Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Rev. at 50: A Milestone is better than a Headstone

As many of you know from FaceBook, yesterday marked my 50th anniversary of sucking air on this planet. My friends at work threw together a fun little celebration with two cakes, four pizzas, cookies, brownies, chips and dip, balloons, a banner and the usual card with signatures and wisecracks.

At home, we don't usually make a big deal out of birthdays and holidays, but I was overjoyed at my hubby's gift of a dozen roses (the rainbow assortment, of course) and devil's food and chocolate ganache cake. Over all it was a great day and a wonderful way to usher in the next phase of my childhood.

In the lead up to this event, I have thought a lot about what it means to be 50 years old. You hear a lot talk about how fifty is the new forty. People ask "how does it feel?" I've never been one of those folks who say that anything is the "new" something else. In my book, everything just is what it is.

I've reviewed my accomplishments and failures, the goals I had hoped to achieve and decided that except for aches and pains I've been dealing with lately (this too shall pass), I feel pretty good. I'm more confidant than I've ever been. I don't sweat the small stuff as much as I used to. I like to think that I've learned from my mistakes and I'm more comfortable in my own skin that I have ever been, crows feet and all. At work I run circles around people half my age.

I love it when people tell me that I don't look my age, so if we ever meet in person and you want to make a good impression (not that you should) that's the perfect thing to say.

When I was a kid, my mother always called me "Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn't grow up". She was never satisfied that I was maturing emotionally at the pace she had set for me in her own mind. As my birthday approached, she'd say "We're not going to celebrate 6 until you start acting 5". The next year it was 7 and 6, then 8 and 7 and so on, as if I should somehow know in my child's mind what each milestone should be and what behavior should be age appropriate. For the record, my mother is and always has been, a neurotic mess.

I read my first self-help pop psychology book at the age of 16. It was "Your Erroneous Zones" by Dr. Wayne Dyer. I credit that book with saving my life. It was the first time I allowed myself to believe that maybe I wasn't the worthless piece of shit that my family taught me to believe that I was, only to have my fragile adolescent ego crushed by a violent and abusive mother and older siblings. I wasted over twenty years of my life in an alcohol and drug-induced haze.

At the age of 39, I stopped drinking (on my own, without the 12-steppers) cleared the decks of abusive relationships and started focusing on getting my shit together. That was the year I met my soul-mate and the love of my life, Paul. We had our first date on the eve of my 40th birthday. The last ten years have been a mix of highs and lows, joy and pain and immense personal growth.

So how does it feel to be fifty years old? In-fucking-credible!
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