30 January 2012

Oh, the Things You will Think

A few months ago I stopped seeing my therapist on a regular basis.  For several months before I’d been looking at our time together, considering what work was still to be done.  I couldn’t help but see that, since we’d begun, four years earlier, much of the growing up I’d needed to do had happened.  Terry and I had talked about this, and the idea of stopping was broached, several times.  Then, as I prepared for that last visit in November, I knew it was time.

Almost immediately after that ending new opportunities for expression began showing up in my life.  I’m just now realizing that one of them was, and is, to express my fixation on becoming sixty.

It makes sense that, having attained a modicum of maturity through the work with Terry, among other things, I now have greater capacity to see myself as I am.  I do see much more clearly what my reality is.  And that reality includes grief – a deep and profound sorrow about all the years before I began this journey of awareness, the years I couldn’t, or wouldn’t see myself truly.

My reality isn’t all grief of course.  Seeing myself truly includes knowing myself as “one of the juiciest women I know,” - according to a friend of mine.  What’s true of me is also that I’ve discovered my voice, gained appreciation for my body and appearance, learned it’s ok to say “no” as I need to.  What is true, and real, for me is that I like and care for myself more than ever.  Yet I also truly wish I’d learned how to do all of this earlier – wish I hadn’t used up all of those earlier years trying in vain to be who others wanted me to be.

It’s a paradox really.  For this journey of self-knowledge began because I’d spent all those years in the boxes of others’ creation.  The years I grieve over were my teachers, as much or more than Terry, or the deep learning from my California experiences, or even my heart attack.  Those years of actively pushing myself down, smoothing myself out, making myself small so others could feel more comfortable or ok – those years in the dark enabled me to see the faint shining light at the core of me as it flickered, determinedly.  Once I saw it I couldn’t abandon it.

It’s the fact that that didn’t happen until I was fifty that I grieve, especially now, a decade later.  I wonder, if I’d awakened to an appreciation of myself sooner, would I feel less anxious about becoming an elder now?   Would I have the capacity to love, rather than simply accept, the entirety of my life’s reality if I’d made the move earlier?  Yes, it’s navel gazing.  I wonder too if I’d do so much of that now if I’d begun this journey years before I did.

I’ve been seeing sixty as something I’m not ready for, much less ready to be or be defined as.  Yet, in writing about my grief over those ‘lost’ years I begin to see this age differently – as another opportunity for expression.  From here I can view the entirety of my life true.  From this stage of life I can realize, as in the words of a prayer for Yom Kippur.

From grief to understanding, from fear to faith.
From defeat to defeat.
Until, looking backward or ahead, we see that
Victory lies not at some high place along the way,
But in having made the Journey, stage by stage.

Having made the journey is what matters.  The when and how and where matter less than that the journey is undertaken.  Here, at 2012, at nearly age 60 (17 days and counting), with what I have in my purse and my life – is what’s real.  From here I can look backward and peek ahead, rest and take in the view.  And I can tell you – it ain’t really all that bad either.

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