This last birthday was hard for me...so hard that 8 months later I'm still reeling from it.
I am 32.
I am in the midst of a MASSIVE mid-life crisis.
At 32? you laugh. 32 isn't old! you argue. 32 is the prime of life! you say.
But allow me to explain.
I have fibromyalgia, of course, which makes me feel like I'm living in a body more than twice my current age, but that's not the whole of the problem. The problem was that damned BYU biology class I took at 19 years of age. You see, I sat in that biology class (hating my science courses - I was a theater education major! Science is mostly irrelevant in my field...and don't bother arguing with me!) just trying to pull a passing grade and wondering just how long 50 minutes really was, doodling on...well, anything I happened to have to doodle on. I remember exactly ONE fact from Biology 101: it is at the age of approximately 32 that your cells begin to die off faster than they regenerate.
Oh, crap, I thought to myself. At 32 you start to DIE. ... And then I calmed down and thought, well, heck, that means I have another 13 years to be young! AWESOME!
And then it was 10 more years of being young...and then 7, and 5, and suddenly I was 30, but that was okay; I still have 2 more years to be young! 31 was a bit more rough, but I wanted to milk that last year of youth for all it was worth. I was in feasibly the best shape of my life courtesy of my foray into gym-rat-hood, and it was at this point that I abandoned the idea of plastic surgery in favor of self-acceptance (see the archives; look for Korean bathhouse). I was okay at 31.
I freaked out the day before my 32nd birthday.
But this is what happens when you spend 13 years of your life - over a third of your existence! - telling yourself that life ends at 32. Youth evaporates on your 32nd birthday. Oh, dear lord, I was terrified, and it didn't help that the day before my birthday I had MAJOR intestinal trouble that had me running screaming to an urgent care. You don't want the details, but needless to say, I considered my doctor visit proof that life was over.
I woke up the morning of my birthday and took some time to scrutinize my face. I have a few tiny crows' feet wrinkles that have cropped up in the last couple years, plus a little crease just below my brow line above the bridge of my nose. The lines around my mouth are now (very faint) parentheses tracks. Oh, and I still get acne. (Really? What the hell?! I'm 32 and I'm not talking a stray zit every few months, I'm chasing half a dozen pimples around my face all the bloody time!) I looked in that mirror and every single line, every flaw was a detriment: because I was officially 32, none of those imperfections had any chance of ever making a retreat. I was stuck with them...and they were only going to get worse.
Vanity? ... ... ... ... Fine, vanity. But also panic. I was living in a body that already hurt inexplicably, and it was suddenly OFFICIALLY all downhill from there.
I became depressed. Badly depressed. Despondent, really. I cried a lot. It was pretty pathetic. And the more depressed I was, the more I found to be depressed about. Less than a month after my birthday my elder child began 1st grade...meaning he was gone 8 hours a day. A couple weeks after that, Child-the-Younger began preschool 10 hours a week, meaning I had 10 hours a week entirely to myself. To most SAHMs this would mean party-time. To me? Well, my body can't produce any more munchkins, but our Dream For a Future Family always included upwards of 4 kids. I had imagined my life a bit differently: babies in the house forever, kids NEEDING me 24 hours a day for a good decade of my life. Suddenly at 32 my kids didn't need me anymore. (Yes, I KNOW they still need me, but when you're in the depths of despair, things are a tad bit skewed.) My self-proclaimed purpose had been thwarted by my body's inability to continue in the process of creation.
So I asked myself, NOW WHAT? And my answer?
You, dear Reader. It was time to explore me, time to decide who I was and who I was going to become. I have tried to answer that question in myriad ways - painting, cooking, gardening, photo and video editing, knitting, you name it! - and the answer I kept coming back to was WRITING. True, there was a lot of self-acceptance and some serious self-realization and actualization that had to happen, too, but 8 months later my garden is growing itself, my painting is sporadic, I cook anyway, photo and video editing happens as required, I've got some hand-knitted scarves hanging in the closet...and I'm about to publish my first book in a trilogy.
You, Reader, have given me new purpose. I adore my family, worship my husband, live for my children, and continue on in my (generally) happy role as SAHM...but now I also get to share my story, my characters, my ideas with you in hopes that we will connect somehow in that realm I have created. I am excited, no, THRILLED to see my book in print, knowing someone may someday pick it up, read it, and imbue it with their own meaning.
I had a midlife crisis at 32, it's true...and it was You who pulled me out of it. Thank you. I will be forever grateful.
With great affection,