It occurs to me today that I have never been in this position before; of being a forty-nine year old woman. A gloomy one. Gloomy I think, in part, because of my age. At forty-nine there is a lot less possibility and a much greater opportunity to ruminate on my failures.
It’s funny because from about twenty years onwards, I really lived my life in a manner of trying to give things a go. I stopped drinking, went to AA, college, got jobs. I made friends with sober people. I got AA sponsors, I saw therapists to overcome my past and I worked the twelve steps. I tried to pursue the life of an artist. I went to adult ed classes when it seemed University had not quite provided me with the skills I thought I wanted. I tried to write novels. I handed my life over to God. I went to tons of AA meetings and meetings in other twelve step fellowships. I did everything I could do to have a good life, and yet I don’t have one. Instead I have regrets, or a feeling of regret that haunts me. I should have done better, I should have achieved more than this, is how I feel.
I lived my life with a sense of possibility in the future, a future that has not arrived. Now that I’m nearing my fiftieth year, I don’t think it will arrive either, and that’s new. In the past I always had hopes. Hopes and dreams. So I’ve never been in this position before. I wonder how I’d been feeling if fate had gone my way.
I should be able to comfort myself that at least I tried. Who knows how I’d be feeling if I’d never done the things I did and had drank myself into a regular stupor instead. Who knows if I’d even be alive, probably not. But none of my big plans came to fruition and every day a cloud hangs over me of, perhaps it’s more a cloud of disappointment than of regret. But it feels like regrets that are haunting me.
During my last relationship (it ended 1 and 3/4 years ago) I didn’t really have time to think about the past or feel regret. I never thought about the past, which was a blessing. Maybe this is just a phase I’m going through; a depression. I do feel depressed: I ruminate, have little energy and don’t want to exercise, which might help. I feel guilt and a sense of having balls my life up: it’s my fault. I don’t like my appearance. I can’t see a way out of this mood, if it is a mood.
I’ve got therapy today. My first appointment for a while. Maybe it will help, I don’t know. I can’t say I’m exactly looking forward to it.
There are a few things I enjoy: reading the Guardian, my morning coffee in the local cafe, occasional bursts of friendship, amgood friends dogs. I would say TV, but I’m getting a bit fed up with TV. Writing this provides a distraction, for a while.
When I cast my mind back I can’t really think what I could have done differently. There was a guy I allowed myself to be infatuated with for far too long (eight years). I used to go to this big AA meeting in central London, in part to see him, which I usually did. I think I wasted a lot of time there, precious time. I put so much energy into trying to get him to notice me; that creativity would have been better served doing something else. If I had had the right medication for my Bipolar, and been able to accept having it, that might have helped me as well. If I hadn’t wasted so much time chasing after a whole cast of men who didn’t want a relationship with me, and put all that into proper work of some description (rather than art) I would probably have been a lot better off. I might have felt useful. If I’d been able to extricate myself from my relationship with my mother, which continually dragged me down, that would have been good too. But I always thought, and this really is ironic, that if I didn’t try to make it work with mum, or get A, B, and C to notice me, then one day I would regret it: I might have stood a chance.
Whereas, in fact, had I been able to see into the future I would have known that in fact all those relationships I tried to make work were never going to (there were scores of them, and not only romantic hopes). The regret I feel is that I tried so hard, rather than that I did not. So there is the paradox and the irony. I was always trying to change things I had no power over and not giving in when they failed to provide what I wanted from them. I didn’t want to fail, but I failed anyway.
I feel like I should have known all this at twenty, and then my life may have had a chance. But I didn’t. I have to work my way up into some kind of acceptance. Maybe acceptance is my task at the moment. Acceptance of my past. I did make mistakes. I chased unworthy goals. Futile things. I would have been better off fighting for a cause: the refugee crisis, racism or climate emergency. Instead I prioritised finding my soul mate, and this really was a waste of time. It cost everything and left me high and dry.
At the end of all that I find myself living somewhere there are few opportunities to give to society that I can see. Now I know that I don’t have a soul mate and that God doesn’t exist, I have to find something else to do. But I’m not hopeful. Not at all.