Steering into the Skid
My thirties moved to my rearview the same year my oldest son acquired teenager status. Milestones, for sure. On a professional note my fortieth birthday was a success; that weekend I’d been honored with an award from the Military Writers Society and the peer validation was priceless. My personal life… not so much. But more on that can be found in this post –https://barballenspeaks.com/confession-of-an-al-anon-dropout/
My children took perverse delight in reminding me of this corner I’d turned, cracking themselves up, really, at my official middle-age status. Maybe it should have bothered me more than it did. But since the second half of my twenties were a blur of breeding, and almost all of my thirties were dedicated to surviving tragedy and solo-parenting four children, I figured my forties should be a breeze in comparison.
That theory was blown to smithereens on my fortieth and the entire year thereafter. One apocalypse after another came my way throughout those twelve months. Some larger than others and the totality of the chaos had me screaming “Uncle!” to the powers of the universe. It is with utmost sincerity that I say were it not for the support of my friends and family I’d have walked away from it all. Packed my kids and pets up and started over somewhere else. But then I hit my 42nd year.
And it all changed.
Sure, I can’t bounce on a trampoline like I used to- at least not without considerable planning and wishing I’d done more kegels. And yes, Now I have three teenagers, with the next thirteenth birthday about to appear on our horizon. Maybe I did get hit on by sixty-year old-men and told I was a “sexy older woman” by a young whippersnapper on Match in the same day. But I also hit my stride.
Little by little I started getting my life back. I launched my second book, set wheels in motion to re-market my first, and submitted a new proposal for my husband’s Purple Heart. I started a new career, began chipping away at the carnage in my life, and if I really apply myself I’m pretty sure I can reacquaint myself with my abs- I’ve really missed them. Stella’s got nothing on my groove and even better- my friends and family still like me- or at least they’re still willing to be in my life. Can’t say I’d have been so understanding in their shoes. Want to know my very profound secret?
I spent too much time fighting the skid. Railing against it as my life spun and fishtailed down destiny’s highway. Once or twice I straight-out crashed, temporarily totaling myself. My friends and family would appear through the smoke and fire, reaching their hands through the wreckage, helping me fix it all enough to resume my drive. And eventually I learned that if I first steered into the skid, I could use its momentum to steer back out.
I began bending with my challenges, thinking it out before I gave an impulsive yank on that wheel. Careful, steady, breathe. Don’t try to escape by stopping my own motion. Ease up on the pedal, acknowledge the challenge, and…. Now! Hit that gas and leave that skid in the dust.
Suddenly I learned to even it out. I noticed the scenery again. I jammed to the radio, waved at passerby and felt the wind in my hair. People were no longer afraid to ride shotgun with me (Well, except maybe after one unfortunate golf cart experience).
I’m no longer afraid of slippery paths or wild rides. I certainly respect them but I now feel confident in my approach. And for the times I still misjudge, and fly off the road, I’m lucky to have friends come tow me out.