I read once that a woman’s mind alters for life during her twenty-sixth year. I heard that when I was twenty-three. Of course I didn’t believe it. Her body changes, and with it, her hormones become altered and her entire pattern of thought changes radically. The whole world can appear different to her from one day to the next, and she won’t know or understand why.
I’m not sure if that’s my problem. But three weeks or so ago, everything changed. I woke up from what appears to be a bad dream, and am now wondering what the hell I’m doing, why I’m where I am, and how quickly and how rapidly I can change things and take care of myself – only myself, once and for all.
“If anything, you don’t know when to quit on a horse that’s already dead. So I wouldn’t go with a lack of trying.” is my best friend’s text message response when I explained to him that I finally let my partner know of the impending doom of a changing heart. I told my best friend that I felt ashamed for being this tired after this many years of trying and trying, to just wake up one morning and realize it’s all too heavy for me. I just can’t do it anymore. It was making me feel like a quitter. I should try harder.
But when do I get to come first? When do I get to do what I want? Be who I want to be? I’m twenty-six years old. Can’t I be just that? A twenty-six year old woman?
It’s a tough, straight up mentally damaging road for any stepmom. For any “younger” wife. To walk into a family that you were never part of, and love kids that may never love you back – to love a man who is constantly torn between you and other people. To give input and assistance to raise adolescents and teens when you have no parental know-how, and everyone looks at you with judgment in their eyes every time you fuck up. Because you can fuck up, and you will. A lot more than you will ever like to admit. To stand by the man you love while he reminisces with his kids about the good times with the woman before you.
I don’t blame my partner for any of it. It’s a damn hard road for everyone involved. Him, his ex-wife, her boyfriend, the kids, and lastly, me. It’s easy for me to fight with any one of them. But now that I’m so disengaged, it’s easy to realize that they’re all humans, struggling inside the very same rocking boat as me. I wonder if any of them have days like this. Days of complete exhaustion. “I’m done. I can’t do it. I can’t keep up. I tried. I need to look after me now. It’s too heavy – I can’t hold up.”
And I just don’t want to anymore. Everything I used to love – painting, writing, raising the goats and sheep – I’ve entirely lost my compassion for life and after three weeks of feeling this way, I’ve made the step toward advertising and preparing my livestock all to sell. I’m going to send my dog to a new home. I’m going to donate nearly all of my wardrobe to charity. I’m putting the pens and the sketchbooks away.
I’m sad and ashamed to feel this way. I feel as though I’m about to let everyone down.
But at the same time – I can feel something, like a small spark trying to ignite. Way down in the deepest, darkest part of my subconsciousness, desperate to light up and burst through to the surface. It’s the real me. I can bring her back to life, if I take the time now to nurture myself and make the changes I need to get me to where I want to be.
And so I find myself standing before a divide, with umpteen people standing on one side, and myself on the other. The choice is mine to make.