In February 2018, I’m going to be 41. That’s pretty crazy and almost unbelievable for me, but that’s not the focus of this essay.
I’m here to warn you about turning 40, and at the same time do a quick sidebar about my own emotional journey this past year.
Let’s backpedal a bit, though. This year I have undergone physical, emotional, and mental changes.
The physical changes are probably too detailed and personal to really be comfortable for either of us, so let’s move on to the emotional.
First, I was amazed and shocked not only at my own age, but at the fact that my older son, whom I gave birth to at age 20, was now 20 years old himself. In addition, my younger son turned 8 this year, which happens to be the ‘grown-up’ age for a lot of things – for example, wrist and elbow pads have sizes of ‘Up to 7 years’ and ‘Ages 8-14.’
My little one is no longer a little kid and he’s definitely no longer a baby. My older son is IN HIS TWENTIES. I once thought I would be 17 for the rest of my life. I still don’t get it, but let’s move on.
I was pretty certain that I was (am) having a sort of early midlife crisis, although some say women experience it earlier than men, so I could be right on time. My daily thoughts were plagued with notions such as whether I would be anything noteworthy in this life, or if I did a good job in raising my boys. I also began to realize that I realistically won’t be able to do any random activity I dream up, such as backpacking through Europe, nor would I have the time or resources for any of these things as I’m a parent and I have responsibilities.
That’s quite a change from what we tell our children now, which is that they can do anything they set their minds to and that the world is their oyster. My list of possible activities, even bucket-list activities, has to be pared down considerably.
This year I also discovered that my parents were going to sell their house. This probably wasn’t a big deal to most people, but to me, it was everything.
You see, my parents moved from the Philippines to America in 1970 when my mom was pregnant with one of my sisters. They moved to Michigan, and several years later, I was born in California. When I was about a year old they moved into the house they are currently about to vacate.
My entire life history is embedded within the walls of that house. I was often alone there so there were many times as a child that this house was my only friend. I know… pathetic, right? How can a house be a friend, you ask? But it really was. It was just like that children’s book The Giving Tree.
Anyway, even as an adult, this house played an important role. I have come back to live there during different phases of my life; throughout the wonders of first-time motherhood, for one (and the second time around as well). My husband at the time lived there with me in the early days when my older son was a baby. He had his first birthday party there, which his Uncle Ken attended (this uncle currently resides in Heaven, which makes this memory even more precious).
When my husband and I split up, my parents’ house was there for me once again. I cried within its walls and scolded myself within them too. I had learned throughout my life that no matter what happened to me, the house would always be there.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much more of my life, all the good, bad, and unexplainable, happened at this one particular place.
And now it’s going to be sold.
I won’t be able to ever visit there again. I won’t be able to walk in the hallways and vividly remember how my childhood weekly chore was to remove the dining chairs from the kitchen and line them up in the hallway so that my mother could clean and sweep the floor. Or how, when the classic NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) came out I would play it on my parents’ TV in their room, sitting on the carpet in front of their bed, a feet away from the TV…for hours on end. Imaginary friends have run through that building with me.
Can I still remember these things while not physically being in the house? Of course. I’m doing that now. It’s different, though. The house is a veritable time capsule and it’s a part of my very existence. When I got hit and pinched as a child, it was in that house. When I called out for God to help me and was laughed at for doing so, it was in that house and when I grew older and learned how to stand up for myself regardless of the consequences, it was absolutely in that house, and it was a moment I won’t soon forget. Doors have been slammed and suicides have been imagined since age 8, and almost carried through. Indeed, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to be anywhere but there.
That wasn’t the house’s fault, however. It was because of the people inside, including me. When one of your parents avoids conflict at all costs and the other inflicts conflict and blames you for it, well, chances are you’re going to have some emotional issues as an adult.
So, no. What that house meant to everyone else was not the same as what it did and will always mean to me. Not that no one else cared, but all I can do at this point is explain my own viewpoint.
I had never experienced my parents moving residences before, and as this happened right in the middle of my mid-life crisis, you can imagine the intensity of my sorrow.
However, this is not something I can reveal to my mother. She was always quick to point out how sensitive I was; it was said with disgust every time, and an angry toss of her head. My tears have always been an inconvenience to her.
My emotions have changed. They are more intense, but focused. I’m not so self-centered anymore and am just trying to fix my psyche.
Which brings me to…my mental health. For starters, it’s much more delicate. But the change is also good because I no longer put up with the ridiculous bullshit thrown at me by other people. It’s true that I’m no longer young, but at the same time I no longer need anyone’s approval to be me, to express, to exist. This gives me a great freedom I don’t think I experienced in my younger years.
I don’t care what anyone thinks about me or my life. True, if someone says something rude, I’ll get angry, which is why I avoid people who give me conflict or spread negativity. I choose me.
I’m focused on healing the inside of me, so that I can get the most out of this life and teach these things to my children.
People have asked if I’ll ever write an autobiography. The thing is, I have. I will. It’s called Surreal Ecstasy, Surreal Enemies, DayDreamer, and Sandgirl’s Dream. It’s called Sweet Faded Ink. There are bits of myself sprinkled throughout every piece I create, and you need only find them.
In summary, I like being 40. I like myself more now than before, and although I was self-centered before, I didn’t necessarily like myself then.
I’m not going to lie; it’s a daily struggle. I have to check myself constantly and I find myself apologizing a lot. There’s no instruction manual for any of this – at least not one that everyone accepts.
But it’s different now. Why, you ask? Because my motivation is different. My focus is on my children and my words, and I’m no longer interested in proving myself to anyone.
So, carry on, Christine Marie Liamzon. And good luck.
-Christine is an indie author, former poet, and lover of languages. Find her work here: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00BEJZKZ6