As a child I imagined the age of forty would find me holding a PhD and having four sons loving me from every corner of my world. Oddly enough, I never imagined a husband to make and raise those sons with me; when I was young and dreaming those dreams, the taboo of having children while single hadn’t registered with me yet, and marriage as I saw it from my experience didn’t seem like a necessary or good thing. In reality, I did marry and have two sons (one of whom is currently aiming his considerable rage directly at me from his corner) and an adopted daughter. I am only now writing my master’s thesis, twenty years after my first day of college. It is most certainly good enough—what I have, whom I love and care for, and what I’ve managed to accomplish. I had roadblocks aplenty and high hurdles to jump and still do. I suppose I’m finding out that turning forty is no panacea, no final exorcism of every internal demon.
Editor’s note: Tricia’s approaching 40 and she’s on a roll. Literally. No really, literally. She’s recently decided to follow her life long passion for writing and literature wherever it leads her. This week it’s taking her to a place of letting go of anger and a failed marriage and replacing it with forgiveness and love. All this as she approaches the age of reason…
As I count down the six weeks to my fortieth birthday, it occurs to me how my thinking has changed this year. I’ve let go of many ideas that were holding me back, keeping me cocooned in immaturity, and am approaching the rise to many others.
I’ve let go of anger toward my parents for not protecting me enough, for not being there for me when I needed guidance; instead, I now see those days when I battled it out on the streets, in the schools, and in my relationships in the Bronx as fertile ground for the strength I needed to overcome emotional, mental, and physical difficulties. I appreciate now the tools my mother gave me to survive when she was unable to teach me herself: books, and my love of the written word.
Finally got to see It’s Complicated and I loved it! The movie stars Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin as divorced parents of three adult kids who “reconnect” during an out of town trip. To complicate matters, Baldwin is currently married to his former mistress and Streep is being courted by her architect, played by Steve Martin.
I loved It’s Complicated because at 60 Streep is beautiful, because of her droopy eyelids not in spite of them (one of the funniest scenes in the movie.) I loved it because even in their late 50’s, adults do stupid things, are tempted to repeat the mistakes of the past and are still vulnerable when it comes to matters of the heart. I loved it because there’s a little part of me that (I’m ashamed to admit) was happy that the new, much younger wife go a taste of her own medicine.
Women all over the country looked forward to the movie’s release because it was the first time in a long time we’ve seen men in their 50’s dating and being attracted to women their own age on the big screen. But the movie’s about much more than that. It’s about relationships ending and us wondering whether they should have. And it’s about dealing with the fallout of divorce and the reality Continue reading It’s complicated, but worth it…
It’s the end of the year and time for the usual year end reflection. If you’re nearing forty, it’s probably a time to be doubly reflective. Today Rachel reflects on loving, losing love and how all of it is just a part of developing…
My parents divorced when I was seven years old. I remember the day that my mother, brothers and I moved; it was a cold and wet winter day. I cried as I said goodbye to my swing set and my climbing tree and wondered about the new school I’d attend and whether or not there would be children on my new block. I knew the word “divorce” and I knew from adults’ reactions that it was supposed to be a negative thing, so I decided at that moment that I would never get divorced. I knew that I would one day be married, but divorce was just not option.
My grandparents, parents and just about all of my aunts, uncles and older cousins smoked. I swore I’d never do that either—and happily, I’ve kept that promise. But the divorce thing…Well, like other things, divorce happens. I used to believe that if I loved someone enough to marry him, then I could never possibly hate him enough to divorce him. The love-hate extremes in that theory expose the immaturity and simplicity of it. Hindsight is truly 20/20 vision and knowing what I know now based on my experiences, hatred is often not even part of the equation.
My parents didn’t hate one another. I know this because they were always friendly and cooperative with each other once they were separated. They seemed like friends who met every other weekend and during family functions and holidays. We sometimes enjoyed family outings together and in later years, my parents enjoyed an occasional date. Even to this day, holiday dinners are attended and enjoyed by both of them simultaneously and without drama or weird rules about Mother being in the house for an hour, then Dad and then another rotation.
Neither fortunately nor unfortunately, my experience with divorce was quite a bit different. Thankfully, there were no children involved. However, there were threats, harassment and less-than-civil behavior that made that period of my life almost unbearable. Looking back, there still wasn’t hatred (at least not on my part), but there was a distinct lack of love between us. Despite the absence of love, there was still an overwhelming sense of failure and shame for me. I had expected better of myself and my life.
At some point in the middle of depositions and hearings, I realized that I hadn’t failed myself or my soon-to-be ex-husband. I realized that I hadn’t even been in the marriage. The part of Rachel in the marriage had been played by a hollow version of me who was afraid to speak her mind, show her talents or simply be herself—my desolate, depressed and disillusioned doppelganger. That person didn’t know joy, she didn’t know confidence, nor did she know peace. She had gotten married at a time in her life when she didn’t really know herself, let alone what she wanted, needed and deserved in a husband. The marriage was destined to fail.
I now realize that my failed marriage was an important part of my development was a person, a woman and a mate for a future man. At almost forty years old, I know not only what I want, need and deserve in a mate, but what I need to offer a mate. I also know what I don’t want or need and what I am not capable of giving. There are moments when it is tough to face my own reality—my strong points and my shortcomings. However, there is a certain triumph, a feeling of victory in accepting myself and having the courage and tenacity to be that person—warts and all. As the saying goes, “You can’t love another without loving yourself.” I found out the hard way that it helps to know yourself too. Most importantly, I’m confident that I will know and love myself even more at forty.
Rachel Dachel is a freelance writer and editor, and creator and author of the blog Rachel-y Motivated Incidents.