My copy of my friend Ann Douglas’ newest book Navigating the Messy Middle finally came in last week and I am now reading it. I turn 42 in a few months and I do consider myself middle aged, though I also feel very young – but so do some of the women she described.
Immediately off the start of this book Ann talks about all of these women of varying ages and life circumstances and I can see a piece of myself inside each of them. I thought I would get here and be in a much different place but life has not be clean and easy, and society has changed drastically.
Growing up I had different ideas about what my life would be like, but I did not think I would get to this age and feel like it was broken in pieces around me, and I would be standing in the middle trying to make sense of if all.
Marriage and parenting, work, finances, my health and mental health, my joy. Sleeping enough, eating enough. Caring too much about things that really do matter, but I can’t take on by myself.
At this age I am more myself that I have ever been, and right now I’m less sure than ever if that’s a good thing. I thought it was, sometimes I still do – but depression and outside pressures tell me maybe not. It’s just a losing battle.
I spend a lot of time thinking that I am too smart to be made to feel so stupid.
I am going to lose myself in Ann’s book for a while, with the friends I know she interviewed as part of her research, and I know there will be another side to this story.
There is comfort in knowing that there are so many women like me, who got here and are confused about just what exactly is going on. That some of them still feel like they’re younger, like I do.
When I read Shrill by Lindy West, I wished that I had been able to read it when I was younger and known that other girls felt the same things that I did as a teenager. With this book, the timing is right.