Day 88: Phases

I have changed during my life as have most people.  One of the things that I’ve noticed is that when we’re young, we rebel against our parents because well, you know, youth and all.  We look for our own separate identity and our only goals are to be different from our parents and to fit in with our peers.  As we grow older and our worlds expand outside of our parents’ home and influence we find that the changes we made during our teen years need to morph a bit more.  In our twenties, we’re exploring the real world…serious relationships, careers, new acquaintances and friendships, contemplating our futures.  Some of us marry during that time and speaking from experience, for a lot of us that can be a big mistake because we are not fully the person that we are going to become within the next ten years.  I personally believe that people should put off marriage until they are in their thirties.  When we are in our twenties we are baby grownups still exploring and growing.  The person that you fall madly in love with at twenty is probably going to be just as different as you will be in ten years.  Your career goals and aspirations, or lack thereof, are going to test the relationship because they have also changed.  The people in your lives have come and gone and you now have friends whose personalities just don’t mesh with your spouse’s and the same is true about their friends.  Life begins to feel constricted and the paths you have chosen begin to diverge.  And a large number of those relationships will end badly by the time you get into your late twenties and early thirties.  It happened to me and to the majority of my friends.  By the time that we’re thirty, we usually have a career and a plan for our lives.  We have matured to the point that we have a good idea of where our lives are going.  Even then there will still be surprises along the way…some good and some bad but we have learned to roll with the unexpected and to correct our course as needed.  My best surprise was unexpectedly meeting my second husband to whom I’ve been married twenty-three years.  I had sworn off marriage after my first disastrous one and then our paths crossed and I course corrected.  He was the complete opposite of the men that I dated…older than me, settled, not an artist or a free spirit, different tastes in food, music, and movies, different beliefs, different attitudes toward life, he’d been previously married around twenty-five years and had three older children and a wicked divorce, enlisted in the Navy at 18 and did two tours in Vietnam (I was six when he enlisted), he’s right wing and I’m left wing, etc…, but here we are and we’re happy.  Because we were older and more mature, we have been able to accept each other’s differences and adapt.  And over the years, we’ve learned to like some of the things that the other person likes.  But there are things that we will never agree on, like politics, so we don’t discuss them or we end up in an argument.  We pick our battles.  In our forties, we begin to mellow out a bit.  We are usually settled in our relationships and careers, our likes and dislikes have solidified, as have our core beliefs.  We tend to put our lives on auto-pilot to a degree during this time of our life.  Some might become disillusioned with their lives in their forties and go through what’s been labeled the midlife crisis.  They question their current situation, they look at the things that they haven’t accomplished and begin to wonder if they ever will.  They see their lives as boring so they have affairs, buy sports cars, get divorced, or look for the zen in life.  And there are some who just go off the rails because the existential crisis that they are experiencing makes them feel that they are found wanting.  They feel as though their lives have no meaning or value.  We all question that at some point but we course correct and continue on.  But these people that go off the rails don’t feel that a course correction is enough.  Only a completely different direction and destination will suffice.  Personally, I think that’s fine and a bit brave.  There have been times in my life where I considered doing a 180 and heading off into the unknown but I wasn’t brave enough to do it.  So let them go out and explore themselves in ways that they couldn’t in their current situation.  There will probably be some hardships, depression, feelings of loss, etc…, but hopefully, they will come back with a wholeness that was missing before.  They will be changed and some people might not be able to understand those changes but it wasn’t done for them so they can either accept the person that has emerged or not.  The fifties…my current decade…is a bit of a continuation of the forties but most people have decided that their life is what it is and won’t be doing a lot to change anything.  There is a sense of acceptance in your fifties.  There is a bit of unreality in that decade.  We still feel and think like we did during earlier phases of our lives so we don’t necessarily feel like what we thought fifty should feel like.  Remember when you were a child and you thought that fifty was only one step away from death and could never imagine being that old?  Your parents were ancient at thirty, so fifty was antiquated.  But as we aged, we realized that in so many ways, we are still the same person that we’ve always been…just with more gray in our hair.  I still can’t reconcile the fact that in about one year and three months, I’ll be 60.  That just can’t be right!  I still like heavy metal and horror movies, have the same liberal beliefs that I’ve always held, I still have dreams and goals that I’m working towards, I have the hots for Jason Momoa, etc…  How can an age that I’m only a little over a year away from seem ancient?  We have to realize that nothing but our age changes at this point.  I still think like I did when I was probably 35 and in some ways, I’ve become a bit more radical than I was back then.  I care about people and things much more deeply and I’m more secure being just myself…no pretense, no hair dye or plastic surgery even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with either of those two things.  I just don’t have the time for either which is why my hair is white instead of auburn and I have wrinkles under my eyes and breasts that are not perky.  I’m never going to be any younger than I am now and I’m fine with that but don’t mistake that as me giving up or just accepting that I am older.  I still have some dreams to make real and, by God, I will.  So clear the way because I’m in a hurry to make those things happen and I’m not letting anything stop me.  You see, that is one thing that has changed about me, and every single older person.  When I was in my twenties, thirties and even my forties, there was always a lot of time in front of me so I didn’t have to hurry.  I still have time but there’s less of it now so I have to put a little more effort into it all.  And I’m up to it.                    

About Donna Heilman

I am a writer that lives in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex with my husband, 3 dogs, and 6 cats. I am currently working on my novel, Rapture, as well as writing poetry and some short non-fiction. I am honestly writing this blog to feel more connected with other creative people.
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