Today I turn 41. When I was in grade school I read a book that had a female character who was "on the far side of 40." That seemed so old. The phrase has stuck with me, and I remember my 10-year-old self feeling sorry for that character, who was so old and washed up, and certainly couldn't have fun like the children who were the main characters in the book.
Now suddenly, somehow, I find myself on the far side of 40. Not very far on the far side, to be sure, but past the marker all the same. And I still just feel normal. I'm tired, I have some battle scars (can you call them scars if they haven't healed yet? proto-scars, maybe), I've learned some tough lessons, and still sometimes feel really bruised and raw, but I don't feel old.
I was going to write that I still just feel like me, but that doesn't really seem right. Who is "me"? I feel like I don't really know myself anymore. The ordeal of my crumbling marriage over the past couple years has seriously shaken me off center from my grounded sense of self. Self-worth, self-value, self-trust..... all seriously compromised. I have a hard time trusting anyone anymore, including myself. And I think that is what I regret the most.
I would like to think that in years to come, I'll look back on the year that I was 40 as the worst of my life. Wouldn't that be nice? If you knew that the horrible time you have already lived through was rock bottom, that it is all uphill from here? To know that there are definitely bumpy ups and downs still to come, but that the valley you are struggling out of is deep as you will ever get.
I know that this is something one can never know for sure. There are many, many things that are far worse than where I have been, and I'm quite sure that I will have plenty of problems in the next 40 years. But a girl can hope, and maybe even learn to trust her own inner strength again.