In 2009 I got old.
And it wasn’t because I turned 38.
For the first time in my life I felt old. Powerless to create the life I wanted. Fearful for the future. All too conscious of human suffering.
I wondered if my best years were behind me. I questioned my faith in “everything happens for a reason” and it will “all work out in the end”.
I’ve been clinically depressed before, but this was different. It was like the world shook and an avalanche of woe came crashing down around me. It wasn’t on top of me, I was okay, but I couldn’t see or breathe through the confusion, unexpected change, and unbearable loss and worry.
In 2009, life took me off course and I couldn’t find a way back to myself.
My Year in Review
MusicMan and I almost got divorced, only salvaging our relationship with much determination, communication, abundant tears and months of marriage counselling.
An opportunity arose to heal some old wounds with a family member. Taking this path has been promising, disappointing and deeply unsettling. The landscape of my life has changed, though I have no idea if it is permanent or what it means. Questions have been answered. New ones have arisen. If I still sound confused by it all, that’s because I am.
One of my closest friends had serious health problems, the kind that require an operation and major life changes. She battled though this amidst depression and the breakdown of her marriage. I agonized for her, but I didn’t need to. She’s soldiered through to reclaim her life. I stand in awe of her and hope she realises just how amazing she is.
My best friend’s baby was stillborn. The devastation for her and her husband cannot be put into words. Not by me. It was not my loss. But I know I speak for our close knit group of friends when I say this tragedy crushed us all. We grieve for her. We grieve for the child we eagerly anticipated, but will never know. We grieve for a life that did not have a chance to blossom and grow. I have railed at a world where this can happen, at a God who makes good people suffer so. None of this changes the indisputable truth that someone I love with all my heart will never be the same again.
MusicMan and I celebrated the renewal of our marriage and our family’s future by falling pregnant, only to discover at my 12 week scan that I’d had a missed miscarriage. My body hadn’t registered the loss yet, but my baby’s heartbeat had stopped the week before. It was an enormous shock. We weren’t at all prepared, having thought that by 12 weeks we had reached some level of safety.
The miscarriage only happened in November, so I’m still working my way through the grieving process. I feel robbed, scared, angry, lost. Questioning my choices, fearful of what this means for my life. I wonder why this had to happen when it took years for us to find a way back to each other so we could extend our family. I wonder if it means I will never have another child. If I am too old. If I should just give up and be grateful for the amazing child I have. Then the guilt sets in. What right do I have to ask for another child when my best friend has none? What does my suffering matter in the face of her pain, her loss? It’s a vicious cycle and every day I try to move a little bit forward, to keep the hope alive without becoming desperate. I don’t want my desire for another child to become all consuming.
What will be, will be.
No single event flattened me, but together they created enough pressure so I was slowly sagging into myself. Giving up. My dreams, goals, they all started to drift away. Leaving me with the feeling that I had slid past the peak of my life and into decline without noticing.
I became preoccupied with my mortality. Driving out of the garage, I would think, “I could die today. Any of us could”. I began to worry about my looks. About aging. I started searching the planes of my face in the mirror, noticing changes, chalking up flaws.
This was a new experience for me. The emergence of a fear I have never understood in others. I have always been told I looked years younger than my actual age. It was a nice compliment, but not one I thought much about. I mostly put it down to my girlish freckles, ongoing aversion to make-up and primping, and my natural exuberance.
I don’t feel exuberant these days. And definitely not young and invincible. Now I study the frown lines digging trenches between my eyebrows. Pigmentation changes that threaten to overtake the freckles. I have stopped working out and put on 7kg (15lbs), choosing a bottle of wine and a consoling piece of chocolate cake over my health. Some of my friends are getting botox. I wonder what it could do for me. Can they inject the spark of life back into me?
I waste hours being a person of regret. Lamenting my teens when I would slather myself in copha to get the perfect tan. Mourning my time in Mexico and Central America, where I lay free and boneless in ecstacy on white sand beaches. High on the unrelenting confidence of youth. Drinking my days away and dreaming of rainbows of tomorrow.
Those days seem so long ago now. Like they were from another person’s life. One who believed in one big adventure after another. Who always looked forward with naive, unsinkable optimism. That person isn’t me.
So, this is why I haven’t been blogging. Not because I haven’t wanted to connect with you all. Not because I’ve been wallowing on the floor depressed either. But I can’t write my pain and worry away by dissecting it on the page and sharing it with the world. Sometimes you must retreat, grow into new strengths, unravel your confusion, find the convoluted truth quietly, without an audience.
I have made it through 2009 with my family together, my health intact, friends close to my heart, my writing on a roll and a home that gives me peace. My life isn’t perfect. There’s still a weight of sadness atop my shoulders, but that’s okay.
It’s a new day. The sun is out. Anything could happen.
Flickr photo c0urtesy of Voyageur Solitaire-mladjenovic_n