Earlier in the year I was feeling quite glum at the prospect of another birthday. I wasn’t quite sure why since a) my view on getting older is very much “it’s better than the alternative” and b) 56 isn’t an age that is usually considered significant in any way. Eventually I worked out that, for me at any rate, it’s the point at which I can no longer kid myself I’m in any way “young”. I suppose I’ve actually been nearer 60 than 50 for the last year, but turning 56 really rams the message home. I’m not an old young person any more, I’m a young old person.
So what? So nothing really, but one of my lovely Twitter friends turned 28 a few weeks ago and that started me thinking about my life when I was 28 and of now being twice that age. At 28 I had a successful career in IT and I left my bad marriage to make a fresh start. At 56 absolutely none of the expectations I had at 28 have been fulfilled – I have no partner, children, career or business, no nice home in the country or comfortable car, no pension prospects and savings rapidly dwindling due to the ill health I never even considered as a possibility half my lifetime ago.
Until the last year or so I have tended to view my life as one long fuck-up. A series of bad decisions that have led me to a situation I have no desire to be in, leaving full of self-loathing, recrimination, guilt and, frankly, rather bitter. I think I’ve done a reasonable job of concealing that from the world at large, but who knows? Sometimes other people can see us more clearly than we see ourselves.
I have, perhaps, been in a long mourning not only for the life I’ve lost through ill health, but also for the life I expected to have. A big problem with the grief associated with long-term illness is that it keeps on rekindling and recycling, so it’s hard to reach a point of closure. Still, over the last twelve months or so my perspective has begun to shift (I’ll write more about what caused the shift another time) and I’ve begun to view my past in a more compassionate light.
I’ve begun to understand that I really did do the best I could at the time with the knowledge, experience and information that I had and that a lot of what happens in anyone’s life is simply a matter of chance. And it’s NOT my fault or choice that my health is poor. Again, more anon, for now I’ll just say that I’m trying to think of my twice 28 year of life as another time of new beginnings. The challenges are even greater this time, but I’ve started from scratch before and I can do it again.
Obviously I don’t know how much longer I will actually live, but working on the basis that I’ve got another 28 years – I’m going to live them as well as possible. Third time lucky so to speak. A totally arbitrary idea really, but you have to start somewhere 🙂 .