Listen up, bee-yotches. In my last post, I gave a eulogy for the past incantations of me. It was surprisingly hard to do especially as I’m in the midst of grieving for her/them/the past/all the years lost/winter being over, but I needed to have some temporary finality on the subject. And, since I’m a writer, I find that I figure things out best by writing about them.
Now, today is my birthday. Longtime readers know that I have a tempestuous relationship with my birthday. I disliked it as a kid, positively loathed it through my twenties and early thirties as it was a nasty reminder of the fact that I was, yes, indeed, alive in body and that I was a year older with nada to show for it. In the last five years or so, I had been slowly working my way to being neutral about my birthday. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it any more.
Last year, I returned to struggling with it, and it’s been even harder this year. Why? Well, first of all, it’s a round number–40. Now, I have never cared about my actual age. In fact, at the beginning of the year, I just say I’m a year older in order to prep myself for my birthday. Of course, then when my birthday arrives, I sometimes get confused as to how old I really am, but that’s neither here nor there.
40. That’s old. Or at the very least, middle-aged.
I fixate on certain things (no, really?), and apparently, 40 is one of those things. I keep staring at the number as if it’s an alien being with three heads. It doesn’t look anything like I feel. On the one hand, I wasn’t taught healthy ways to navigate the world when I was younger, and I stayed frozen in time for fifteen years. So, on that hand, I feel very young, as if I’m just learning to walk. On the other hand, I’ve experienced things that I sincerely would not wish on someone I loathed because the way back is just so long and arduous. I feel as if I’ve been alive forever, so on that hand, I feel very old.
40? How can I be 40? What the Hades happened to my twenties and thirties? For that matter, where are my aughts and teens?
I look around me at my friends doing shiitake, going places, and in general, living their lives. Families, careers, homes, love, laughter, life. No, no one had it all, but they all had some of it. In the past, it didn’t affect me so much because it was unfathomable to me that I would ever have it–which part of it, you ask? All of it. Any of it. How could I even dare to dream that one day, I, too…no, scratch that. It wasn’t even about dreams–I just didn’t allow myself to think about anything as lofty as having a real and actual life. Unimaginable.
The last few days, I’ve had a rough go of it. I was in a deep funk (deep deep deep almost abyss-like), and I was ruminating about the futility of my life again. I had a similar funk about a month ago, and it freaked me the Fu Schnickens out because I don’t want to go back to the eternal abyss again. But, after a few days, I pulled out of it, and when I told my therapist, she didn’t overreact. She simply said she understood my fears and that if the feeling lasts for two weeks, we’ll talk more about it. Just that simple statement by her soothed my fears that I was on a one-way street back to the endless pit.
So, this time, even though I plunged far, I tried to hold on to the fact that my depressive episodes these days are much shorter in duration. That’s the upside. The downside is that my demons, the negative voices in my head, are much nastier this time around. I am more able to fend them off these days, so I sense they are making their last desperate bid to pull me back to where I was. What they don’t know is, I won’t go back there. I have reached the point of no return, and I would rather be dead than live a barely-there-life again. Still, it’s hard for me to fight them off when I created them. They know my weaknesses, and they are not afraid to push every dingdang button I have.
They can still bring me to my knees. I have, on occasion, hurt myself to shut them up. But, those occasions are very few, and I am determined to completely stop hurting myself. The relief I get from one of those sessions is so fleeting, it’s not even worth it. One thing that helps is listening to what my friends tell me. I have friends willing to say, “Minna, your demons are full of caca.” My friends believe in me, and they will fiercely defend me from all attackers–even when the attacker is me.
Another thing that helps is that I actually have things that I want in life. In the past, I never gave a thought to my future because I never thought I had one. I didn’t think I’d live past thirty, and I was pretty disappointed when I did. As I stated earlier, I thought all the things other people had were off-limits to me. I simply couldn’t fathom having my own place, a steady job, and a partner. Now, I can. Well, to be more specific, I need the first one urgently, and I am closest to realizing that goal.
The second is a bit more fluid and complicated as I intend to make my living as a writer/freelance editor. But, the fact that I can even articulate this is huge. For too long, I kept my writing hidden as if it were something of which I should be ashamed. I thought it was, at best, a hobby–something I had to do, but not something I could do for a living. And, quite frankly, I was too skittish to really show my fiction. Now, however, I realize that I write really well.
Huh. No lightning strike. Whew!
I shouldn’t feel like a criminal writing that, but I do. It seems wrong, somehow, to acknowledge something good about myself. And, that makes me sad. I mean, I have no problem rattling off all the things wrong with me, but I get all wobbly inside ‘admitting’ that I’m good at something or that I’m proud of myself for something.
But, ever since I started blogging, I’ve noticed that people respond to my writing, much as they responded to my performing. It was harder and harder to think that my writing wouldn’t have an audience because it obviously did.
As to the topic of romantic relationships…that’s the most frustrating one for me. I used to think I was destined to be alone. And, in order for it not to hurt too much, I convinced myself that I did not want to be in a relationship. Hey, if I didn’t want it, then it didn’t matter than I wasn’t in one, right? Well, over the past few years, I started opening myself up to the possibility of being with someone–and I discovered that I wasn’t as averse to the idea as I always thought I was. In fact, I started longing for…something.
When I stopped living, it made it easy to ignore any desires I might have had. I didn’t inhabit my body or my soul, so I wasn’t aware of what resided there. Oh, sure, I liked sex (a lot), but who doesn’t?* As I started to be more aware of my body and of my soul and of, well, me, I couldn’t deny that there was a voice inside me saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to walk over to someone’s house and just chill with him/her for a few hours, have some hawt sex, and maybe spend the night?” Then, as I started to become more comfortable with myself, the idea of spending an appreciable amount of time with someone began to appeal to me. It kinda crept up on me, and my first instinct was to vigorously deny it.
Now, though, I am trying to accept that it’s OK to want to be with someone as long as it’s not what drives me. To that end, I need to start doing activities I would enjoy otherwise, such as politics and theatre, meet new people, and just see what happens. The problem is, I still have doubts that I am dating material (i.e., the kind of girl you’d take home to mother), but I’m trying to not let that stop me from testing the waters.
I’ve been in a much better mood today than I usually am on my birthday. I’m enjoying the crisp, cool weather, even though I know it’s the harbinger to the end of winter. I still have a lingering regret over all the years I wasted, but I can’t do anything about that. What I can do is try to make sure that I don’t waste even more years of my life.
To that end, here is a list of my admirable qualities/pluses/assets. I’ll start with the easy ones: My brains, my wit, my twisted sense of humor, my writing ability, my hair, my tits, my dancing ability.
Harder ones: I’m a good listener. I truly care about people. I believe there is good in most people, despite the fact that I know there is bad in everyone as well. I have a great smile, so I’m told. I’m a loyal friend. I have a thirst to learn new things.
Flaws that I can make work for me: My OCD. My stubbornness.
After I posted the entry from yesterday, people told me I was strong. That surprised me as I’ve seen myself as weak for most of my life. But, it was pointed out to me that the fact that I was still alive proved I was strong. That was an odd, but welcome viewpoint for me to hear. I mean, I’ve been told in the past that I come off as intimidating and so together and whatnot, but not that I’m strong.
I have to say that while I don’t feel strong, I feel determined. This is Minna 4.0, bay-bee. New and improved and better than ever. Sure, she still needs a few patches, and I am sure there will be future upgrades, but she’s all right for now. This is the best I’ve ever felt on my birthday, and it feels kinda nice. A new year for the new me.**
*Rhetorical question. I know some people don’t.
**Friend of mine wrote that on my wall on the Book of Faces.
The pictures, top to bottom: The first picture was taken at a friend’s wedding almost seven years ago. I was sick as a dog, and yet, this is one of the best pictures of me–ever.
The second picture was taken at a cousin’s wedding roughly ten years ago. I was in the middle of my second bout of eating disorders, and I still felt ugly, fat, and grotesque.
The third picture was taken approximately six months ago. Kel’s daughter does Irish dancing, and I tried on her tiara for kicks. And, since it’s my birthday, I thought I’d dub myself queen.
The videos, top to bottom: The first, by Concrete Blond, is my self-appointed birthday song. This is the third year I’ve posted it.
The second is a classic Indigo Girls song. They hold a very dear spot in my heart.
The third is from the real queen, the incomparable Queen Latifah. This song just gets me moving. Initially, I was looking for songs by women about powerful women, but I thought it was more apropos to just include songs by women I like. Plus, this is a powerful woman song–she does what she wants, no matter what the naysayers say. And, she’s hawt.