I am currently feeling alone within my family. Throughout life we are all constantly changing; recently I have come to feel that I have diverged from the place that my family has moved to. It seems at times that I no longer fit comfortably and easily within my own family unit.
It could be an age thing. It is said that age is just a number, that we are only as old as we feel. If this is the case then I have reached my dotage. Such a view could be partly a result of living with teenagers who regularly berate me; who ask me about the pet mammoth I had when I was a child. More than that though, it is the ache in my bones and in my soul.
The media tries to convince us that we are young for longer now that life expectancy has increased. I have no wish to be young again. Youth was a painful time filled with insecurity, pressure to conform and a need to be seen to succeed. I could never be all of the things that those who cared wished me to be, despite how much I tried back then. Age has given me the confidence to be myself, the experience to realise that there are many routes to achievement. I have learned that success is a subjective concept.
Preoccupation with youth is not new. I think of Dorian Grey, fictional but still someone to whom many can relate. History and literature recount many examples of powerful, old men who took younger and younger women to their beds in an attempt to feel young again themselves. How many marriages break down for just such a reason, and not one that is only confined to men?
Ageing is not something that I fear. I watch others as they try to hold back the years with cosmetics, procedures and clever tricks of concealment. It is not what is on the outside that makes me feel old, it is the person in the mirror who stares back at me through my tired eyes, weary from never being quite enough for those around me. It is the being that I am inside rather than the body that carries it around.
I feel as though I have lived through several lifetimes already, and am now expected to find the strength to demurely live through more. I do not claim to have had a hard life. Always there will be those who have had things much worse and somehow come through. This knowledge does not invalidate how I feel, although it does add an element of guilt.
Do I sound self pitying? I do not feel sorry for myself and do not expect anyone else to. I wish to be supportive of those I love, but the principle reason for my existence is not to sit at the bottom of a pile pushing them ever upwards. The expectation that I will always put up and shut up is crushing my spirit.
This Lent I have been taking the time to consider my well being, both physical and mental. I have enjoyed walks in the fresh air, beautiful views of the countryside around my home. I have visited the gym, taken long swims that offer me thinking time, been mindful of my consumption. Left to my own devices I can easily work with my body and mind to improve my health.
What I cannot work out is how to change the way I am treated. I do not know how to persuade others to act more gently or kindly towards me. I retreat into myself as an escape from the hurt that they inflict when they mock and deride me.
As with most personal blog posts this is a snapshot of a detail, not a panorama. It is a particular issue in a life filled with variety. For now this has bubbled to the surface, but it will sink again if other aspects of my life distract. I find it sad though that I am currently at my happiest when I am alone. My family has moved to a space where I do not feel that I am welcome.
I created this family, have held it together; perhaps that is why I feel so despondent when I see that I have diverged from their path. I need to work out a way to carve out a space for myself, to return to their fold.