(Three) Turning 43 (written in May 2010)

I have just turned 43 years old. My eldest is the same age I was when she was born, and my youngest is about to leave college. And age is a peculiar thing. In some ways age is just a number, as in many ways I do not feel much different to when I was 20. I am wiser and more cynical, certainly, but its a weird thing to feel one way within yourself, and then to look in the mirror and what – who – you see staring back at you doesn’t quite fit the person you feel yourself to be.
And if I look further down from my face – well, that cant be my body, can it ? I never had the best figure – my legs aren’t long, and they are muscley, but I had a decent hourglass figure – now it is more spherical *sigh*.
But my body did do what it was designed to – if a little badly when it came to natural birth – it grew and nourished two beautiful daughters. I have the war wounds to prove it 🙂
My face has a few faint creases near my eyes, but otherwise I am wrinkle free. My hair is better than it ever was, even tho my hairdresser reckons I have lost almost half its previous thickness in the last 18 months. Medication? Stress? Who knows. It is still thicker and healthier than it was for my first 35 years or so. I have a few white hairs, its true.
But I don’t quite recognise myself somehow. There is a sagging that surely doesn’t belong to me.
Am I who I wanted to be ? Not really, to be honest. I certainly didn’t foresee disability in my future. Nor did I imagine I would have divorced by the time I was 30. I saw myself living much as I was brought up, I guess – middle class area, home owner, married, a degree under my belt. So in many ways – this is not my life. Except that it is. And I don’t think I have quite gotten used to it.
This might sound a bit strange, but when you grow up around expectations, you cannot help but place them heavily on yourself as well. In many ways I am the failure of the family – I didn’t finish my degree – dammit, I dropped out of post 16 education until I was 27. And it took me until then to realise just what it was that I wanted to do – teach, help people. And via a very roundabout route thats what I ended up doing. It gave me a real sense of achievement, as well as identity – I even won an award for my work with one of the most difficult groups. And then it ended as this body of mine let me down.
I ought to count up sometime, just how many ‘lives’ I have lived so far, as life just keeps on changing, taking me by surprise and making me adapt and shift and change.
Sometimes I just hold on for grim death and wait to see where I end up, sometimes I take the road less travelled, which sometimes is the best of a bum deal. Hardly ever have I felt in control of my destiny, or even of where my life is heading.
I do know that things usually have a way of working out. Usually something happens and the tracks click into place and take me in a new direction, and I go with the flow. Sometimes I try and try – desperately – and am blocked at every turn. And occasionally I bury my head until the sands have shifted and then I see where they have blown me.

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