Last week I was contemplating writing a post, “What Being Almost 34 and Childless Means to Me”. I was really emotional (guess why?) and feeling like life was passing me by, and that I’d wasted too much time in a stupid marriage, and that now I had to pay the childless-in-a-nursing-home-all-alone-with-no-one-to-visit price for it all. I’m feeling better today, so this post has taken shape differently, thankfully.
Today Katrice and I were IMing about the feelings of coming into our own that our thirties have brought us. We’re doing simultaneous posts about our experiences with 30+, so check her post out too.
I think the most refreshing sentiment of 30ness is finally feeling comfortable in my own skin. I think I felt like a 14 year old way longer than I should have. Because of my past, I have lived a life of shame, feeling like I wasn’t good enough and “shape-shifting” (as Katrice puts it) to be acceptable to other people. I turn 34 in June and now that I have walked around in these 30 year old shoes for a while, I can say with confidence and relief that I am so glad that shit is behind me.
In my teens and early twenties I struggled with an eating disorder. I married at 25 and realized very early on that I was miserable. I felt trapped because being married to a pastor meant that so many eyes were examining my life that wouldn’t have been if the circumstances were different. I felt like I needed to be a certain way to live up to the expectations people had of me, yet I tried so hard to maintain an air of confidence and aloofness with respect to others’ opinions of me. As my marriage worsened, I internalized his infidelity. It re-opened wounds that screamed that I wasn’t good enough. I felt that I’d lost control of my life’s direction, my identity, my sexuality, my sense of self.
Today, I’m heavier and happier than I’ve ever been. I look in the mirror and am stricken by beauty, though reminded that I’d be healthier if I lost some weight. I’m learning to dress for the size I am and to appreciate the beauty and appeal of the new curves. I’ve still got it and I don’t give a damn who thinks otherwise.
I peruse my bookshelf and once again it reflects my myriad interests and passions as opposed to the one dominating topic I felt I was allowed to read about during my marriage—the church. I feel free to explore other ways of thinking. Free to appreciate perspectives that are the polar opposite of mine. I feel comfortable existing with others that are very different from me. I feel comfortable wondering if we’re really that different at all.
I feel like I own my sexuality for the first time in my life. What happens to my body is no longer anyone else’s decision. It’s mine and mine alone and I love that I know I possess that freedom. I love the freedom to choose who is a part of my life. I love the freedom to walk away, the freedom to draw near. I love the freedom to long for more or to choose to be satisfied for now. I love that rules don’t govern my life as much as that which I’ve internalized as truth. I love that I am driven by a sense of what is right for me. I love that I don’t give a shit if someone calls that relativism. I love that I trust myself to make decisions about what I believe, about what is truth. I love that I value honesty above all else. I love that it is such a central element of me.
I love that my honesty has driven some out of my life. There is no other way for me to live. I am who I am, take me or leave me. I couldn’t have said that 5 years ago. I needed to be so much more, so much better, so much “other” than who I am. I love that my honesty means that I won’t lie to you to make you feel better. I won’t let you think you’re treating me just fine when you’re not. I won’t pretend everything is OK, even if I’m not ready to talk about it yet. I love that I’m not afraid to address problems. I love that I’m not afraid to decide when I’m ready to address them.
At work, my co-workers think I’m nuts for some of the things I say to my boss. She can fire me. I’m well aware of that. But I won’t sell my honesty, my truth-to-self for this job or any job. I am an open book and I hope to continue to live that way.
There are things which, while I’m not dishonest about, I just don’t mention on this blog because I can’t at the moment. That burns me to my core because it feels so contrary to where I want to be in this moment. I hope this time passes quickly. There’s so much more of me I want to write about.
And since I’m being honest, I am very concerned that my last ova will flow out of me one day soon, without a happy little sperm-daddy to turn it into a baby. My thirties are flying by and making my head spin. I am open to alternative parenting options, but I’m afraid to raise a child alone. I am conflicted because I so enjoy the freedom that many of my friends with kids envy. But I would hate to miss out on the joy of motherhood. I have quite a few male friends with children. I enjoy observing fatherhood. It would not be ideal for me to mother without having the shared experience of admiring loving fatherhood in action.
So, while there are still things I long for and hope to be, my thirties have ushered me into an appreciation of self that has made all the shit of the past well worth it.
Thirty rocks, Ladies. Don’t be afraid. Embrace.