Well, folks, it happened — this GenX Libra woman turned 50.
First, what an accomplishment.
Second, AARP has already sent my membership packet and I’m low-key excited about those discounts.
In all seriousness, this was a tough one. Birthdays (and New Year’s Eve) are a struggle for me because I have issues with the passage of time. It’s mildly paralyzing when I process the realization that “this” moment will never happen again and it’s gone forever. Talking myself down from the internalized panic often takes all of my mental energy.
From the outside, I appear depressed but in truth, I’m trying not to end up in a darkened corner, curled in a ball, rocking myself to sleep.
Is that depression? No, it’s deeper than that — it’s trauma.
I lost my biological father at nine-years-old in a tragic boating accident. One minute he was there and the next, he was gone.
I’ve blocked out a lot of that time in my life because the memories are simply too traumatizing. I’ve considered hypnotherapy to unlock those frozen memories but they’re blacked-out for a reason and maybe it’s a blessing my brain has them under lock and key.
But there are times when I can’t quite dodge the deep well of sadness lurking inside me and it seems the times when I fall face first into that endless pool are my birthdays.
With that said, with the marking of this milestone, I’ve crested a steep hill. In life, everything is a mental game. The state of your mind can make or break you — and what doesn’t break you, makes you stronger.
Let’s just say, I feel I could bench-press an ox at this point.
Life is so short. We spend too much time valuing the wrong things. This epiphany isn’t profound — plenty of smarter people have already figured this out — but this is my “a-ha” moment.
I’ve put myself last in so many ways and I’m done with that.
At the end of my life, whenever that may be, I don’t want to be facing my mortality with a heart heavy with regret. I want to live, laugh, love all the way to those pearly gates, (ahem), and when it’s all over, I want to say that I lived, even if I was late to my own party.
Maybe this is my villain era.
But if choosing happiness makes me the villain, I’ll wear the crown.
They say monsters aren’t born; they’re made.
Just ask Maleficent.
My villain era is going to be epic.
And full of discounts.
Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide occasional columns. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.