stain will bring heavy wings back to flight.
I have no expectations for this year. I am focusing on and protecting hopes instead.
Happy birthday, self. You came so close to killing yourself in 1985, but didn’t. You cut yourself to ribbons for years and desperately wanted to die until you were 18 years old when you had an epiphany in which you realized that you’d spent five years fighting an intense desire to die and told yourself to piss or get off the fucking pot. 24 years ago you made a conscious choice to stop torturing yourself in place of death, you made a conscious choice to live. The wish for death has crept back religiously over the years and you’ve strangled the desire each time before it could reach the surface of speech.
I’m not sorry I didn’t kill myself. I’m 42 years old and it’s good to be alive.