I’ve been thinking about this young woman. This photo was taken in 1977 when she was 18-years-old. She thought she had things figured out, but had already chosen to let go of personal dreams and ignore relationship red flags. She would pay a steep price for those decisions, as would those around her and those not yet born. But of course, she foresaw none of the fallout that was to come in the years—decades, even—yet to come.
Eighteen was too young to make decisions the magnitude of which she was making. She felt strong and confident and hungry to be part of a family, dysfunctional as it was. Short-sighted in the way of consequences, she was willing to sacrifice significant chunks of herself for the sake of feeling “loved.” What a mess it turned out to be.
Sixteen years of angst and abuse lie ahead before she felt herself worthy, and found wisdom and strength enough to stand up and say “enough!”. By then there were children bearing burdens of their own as a result of an 18-year-old young woman’s choice. Regret? Yeah, there was a lot of that. And deep depression. I won’t even touch on the days that turned into years of barely hanging on.
She felt like the Divine had abandoned her, little knowing she was being cradled as one who is beloved. It was this sense of her own belovedness, however small it was at the time, that helped put one foot in front of the other every day.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about her.
The roads I’ve traveled; the mistakes I made; the good decisions, too; the houses I have lived in; and the people who have walked alongside part of the journey. My work. The things I’ve enjoyed. The places I’ve been. The tears I have cried and the laughter I’ve shared. It’s been a journey that 18-year-old woman could never have imagined.
I’m reflective because tomorrow is my birthday. I don’t make a fuss over birthdays, but this is a milestone. It’s not one that ends with a zero, but it puts me firmly in the camp of “senior citizen.” I’ll be 65. It’s hard to believe. I’ve lived longer than both of my mothers, one who died at 59 (birth) the other at 55 (adoptive). According to the Canadian government, I will start receiving my Old Age Pension. Crazy.
“Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research.”
~ Carl Jung
This morning, Gerry, the numbers guy I married when I was 40-years-old (Jung was right), did some math and figured out that we have been married for 38% of my life. I countered, that it has been the best 38% of my life, and, it’s not over yet (Lord willing!). There are still roads to travel, tears to shed, laughter to share, and experiences to have.
I’m no longer that 18-year-old woman who was willing to accept the unacceptable. What I am is grateful. So, very grateful. For my family and friends, the adventures I’ve had, the places I’ve traveled to, a fulfilling career, good health, relative security, and more that I’m not even thinking about at this moment. It’s a good life and I feel blessed to be living it.