Getting Older

Late 20’s/early 30’s is a strange stage of life to be in. You no longer fit in with the “young” people which you still have the tendency to consider yourself a part of. You still feel young, but I remember thinking 30 year olds were super old most of my life. You also aren’t embraced by the older generations who tend to view you as an immature child and make light of your concerns about being older. I’m so used to eye rolls and scoffs from boomers if I dare to mention feeling old. It’s an awkward middle ground between youth and middle age. It feels like no one quite understands you. At times it feels like you don’t even understand yourself.

I know I should focus on being grateful that I even made it this far. I’ve had an extremely easy, wonderful life for nearly 28 years now. I’ve never had a serious illness, surgery, or even a broken bone! Throughout most of human history, it would have been a miracle that I even made it this far. Rather than feeling like a blessing, aging has just started to feel surreal to me. I’m sure as children, we all imagined growing up and living independent, adult lives one day. However, when you’re 10, “adult” means 18-20. That’s all the further out I really pictured. It was hard to even conceptualize being older than that. It started to get weirder each consecutive year after my 21st birthday.

You find yourself waiting and waiting. Wondering when you’ll finally start to feel like a real adult. It used to seem inevitable that one day you would wake up and just get it. You’d understand what you’re supposed to do, who you are, where you’re going in life. After a while, that expectation changes to questioning if you’ll ever actually experience that confidence and self mastery you had always anticipated. At a certain point you start to ask yourself where you ever got that impression of adulthood in the first place.

It’s also strange to consider if this is a natural part of getting older, or if this experience is unique to your generation. After all, things have changed quite a lot since my parents were 30. The baby boomers were all having children and buying houses around this age. Whereas my generation isn’t exactly able to enjoy the same privileges. Instead, we are burdened by crippling debt, useless degrees, being stuck living with our parents, unable to shed those aspects of our childhood that are still so prevalent in our lives. I’ve been playing Pokémon every evening for months now. I doubt I’ll ever outgrow that particular interest.

Apart from all the psychological aspects of aging, it’s also quite scary to realize that my body is getting older too. As a woman that is particularly frightening. Despite knowing that my worth is not tied to my age or my appearance, I am aware that society does not reflect that fact. Is my life going to become more difficult once I’m no longer a young, attractive woman? I’ve already got a few wrinkles between my eyebrows and a handful of grey hairs. Will I still think I’m pretty ten years from now? Will I still be able to do impressive yoga poses or intense cardio workouts? When will I begin to notice aches and pains that never quite go away? How much longer will this strong, healthy body last?

The concept of aging is certainly a bizarre one no matter how you want to look at it. I only hope that as time continues to pass that I will grow older with dignity and grace, with gratitude in my heart. Even though it’s scary, I am still hopeful. I am curious to find out what the rest of this miraculous life has in store for me.

What Is (and Isn't) Normal Aging

Signs

Isn’t it funny how certain experiences in life tend to stand out at us? We’ve all had moments that made us wonder if some higher power is at play, nudging us along or drawing our attention to something important. Whether you believe in any particular higher power or not. I certainly haven’t for the majority of my life, yet still these moments continue to present themselves. Even though I learned all about the psychology behind why we feel this way about some events, but not others, I can’t help but wonder.

If I remember correctly, the scientific explanation for these “signs” we notice, is simply that our brains are placing more attention on certain events that fit our narrative, while ignoring all the others. It isn’t that we are doing this on purpose. It’s mostly unconscious. It is similar to the way we often feel like every time we are late there is traffic, and only when we’re late. In reality there is probably traffic quite often when we aren’t late as well. We just don’t notice it as much, or make a mental note of it like we do when it’s an extra inconvenience. Or maybe a better example would be when people share all of the supposed times prayer has miraculously healed people. These miracles are attributed to prayer, but all of the billions of times prayer didn’t work are ignored.

So when we notice “signs” in our lives, this is more than likely the same mental process behind it. Even so, it is hard to ignore that tingling intuition that there is something more meaningful at play. It’s quite frustrating to be honest. I like to think of myself as a logical, rational person. However, when it comes to this one situation, all of my rationality seems to fly out the window. I’m trying not to get into specifics, but I feel it’s going to get too confusing if I don’t.

Surprise, surprise, I’m referencing my relationship with my old high school sweetheart yet again. I swear, it makes me feel so pathetic and insane to even think about him at all. Part of this strangeness surrounding him is that I do seem unable to let him go. Despite my shame and my occasional hatred of him, he is still probably one of the people I think about most. Even when it felt like I had finally moved on a few years ago, it seemed like the universe conspired against me to place him back in front of me again.

That was probably the most significant and hard to shake of the “signs” I’ve experienced in relation to him. It had been years since we’d spoken. I had him blocked on all social media. I really hardly even thought about him anymore. My heart felt like it was finally at peace. Then one night, I had a vivid dream about him out of nowhere. Exactly one week later, he made great efforts to contact me out of the blue. I even tried to ignore his attempts, but he wouldn’t stop. Apparently he had even planned to appear at my house if I continued to be silent. Although I was happy in the end to get an apology and explanation from him and to have him in my life again, I still can’t help but feel cheated by that whole situation. Why was I dragged back into his orbit, just to be set adrift once again with renewed pain?

Since then there have been a few other, less impressive “signs” regarding him. I don’t pretend to know what these signs even mean, however. Perhaps simply that he is to be an important part of my life whether I want him to be or not. A year or so ago after newly mending our friendship once again, I found a blue and purple marble on a path I often walked in the woods behind my house. This seemed significant because it was just after I decided to talk with him again. Not only that, blue and purple are the colors I once assigned to him for his aura. This marble was dead center at the start of my hiking trail. No one else uses this trail besides me, certainly no children or anyone who would be carrying marbles into the forest. I had walked it just a day or so before. Never had I seen this marble which would have been easy to spot if it had been there all along. Certainly I would have noticed it earlier.

The most recent and frustrating of these “signs” happened just a few days ago. Once again I was beginning to feel like I was managing to let him go. I have a wonderful new vegan guy to talk to and I’ve been happy for the most part. Then I discover that my vegan guy is actually going to be moving 5 hours away from me for a new job he applied to before we met. Even though we’re going to try to do long-distance, I have little hope it will work out now and am desperately depressed about the whole thing. Then just two days after receiving that heartbreaking news, I run into my ex’s girlfriend at the grocery store.

At first, like the marble, this may not seem like anything significant. But the context matters. Since I’ve graduated high school, I don’t think I’ve run into a single classmate. Not only that, but my ex and this girlfriend don’t live in my area. They live two hours away now. This girl just happened to be in the area, in the grocery store, at the exact same moment and spot where I was, a few days after my new romantic relationship took a nosedive. It just seems so ridiculous. I’m sure I still sound crazy, but at least my mom sees the absurdity of all these things as well.

The most frustrating part is when something like this happens, it makes me wonder if I am supposed to do something about it. I’ve spent the last two days wondering if I should message my ex. Ultimately I’ve decided not to. Part of me worries that I am ignoring important direction from the universe or whatever. My mom thinks that whether I act or not, the universe will have it’s way, so I don’t have to worry too much. I hope she’s right. Although I don’t even know what I want to happen. Right now I mostly just want these strange occurrences to stop because whatever they are, they cause me so much pain.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

More Dreams

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Last night I had some more very poignant and interesting (to me at least) dreams. I don’t know if it works this way for other people, but for me I generally have multiple, completely separate dreams each night. They usual seem to be unrelated to one another. For some reason there are some nights when I am just more struck by them than others.

I guess it’s foolish not to acknowledge that part of the reason I am often so interested is when my dreams have something to do with my old boyfriend. I have had prophetic dreams about him in the past and I guess I’m still hoping that dreaming of him is a signal that he will reappear again. We didn’t end things on the best of terms the last time we spoke. But ultimately it was I who was angry with him. A few weeks ago I decided to reach out again, but got no reply. This wasn’t as devastating as I imagined it would be, but I still think about it often. He just doesn’t seem like the type to completely ignore me. Even if he didn’t want anymore contact, I figured he would say so. Maybe I’m wrong. Who knows. I suppose I don’t really know him anymore.

Anyway, back to the dreams. In the first dream, I was at a client’s house. (I am a social worker.) For some reason they wanted me to get a broom and clean the spider webs off of their porch. The house was my grandmother’s, but that didn’t seem significant in the dream. I went out with the broom and lifted it up to clean out all the webs in the corners. In the webs there were several large, fuzzy moths. They weren’t caught in the web, more just hanging out in it. I collected them up and was very pleased. (I love those fuzzy headed moths.) I brought them back in to the house and put them in a cage with the children’s guinea pigs, thinking that would be okay for some reason. The guinea pigs ate them. I was very upset.

I looked up what moths and webs could signify. (Not that I really believe anyone knows what symbols in dreams truly mean.) The web could be representing my desire to control everything, or it could mean I feel trapped and unsure of where to go. This fits in nicely with the moth explanation, apparently moths could represent my weakness, character flaws, or fragileness.

So this dream that potentially had something to do with uncertainty and feeling flawed and fragile bled into a dream about my ex-boyfriend. I texted him again and told him that I had just dyed my hair. He responded right away that he was excited to see it and sent me a strange tictok type video of he and his current girlfriend. He apparently hadn’t been ignoring me before. He just never got my last text.

This short, pretty insignificant dream made me so happy. I always feel a sense of energy and excitement when he appears in my dreams. It has been a long time. I had already considered trying to send him a message on Facebook in case he truly didn’t ever get my text, but I haven’t. Now I’m wondering again if I should. I realize that this entire post is just the nonsense ramblings of a creep who can’t get over their ex. I am painfully aware of that. But I still can’t help feeling the way that I do. At least I’ll always have my dreams…

Little Changes

When I was younger and still living in my parents’ house, I had a strange little thing I would do to try to shake myself out of a funk. If I noticed I had been in a bad mood for a few days or even weeks, I would start sleeping with my head at the opposite end of the bed. I have no idea when I first decided to do this or why, but it always seemed to work. It made me feel better.

I don’t know if that was just because I had it in my head that it would work, or if perhaps a small change like that just helped me to be more present and shift my perspective. Whatever the reason, I want to start doing something similar to help me break free of whatever has been holding me down lately.

I’ve thought about redecorating my downstairs living room and spending more time in there as opposed to the room upstairs. It seems laughable to actually type this out, but the idea of that gives me a lot of anxiety. Then again there aren’t many things that don’t make me feel anxious these days. That’s why it is just easier to keep mindlessly following the ingrained patterns I’ve already made for myself.

I know that isn’t really living though. I constantly hear a small fearful voice in the back of my head telling me I am wasting this incredible chance to live. I know that every time I avoid doing something because of anxiety, that only strengthens the urge to do so next time as well. In order to show myself that I have nothing to fear, I need to be brave and just do it anyway.

Today when I do my daily drawing, I am going to sit downstairs. It is shocking even to me that such a thing would be even mildly difficult. And that’s the reason I need to force myself to do it. To show myself the absurdity of my anxiety.

I know I can do this. I can start making those little changes that seem odd and insignificant. Just little shifts to allow me to see things with fresh eyes. It will be just like when I was a child, warm and safe, with my head at the foot of my bed, sound asleep.

Strange Times

This year feels like it hasn’t even happened. One day bled into the next until we found ourselves in September. Yet thinking back, New Years Eve seems so far away. And it’s as if my mind has discarded any memories of what happened in between then and now. I’ve just spent this year waiting. Waiting to feel like myself again. But I don’t really remember what that even feels like anymore.

When this pandemic first started, I was just happy to have a few months at home. But it seems like I’ve spiraled into a dangerous place since then. I kept telling myself that once things went back to normal, I would too. Now I wonder if things will ever be normal again.

It seems like a lot of people are struggling with their mental health right now. It’s easy to blame it on the pandemic and for some people I’m sure that is the main factor. For me however, I’m not sure. Am I just using that as an excuse? Nothing has really changed that much for me besides wearing a mask when I go out and not seeing my grandmother as frequently.

I’ve gone back to work and go about my business as usual for the most part. In rural Ohio, it seems like the majority of people don’t believe in this virus. That is a bizarre thing to witness in itself. Knowing so many people around you are completely immune to logic and simple facts. It is frightening when I really think about it.

Maybe more than anything directly changing in my life, this pandemic has changed the way I think and see the world. While once I was so passionate about veganism and politics, now I’ve resigned myself to looking away. I can’t bear to face the reality of where the world is right now. It is simply too painful and terrifying. It’s so much easier to numb myself to it.

I used to feel that even though it may be painful, it was my duty to change things. Now I hold no delusions about being able to change a damn thing. Therefore I can find no reason to keep watching everything unfold. It makes me feel helpless, angry, sad, desperate. I’ve chosen to turn that off and feel nothing instead.

I had a foggy memory of a dream from last night as I wrote that last part. There were two girls. One was explaining to the other how to just turn a switch on the heart so you don’t feel anything anymore. The girl seemed glad at the idea, but with an empty smile, the other girl warned her that it does get harder to turn it back on every time. Aren’t dreams fascinating? We can learn a lot about ourselves from our dreams. And reaffirm the things we already knew deep down.

I’m sorry this post has mostly been rambling. But part of me feels like that is an accurate reflection of what this year has felt like. Wandering aimlessly within our own heads, disconnected from everything. If things don’t change once 2021 arrives, I am making a promise to myself here and now that I will finally start therapy. Feel free to hold me accountable for that promise. Here’s hoping things begin to look up for us all.

Be Kind to Yourself <3

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Often one of the hardest things to figure out in this life is how to love oneself. We are all overly critical of ourselves, and that can push us to be better than ever before. However, it can also interfere with our self-perception. It is also often hard to get past our aversion to appearing conceded. There is no need to worry though, dears. There are only positive things to come from learning to love yourself. 

I have often looked at myself in a strange sort of way, and I am hoping that once I explain it, it can help you as well as it has helped me. It may sound odd, but I tend to view myself as two entities. One is my mind, my cold, hard logic, and my inner strength. It is the well-reasoned higher “human” part of me. The other is my emotion, my fears and weaknesses, and doubt. It is the innocent animal that my biology displays. My consciousness cares for and guides my body. My body with its irrational emotions and such, I view as a sweet child I must protect and comfort.

Many times in my life where I find myself alone and inconsolable with grief, this strange view has helped me. I feel compassion and love for myself. I need no one else to comfort me. I know exactly what I need to feel better. I let myself sulk in my sorrow. I will recall all of the other instances when I felt sad or hopeless in the past, and I envision myself there to give comfort. I will imagine giving myself a hug as we cry together. I tell my former self that things will get better and that the thing I was crying about then, does not even matter now. And it really is comforting and therapeutic!

This method has allowed me to view myself in a new light, as something fragile and wonderful and in need of guidance, protection, and comfort. I hope that the next time you are feeling alone or sad that you will try this for yourself. And let me know in the comments if this worked for you, what you do to comfort and care for yourself, or if you think I am a total lunatic…   

Also, I am always here to talk if you need someone to confide in. I am studying to become a psychologist after all. Hope you all make an effort to be kind to yourselves today, and don’t forget to stay peaceful! ❤