Inspired by a Twitter post, and riffing on this article: http://thoughtcatalog.com/tim-hoch/2014/06/10-ways-youre-making-your-life-harder-than-it-has-to-be/
What happened around age 45-50:
- My body gave out.
- Lived with an alcoholic artist for a year or two. She was the love of my life, but ultimately being up all night and taking care of everything while she slept off her latest binge drove me crazy.
- I was a single mom to two teenage girls. I had been working as a nurse – shift work. Two days, turnaround day, three nights, turnaround day. I diagnosed myself with fibromyalgia and 18 months later my doctor confirmed it.
- Daughter #1 moved to the other side of the country.
- Daughter #2 got pregnant. My daughters knew all about how NOT to get pregnant, since I had been a women’s health teacher for years, so this was at first a real slap in the face. Then I had to let it go as she and her partner figured things out on their own. I loved her but could not financially support her (having fibro and being on disability). I moved into town and got my own little place and helped to babysit when I could.
- I threw myself into community work – AIDS and LGBT groups. I watched some grow and others fall apart. Group politics is really draining.
- I taught myself new skills. I was online figuring out HTML in 1995. Joined a community group that was bringing the interwebs to our small town.
So what did I learn?
- My body knew when to say ENOUGH, even if my brain didn’t. I came home from whatever and crawled straight into bed many days.
- I learned what it’s like to live with and adapt to chronic pain.
- My daughters weren’t going to listen to me. They had their own lives.
- I walked away from relationships and only looked back for the little time I needed for my head to clear and realize how toxic they had been.
- Living close to the poverty line, I learned how to live on nothing. I spent time and money on important stuff – rent, an internet account, gas money, stocking up on black tea, cans of tuna and jars of peanut butter.
- I said NO a lot. I earned a reputation for being a curmudgeon and a bitch. (I now mostly do that on Reddit.) But I also said YES to important stuff like taking care of a toddler for a few months until her mom could get her shit together.
- I spent hours listening to classical music while HTML permeated my brain. I developed websites close to my heart: vintage graphics and family history.
- I developed a healthy relationship with my vibrator. I wrote erotica.
- I slipped quietly from agnosticism into atheism. My skepticism of everything I had been told my whole life deepened. I questioned everything.
- I stopped catastrophizing everything. I sat back, had some vodka and came back to the present.
- I stopped giving a fuck about anything except what is right in front of me, right this minute. I pushed myself to be a badass. I’m determined to live to be 100 doing this.