Recently I read on Facebook that the eldest daughter of a friend was getting married. I was totally thrown off track by the realisation that the only time I had met the daughter was when she was a baby, yet now in her twenties, she’s to be wed.
It’s not an issue of whether my friend and I not keeping in contact. She was a close friend with whom I had travelled the world (a long time ago), followed shortly after when I was one of her bridesmaids. It’s funny how you can be so involved in each other’s lives and then? Well, then, Cate took a dive into a very thick and murky depression (along with a few other things that sent us in different directions).
I pushed people away. I didn’t appreciate the advice some tried to give me, and I took it to mean that I was being judged for an illness that must be my own fault.
I was in my own world now. I had disappeared from my late twenties. I had dropped off a cliff somewhere, landing at what I never knew was rock bottom (or would I fall yet further?).
I had literally turned to skin and bone, and so social occasions around meals were something I did my best to avoid. The idea of eating with other people (watching me) was enough to send me into a panic attack. “Meeting up for coffee or maybe brunch” was something I refused to be a part of at a time when even the milk in my cappuccino was too much for me. The world had taken up socialising around food and drink, but Cate couldn’t cope!
Many years of self sabotage, followed by years treatment and therapy…
Time has gone on…
And suddenly I find myself 25 years on, when Lucy is getting married (how can this be?) and M is going to be a mother-of-the-bride. Let’s also not forget that S has been a grandmother for a year and the lives of my friends have moved on…
Can you see what has happened? I was 28. My life was ahead of me. It was a time when everyone ‘knew’ that some day you’d be “married with kids”
And now, 25 years on, I’m not married with kids. The closest I have to a child is a much-loved cat, Hobbes. Life didn’t turn out as anyone expected.
It’s really weird to pop your head up for air and find that you’re middle-aged. Everyone else has aged too, but for them their lifespan went on. For me, my life halted before abruptly coming up at 50.
There was never the plan in my mind that I would have children. There were lots of reasons for that, and I just knew it wouldn’t be a good idea. This post is not about regret, because there isn’t regret. What there is, is what I will call life-cycle shock.
The life-cycle for my twenties friends has gone on as it should. But I fell off this darn cliff called mental illness and 25 years of my life just vanished. I’m still a 28-year-old at heart and at mind. My life has taken a different route and while fifteen years ago I couldn’t contribute to the kids’ achievement discussion that my twenties friends were now having, now I have no means of contributing to the comparisons of the grand-kids. Actually, at this point, I am probably better to go outside and catch up with the dog!
I can’t compare photos because you simply don’t take photos when you’re depressed and/or have severe mental illness. Okay, so that might be too much of a generalisation, but look at it this way: you don’t have those family occasions like graduations, engagements, marriages, and births.
I did manage one of those with a graduation, but I didn’t attend the ceremony, didn’t celebrate… and I didn’t have anyone take my photo. That was too much as I was barely hanging on at the time.
When you come up for air 25 years on, you have to expect that it will be different. You know that friends have moved on but, but how do you fit in? Anywhere.
It’s just beyond me to get my head around ‘baby’ Lucy is now to be a bride. Congratulations anyway, Lucy! I am really happy for you.
Thanks for reading!