When I feel like I have not accomplished enough the last few decades, I remind myself that I potentially could have another 40 years to live, all going well. The last half of my life has been defining, it has been the formative years, the busiest, productive and reproductive, with three gorgeous boys to show for it.
There have been great times, mixed in with varying degrees of challenges and heartache. Funerals, Emergency departments, pathology lab results, financial advisers and therapists. I have had the joy of attending weddings, birthdays, newborn births and baptisms.
The years of being a young new mum with my to-do lists seem a lifetime ago, yet at arm’s reach. I look back and see a different woman and I want to tap her on the shoulder making her look at me now. Speak to her, embrace her and remind her that the clock is ticking.
How do you suppose time works? A slippery succession of long hours adding up to ever-shorter days and years that disappear like falling dominoes?
– Dani Shapiro, Hourglass Time, Memory, Marriage
Turning 40 is the time and decade that supposedly for women, is our prime, where we are feeling the most liberated, happy and sexiest than before. Truthfully, if I stopped rushing about long enough, I could feel the cold harsh reality that I was discontent, tired and numb, trapped with too many roles to juggle and unsure of who I had become and who I wanted to be. I lived for the next moment, chasing an outcome, ticking off the list, never satisfied when I reached it.
How did it end up this way?
This moment in my life (now 43 years old) has become the halfway mark of conscious introspection. The ugly realisation that much of my seething insecurities and lack of self-love has all been masked and beautifully covered up in the role of motherhood and wife, busyness and hard work. I have spent much of my time climbing up the ladder, out of the hole I keep throwing myself back into, time and time again.
It is in this moment that I face pain, grief, forgiveness and my younger dear self. It is in this moment that I repair my body that has been torn apart by my internal shredding that I am not enough. It is time to move forward, sifting away outdated learning, beliefs and change the narrative to something new and beautiful.
Now I am dreaming again. There are visions that I gently move towards. It is a picture of the next stage of life, who I want to be, how I want to feel, where I want to go and who with. Rather than striving for the outcome and pinning everything on that vision to satisfy me, Wisdom (the benefit of ageing) reveals to me, I will be discontent when I get there. It’s sage burning time, to banish that “hungry ghost” within.
The vision is my landing pad and I know I’ll land there safely, one day. For now, this circling and slow decent is critical. Where I have shooed life away, like it was dispensable, I am navigating through it with a new appreciation and an intention to savour. I am seeing myself as evolving beauty and embracing the beauty in others. No doubt, there will be some bumpy turbulence, but I am letting go of catastrophizing and the fear that feeds it. My landing gear is on standby, self confidence in check and I’m ready and open to new opportunities.
Slow and steady she goes.