life

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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Memories

By some people’s standards, I’ve had an unconventional life, moving from one part of a country to another, from one country to the next, going to different schools and universities, making new friends and losing touch with others, living near some family members and then living near none.

When I read autobiographies, I always wonder how people remember all the details they write about in their books. I understand that writing an autobiography involves lots of research and that memories are drawn from many people. But still. How do people remember all those details?

Lately I’ve been contemplating my own memories and wondering why I remember some things while others are almost completely lost. (more…)

A good, gloomy day for an existential crisis

Today I woke up feeling like it’s one of those days when I need to have a full-blown IMG_3147existential crisis.

Don’t worry. These rarely last for more than a day or two.

I wish the writing bug bit me more often when I am in a solid, content state of mind. Being solid and content does happen to me sometimes, you know. Unfortunately for my blog readers, it’s my down states that make me feel like I REALLY need to write and get it all out there. Writing to me is what food can be to others. It makes me feel better when I’m down.

Ever since I woke up I’ve been asking myself: What the fuck am I doing with my life? And… Why does it seem like every single person who locks eyes with mine wants to drain my bank account?

When I find myself in this position, I’ve learned to ask myself another question: Well, what would you rather be doing?

Now that question is starting to feel like a trick question.  (more…)

Peeling faces

Several years ago, I was in such a bad place that, for a few moments of time, I considered suicide.

In those moments, I truly thought that death was my only way out.

I am so grateful that someone inside me allowed those moments to pass.

It took me a few years to get myself out of that bad place. Things got worse before they ever got better. But I’m glad I let that moment go.

And in a way, I appreciate that I had that moment. (more…)

The contradictions within me

What is it about human beings and all our contradictions? 

I’ve been feeling a bit mellow the past few days. A bit itchy. Yes. Mellow AND itchy. I feel down. I don’t want to do anything. But I’m really really itching for an adventure.

Just now, after flicking through my Facebook feed, I thought, “All I want to do is to go somewhere where I can completely distance myself from other human beings.” Yet only 30 minutes earlier I told my husband, “I need to get out and go somewhere where there are other human beings.”

Yesterday I was watching Come Dine With Me on TV. One of the contestants lived in a beautiful old home in the English countryside. She had her own lake in her back garden. So I thought, “I’d love to have a grand old house in the English countryside with my own lake.” The reality is that when my husband and I got serious about buying a larger home, I ended up feeling completely overwhelmed, I couldn’t find anything that lived up to the much smaller house we currently have, and I was the one who decided that we’re fine just where we are. So it was mission abort.

I love beautiful things. I love walking through the shops and looking at all the wondrous things that have been created by my fellow man. Then I look at the price tag and realize there was no way on earth I’d be willing to spend that kind of money on something no matter how nice it was.  (more…)

The Need to Write

Sometimes I feel like I just need to write. 

When I’m sad, when I’m happy, when I’m confused, when I’m excited… sometimes I feel like I just need to write.

Many times when I feel like I just need to write, I don’t have anything of importance to write about. I’ll dig deep inside, try to disentangle all the thoughts and stories inside of me, and find something worthy of letters. I think that’s why I blog so much about my feelings. They are the most accessible things for me to write about. They are always there, ready to be dissected and exposed to the world.

Writing connects me to people. I need that connection. Now more than ever because I have so few people who appear regularly in my day-to-day life. Can I blame everything on the Egyptian revolution? I want to. The sense of loss…loss of family…loss of friends…loss of purpose…loss of hope…loss of home…loss of work…loss of passion.

I make it sound horrible. I know it is not. Not always. Most of the time I manage to keep myself in a positive frame of mind. So much has happened in four years; in my personal and professional life, in Egypt, in the world. I cope by approaching life with tunnel vision. I focus on the one thing I feel I have some minor control over: me. I focus on the day-to-day. I give myself goals. I entertain myself. (more…)

My Letter to a Younger Me

I turned 46 this year. If I could send a letter back in time to a younger me, this is what I’d write:

 

Nadia, 

You’re about to turn 30. Strap yourself up in your seat belt because it’s about to get really tough.

You’ve already started to see glimpses of how difficult things are going to get.

The unhappiness. The general feeling of discontent. The loneliness. Feeling lost about almost everything.

All that gets worse. Much much worse.

Prepare yourself for a long period of darkness. You will feel like you are drowning. Every now and then you’ll find a straw, you will grab onto it thinking it will pull you back to the surface only to discover it’s a thorn. You will be pricked, you will have to let go of the thorn, and you will sink ever deeper.

Things will get so bad at one point that, for the first and only time in your life, you will briefly consider ending it. Breathe. Let the moment pass. It will.

You will call out for help. You will explain, using all the words you can find, what ails you. You will be clear that you need professional help. The people who matter, who can help, will hear you. But they will not be listening.

You will look around you and not know whom to trust. You will have many people around you, but you will feel as if you are alone in a stark, empty desert. (more…)

What Real Reality TV Might Look Like: My Life in a Month

I tend to watch a lot of crap reality TV. It helps take my mind off more serious issues: like wars and death in the Arab world and whether my children will be safe going to school in Egypt today.

But being the semi-intelligent person I am, I realize that most if not all of what we see on reality television shows is staged in one way or another.

A couple of my friends have mentioned over the past two years that I should have a reality television show of my own. I always reply, “Do you have any idea how boring and commonplace my life is? There would be absolutely no element of entertainment.”

Of course, my life isn’t really boring. Quite to the contrary, if you ask me. I manage to spice things up as often as is possible given my circumstances. Even so, my life, as is anyone else’s, is comprised of a lot of routine interspersed with some excitement.

Last month I had a sudden burst of creative energy. I wanted to do something a bit different. How about I take small videos of random parts of my day for a month and see what that month of my life looked like in retrospect?

So I carried a mini camera with me all month long. It went with me everywhere. Sometimes I’d remember I had it with me and others I wouldn’t. When I would randomly remember I had it I’d take a short video clip of whatever it was I was doing. I kept that up for a full month.

I put together some random four-second clips from the videos I took. I thought of making it move fast-forward or of adding some music to it. But then I decided that the normal speed and the normal noise is what my life is really like. I’m going to leave things just as they are. Normal.

(more…)

Ready for a New Adventure: I Ask Myself “Why?”

Every single time I set off on an adventure, I can’t help but ask myself for the millionth time, “Why?” What seemed so logical and simple when the idea initially originated now seems so odd and out-of-the-ordinary.

“Why do I keep doing this sort of thing to myself?” I ask. “What do I get out of it? Why am I doing it?”

It is always at this stage, a few days before the actual trip, that fear, trepidation, and anxiety find their way to settle into my heart and mind. These are not new emotions for me. I feel these when I embark on any sort of change. ANY sort of change. I manage to get myself, like most others, into a daily routine that I am comfortable with. Anything that changes that routine, engaging in a new activity, writing a new article, meeting up with people for coffee, going on an errand I’m unaccustomed to, all these things cause me anxiety and minor trepidations. I have come to learn that if I succumb to these emotions every time I feel them I would do nothing with my life beyond my simple, daily routine.

Yet I am also aware that the anxious emotions I feel before an adventure are well-founded: there are risks involved, I am embarking on a lot of unknowns, and I am leaving my family behind. I have found a way to work with my pre-adventure anxieties. They guide my thoughts to the possible risks involved in my upcoming journey and I make sure to put in an extra effort to organize the trip in a way that makes it as safe as is possible.

None of that removes the nagging question, “Why?”

In no particular order, here are my answers: (more…)

I’m a Social Media Addict: Not

On January 6 this year, I suddenly woke up to the conclusion that I was addicted to social media. I wrote a blog post about this and decided I needed to cut down on my social media use. The following day I posted an update on my progress. This is my third and last update of my social media abstinence experiment. (more…)