Better Off These Days: Life at Dirty Thirty

Hello again, Gang.

Last night, I was talking to one of my Rochester friends about relationships and life in general.  I was spouting off at the mouth about something or the other when the topic of age came up.  After finally becoming quiet, my friend asked me with her naturally sweet and innocent voice:

“What’s it like to be thirty?”

Let me explain:  I just turned the Dirty Thirty this year (my birthday is May 24.  Note to Gang Members: buy Meeka presents.  Bottle of perfume or some shit), so I was able to give her some sort of answer.  For one (and I only speak for myself here), I have very little tolerance for other people’s bullshit–especially from those who are younger than me.  Secondly, your body goes through um…some interesting changes (I cannot eat a whole box of Cheez-Its and burn off the calories by just burping.  At 30, your metabolism tends to turn into a worker who takes a lunch break and decides to not come back–ever).  At 30, I begin to contemplate my future and can’t readily decide what I should within the next five minutes (“Should I watch Netflix or just scrape at the walls like the protagonist in The Yellow Wallpaper?”).  I gave her more answers that I cannot remember at the moment, but she thanked me for my insight nonetheless.

But the next day, I thought hard about the question:  what’s it like to be thirty?  I guess the better question is this:  What is life like now compared to how it was when I was in my 20s?  I’ll try to be as detailed as I possibly can be.

When I was in my 20s, saying I didn’t know what life was is a fucking understatement.  Gang, I was a 5-year-old little girl trapped in a grown woman’s vessel.  Due to being a product of severe abuse and neglect, I was never taught how to pay bills, to save money to live successfully on my own and how to be a upright citizen.  I was literally treated like a stupid, naive and easily confused child who could never handle the truth if revealed to me.  At the same time, I was expected to think, act, walk, talk, eat, drink and sleep adulthood as if I could flip a switch on in my mind labeled “Grown-Ass Woman” and become a confident, well-rounded female.  So I was forced to “grow up” and live in the real world.  It was that or continue to live with my mom, whom I often battled with due to her trying to control my every move–even though I was 19.  So I left and after a few tries, got my own apartment–one I could not afford to keep after about three years or so.

While living in this apartment, I was drinking on the sly, had no car (and when I did, I didn’t take care of it) and meeting up with strange men I found on phone sex lines/adult chat rooms.  Oh, and did I tell you that I had my grandma Luna and Aunt Jean living with me?  Oh, I forgot to tell you that I was battling severe depression to the point of not being able to think straight?  So, yes.  I was a steaming bowl of Mess in my early 20s.  Not only did I not know who I was, but was still caught up in my family’s dysfunction, wanting approval from a father who would rather be angry with me about Aunt Luna living with me than telling me that I needed to get help and loves me regardless of what I do.

Do not get me wrong, my 2os wasn’t all that bad.  Despite all the craziness, I did meet friends that I still keep in contact with and love dearly.  But, for the most part, that period in my life is something I will never go through again if I were given a time machine for Christmas.  It was during my 20s that I was in denial about my sexual abuse, that my grandma Luna passed away, when I began drinking heavily (even after moving to Rochester–where I got sober), when I was still sleeping with strange men, when I had my heart broken by someone I actually found myself falling in love with and other events.  By this is also the time when I found my Creator, when I got sober and found people I can actually trust.  I met my best friend, Colleen, in my twenties and she is my sister to this day.  Other blessings happened as well.

But my 20s is a wash compared to my 30s.  When I turned the Dirty Thirty, it was as if I’ve started to become a new person.  I began holding myself accountable for what I’ve done to someone else.  Even though I’m still angry about certain injustices that happened to me and people I love, I’m truly learning to clean my side of the street and my side alone.  I learned that people have to be themselves and do what they need to do, no matter how I feel.  I learned to pray for others whom I have ill feelings against because–even though they went on with their lives—I have to maintain my sanity, serenity and my sobriety.  I have a strong connection with Creator and I use that connection to help others who need help.  I learned how to say “No” when I need to and I’m reliable to some degree.  I have hope today and I tend to act on that hope.  I have friendships with people from all over and I continue to make friends with people who wish me no harm.  I’m cautious about my safety more so than I was when I was in my 20s.  In those days, I didn’t care when happened to me as long as I felt whole at the end (which rarely happened).  Now I listen to my gut feeling and use my common sense–most of the time–before I make any type of decision that could harm me in the long run.

And finally, I am at peace with the fact that my parents and I will never have a close relationship.  I am no longer that little girl wanting my father’s approval or my mother’s protection.  They had every opportunity to be parents when I was being molested by Jean.  They had the opportunity to protect me from harm when I in my 20s by being supportive and telling me that they loved me for who I am and that I was going to be ok.  They instead decided to sweep my pain under the rug and use it against me when I was at my weakest point.  In my 20s, I put up with it out of fear of abandonment.  At 30, I love myself enough to know that I don’t deserve such treatment, so I accept my parents for who they are, pray for them and keep it moving.

I could’ve told my friend all of this last night, but I was too busy giving her my “Off-The-Top-Of-My-Head” answers.  But I’m glad she asked me the question because she gave me the opportunity to meditate on it and truly compare the 20-something year old me to who I am now.  And, though I love and appreciate the 20-something year old for teaching me so much, I also know that I’m a HELL of a lot better off these days.


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