Design of a decade (the birthday post)
I turn 39 today, y'all!
First off. I borrowed this title from Ms. Janet Jackson. This album of hers, a compilation of her greatest hits from 1986 to 1996, was one of the very first CDs I purchased. I listened to it religiously. Back then, I was a proud member of Rhythm Nation—I still am. These lyrics from Control soon became my motto:
Got my own mind
I want to make my own decisions
When it has to do with my life, my life
I wanna be the one in control
But this is not what this post is about.
This is my last year in my 30s. What an eventful decade!
By the time I hit my 30s, I had been in Canada for 4 years (and married for 4 as well). I was still trying to figure some things out. Adulting wasn’t easy—it still doesn’t come naturally to me. What can I say, I’m a work in progress.
The most defining event of this decade has nothing to do travelling.
30 and menopausal
Menopause came in waves.
At first, it was medically induced. The only way to relieve the pain I had been feeling for about two decades. I welcomed it with joy. I’d take hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, even weight gain over the crippling monthly pain I had experienced during most of my teenage and adult life.
Then, three surgeries later, it became my body’s natural reaction to its missing parts. And, with that, came some sort of isolation. Suddenly, women my age—at least the ones who were close to me—could no longer relate to me. I’d explained the situation to my closest friends, one or two conversations tops, and then I wouldn’t bring it up again. This is just not the type of subject one goes on about.
Because talking about it would have meant opening up about how I felt that I was losing control of my body, how I no longer recognized its curves and its lines. It would have meant discussing how quickly Hubs and I came to terms with what this all meant for us as a family. It would have meant dealing with other people’s emotions while I didn’t even have a grip on my own.
Dealing with people’s pity and tears was tough. Maybe one of the toughest parts of that ordeal. People would automatically assume that I was saddened by the fact that I wouldn’t bear children of my own. Some would shed tears, because they too had dealt with infertility. But I didn’t want their pity. I didn’t deserve it. Nor did I deserve their tears. And, frankly, it only made be more uncomfortable. Sure, I had considered having children because Hubs would have been a great dad. But having children was never a part of my master plan. As young as 12, I would say that I didn’t see children in my future. People said I would change my mind. I didn’t, not completely. Not enough to make me feel that my life was lacking.
So, I dealt with it the only way I knew how: instead of talking about it, I read about it. And I asked random questions to my doctor friends.
Hubs became my rock, an unwavering presence. He sat with me at the doctor’s. He googled, wiped tears, weathered out my moods. He told me plainly that I was more than just a vessel to carry his babies. That he’d rather see me free of pain than trying to wait it out for a potential baby. “You’re the one who’s in pain. It’s your body. I’ll stand behind whatever decision you make”, he said repeatedly. Music to my ears. This man…
When people ask, he’s often the first to answer that “we don’t want kids, we like our freedom”. Cutting it short. He knows, that the question irks me more so than it hurts. Because if they ask, they probably have no business asking. People who need to know, know. Most of the time. And when I feel that people are meddling, I can be curt. So, he cuts it short.
I’ve asked him often (too often) whether or not he regretted not having kids. He says no. I believe him. But I ask again. Because he is allowed to change his mind. The thought of him changing his mind scares the hell out of me. I ask anyway.
Now, the hot flashes have dissipated. I’m back to my usual self, unscathed, a bit stronger maybe. I no longer have to change my nightgown in the middle of the night. But the weight stayed. And boy do I hate it. Pounds for pain. Oh well…
Life went on
In the midst of all of this, I was surprised to wake up in the morning and think about a hundred other things before I thought about whether or not I should freeze my eggs before the next surgery.
It’s amazing how life doesn’t slow down when you’re going through a rough patch.
Because it’s not in my nature to sit and sulk for a long period of time, I lived. I worked my behind off in school to get good grades. I embraced a new career. I travelled.
Contrary to what some people seem to think, travelling isn't about filling a void. There is no void to be filled.
What will 40 hold
I’m actually looking forward to turning 40.
I’m planning 4 trips in celebration of the beginning of my 4th decade. Cheesy, I know. A friend suggested that I hit 4 different continents. We'll see.
I'm not sure what to expect from this next decade. More gray hair, that's a given.
What I do know is that I'll still grow, learn and experience the world.