Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Midlife and All Its Brambles (#1)

Let's face it.

Each stage of life has its own problems. We bumped our heads when trying to learn to walk. We screamed our lungs out, trying to make ourselves into individuals when we were preschoolers. We went through awkwardness as grade schoolers. Adolescence? Oy! Who didn't have a problem then?

In our twenties, we found our sexuality, our mates, our passions, and we figured out whether our childhood dreams would really work out. In our thirties, we heard our biological clocks ticking, and we began to realize that our parents wouldn't live forever.

None of it was that neat and tidy for me, as it probably wasn't for you either, but that's a general progression, yes? I actually did some things a little backwards, but they worked out well for me. Now in the downhill side of my forties, I'm starting to feel some growing pains - and I still consider them to be growing pains because I don't think we stop growing as people until we die.

I'm frustrated about many things, and these feelings of frustration remind me a lot of other phases in my life. Sometimes these pangs of angst are a lot like the deep bone aches I got as a teenager while growing 5" over one summer. Sometimes they are more like the stirrings I had during my pregnancies, a hint of something wonderful (or terrible?) to come. All I know is that things are changing.

A few things are really bothering me. For example, I was watching the news tonight, and as the local anchors discussed the new Leno show that will be in a 10 p.m. EST slot every weeknight, they pointed out that people who have to get to bed early would now be able to get their Leno fix. I thought, "Well, these folks do the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. slots, so surely they get to sleep in every day." Maybe not. It occurred to me that the sportscaster (a lively woman) has to get around the beltway to take in various games that are going on. She has to pull together multiple feeds to produce her 10 minute segment and then get back out there. She probably doesn't get as much sleep as I do, and yet she is perky. She's also around 30 years old.

That led to me feeling snarky. I thought, "Gee, my body wouldn't put up with that nonsense for a day." And that led to me feeling cheated. I want to be able to pick up and go, pick up and do things like I used to do. You wouldn't believe the dynamo I used to be. I never thought I'd run out of energy. I do realize, though, that not all of this is due to aging; much of it is due to health issues (some of which come from aging). There are lots of role models out there who are older than me and who look fabulous (and are fabulous). We each age differently and according to our own unique genetic code, however. They rolled the dice and got lucky. Every one of us children in this family, though, got a bad roll of the dice. Every single one of us is sick with something unpleasant, and all but one of us are being treated for intractable pain. Pain, my friends, will age you like nothing else. It creases your brow. It dries out your skin. It robs you of sleep. It robs you of hope, some days.

I wish I could be the 30-something career woman who is so hard-charging that her family can't wait for her next business trip so they can rest. I wish I could look young and fresh again. But I've lived that life, and now it's time to live this one. I'm just trying to figure out how.

Suddenly I'm finding it easier to understand why some people get Botox or a facelift - not that I'm doing any of that, mind you. I just understand the inclination. Midlife is hard! I never expected to get here, I suppose. Middle-aged was something that my parents were and their friends were and my doctors were. NOT ME! Yet here I am, and I don't feel like I'm handling it with grace. The person I used to be was so in love with youth that I thought that lust for youth would keep me from getting old.

Not that I'm old. I'm just old-er.

And another thing. It's doggone hard to keep weight off when you pass 40. Real hard. I read the news about Oprah today, announcing that she's back at 200 lbs, and as cynical as I often am about Oprah, Inc., I feel for her. I really do. My weight jumped up 15-20 lbs after a single medication change, and I can't seem to get that weight off again. After the holidays (yes, I'm allowing myself to enjoy some holiday treats), I'm going back to a strict food plan. I have to keep the ol' weight down for health reasons; plus I don't really like how I look when I'm heavy. Vanity is a great reason to stay out of the plus sizes.

The moral of this story, I think, is that for me it's not so much about age as about age complicating other things I already have going on. I'm frightened about this trip up to NYC to see the specialists next month because, what if they want to do surgery? That could mean lots of pain and recovery. But it could also mean a light at the end of this godawful tunnel. It could mean I would get some of my vigor back. Wouldn't that be something?

I called this post "#1" because I suspect with the way I'm feeling lately, there will be more of these observational posts about midlife. Maybe they will resonate with someone else. Maybe we can commiserate.

I still feel as though I'm running from a turbo-charged steamroller, though. Too many blog posts to read and comment on. Too many replies to write. And I haven't finished that doggone book proposal yet, either. Gotta get that done....

Hope you're enjoying your Christmas preparations and festivities. I know that I am.

Peace - D


the walking man said...

RP Once I squired 50 in a few years ago i found it a useless exercise to compare myself when I first got the moniker Walking Man (age 21)to the man the currently holds the title.

While an apt appellation in both cases, it is not for the same reasons. The young man could easily hold seventy five pounds to shoulder and walk the day away, the old man has to suffice knowing that words can be just as heavy a weight.

New York...well friend, sometimes you got to get cut to get relief. Either way, no matter what they say...stop breathe, take a break, get a coffee, adjust to the info and then decide what course you will take. Either way that you know you do not walk the path alone is the greatest benefit of this life.

Moannie said...

You can never truly walk in another man's shoes, can you? It would be arrogant of me to hand out platitudes. My very first post was a plea for some extra time...at 74 i reckoned that-with the average lifespan of 80 [the age at which two of my friends had recently died] it meant that I had 6 years left and I wasn't nearly ready to shuffle of this mortal coil.
you are so right, once one realises their own mortality it seems like a long countdown.

You must go to see the specialist. Maybe this time will be good news.To live with constant pain is, as you say, aging, it wears you out. When faced with the choice, and when you have all the facts before you then you will be better able to make your decision.

I wish you a pain free and happy Christmas. Annie

Employee No. 3699 said...

I'm right there with ya sista! Forty six, turning 47 next April. I can really relate to this post. I mean R.E.A.L.L.Y.

Cloudia said...

Very thoughtful post. well written and evocative. OY! We all feel it. i fight back with my cheer (Aloha!)
Cary on - and be gentle with your dear self. this writing & life business is harder than it looks to the kids . . . . .

Hilary said...

You always speak so intelligently and eloquently about feelings which not many of us allow to surface like that. There is a cruelty to aging, but like they say, it beats the alternative. I wish you an excellent outcome from your upcoming appointment. You deserve the best.

ed said...


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