It is my 38th birthday today, and I couldn't be less interested. I mean, it's a given that birthdays stop being the big deal they once were starting at about 25. You get to a certain point, and nothing new happens just because you get older; or rather, nothing new that's good happens; nobody really looks forward to aching bones and menopause and death. But this is different. Deeper. Approaching this week, I thought of a hundred things I had to do, and kept forgetting that my birthday fell among them. It wasn't important and I didn't care.
I'm not in a good place, and I haven't been for about 2 weeks. I have no idea if it's related to this birthday (though I don't generally have birthday/aging angst), to grief, to life, to Seasonal Affective Disorder, to the physical pain I again find myself in more often than not, or perhaps just plain old depression. Of these, the latter scares me most, because I've been there and done that, and it was pure misery. Maybe it's all of the above, or none.
But I don't know what's going on with me. I don't know why I am exhausted, and yet am having a hard time falling asleep. Why all I want to do is watch TV and not think, because thinking only has me mentally running in circles. I am seized by a cold apathy, and I just don't give a damn. About anything. I had a birthday dinner with friends last night, and basically faked my way through it (because it was too late to cancel it and stay home and eat a peanut butter sandwich, which is what I wanted to do). I don't want to talk to anyone, and spend a lot of time just staring into space. I have even less motivation to get my tasks done at work than usual, which is to say, my motivation can only be detected by electron microscope at the moment. At best right now, I'm going through the motions. All of them. The only time I feel at peace is when I'm curled up in my beanbag and a blanket, watching TV. I prefer watching other people's fake lives to living my own. I keep waiting for someone to notice, to notice my dropped hints, to hug me, and ask me what's wrong. But it doesn't happen. And I don't know what I would say even if they did.
It's not the numbness or emptiness I felt in the early days of widowhood. It's kind of a resignation that this is it. This is life, and I've lost hope that if any surprises remain, they're likely to be good ones. It's an overwhelming neutrality, a giant shrug and sigh, but instead of feeling the joy the Zen monks do of accepting that things are exactly as they should be, my acceptance of that merely leaves me asking, "Got it. Now what am I supposed to do with all my free time?"
I am not feeling any overt grief, nothing that I can identify as having set me off, but I am irritable as hell, and there are only two reasons I get like that: PMS and grief, and I am definitely not PMSing. The trigger and target for my irritability is most often E, and it's been pretty difficult for us lately. And as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I think I get double-angry at something he does because a) he did it, and b) A would've never done such a thing.
Now, I never lived with A, and intellectually, I know that if we had lived together, day in, day out, irritating things would've cropped up between him and me, too. That's how it is. But the reality is that we didn't, and we never had to deal with that dynamic. I'm not romanticizing the relationship overmuch; that's how it was. He and I never bickered. That's how it is when love is new. I totally get that it's an unfair comparison, but it's there, nonetheless.
Maybe it IS the birthday. Maybe it's because now there are 17 years between me and my sweetie, instead of the 20 there should be. Maybe it's because when I met him, I was 32 years old and I felt young and invincible, so young that sometimes I felt like a big dork and wondered why he'd put up with me, and now 6 years have passed and I don't feel young. Not at all. My friends, so many of them older than I, mock me when I comment on how old I feel, like I'm being overdramatic. But I'm not; I feel ancient and weary in my soul. I understand what "world-weary" means, and I am there. I look at the future, and all I can see is me slogging through it day after day. Sheer endurance trial.
I have achieved every dream I ever had, and I don't know how to dream up any new ones. And I don't know how to protect my wonder from the mundane erosion of days and weeks and years. I can still see the things that have inspired me. I can see the love that surrounds me. But it's not getting in; it's not touching me; it's not setting anything aflame within me. I've got a big ol' "that's nice dear" to offer the world right now, and not much else.
God, I need something really good to happen. I need it like air.