Midlife

Originally published on Kimchi Mamas (yesterday)

 

I turned 40 this year and I kind of am really liking the older me. I feel so mature! Can you tell?

 

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So mature! Right? =)

In all seriousness, I actually do feel like I am just barely starting to get this thing called life. And by “get” I don’t mean that I have figured it out and have the solution to all of life’s problems and have unlocked the secret to happiness. No. I do not have any keys to happiness here. And yet, I do feel a smidgen of self confidence and maybe a sprinkle of faith and a sliver of hope, that no matter what happens, that I will be ok.

And I know shit happens.

I have experienced the happening of the shit. Intimately. I have been through some shit and I’ve seen my friends and loved ones go through some shit. And there is a lot of it in my family history.

Ok. So, I’m going to let you in on a secret.

If you are a faithful follower of Kimchi Mamas, you might have read the series entitled Roots. (Search for Roots Part 1 to read the first part on the blog.)

Well, guess what? I wrote that! That family is my family. So yeah, a lot of shit.

As I get older, I am learning that shit doesn’t happen less when you get older. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that it is happening more and more. Would you like a list? Of course you’d like a list. Everyone loves lists, right?

  1. My friends’ parents are dying. TWO in recent weeks. One survived a heart attack, to die of another. Another’s father died of a stroke.
  2. I still have a lot of unrestored relationships. And imperfect relationships.
  3. My husband and I are “orphans” and are trying to do life without biological family around. Why! Are! There! So! Many! Soccer! Practices! I will not confess that I have considered having uber take my kids to practice.
  4. Terrible things are still happening in the world (Syrian refugees, mass shootings, etc. etc. everything on the news.)
  5. Lovely people on the blogosphere (that’s still a word right?) are getting cancer.
  6. My friends are going through divorces, sometimes very painfully. Authors I love, whose marriages I believed in, are ending their marriages.
  7. My friends are struggling with infertility.
  8. My friends want to get married but there aren’t any good guys around.
  9. I still have not achieved perfection. Just yesterday, I scared, I literally SCARED, my seven year old son because I SCREAMED at him SO LOUD when I saw him trying to stand on a watermelon that he started crying. He had to take a moment by himself in his bed to calm down because he was upset. (I think this episode is more funny than telling of my character but whatever. I mean, who tries to stand on a watermelon?)
  10. Do you need a number 10?

With all of this painful stuff whirling around me, it seems like it would be easier to shut my heart so that the pain won’t get it.

Stop caring! No one cares about you anyway, so why care about them? People suck, and they will always disappoint you. You are all alone. You don’t really know them anyway, so this shouldn’t really matter to you. Life really does suck. Redemption is a lie. Grace is a lie. Love is not worth it. God is not loving. God is dead. Why, why, why? There is no real purpose. Stop hoping, you’ll just get disappointed.

These are the voices that whisper in my ear when shit happens. These voices used to overwhelm me at times, and blot out my tiny sprinkle of faith, and my smidgen of confidence, my sliver of hope. They would leave me swirling. Doubting everything. Doubling Love and doubting myself. They tell me to close off my heart, let it get a little bit smaller so that it won’t hurt as much.

But as I get older, I am finding that I have more tools to battle these voices. I am finding that they don’t have much power over the 40 years of my actual experience of life.

Because I have gone through the shit.

And yet, here I am.

And I am OK. And I am alive. And I have a good life. And I am so so so blessed. And I am so grateful to be alive to experience this thing called life.

Yes, life hurts. But life also heals.

There is grace enough for all of us. There is redemption enough for all of us. Hope is abundant. And it’s free. Even for me.

I have discovered, in my 40 years of life, that I can do hard things.

Some of the days, I can do the hard things by myself. And some of the days, I cannot do the hard things. And that too is OK. The hard thing will be patiently waiting for me when I am ready.

And at rare times, I can even do the valiant and life-infusing thing of helping someone else with their hard things. We can do the hard things together. And at even rarer times, I can even do the courageous and vulnerable thing, of receiving help with my hard things. We can do the hard things together.

I am beginning to understand a teeny tiny bit, that this is the magic of life. In the space between two persons, when help is given and received, is where life happens.

Did everyone else know this all along? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Maybe they tried, but I just couldn’t hear it yet.

Maybe I had to have the proof first, before I believed it.

 

lovin’ being 40,

Mary

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