In the past few years after my son's graduation from school, there has been an increase in solitude. There has been more time for myself and my own pursuits. On the surface, that sounds like a dream. (One that I remember having many times when dealing with the "terrible twos" as a new mom.) Yet, as someone who had been a full-time homemaker and mother for the past two decades, that initial quiet and stillness felt uncomfortable. At first, I no longer felt needed or that I had a defined purpose. A racehorse retired to the pasture with no more races to run. I had no idea what my own pursuits might be. Did I want to pursue anything? Did I have the energy? What if I caught what I was pursuing? What if it caused strain on my marriage? What if I was too old for something new? The what ifs were showing up as fast as the wrinkles. For the first time in my adult life, I was thinking about me instead of we. It felt foreign, yet exciting. I had never expected to be traveling a new road at this point in my life, but that's what happened.
It's so easy to look in the mirror and feel older and more tired with each new wrinkle. One day, I just got sick of giving the mirror so much power over my mood and who I thought I was. Surely there could be more to me than how smooth my skin was (or wasn't) or how many grays were lurking on my head (Thanks, L'Oreal, Light Ash Blonde 9A hair dye.) Let's be honest, things are going to only get grayer and saggier with time, so I knew I had to find some way out of the "life is for the young" trap that our society crams down our throats if I was going to keep enjoying my life. I wasn't ready to toddle off somewhere with my cane and watch my son live his life and wait for grandchildren. I still wanted my own life, thank you very much. Sensible shoes and elastic-waist pants were just not for me. At least, not yet. (I have been known to rock a 4-inch stiletto for a night of dancing while wearing jeans that may or may not be just a wee bit too tight.) What can I say? I'm a rebel.
I suppose this was what is considered a "mid-life crisis." Apparently, I will be living to 88, because my crisis started in January the year I turned 44. I went to bed perfectly happy the night before and woke up a sobbing, depressed mess. Never saw it coming. Scared the hell out of me and everyone in the house. Who flipped the switch? I assumed it was just a bad day, and things would get better. I devoured a pint of Ben & Jerry's and went back to bed. That bad day has lasted, off and on, for three years. (That's a lot of Ben & Jerry's.)
Fortunately, during this time (maybe fate) I met several wonderful women online that became friends and were going through similar emotions. With their support and friendship, I found my way to a dream that I did want to pursue. Writing. Lucky for me, my family has been strong supporters of this new dream.
Writing has led me out of the fire of feeling old and useless and into a new way of seeing my world. I have evolved into someone with dreams again and excitement about where the day may lead. Writing has given me the desire and courage to push out of my comfort zone, take risks, and put myself out into the world. Life is too short not to participate because of an imaginary expiration date in my head. I have met so many terrific people that I wouldn't have if not for realizing that I'm not too old to pursue a new path. I don't need anyone's permission to keep growing and learning every day. I'm not getting old, I'm evolving into the person I was meant to be. Day by day, wrinkle by wrinkle.
I'm still grateful for L'Oreal, Light Ash Blonde 9A hair dye, though. I'm not that evolved.