I’ve always had a poet’s preoccupation with the finiteness of life, and it used to be much worse. Lilacs are my favorite flower and every May I used to worry my head off about whether I’d smelled them enough that year. Of course, once I made room for a bigger life and other flowers, the lilac-urgency relaxed, but I still do feel very upset about the passage of time, especially with my 39th birthday coming up next week.
I came to both my career and my body at a later-than-usual point in life. At work, I’m surrounded by experienced twenty-something teachers while I’m just starting out. In the dungeon, it’s hard not to feel inferior to the women who knew what they wanted right away and claimed it. I am so ashamed and embarrassed for being so far behind, for all the time I managed to put off growing up and making the most of things.
Although I’m pretty sure I don’t want a person to come out of me (I have space issues, people!) my biological clock is pissed off at me and twisting the knife in my gut lately. How did everybody else find the right people to make families with? How did they trust themselves and their partners and the world enough to take such big risks? Why did I automatically count myself out for so long? I try to tell myself that the family I was with Sweetie was what I needed for a while, but now I am just absolutely terrified that I missed my chance to find the family I really want. Although I know millions of ladies are in the same boat, 39 seems like an INSANE time for me to realize I want a male primary partner—that statistic about being more likely to get struck by lightning gets stuck in my head sometimes and it’s paralyzing.
I remember the panic I felt when I first realized how valued younger women are, and that I was now sharing the dating pool with them. I was fussing about how some crush of mine had taken up with his 24-year-old student and another guy friend of mine said “Um, because he can!” as if she were some special privilege he was entitled to claim. It pissed me off so much that she was assumed to be better than me simply because of her youth.
Given the societal dictate that younger is better (How often have I been in a rope class where the teacher who needs a demo bottom automatically chooses the youngest and smallest girl in the room?) just how in the world am I supposed to compete? I’m so excited to find authentic ways to connect and express mindful adult sexuality and it doesn’t always feel like there is a market for that.
I’ve known for a while that I’m having a pretty classic midlife crisis—grief for what I have missed and a worry that I won’t be able to make everything out of my life that I want to. I’ve wasted a lot of years thinking that I’m too big, too ugly, too old for men, and I’m still trying to take apart those assumptions.
There’s no way in this world that I would ever want to go back to my own twenties, though. I was selfish, mean, and afraid of every kind of intimacy. My body may have been better by some narrow, sexualizing made-up standard, but I didn’t have a single clue of what to do with it.
The current version of myself is decidedly the best one I’ve had to offer, but I feel so very, very scared that no one will ever want it, that there will always be some younger, better girl standing in the way.
Back in the spring I had to break off a friendship with one of my guy friends for a while because he (42 years old, I think) kept talking about the “vitality” of his 24-year-old crush. I have vitality—all you need is life and excitement. I know the biological clock pressure is false because I don’t need to reproduce to have the kind of family that I want. I can’t go back and start over so that I’d have more experience by now. I know that any guy who’s that into youth is a creep and not the guy for me.
The birthday-panic is so strong this year both because of the divorce and because of the times I’ve felt so close to having what I wanted. I’m going to try and filter out the influences that make me feel old and dried up (Bye for now, porn and pre-Criss 30 Rock episodes…) and get out in the world among the real play and real bodies. Though I do occasionally like to play as 17, I can’t and don’t want to be younger, smaller, or magically at some further-along point in my life. I can only do my best exactly where I am and hope that the right folks’ll meet me here.