I’m 37 in 3 months. Sometimes I forget, and think I’m turning 35. I’m startled when I remember my real age, like someone has told me a shocking piece of news. As though I’ve been duped for years.
When I was 33 I got a divorce. This fact also startles me, like walking down a street deep in thought, and turning a corner and smacking into a stranger all of a sudden. Divorce seems to be a drama that happens to other people. But it happened, and to this day, I’ve only said it out loud only a handful of times. It still doesn’t seem to fit me.
Making that decision to rebuild your life was the hardest and easiest I’ve ever done. Extracting a life you’ve built with someone for many, many years required more than a deep breath to ready yourself. It was not like ripping a bandaid. It was a slow death by tiny, little cuts to the skin of our relationship. It was very clear, months later, that we were doing nothing but stifling each other. Together, we couldn’t breathe, we couldn’t grow. When we let go, we flourished. We became who we always wanted to be.
At 34 I met a man significantly younger than me. But he was wiser and older than many men I’ve met, and we recognized each other instantly as though we had met one another many, many times before. In a different life, dressed up as different people perhaps. We grasped each other quick and tight like time was running out, and none of it felt unnatural.
There were many things that wanted to pry our fingers off of each other, but for some reason not loving him wasn’t an option. So that was that. That happened.
For years I’ve been trying to have a child. I failed at this, more than once, and i excused it every time as life not being ready for me, or me not being ready for life. In any case, something wasn’t ready. And in any case, a tiny part of me died every time.
I felt perhaps I had destroyed my body so much that it became a worn out vessel that couldn’t hold something so precious. At this stage, I felt more and more profoundly, that as a woman, your very purpose on this earth is to create life. I had succeeded in so many things so far, I rebuilt my life majestically from scratch. I had an amazing career. I look 30. All of this I had done on my own, yet my body can’t succeed in doing the one thing I was inherently put in the world for. And i am really, really struggling being ok with that failure.
I have spoken to my closest friends about this, and they tell me to not put so much pressure on my self, that the stress isn’t helping, that patience is a virtue, that if it’s meant to be it’s meant to be.
My best friends are the most magnificent people on this planet, but they are women having their second child, they are men who do not bleed, men who do not feel the pain in your stomach that comes every month and you lie in bed with your eyes shut tight thinking – please don’t be, I did everything right, you’re not meant to come… I did everything right.
This sadness that comes flooding through me is starting to strain the man I live with. Young and trying to carve a remarkably demanding career, declaring month in and month out his love and support with relentless tenderness and humor. But lately I’ve seen questions causing silent panic fly across his beautiful eyes, when he looks around and sees mountains of paper about conception, the blood tests and daily thermometers, when we have charts telling us when to try.
There is fear in me that the pressure will combust the both of us, together and separately. This wonderful man with his life ahead of him, how easy it would be if I was someone younger too. But I am selfish and I think – no, this is what I want. Try again try again try again.
I’m starting to get bitter. I can see it unfurling within me, slowly but powerfully and it is unstoppable. Friends tell me their good news and I am happy for them, because it IS a beautiful thing and they are my sisters, but on the inside I think – how many do you want? Like there’s a ration of children out in the world that people are allowed to have, and everyone’s grabbing way more than they should.
I’m starting to retreat too. I have this complicated rationale in my mind to avoid people and drinking and crowds and noise, to cave down and rest and not touch a drop and take care of my body after a long week of work. To cocoon it in cotton wool, remove it from all situations.
And all of the above, when there is silence, there is guilt and loneliness so sharp, and age when I look in the mirror, and fear in the pit of my stomach. I think of my mother who is shrinking into her own skin, who goes to church and lights a candle every single day that I would give her a grandchild. And I think oh ma, it’s the one thing in the entire world you’ve always always wanted to have, and what if I fail you? Not once have you ever failed me.
In 3 months I turn 37. I officially tick over the scientific threshold of conception as a real issue, beyond lifestyle, beyond choices.
And i feel hollow and out of touch with all that I have known in this world, all that I once thought was precious to me, all that I had given my energy to.
There’s one thing that throughout the divorce, throughout all my past heartaches, all the losses, the sleepless nights, the facade – is that I am resilient. Resilience is a skill that I’ve worked out like a muscle, it comes hand in hand with hope, of which I thought I had an endless supply of.
For the first time in my entire life, I’m starting to think that hope is just that one human joke that people before us made up. So people today can start running around looking for it, when their hands can’t find anything solid to hang on to.
.written on my phone, June 2019.