50

50: An age of difficult realizations and utter confusion?

I have been very fortunate so far this year regarding the things I have been able to do. At the same time, this year is turning out to be one of the most difficult for me emotionally.

I am not sure why that is. My circumstances haven’t changed much. But perhaps some of my realizations have. It could be that I’m getting closer to that age when hormones, or the lack thereof, are known to wreak havoc on a woman’s body. Or it could be a symptom of going through a new stage of life.

Whatever the reasons, as years pass and phases come and go, I find myself considering my parents’ lives and feeling a stronger connection and understanding of what things might have been like for them.

It hurts. It really does. Neither of them had an easy life. But as they were going through their many difficulties, I, as their daughter, had no real comprehension of them. I could only see their actions and behaviors through my very limited and selfish lens. It is only when life shoves somewhat similar challenges in my direction that it dawns on me why Mom or Baba were the way they were or why they made certain decisions.

It pains me to think that my parents may have felt the way I feel sometimes. I think: Now I understand. Now I understand why sometimes they seemed so unreasonable or acted so oddly. I see more clearly how much they loved us and I see the pains their love left them with.

How could I have been so ignorant or ignoring of everything they went through? Or is that a protective mechanism we have as children and even as adults yet to reach these stages that shields us from what we’re not emotionally ready to deal with? Are we ever equipped to deal with all the phases that our parents go through? Or do we have in-built mechanisms that make us inherently selfish, prioritizing self rather than others, so that we have a chance at making it to the other end?

I’m finding the feelings and realizations of this year very difficult to deal with. I feel like I’m missing the ability to converse with like-minded women of my age or older. My personal circumstances are definitely different from most others, I assume. But do all these emotions naturally start appearing around the age of 50? Does it get better? Does it get worse? Do things actually get more difficult for us as our own children grow into adults and start building their own lives? Am I going through an identity crisis? Does that happen to other parents?

After years of thinking I knew what I was doing, that I was making the best decisions I could make given the circumstances I was in, I find myself completely lost as to what is right and wrong, and what needs to be done next. Rather than feeling that I am reaching a phase of wisdom and maturity, I feel very lost and lonely.

I am not depressed. But I am confused and I do get more emotional than I have been for quite a long time. I’m going to a therapist to help me work through all these emotions.

But please, women (and men) in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, talk to me. Please tell me that this is just another phase that we all go through and that it will, eventually, pass.

 

 

 

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Contemplating 50

The first time I noticed someone making a big deal about turning 50 was almost 15 years 50ago when Oprah Winfrey did a big 5 0 show. She and her production team went all-out crazy for the TV celebrations. But it wasn’t until I started living in the UK that I noticed that people in some parts of the world consider it a huge milestone. People who don’t normally celebrate birthdays celebrate this one. Others will build up to it with a series of challenges. Yet others go on bucket-list trips (plural in some cases) to celebrate the event.

I hardly ever celebrate my birthday. My father became anti-birthday before I reached my teens. I recall having a few birthday parties when I was really young. But after that our birthday celebrations were muted. My father wanted to teach us that every day of the year was important. Every day was to be celebrated; not that he got us gifts and cake everyday, but that’s beside the point.

Because I was raised this way, my birth date sometimes passed by when I was an adult and I wouldn’t even notice. I can easily get confused about my age sometimes. Even though I’m not as anti-birthday as my father was, I didn’t want to turn my own children’s birthdays into consumer events. I didn’t like how much money was spent on birthday parties and gifts. So our family tradition became one of going out on birthdays with the immediate family to a restaurant chosen by the birthday child and to the movies.

So here I am approaching 50 this year, and because I’m living in the UK, I almost feel some pressure to do something “different” for it.

Well, it ain’t happenin’.

I have goals for this year just like I have had goals for past years. (more…)