Yesterday my youngest daughter turned nineteen. At nineteen she represents herself, to us anyway, as the authority of all things, and that’s pretty normal. At nineteen, lifetimes ago, I am sure I did the same thing. Adulthood is still new, the real complexities and woes of it are yet to really hit home. In most cases, the biggest “grown up” problems you’ve had to face are pretty nominal in comparison. At nineteen we know more than we’ve ever known so naturally we feel pretty wise…
Forty-two is completely different. I woke up this new age, and yet don’t feel very different. While nineteen seems so long ago, (and in a galaxy far, far away) with it is that feeling of knowing or understanding anything at all. I literally have nothing figured out.
One year ago yesterday felt like a car accident. One that I should have seen coming, but didn’t. While an adoptively rocky relationship with my daughter had always been so much, it wasn’t until that day, last year, when it really hit me- we will likely never have a real relationship. It was devastating to finally acknowledge that this child whom I had given up so much for, and invested so much of myself in, wasn’t genuinely invested in me at all. I know there are so many friends saying Misty, come on… You should have known. But I didn’t. I feared it. I worried about it. I honestly believed that if I loved her enough, forgave enough, did enough that one day it would be enough. And then I had to realize- that day wasn’t going to come.
This is forty-two… waking up, one year later, having seen the fruition of that. Having to come to terms with it, grieving the loss of what I spent my motherhood lifetime hoping would be the family I ached to have. Pushing aside the this is not fair feelings that bombard me when holidays, milestones (and yes, even this birthday), come around… It is no coincidence that Let Go chose to be my mantra for this year of my life. I am brutally learning to let go.
Letting go of the dreams of my home filled with my children and my grandkids. Letting go of that next phase it seems like everyone else experiences, of whole-healthy families coming together for the important moments… One year ago today I still dreamed this fantasy (for me) possible, today I know it is not. This is forty-two.
I do not know a single person who fought as hard to be a mother. I have three amazing kids whom I love INCREDIBLY, and not one of those relationships came easily. In each situation it was like I had to push against the world, just to make it so. Somewhere in the back of my (human and needy) mind I knew that I was fighting to bring together the family that I had spent my own youth begging for. And I tried. I did do my best, despite the vile stories floating around that someone wants people to believe about my motherhood- I do know I did my best… But it wasn’t enough. Not enough to have that family I thought I was making. Not in the way I so deeply wanted anyway.
And there in lies the miracle of it all. I wanted… I didn’t need it, even though it felt like I did, (and still honestly feels like I do). I deeply, desperately, cravingly ached for it- but it was never vital. Letting go… This is forty-two.
Looking back at the opportunities I set aside and sacrificed and feeling like now I am so far behind, but not too far behind. It may be harder now, but still possible. This is forty-two.
The journey from forty-one to forty-two has been perhaps the most brutal of them all. I am tired, weary and emotionally feel done. This added challenge of letting go is trimming my heart in ways which I was both unprepared and are long over due. With the good-bye to forty-one, I send with it the tiny fragments of innocence which had remained.
Just because we desire something, that does not mean it will happen.
Just because we love sacrificially, with everything we have- does not mean they will love us back.
I could fill this list with a thousand lessons learned throughout this year, but the most important one (for me) is that I am ok. I do not need the things I thought I needed. I will also no longer accept the things I might have then. Someone is either all in, and willing to make effort or they aren’t. These things are not my responsibility and there is nothing I can do to motivate them for more. I do not need to prove myself to motivate anyone to find me of value, and those people I value have had me demonstrate such in infinite volumes.
Having feelings for someone does not equate to love. love requires selfless action, intent, honesty and vulnerability.
Apologies are nothing without the actions of love.
The age limit on achieving anything is societal and not reality based at all.
Those dreams and desires our hearts are built on, aren’t real either. Gravitating towards them will not make them so. Sometimes things are just really impossible, and being real about that isn’t pessimistic. Lying to ourselves (or anyone else) “optimistically” is still lying. It isn’t encouraging. It isn’t comforting. Well, maybe it is comforting in that way that you feel super sad so you eat an entire pan of brownies and a pint of ice cream. As the sugar-drug soothes, you might feel balmed… Not too long later though, you’ll either be crouched over a toiled puking your brains out, or wish you were. Not better at all. False hope, the little lies we tell ourselves because the truth is to bleak- this is the very same thing. The outcome of such dishonesty only makes us all worse off.
I am done dreaming about my future. I am done imagining a full life, of a house filled with love and laughter and the people I care about. Dreaming up the vacations, holidays and the dinner parties and all of the things I was so certain this stage of my life would be filled to the brim with. These things belong to so many other mothers and grandmothers, but not this one. Not this time. Thousands of tears have been shed over such things, but nothing ever assured me that was the place in which my motherhood journey was headed, and it’s time I let go of the emotional energy holding on to that and just move on. Whether I was not enough, did not do enough, or whatever the reasoning- it does not matter… This is forty-two.
I walk through life in a near constant headache, with a chronic illness on my back. I love some of the songs and films I have loved before, and many I do not. I enjoy doing a lot of things that I seem to never do. I live a daily life that resembles nothing I ever thought it would- and that’s ok too. This is forty-two.
I have to admit I am closer to the end, than the beginning, and there are days when I question if the end is significantly closer than I’d like it to be. That is grim, and maybe where the thoughts of this age tend to drift. I don’t know, I’m new here…
I am drawing closer those good things & people who reciprocate my time and effort, and releasing my grasp on those which don’t. It seems cold to the ones released, but I just don’t have enough strength to be the majority any more. This is forty-two.
It is honest, it is different. It is ugly and motivational. It is lonely and self-assured. It is lessons learned and ignorance with a whole lot in-between.
To celebrate this birthday I will run a few errands, drink another cup of coffee, turn my phone to silent and keep my eyes looking forward. At what, I do not know. Where I will be at forth-three I have no clue. I have hopes, but they are like clouds which change shape and drift away. I won’t pretend to have it all figured out, and I will finally admit that I have no guarantees. I spent forty-one years of my life crippled by the fear of isolation and a solo journey, and now I see that I’ve been riding this horse alone and I am ok after all. This is forty-two.
None of my favorite bands have songs named for this age, unlike 41. None of the books I am drawn to offer solace for this stage. This stage, for me, isn’t the same as it is for others. We each have our own stories and I can no longer hide my eyes from my shaping tale, simply because I had hoped and prayed for something different…
This is forty-two, and that is ok. I am ok. All false (destructive) optimism aside, I am moving forward and each lesson is a stepping stone for something real, and real is far better than an imaginary bliss any day.
I am ok.
I am not sure any birthday before had me sitting deep in the saddle of that knowledge.