Editor’s Note: When I came up with the idea for The Women at Forty Project, I knew I wasn’t the only woman approaching 40 with a sense that this year in my life could be the beginning of something great and life altering on my horizon. I was right. And since its launch, I’ve been honored by dozens of honest, heartfelt submissions I’ve received from women at or near forty from all over the country.
Tricia Amiel was one of the site’s first contributors. She’s written with raw honesty about her emotions on heading towards 40 too fast and about undergoing a hysterectomy at 39. Her submissions reinforce what I know to be true – 40 can be the year of coming to deep, meaningful realizations about ourselves and stepping into the women we were meant to be. Today I’m sharing part one of another one of Tricia’s personal, beautifully written posts she’s titled, Nearing the Shore.
Women like Tricia, and stories like ‘Nearing the Shore’ are the reason behind The Women at Forty Project.
Nearing the Shore by Tricia Amiel
On July 17th of last year, I turned thirty-nine, and something inside me shifted and fell like a book from a high shelf.
I was different somehow.
I wanted things for myself again.
I became infused, frenzied even, with ideas of how I wanted to live my life differently. I wanted a different career, to live somewhere else, to stay in love with the man who had captured my heart for what I’d hoped would be the last time. The most important thing I wanted to do was to clean my emotional closet of people, ideas, and feelings that had heretofore kept my consciousness wrapped in warm wet wool, lying still and barely breathing.
I was inspired, prayed for signs and received them in droves. I went about my work, the “project” of leaving old things—notions and people alike—behind and completing labors that had been left undone. I moved across town, I wrote résumés, I registered for the six credits I needed to complete my master’s degree, and I shut my internal doors, laughing loudly in the lighted room of my hopes for a new life at forty.
By November, when I visited my doctor for a yearly exam, I was tired, frustrated, and depressed from the strain of working a job I could no longer enjoy and the long-standing tribulations of being a single working mom trying to complete my education. My doctor and I discussed an old problem that needed tending to, and we decided that I would have surgery. A week after my visit, I got a call from the doctor’s office. I’d had an abnormal test result, and she wanted to see me for a biopsy. This was only the beginning of the tumult I would face over the next six months. Upheavals I could not have foreseen would ruin my “project” and set me adrift on a sea of uncertainty, of failure, of coming undone.
I had surgery a month later. Over the next two months, I lay curled in bed succumbing to a kind of pain I’d previously understood to exist solely in the realm of disastrous bodily disruptions—explosions, car accidents, gunshot and knife wounds. I was stubborn. I could not bear not being able to do things for myself, my household, my children. I hurt myself as I insisted on tending to these things and left myself with painful scars my doctor has since told me will always be painful. In all my years of singlehood, I had never felt so alone in the world. Nothing could touch me, until some unnamable thing did.
Monday: Part 2- The answers are coming toward me