Sunday, April 2, 2017

On Turning Fifty-Four

I have a good friend who is almost always full of positive energy. He's forever posting cheery stuff on Facebook; he's well-known in the rooms for always bearing a positive message; he's into people like Wayne Dyer and generally makes a concerted effort to be sunny and happy all the time. The one time of year when he isn't, the one time of year that we his friends have learned to keep a close eye on him and stay in touch with him, is around his birthday. Several times over the years, he has gotten seriously depressed around his birthday, to the point where he has admitted thinking thoughts that would land him on serious medication if he was having them regularly. I used to wonder why he would put himself through that on what was an ostensibly happy occasion. Now I know.
I've never been much for birthdays, one way or the other. The only ones that I remember having any real meaning for me psychologically were eighteen (that was the drinking age at that time) and forty-five (was the first time I really felt like my youth was gone). Well, maybe that's not entirely true, because as I think back, I believe that a big reason why I let Nightmeredith so deeply into my heart at the time was that fifty was approaching, and it seemed like domestic affairs needed to be settled in some way at fifty.
If I only knew. Nightmeredith has been gone four years from my life and is three years into a relapse that isn't going to end well. And I'm years into a different mess that is only coming to an end now. And as this anniversary of my birth dawns, I think that finally, the mid-life crisis, if that's what it was, triggered all that time ago may finally be passing. It's one thing to be floundering emotionally at twenty-six; you've got lots of time to change and heal and get to a better place. It's not so good at this point in your life. It's getting a little awkward around here; I really haven't spoken a whole lot in three days because it is possible that the dam of acceptance holding back a lot of emotion is going to burst forth, if the right triggers are pulled. But mostly I just feel that the tank is empty, almost numb, and I just wish it was possible to make an immediate clean break and be done with it. It's clear that she has no real idea that the Rubicon has been crossed, and that I am in fact done. I suppose, with our history, she has reason to think that way, because I've been done with her before and always reneged. But I've never felt so calm, so matter-of-fact about it. I know I did my best; I know that, as far as can be told, she did, if not her best, much more than she was capable of a couple of years ago. But the gap is simply too wide to bridge. I've inched out as far as I can go without falling completely; I have to withdraw for my own safety.
And on top of it, I'm feeling physically lousy. I'm not sure if it's just a heavy cold, or if I actually have some kind of flu, but I have felt really bad for a couple of days now. I'm supposed to work this morning, and I'm glad I don't have to make the decision to go in for a couple of hours yet. I'm supposed to go out to eat with my mother and brother and Sabrina later today, and at this point I honestly do not feel like going. But I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, too.
So as this year of my life begins, I'm at more of a crossroads than at any time since I turned thirty-six--when I was a week away from coming home from the halfway house I was in with an infant daughter that I had yet to lay eyes on waiting for me. The enormity of the task ahead isn't quite as big as the enormity of the one at that time; even the dramatic side of me understands that, and I am taking solace in the fact that I've gotten through bigger trials than the one I'm facing. But that was literally a third of a lifetime ago, and I realize that I don't have the time that I used to have. The world around me has become harsher and more rigid. The margins for error are much smaller now, and the resources available to me to withdraw from should setbacks occur are nearly exhausted. And it is definitely affecting me. I've learned not to project too much ahead, and that when I do the right things, I can not only get through the inevitable pains, but can land in a place of, if not milk and honey, at least relative bliss.
But it's a daunting task that lays in front of me, and I just don't have the energy that I used to have. It's going to be a struggle, and while that struggle has been underway for some time, it is only going to intensify. And I'm not looking forward to it one bit.

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