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

Broken Record

It’s difficult for me to ask for help when I need it. This is something I am just figuring out about myself well into my thirties. It’s not the only thing I am figuring out well into my thirties, but I suspect prioritizing Adele songs in order of their meaningfulness to my own life isn’t the “ah-ha” moment Oprah wanted for me. It’s difficult for me to ask for help and it is difficult for me to reach out to other people when I am sad, or lonely, or overwhelmed. There, that is out there in the world now, I feel better.

Yesterday I was sad. Christ, Missy we know, tell us something new. I know it seems like I am a broken record, like I’m all, Hey you guys! I’m sad today, boohoo what shall I do? But in all truth the sad days are less and less now, partly because it is summertime and partly because I have a new medication. But yesterday my husband left for a work trip, again, and I realized that I’m not missing him when he goes anymore. Let me back up. I always miss him when he is away, what I mean to say is that there was a time when we were always together, and we had a toddler, and life was chaotic, and the thought of us being separated for a week was painful. He’s my best friend and I need his presence. But yesterday, as I was driving back from the airport listing to sad Adele songs (yeah, I know, shut it) I realized that I have grown accustomed to his absence now. And that made me sad as hell.

So I did what anyone would do, I sat on the couch and cried, until my best friend called me. She was having an off day too and she called to just tell me about it, and we talked for two hours and I felt so much better. So I reached out to more people. People who I adore, people I haven’t talked to in a long time. I sent some silly texts, I asked how days were going, I checked on a VERY pregnant friend just to make sure. And you know what, I felt a hell of a lot better, and I hope they did too.

Is there is a lesson in this? Of course there is. And it is one that our therapists have been screaming into our ears for years. But sometimes it takes a little time, a little age, a little trial and error to really make it click. It clicked for me yesterday. I know, I know I am a broken record. But I am broken. We all are, and sometimes we need to realize, accept, and adapt. It has the capacity to make us feel better.

What do you want from us, Missy? I want you to reach out to people when you need to. Ask for help if you need it. Call your best friend. If you don’t have one, find one. Don’t worry if you think they might be busy. Don’t worry if you think they might be surprised, or caught off guard, or, or, or. Make time. Send a funny email. Dance a little jig in the your kitchen with your dog, or your partner, or your child. Put on Adele and cry a river. Doesn’t matter. Take care of yourself and your people, however and whenever you need to. And remember, I love you.