I used to be a bit of a hellion. When I was in my early twenties, I spent a lot of time bumbling through life. I didn’t date anyone seriously. I didn’t take much of anything seriously. I took the classes I liked, did the assignments when I felt like it. I stayed out late when I had somewhere to be the next morning, so that I wouldn’t miss a moment of the fun. And I did have a good time.
Somehow, the older I get, the more cautious I get. The truth is, lately I’ve been feeling a little low. I’ve gotten in this rut where I look at my life and wonder if it’s possible that I’ve screwed everything up too much to fix it. My job is fine, but not anything like what I wanted for myself. I wasted so many years with my ex and got so banged up emotionally that I worry it would be impossible for anyone to take what’s left of me and love me. I’m finally taking my writing seriously and getting some publications, but I’m afraid I’m too old to make anything serious of it. I put off having children and now, even though my doctor says I have nothing to worry about, I’m afraid I stalled so long that I’ll never make it happen in time. The mental loop is hard to break out of and I just don’t even know where to start to make anything better. Or if maybe I’m just too old to fix it all and need to accept that life works out for some people like that. They screw everything up by making all the wrong decisions and then they’re stuck with nothing.
And I’m afraid that’s where I am. Stuck. Added to the rut, I had the pleasure of running into the ex whose superpower is an amazing skill for making me feel worse about myself. Nothing makes a rut deeper than having someone explain to you that now, with someone not you, he really understands what love is. I smiled. I said I was happy he was happy. And I wouldn’t even want to go back. But, it jumped into that ugly brain loop that says, “You’ve made too many mistakes for anyone to love you.” And it’s scary to think about being alone forever.
The thing is, compared to most people, I objectively don’t think I’ve made tragic mistakes. But I worry that while everyone else was figuring it all out and getting all the answers, that I was just wasting it all having fun. And when I’m in the worst of it, I think it’s too late for me to get anything right. Or that maybe I don’t even deserve good things to happen to me. Maybe I’m not a nice person. Maybe I’ll never learn how to get it right. How not to screw up.
Even worse, I feel bad for feeling sorry for myself. There are other people with real problems and here I am, not starving, with a roof over my head, and a job and crying over poor pitiful me. And convincing myself that if I had been more perfect, made better decisions, tried harder to get it just right, that it would be.
It’s a Monday. I’m going to give myself a break and get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow has got to be better. Because today I don’t feel so hot.