Red was the colour of your jacket on the chair – with slender, tender fingers curled around a tumbler – as you waited for me there on our first date
Red was the colour of my jacket too there was something about you – the mark on your cheek the way you held your head – it wasn’t love at first sight but I was happy for it to be something else instead
Since then our jackets have become a pair – your slender, tender fingers hold me now in bed – but I’ll always remember our first date when you and I both wore red
In one sense, this post should just be entitled ‘Being’, because age is irrelevant.
I interact with the world essentially as a being, and don’t need a label.
On the other hand, I do have history, and the ways that I have worked through that history impact on the way that I interact with the world – and other beings in it – on a daily basis.
It isn’t always easy to put the past behind us, especially when heavily loaded with emotions associated with trauma and grief.
Accepting things that I cannot change has been a hard life lesson to learn for me, helped by meditation, affirmations, and Buddhist teachings (including one in particular by Gen Togden of the Kadampa tradition).
Not having had children is a major regret. Raising this as an issue with a therapist recently, still needing to work it through, I was met with a profoundly uncompassionate response: “So you decided not to have them then, did you?”
At one level, she was right. I made choices – decisions – that led to me being in a state of extreme mental and emotional turmoil in my late 30s and 40s. Decisions that I made as a struggling, vulnerable young woman in my 20s were mine, and I was an adult. But should I really have had to pay such a high price in later life?
Shit does happen though, and doesn’t discriminate. Thankfully, I have had previous experiences with other counsellors/therapists who’ve approached my distress with humanity and empathy.
Even so, some things take a long time to work through. Some ‘stuff’ from the past has just come up that I thought I’d put behind me, or at least wanted to. It doesn’t always work like that though, and I’m sure my brain dredged it up now because I hadn’t properly dealt with it previously.
Now I’m in a much better place than I have ever been before, living with a kind, loving, supportive, funny partner. Being 65 is a starting point for me, and it’s never too late.
If I can send out a message to anyone who’s going through personal difficulties – whether recently experienced or long-term endured – it is to say: “Don’t give up.”
We don’t always know what we’re made of until our backs are to the wall, especially if we’ve oriented towards ‘flight’ rather than ‘fight’ in early years.
Fighting for survival is a primary motivator and there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Even if you can’t see it for yourself, let someone else – a friend – see it and hold it for you until you can.
I’m only 65, and I’ve got all my life ahead of me. So have you.