“If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?”
On the surface, it sounds shallow to say that I would rather live to the age of 90 and retain the body of a 30 year but it is the truth.
When I was 30, I had a 4-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter. My marriage had been tanking for years and my spouse was extremely distant. I was working two 30-hour a week jobs, going to school full-time and taking on all primary parent and housekeeping tasks. My spouse watched the kids one night a week for me to go to class but I had to hire a babysitter the other night. And it had to come out of my earnings. He was resentful of the kids. He kept a tally of the amount of time I spent with them and, instead of joining in parenting duties, he demanded an equal or greater amount of my time. Even if that meant I did not sleep or get my homework done. Not only did I survive, I maintained a 4.0 GPA.
I had a LOT of stamina in that 30-year-old body.
But… when I was 30, I got into two car accidents within six months of each other. Despite the lack of sleep, neither was my fault. I was hit head on when someone ran a stop sign while I was turning. I also got rear ended by someone who was talking on a cell phone while entering the freeway at 50 mph when traffic was at a dead standstill. I really wrecked my back between the two of these events – ending up with herniated and bulging disks in my neck.
When I was recovering from these car accidents, my mom was diagnosed with stomach cancer and passed away within five weeks.
During physical therapy for the car accidents, they began realigning things and I began getting really sick. I struggled to keep food down and ended up getting diagnosed with malrotated bowel syndrome. Apparently, my entire digestive system was upside down and backwards.
They ended up doing two back-to-back surgeries to correct it. I was in the hospital for 21 days straight. Surgically, they rigged something together so I can eat but… they couldn’t fix what was causing me to be so ill. It turns out, I have an artery wrapped around my small intestine close to the stomach. As it is not operable, it is something I still live with.
During my recovery from the surgeries and other major life events that took place within an 18 month period, I found out my spouse had racked up extremely high phone bills using 900 lines. He also had joined a dating service.
When confronted, he told me that it was my fault.
Had I been more available to him and paid attention to his needs while I was recovering from car accidents and dealing with my mother’s illness and death, he would not have used the 900 lines. If I had thought to service him while I was in the hospital, he would not have needed to join a dating service.
I was devastated.
And I believed him.
I believed it was my fault.
And, when he was caught window peeping a year later, I blamed myself.
I did not keep my husband interested in me.
I did not keep my husband home where he belonged.
I had failed him.
I failed my kids.
I failed all the neighbor women he violated.
I failed my family who made it plain they loved him more than me.
(“He is the first decent guy you’ve ever brought home. You are an idiot if you do not marry him and, if you screw up and he leaves you, we’re keeping him.”
I couldn’t live with what my marriage (what he, what I) had become.
But… I had nowhere to live, no money and no way to take care of myself or my kids. I couldn’t leave him.
I became flat-on-my-back-can’t-get-out-of-bed-depressed. So depressed, that I am actually missing days, weeks of memories during that time.
Friends took me to a conference in Oregon to get me away from the situation. And, when we got home, they hauled me to a doctor who prescribed antidepressants. The meds worked and life went on.
As a 45-year-old woman who now recognizes that her spouse had a sexual addiction, I no longer blame myself for the failure of my marriage.
But…. that damage is still there.
I feel responsible for everything – whether or not I actually am.
I constantly analyze everything, trying to guess what might go wrong and determine how I can prevent it.
I blame myself for everything that happens – regardless of whether or not it is my fault.
I often feel inadequate and unlovable.
But, I am working hard to fix that.
(This 36-questions series is part of that.)
Luckily, my new/old friend understands this.
He is extremely patient and is willing (so far!) to stick with me while I try to fix this. He definitely does his part to remind me I am not responsible for everything.
He reminds me that I deserve the same treatment I give to other people.
He makes me feel beautiful.
But… if I were to live until I was 90, there is no way I would want to be stuck with that 30-year-old mind again. That 30-year-old mind who didn’t know how to be an adult. That 30-year-old mind who inappropriately thought she could control the world. That 30-year-old mind who failed to love herself. That 30-year-old mind who failed to teach her kids what it meant to have self-respect and demand people treat you fairly.
I would far rather live with wisdom and experience.
Grace and mercy.
Forgiveness and fresh starts.
Which is what I really, really hope my 90-year-old mind will have accomplished.
And… as for the stamina of a 30-year-old body?
That would simply be fun.