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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

40

Lately a scene from "When Harry Met Sally..." has been playing in my head over and over.  Sally has just found out her ex is getting married.  She calls Harry, who comes over to console her.  Sally, through her tears, wonders when she'll meet someone who will love her for who she is, noting all of her self-perceived flaws that would deter someone from loving her. 

She feels the clock ticking: "And I'm gonna be 40."

"When?"

"Someday."

"In eight years."

For me, the big 4 0 happens this Saturday.  I feel it looming large. 

I've thought a lot about the day itself, but haven't found a satisfactory answer to the question: How will I celebrate 40?

Friday I am going out with my parents.  We're attending the ballet, a treat I haven't enjoyed in years.  I am looking forward to the time with them and the pleasure of the ballet. 

But then there's a whole Saturday of birthday.  It's when I think about that that I start to feel dread.  Most people would be excited about a Saturday birthday.  I am not. I'd rather have a birthday on a day I know I'll be around people for a good chunk of the day.  Saturdays offer no such guarantee. 

I've made plans to see a play in the evening.  It's the rest of the day I'm not sure about yet.

I won't wake up to a well-wishing husband or children, as many women my age would.  I'll wake up in my house alone... OK, my cats may be snuggled up next to me and they may meow when I try to move them or purr if I pet them, but, though I love them, they're not quite the same as people. 

Perhaps I am being overly dramatic.  I know it's a tendency of mine.  And I know, I really do know, that even though I live in my house alone, I am not alone in life. 

I have an incredible family that loves me.  I have wonderful friends who love me.  I have a network of support beyond what I could have ever hoped for.  I know that there are lots of people who are glad that I am alive and whose friendship, love, and care I value more than I am able to express. Chances are, if you are reading this, you are among those people.  Thank you for taking the time to be here with me.  Please know that my grief is in no way reflective of the abundance of joy, grace, and love you have showered on me. And still...

My heart feels the ache of loneliness, even in the midst of great blessings. Admitting it here, fighting a sting in my eyes, makes me feel ungrateful. How could I possibly feel lonely when I have so much love in my life?

I suppose my hope in admitting all this, in putting my raw self before you today, is that I'll let these feelings go before Saturday.  Self-pity is no way to ring in a new decade of life, particularly when there's no good reason for it. 

Yesterday I was talking to a friend who is in the midst of student-teaching.  As she talked about her challenges and her failures in the classroom, I reminded her that all of what she is going through is normal and that it's OK to make mistakes.  I suggested that she be gentler with herself and try to let go of the burdens of imperfection that she is carrying.

Once I lamented to a married friend that being single sometimes feels pretty lonely. She replied, "You can be lonely in a marriage, too." Oh.  Maybe what I'm feeling as 40 approaches is normal.  Maybe I need to be gentler with myself, allow myself to feel what I feel and then let those feelings go. To be honest, writing this is helping me to do so.

Maybe turning 40 will not be such a traumatic event after all.  I have ideas about things I'd like to do and people I'd like to see so that I don't spend the day alone.  Perhaps I simply need to make some invitations. And maybe then, if I allow the day to unfold as it wishes, Saturday will offer just the right way of beginning a new decade.

I'll keep you posted.

2 comments:

  1. Have fun at the ballet and enjoy the play Saturday night. You are loved and you do know so, maybe you should let yourself intentionally dwell on that love all day Saturday. It was good to see you last night and your writing has just been getting better and better. Thanks for the vulnerability you show...especially in honest posts like this.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Kim. Yes, it was a great night with you all. Thanks for the encouragement and love and for sharing your wonderful voice!!

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