On Turning Forty Five
I turn 45 on Wednesday.
Until it was right on top of me, I didn’t exactly think about how this would feel. It’s a birthday and I tend to like my birthday. I get a massage, take the day off, and indulge in… me! Plus there’s all that Facebook love! What’s not to like?
But this? This is a huge hump.
I’m now closer to 50 than to 40.
What the actual fuck?
Today, here’s how this whole birthday thing is looking and feeling (I’m premenstrual, so I admit this might be looking and feeling a little bleaker because of that. Cruel nature.):
On Tuesday, the day before my birthday, I am having a cervical biopsy because I had an abnormal pap. Regardless of the results, cervical biopsies SUCK. They hurt like hell. They’re invasive and send your body into trauma-shock for a while after. My body takes longer than the average person’s to heal from every trauma it’s ever experienced—major foot surgery, a c-section, and, yes, a cervical biopsy and LEEP procedure in my 20s. So, yay. This year on my birthday I’ll be recovering from someone taking a giant, un-anesthetized snip out of my cervix.
I’m single. I’m getting to that age where the guys I check out are more interested in the women in their 20s, and the guys who helicopter me at parties are pushing 60. (I have nothing against men in their 60s. I’m sure they’re lovely, but they don’t get my sexy-juices flowing, if you know what I mean.) I am blessed to have spent a good portion of my life having little trouble attracting men. However, I had a hell of a time keeping them, because I was what they’d categorize as “crazy and overbearing,” and what I categorize as “emotionally unintelligent”—meaning, I didn’t understand my triggers, hadn’t healed my childhood wounds, didn’t understand my own operating system, and sought comfort and “wholeness” outside myself—mainly in men, which, turns out, is a huge turn-off. Go figure.
Isn’t it ironic that now that I’m a stable, emotionally intelligent woman who finds wholeness in herself and is fully comfortable in her own skin, I find it virtually impossible to find a guy I’m interested in? It’s like when you start to loose the collagen and firmness of your skin, and your belly starts to pooch and you realize that you never appreciated the tightness of your skin, the firmness of your muscles and your flawless complexion and you wish so desperately you could turn back the clock and fully appreciate what you took for granted (youth is wasted on the young, all that). You start running up the down escalator with all the fervor of a 10-year-old, to no avail.
If I’d only been aware of this whole emotional intelligence game when I was in my 20s and 30s, I might have chosen the right guy to marry and we’d be happy and flirty, still having sex and grabbing each other’s asses at parties and making out in the kitchen while making dinner. I’m keenly aware that I will never have the experience of longevity with one person. I’ll never create a life from scratch with someone, and grow and develop by their side. If I’m very very lucky, I’ll meet someone whose already fully developed life actually matches and fits in with my already fully developed life and we can create something lasting from there. But the chances of that happening get slimmer and slimmer the more entrenched I become in my life… and he in his (whoever this magical man may be).
Liane Moriarty puts it like this in her book The Last Anniversary:
“Is life really so horribly arbitrary that some people just never get around to meeting the right person? Here’s Sophie thinking that her life is a romantic comedy and there’s no way the director will let her finish up alone because the test audiences would hate that. But in fact, it could happen. It could just accidentally, capriciously happen.”
It could happen.
Some days, as my child gets older and does his own thing at home, I’m keenly aware that I have no one to drink a glass of wine with, snuggle up and read with. Some days, while Emmett plays or reads or does whatever else a ten-year-old does (by himself, because I’m just annoying and embarrassing), I find myself standing in my kitchen wondering what exactly I’m supposed to do right now, knowing that if I had a partner, we’d move through this together; we’d create the next steps, the next stage of our life, together.
For God’s sake, there’d be another grownup in the house to talk to.
I went to a party last night at my gym which is my second home—and second home to some of my favorite people in the world. The party was crazy fun (Ozomatli was playing, and if you’ve never heard of them, you really need to check them out because they’re the most fun band to see live ever in the history of everdom), but I had the distinct feeling of separateness and loneliness. While most of my friends were there with their husbands, I was (obviously) not, and while I don’t always, last night I felt it in stark relief.
I drove home with tears streaming down my face.
45. Single. Alone. No longer hot. Oh, and maybe with cervical cancer.
And so, I feel all these feelings, which really isn’t that hard for me these days (I’m premenstrual, remember? Plus, it’s what years of therapy and coaching have trained me to do), and it’s a bummer. Like, a thick, foggy bummer. And I let it wash over me.
And then, because I’m trained by years of coaching, I get curious about what other perspectives I might be able to employ. I start to look at different places of my life, and I start to see different angles.
Here is what I see:
1. I’ve been given an enormous gift lately in the form of a super-strict diet and exercise program for which I have been provided every meal for 10 weeks, as well as free hard-core personal training. For my 45th birthday I am giving myself the gift of a killer body, the kind I’d likely have to pay big money to be able to train for, but that has been given to me for free. The kind I never had in my 20s and 30s. The one I always wanted—remember Linda Hamilton in T2? Or Renee Zellweger in Chicago? That one. I hadn’t done the work to uncover the real reasons I never achieved that dream I set for myself back then, so I couldn’t actually achieve it. Now I’ve done the work, uncovered the demons, dealt with them (some of you have heard me talk about Ursula), and have been given this enormous gift. Gratitude doesn’t begin to describe it.
Two weeks into this 10-week program, I am seeing noticeable change. I have lost weight, shifted my body composition, and have incredibly clear and bright skin and eyes (no booze). I am feeling my body getting stronger and stronger by the day. When I stand naked in the mirror, I see something I haven’t seen in a few years—ab definition starting to show, a thinning waistline and stronger quads (this program is a quad-killer).
It is entirely possible that at 45, I could have the body I dreamed of having in my 30s.
2. I have deliberately chosen not to date right now. I made a promise to myself at the beginning of December that I would focus my attention fully and completely on my business through March. I have been investing in my business in ways I’ve never even understood before now; I have been called to do so from very deep inside. I am suddenly and organically pulling up my big-girl business pants and stepping into something so incredibly exciting that when I think about it it gives me chills (you’ll see the changes in the coming months). I couldn’t do this while being distracted by the vortex of OK Cupid or Tinder, and tons of coffees and drinks (that I can’t have because it’s not on the aforementioned program). I have made a choice, and I am actually really happy with it.
I actually get to choose which way to view my life right now, in particular, turning 45.
Will I still have moments of intense loneliness? Absolutely. But do I have to stay in them? No, I do not. Once I got curious and saw the different perspectives available to me, I got to be at choice in all of it. Some days I may choose abject misery; but the next day, minute, hour, I can choose to see all the magic that this life is hurling at me, every single day.
And the more open I am to seeing it, the more it magically shows up.
What about you? What magic are you noticing all around you, and how are you choosing to see it? Leave it in the comments!
The biopsy results were clear! :)
I also lost 9 lbs, 5.7% body fat, and a whopping 12" on that fitness program, and was selected to appear in an infomercial about the experience. Not too shabby for an old fart, huh?