Jumping the Fence
What I'm noticing is that, in the past year, I've approached a very obvious fence. On one side, my side, there is a pasture dotted with hopeful little flowers. Each radiates a well-meaning message of what might be possible one day.
"Candy, you can learn to unpack your suitcase within a reasonable amount of time. Keep trying!"
"One day you'll have enough discipline not to leave empty water bottles on the floorboard of your car."
"Someday you won't even be tempted to respond to road rage. You won't follow a guy in a truck, pull into a parking lot beside him and ask him if he feels more like a big man now that he's flipped you off. You'll have the good sense to let it go."
On this side of the fence, where I've always lived, I'm trying to find a way to jump it. Leaving behind the vocal little flowers. Because not only are their rapid-fire messages oddly unhelpful, but frankly I'm not in love with their tone. It's a steady broadcast of "You're not good enough now, but you might be a little less despicable if you do this: ________." A thousand tiny A.M. radio stations trying to push their late night end-of-the-world theories, in between commercials for herb supplements and powerful emergency flashlights. I'm tired of it.
Almost immediately after I began taking care of very old people, my perspective changed for the better. I naively thought it was a permanent, glorious thing, this thankfulness just to be able to walk across the room, eat spicy food, get in and out of the bathtub, breathe without a tank of oxygen. I was determined to fully recognize life as the big delicious Cinnabon that it is, and to savor every last gooey morsel. And to stop freaking out with anxiety.
But the perspective gradually recalibrated, and here I am, the same fretting shithead I've always been. I'm just as petty, just as short-tempered, just as fearful (even more so after seeing all the frailties that old age brings if you're lucky enough to march in that parade), and find it just as difficult to be kind to people who irritate me. And my shitheadedness is made worse by the weariness that accumulates from listening to my Inner Weasel chew my ass nonstop.
I just want a different take on things. To see what the plants over the fence have to say, and to hear messages from big robust tulips like "You don't have to make that bed. You're just getting back into it anyway."
Isn't middle age the time to find a little self-acceptance? To at least reduce the list called "Things I Detest About Myself?"
I'd like to know: What have you started to accept about yourself? And did it just fall away subtly or did you somehow tear it off fast like a Band-Aid? What are you more satisfied with than you used to be?