My birthday came and went with a bang. The celebrations are still trickling in, actually, in the form of the twice-a-year get-together-for-our-birthdays with a couple of friends. This fortieth didn’t hit me nearly as hard as my first fortieth, or even my second. I haven’t noticed any new wrinkles. My gray hair isn’t multiplying. No new aches or pains. Thanks to intermittent fasting, I’ve even lost eight pounds. So naturally I thought I could sail right into this next year feeling, well, not older.
Then I found out about my twenty-five-year high-school reunion taking place at the end of the month. Seriously? Like, I graduated from high school twenty-five years ago? How is that even possible? So I called up my best friend from back in the day and we started reminiscing, bringing up all sorts of people I haven’t thought about in years. We talked about what they’re up to, how life turned out, how many kids and what kinds of jobs, how many husbands or wives?
It was all fun and games until that feeling of having my life robbed took over. Sigh. I’d made such progress in taking responsibility for my circumstances. Showing myself compassion, not anger, for never having become a famous interior designer or cosmetics CEO. Accepting my reality for what it is and seeking to enjoy and improve my life instead of being angry over what getting sick has cost me. But hearing about what my contemporaries are up to depressed me. Everyone seemed to get the whole cake while I’m sitting over here with a sliver of pie.
The desire to crawl back in my hole of isolation rose up. This is hard, trying to rebuild after another bout with this strange sickness. What a nebulous and unpredictable existence. I drop out of life for years at a time, unable to physically and mentally engage with others in any sort of consistent fashion. Then I get “better” and start my juggling act: trying to get all the dropped balls of my life back into the air without winding up sick all over again.
But enough, really. Because this is it. That is my reality. Love it or hate it, I’m forty-three years old and cannot spend one more moment of my precious time and energy being angry at what is. It took this whole twenty-five-year-reunion trauma to remind me how damaging comparing myself to others can be to my self-esteem. So I’m shaking it off and proceeding on my way. Reminding myself that picture-perfect lives usually have their own source of discord. Mine just happens to be plastered all over the outside of me.
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