Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I owe someone an explanation. There are some posts here that are disillusioning, dispiriting and downright depressing. "What," she wants to know, "is there to look forward to?" The answer is, a great deal. In all honesty, the kind of negativity I indulged in here is rather narcissistic and presents a warped view of reality.
Truth is, life runs in stages. The first stage of adulthood is followed by many, many others, each with their challenges and possibilities. One doesn't grow up all at once; in fact, the process may take much longer than any of us really are prepared to accept. My first foray into adulthood has passed, and that is what I mourn sometimes; however, it's not the fact that it's over, but that I have to fact the second stage of adulthood, and I don't know what to do. I don't know what I want to do when I grow up. So really, what I have here is a repeat of my late teens, early twenties. NOW WHAT????
My first stage was spent chasing after my father's dreams for me: a professorship in Spanish at a small, liberal arts college. So I busied myself preparing for that eventuality, spending as much time as possible in Spain, falling in love and then attempting to maintain a long, long, long distance relationship with a man much older, with a daughter. I threw myself into relationships that were doomed or impossible. That sucked up my life. Then I dragged myself through grad school, struggling through an abusive relationship; actually, several, if you count the abusive professional relationships that were sanctioned and promoted at Yale. Long story short: I received the Ph.D. in Spanish language and literature in 1992 when I was twenty-seven; I had already started my first tenure-track job by then in Appleton, WI. I was far too young to really understand what had just happened, what it meant to be a "professor" with a job for life. I was simply following the program. What program? Whose program? That's the issue I'm turning over in my head now.
Many crises followed. I left Appleton after I received tenure, something unheard of there before or since. I moved to California with my husband, changed jobs six times, experimented with alternative social arrangements, was dumped by said husband, went online and found someone called Tyger66, and the rest you all know. I moved eight times in seven years--I left that part out. Now I am very happy to be Tyger66's wife, and the (step)mother of IMS. My personal life is quite amazing. One would think that marriage and parenthood would answer the questions raised by my spiritual quest; not so. That's a huge burden to place on a husband and a child--no, the job is mine alone.
So what is the point of all this? Simply put, I'm in another stage in life; I spent my twenties chasing various goals without really and truly asking myself WHY. There wasn't enough introspection; I did what I thought I was supposed to do, without breaking away from all the influences weighing in on the issue (mostly family, but also culture and community of peers) and making a series of independent decisions. I was "successful" by any outside measure, yet I was miserable much of the time. My first marriage was based on faulty assumptions (I can make him happy) and I spent much of my time rebelling against my job choice ("forgetting" important meetings, behaving in a reckless fashion designed to provoke and piss off my colleagues, and general anti-social behavior); therefore, I was REACTING, not ACTING, to circumstances that I CREATED, without understanding my pivotal role in choosing all of this. It's as if I chose the wrong mate and the wrong job so I would have an excuse to rebel and act out, blaming other people for my dissatisfaction.
A funny thing happens when you finally get your shit together. You realize, at whatever age you may be, that the WORK HAS JUST BEGUN; and that is why my previous posts are so negative and nasty. It's because I am rebelling against that fact. I can't rest on my laurels, because no one cares what I did ten or fifteen years ago; I don't even care. It's over, time to move on. It's moving on that PISSES ME OFF. I don't want to do the work that the next stage requires. This time, there's no excuse; I can't blame parents, friends, society, whatever, for my choices. I have to make all of those choices and accept the responsibility for them. Period. There's really nothing to rebel against, so I turn inward and fall into a pit of depression and despair, which is really just unexpressed anger. I don't even know who to be angry with, and that pisses me off worse. My odd retroactive tendency--my jealousy of twenty-somethings--is about the fact that it would be easier to go backwards and behave like an older version of myself than create a new version of myself, free from the drama I created in my past.
I obsess about my physical appearance, because my face won't let me pretend I'm twenty-five; it gives me away as someone who should know better. My face forces me to behave like an adult, not the rebellious, angry drama queen with a Savior complex when it comes to men. That was my twenties' face--my forties' face should reflect that I've learned something, that I don't need strangers applauding how hot I am. The fact that I still want that disappoints me; I should be more evolved than that, but I suspect that I will always want strangers to drool over me, even at sixty. Hell, up to the day I die!! It's just that those strangers will be old strangers like me, and they'll have trouble applauding due to Parkinson's, and I'll have trouble posing due to bad hips.
In my forties, I still need external validation; but I need it less. My hope is that the core of me will become stronger and stronger over time, and that perhaps I won't need to wish for transformation; it will have already happened, and I won't remember desiring it.
Evolution is conquering fear.