inside my head: the b side of life
Warning: this post is the product of waking up at 4am and purging everything floating around in my brain. It’s not super pretty.
Let’s get started.
Selfish. It’s one feeling I grapple with when pursuing this sport of cyclocross, or cycling in general. Ironically the more that I am selfish about the time I invest, the better my results, the better I feel, but it leaves little time for other things in life. I feel finally balanced in my approach and management of this one endeavor, while other aspects of life get the back burner.
Burnout. I can’t tell if this is bikes or work, I think probably work, because I’d still rather ride a bike than my desk chair for 8 hours. My 2 weeks of vacation a year isn’t leaving me recharged or able to spend the downtime either with my family or pursuing the outdoor adventures that balance me as a human. I’m 47 years old and still getting 2 weeks of vacation a year. It’s fucking ridiculous.
Age. I’m not feeling it, but I look in the mirror and don’t recognize myself. Such a trick that nature plays on us. I’m starting to be self conscious of my age when interacting with new people. I realize I’m invisible, as a woman over 40. I remember hearing this from another woman over forty when I was in my early 30s and thought she was crazy, forty isn’t that bad. But I know now she was letting me peek behind the curtain. People don’t notice you anymore. You probably weren’t being noticed for the right reasons before, but the feeling of anonymity is palpable wherever I go. If I am interacting with anyone younger, I realize that they see me as a “middle aged lady.” This is who I am, minus all the negative connotations. I sometimes feel I could rob a bank, and never be noticed.
Now stop a second. This isn’t a pity party but a reality check. American society does not revere the middle-aged mom. It’s like a downgrade. How screwed up is that? I feel all these things and anyone can say oh you shouldn’t feel that way. I do feel like an empowered badass woman most of the time, and I’m relatively confident in most aspects of my life. I’m a lot of great positive things. But I’m not perfect and coping with the stresses of mid life like most others. Being a full time professional, a full time mom, and full time partner is demanding stuff. I did the “single mother who holds down a demanding professional job” for 11 years. That was really hard!!! Now I’m 3 months into cohabitation and while some financial strain has been lifted, it’s a new dynamic to negotiate. That I find the time to train and race a bike even at the modest level that I race at is pretty damn good, in my opinion. But guys, I feel tired. I want to eat lots of cookies. I want a week or 3 off from work, and to ride my bike for no reason at all, and to not feel bad about having a beer. Maybe read a book.
Ok, what other junk is lurking in my head? The ever present feeling that our country has left the rails and is careening toward unrecoverable disaster at the hands of a small minded, selfish, unstable, arrogant moron and that the other leaders of the country are corrupt without measure and complicit in selling out in every way imaginable or unimaginable. That feeling? That one is always there.
Work is in a funny spot right now as well, and I’m trying not to worry but I am. I’m a contractor working sans contract for the last 9 months. We know there is satisfaction with the quality of our work, but other factors always exist, usually budgetary. To add to this, the nature of what I do is subject to some market forces outside of my control, and as a cherry on top, some probably illegal moves by state government has re- appropriated the funds that make my work possible. I have a staff of 9 asking me every day if we are losing our jobs. I answer honestly, “Probably not.” But I don’t know. I don’t really know.
Other worries include: the future, saving for college, saving for retirement, my son probably forgetting his wallet or keys or phone or homework or to turn in that permission slip, or that he has a math test tomorrow. I’m worried that my mom is dating again at age 72 after 49 years of marriage and the guy she’s fallen for will break her heart or rob her or something terrible, but he seems nice enough so far. Gah.
The funniest thing about this entire post, this dump of neurosis, is that I had a few moments last week I felt I had achieved self actualization, even with everything that is going on in my silly head. I always marvel at how fleeting happiness can be.
It’s morning now, no longer the middle of the night and with a cup of coffee, these worries will wane and I’ll get on to the business of the day, whatever that may be. I’ll sneak a bike ride in, pick up my son from his meeting after school, make dinner for everyone, do the laundry, pack for a bike race this weekend, check my work email again before bed, and then probably fall asleep on the couch. And then do it all again tomorrow.