What is it about turning 40 that makes people crazy? Last year, a close friend hit that milestone and mingled in with all the celebrating and the outpouring of love he got, he was having a hard time. He took stock of his life and zoomed in on all the areas that were short of what he wanted/expected them to be.
His marriage was not going through its happiest period. He wasn’t making as much money as he wanted to or even as much as he had in previous years. He could stand to lose a few pounds.
I was there saying all the things I needed to. I meant every word. I told him about his children and what a joy they are. I told him what a fantastic friend he had been to me throughout the years and how I couldn’t imagine going through much of what I had without him. I told him that in many ways, he was better off than many other people and he had a lot to grateful for. He comes from a very supportive and tight-knit family. He has great hair. His bills are paid. He enjoys his workplace. It was all true.
None of that mattered … I knew … I know … Cause here I am.
Up until last month I would have said my upcoming 40th birthday wasn’t affecting me in a bad way at all. I would have been telling the truth. Then. Not so much now.
I’m trying really hard to follow my own advice. To focus on the good. My boys are amazing. Shaunie is amazing. I have a job that I don’t hate. I am healthy. In fact, everyone who lives under my roof is healthy. I have heat in the winter and AC in the summer and food in my fridge and gas in my car. I have a couple of friends who I know I can count on, no questions asked. I laugh every single day.
But there’s that nagging voice in the background.
You are not able to financially handle any “extras” or emergencies. You are not comfortable with your body. You don’t have the extended family that you wish you had. You still feel pangs of jealousy towards other people. You long for a life that never was and never will be.
I know no-one has it all. If you have the big house and the doting spouse then you long for a baby. If you have the house and the spouse and the baby then you long for a fulfilling career. If you have the house and the doting spouse and the baby and the career then you long to be thin and you miss your Mom who died when you were a teenager and never got to see you walk down the aisle or to hold your precious daughter in her arms. Even if you have all that, the mansion and the spouse and the 2.5 kids and the dog and both parents alive and active in your life and a job you love, you spend your days just wishing you didn’t have to take so many damn pills everyday to fight off this damn life-long disease that you acquired and oh my God, you are tired of doctors appointments and blood tests.
Everybody has something that someone else wants. None of this is news. Everyone knows this. Everyone understands this. But knowing and understanding it on an intellectual level doesn’t translate to our hearts.
And when you turn 40, the emotions around it all seems worse somehow.