In my thirties, I thought I’d try being a grown-up. I had my own apartment, car, decent-paying job. But I still had no social life and was afraid of having one because I was still a caregiver to my widowed father. Yes, like the idiot I was back then I thought if I somehow developed a social life that word would get back to my father that I intended to run off to Bora-Bora and live in a hut with my loser hunk of a boyfriend. Or some bullshit like that. Or worse than that, I’d run off to Bora-Bora with some hot woman I’d fallen for.
(My sexual orientation definitely leans heterosexual more than anything but I’m more than open and accepting of other orientations including in my own life because if I met someone of either gender and they were a good person and attracted to me, I’d pursue that relationship. If this freaks anyone out, get over yourself.)
But when I look back on thirties in the first decade of the twenty-first century, I see a shit-ton of missed opportunities. I thought I was doing the right thing by working at my soul-sucking call-center jobs and piddling around on my writing and not making waves of any kind. In reality, I wanted so much more and I had the means to pursue that.
So why didn’t I?
After my mom died, I became my father’s sole caregiver. He gave me all the legal power to do so in the event he became incapacitated (which I had to exercise when he had a stroke two years before he died). I felt like I was the only person other than my late mother who could truly handle him and I think I was even better than my mother was considering what I had to do for him. I miss him terribly with all of his stories and advice (but I don’t miss his mood swings and lashing out at me, either). But he was also over-protective as hell of me and I felt like if he was told enough shit about me he might not believe me over the lies and misinformation. I never wanted him to think I would ever abandon him. And it wasn’t just because I made a promise to my mother to take care of him after she died. I knew how to be a caregiver and I was damn good at it.
But also I still felt like I was a useless sack of shit and not worthy of a social life either. I know now that was due to a lack of self-confidence that I’m just now starting to regain. Back then I just felt like a social idiot.
Also in my early thirties I got a case of baby-fever. But because of my physical issues (scoliosis and weight) a pregnancy for me would have been very high-risk so that put the kibosh on that. And fostering and adopting were very expensive and difficult and I didn’t have the financial wherewithal for that. So I had to nurse this pain alone and I’ve dealt with it in private ever since.
I think us Gen X women knew the shit our mothers were told that they could have it all was a lie. But I think we wanted to believe we could have the good job and the family and somehow balance it all out. In reality, I think you juggle as best as you can and learn to let go of things that you can afford to have fall and bounce.
In my thirties, I got the best-paying job of my working career without a college degree but left after five and a half years. About a year and a half before I quit that job, my dad had his stroke and if it hadn’t been for a manager who really cared about me, I would have lost that job then. I told myself not to make any decisions for a while but a little over a year later there was talk of a reorganization. That didn’t feel right to me and in a decision I didn’t talk about with anyone, I decided to quit that job with nothing else to go to. Looking back, I’m glad I did it because I later learned the reorganization did not go well.
I ended my thirties on what I thought was a pretty good note- a little apartment, paid-off car, and still piddling around on the writing. But little did I know then that when I began to realize I wasn’t such a fuck-up like I’d believed for so long my life would change in the way it has been over the last few years. I had no idea I was about to start breaking my silence once and for all.