Backside of Thirty

“On the backside of thirty, the short side of time
Back on the bottom with no will to climb.”

John Conlee

John Conlee’s life sounds like it sucked, which means it made a great country music song! Like ‘Ol Johnny I am on the backside of thirty, but unlike ‘Ol Johnny, I’m not living in a rat-infested apartment and only seeing my kid on the weekends. Tomorrow is in fact, my 38th birthday. Whew. And while I am normally a little sad on my birthday, remembering how precious time is and what not, I’m actually feeling pretty good today. (Don’t ask me about yesterday.) I think I may have turned a corner. A very important corner. Certainly not the corner where you remember to return your library books by their due date, but a corner no less.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my 20th birthday this week, and the way I freaked out because I was “halfway to forty.” I think I had a quarter-life crisis, before having a quarter-life crisis was cool. And yes, 20 was most likely my quarter-life, because have you seen the amount of cheese I eat? There’s no way I’m making it to 100. Anyway, I had all these thoughts on my 20th birthday about how different and weird I would be when I was 40. And here I am, sliding into 38, only two years away from this “totally different super-adult” and yeah, that ain’t happening. Which is really, really good.

I feel like there have been several Missys in my life. There’s Little Missy who we all know and love. She had round cheeks and a round belly and she sometimes laughed so hard that she squirted chocolate milk out of her noise at the same time that she accidentally farted. She had some friends, not a lot, but she didn’t need a lot. She spent most of her time riding her bike alone, talking to imaginary people (who were way more cool than the actual people in her life), and she liked to read books that were way too advanced for her.

Then there was Teenage Missy. She was a bitch. Plain and simple. Selfish, rude to her mom, and overly-concerned with “fitting in,” so much so that she once cornered a friend in the hallway and told the friend that she was quote, out of the group, unquote. Teenage Missy found weed around 11th grade and became Stoner, Drinker, Party-girl, Just Have Fun, Life is Short Missy for about eight years or so. That Missy was a hot fucking mess. Thank goodness for Jerimiah, and a college education, and a chocolate lab named Bentley, and a marriage, and a baby. Whew. That pushed me into Jackson’s Mom, Missy.

Listen, I was Jackson’s Mom, Missy for a good three years before I was, Mom to a Healthy Baby and Mom to a Dead Baby, Missy. Not gonna lie, those years, and that Missy had some issues. Then I tried to shed that Missy by being, Talkative, friendly, Missy who was really just Drink Lots of Wine so I Can Feel Like I Fit in with Other Adult Women Missy. That Missy was a total fake, and by being so she attracted fake people. So I shed that Missy for who I am now which I am lovingly calling, Backside of Thirty Missy.

Backside of Thirty Missy feels different in a way I can’t yet explain. Probably because I am still trying to figure out what makes her tick. She goes to therapy regularly and is making progress in figuring out the root of her mental illness. She enjoys walking, and most recently riding her bike alone and talking to imaginary people much like Little Missy (though she also likes to ride her bike with her family). Backside of Thirty Missy is starting to miss the people who knew Little Missy a bit more. She is feeling a pull back home. She is realizing that while home is where her shit is, HOME is actually Kansas. And Kansas, for all its problems, was really good to her.

Backside of Thirty Missy is telling the people that matter, that they matter. She is cutting off friendships that are one-sided or that make her nervous. She isn’t drinking wine because people make her feel like she has to. Sometimes she just quietly sips her iced tea and laughs at the drunk ones making fools of themselves. Backside of Thirty Missy is daring greatly! (Thanks B.B.) She has the most confidence of any of the prior Missys, though that still isn’t that much confidence. Backside of Thirty Missy has found more art she likes, and she is doing it, even if she isn’t good at it. Photography, printmaking, up-cycling old furniture, she’s game for it all. Backside of Thirty Missy finally learned how to play Risk and she bought a deck of Magic cards. She allows herself to have pity parties sometimes, and she eats a lot more vegetables.

I guess, like most people, I am changing, growing, evolving into the woman I am supposed to be. It is scary. Very scary. But necessary. We all go through this metamorphosis, it’s just that we are usually made to feel bad about it. I refuse to feel bad about it. I like me now, in a way that I haven’t in a long time.

I came across this today on social media. It is attributed to Reese Witherspoon and I don’t know if that is a correct attribution, but it doesn’t matter who said it. It matters what it says, and whether or not you can believe it. I can believe it. For the first time in my life, 40 isn’t so scary. In fact, I am looking forward to 40-Year-Old Missy, she is going to have learned so much. She is going to be even more open, and real, and lovely than Backside of Thirty Missy, who still sometimes cries in her bathroom. And maybe 40-Year-Old Missy will too, but it’s okay. Because you’re never too young or too old to cry in your bathroom.

Be kind to yourself today, y’all. In honor of my birthday tomorrow. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself. Speak goodness into your life, into the mirror. Try something you have never tried, but have always wanted to. You are not too old, and it is not too late.

Backside of Thirty Missy

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