I’m HOW old?

Today’s Daily Post prompt asked us to write about age – I won’t duplicate the post here, you can check it out yourself if you’re interested here.

I read a few of the posts in response to the prompt and enjoyed those perspectives, but none of them really said what I was thinking, what I guess I’ve been thinking about age for some time.

It isn’t that I dwell on age, I don’t.  Certain ages I have been stand out in my memory but overall I just go through each day, trying to focus on the present.  I remember 35 being a particularly bad year.  I was still mired in a disintegrating marriage and couldn’t see any way out.  But I survived that.  Hell, I survived much worse.  Forty was probably one of my best years – I’d lost a lot of weight, was the smallest I’d ever been as an adult and I was single again.  I was solely responsible for my happiness and it was glorious!

So when I really think about it at all it’s to ask myself, “Why don’t I feel older?”  Seriously.  For example, I’ll be 58 this year, but whenever I’m faced with making a decision that’s harder than what to have for dinner or what to wear to work, I feel like I’m in high school trying to decide my life’s course.  When I was a kid I was SURE that when I grew up I’d know what to do, where to go, what choices to make, how to live.  Forty some odd years later I’m still waiting for that certainty.

Sure, I understand some things better as an adult than the child did, but I still don’t have a lot of trust in all my decisions.  And some of them have been so very bad!  The consequences of those poor choices have chipped away at my self-confidence.  The ripples affect all aspects of my life.  Do I throw my hat in for the lead secretary position?  Or will I just screw that up?  Should I update my resume and look for a better job?  Maybe I should go back to school.

I know most people face these types of choices.  Do they also feel like they’re still little kids, pretending to be grown-ups?

Or is that just me?

Innocence Lost

Write about the most precious thing you’ve ever lost.

This is my first post here and when Word Press prompted me I started to panic.  I didn’t have anything ready to post!  So when I saw the Inspire Me link of course I clicked on it.  The prompt that came up was to write about the most precious thing you’ve ever lost.

Word Press couldn’t have known how that would affect me.  I lost my innocence when I was very young.  It was so long ago, I’ve never known for certain exactly when it began.  You see, my grandfather liked girls.  Yeah, no surprise there, a man liking women, right?  Wrong.  My grandfather liked girls.  Little girls.  And maybe little boys too for all I know.

I don’t personally remember the first incident; my mother told me years later that she’d left my baby brother and I with Grandpa while she went to work.  One day when she’d picked us up I said something about Grandpa and I “playing games”.  That was the end of Grandpa babysitting.

Years later, Mom ran off with a man (again, not much of a surprise) and left us with her friend Melray (That’s spelled phonetically by the way; I have no idea if it’s a real name or just what I remember calling her).  Friend might be too strong a word for the woman.  She was a complete and total bitch from the word go.  Our toys were redistributed to her children and we were made to do household chores.  Nasty household chores if memory serves.  I was in elementary school; my brother was under five.  The only thing that saved us was my Grandmother found out where we were.  She brought us to live with her, our Grandpa and uncle.

Then the real games began!

On the one hand, I wish I could remember how long we lived there before our mother came and got us back.  But on the other, knowing how long it went on could be counterproductive?  All I know is that when they told us our mother was coming to take us “home” wherever that was, I broke down into sobs.  Which ever one of the grandparents it was who told me thought I was upset that I had to leave – but I was so damned relieved that I would be able to get away from my Grandpa I couldn’t contain myself.  I think that moment set a precedent for the rest of my life, but more on that later perhaps.

Many years later, good old Gramps tried again.  Unfortunately for him, he made the mistake of trying when I was an adult.  Granted, I was only 18 and again living in the Grands’ house temporarily (having finished high school and being completely unable to tolerate living with the stepfather of the month).  This time though I put him in his place and he backed down.

Many more years later, after the failure of my first marriage I finally met someone who helped me understand what that abuse had done to my life and encouraged me to find help.  Group therapy was very healing; especially the role playing.  I got to imagine my Grandpa sitting in front of me and I could express all the pain and rage I felt.  It didn’t matter that he was already dead.  It didn’t matter that he wasn’t brought to justice.  It felt good to let it out and then to soothe and reassure the little girl I had once been.

So…innocence lost, never to be found again.  But wisdom, experience and compassion received in exchange.  Not a completely horrible trade.