If there’s one thing I do appreciate about aging is the perspective that comes with time. Try as I might, I am forever noticing that there are things I still need to work on and areas that I wish would just shift a little easier. Change is hard. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks? For so many years I thought that actually referred to dogs. But my 12 year old lab Luke seems to learn new things quite easily. Give him a piece of bacon and he’ll do practically anything. I love bacon too, but somehow even bacon can’t drill some things in. They just come when you’re really ready to get it. One thing I got a long time ago is that I have a bleeding heart: it trickles; it drips, and from time to time it just bleeds out regardless of any wisdom I have or perspective I’ve gained.
My heart bleeds each time I realize that I’m not going to be invited to Bunco, or a book group, or a party that looked really fun, with people I know and like. The car pools that I’m not included in and the social scenes that buzz around me, but not with me. Grow up! I remind myself in those moments when my heart squeezes and leaks a tiny bit. You don’t even like Bunco. You can’t remember the rules, or lack of. I tell myself. You have great friends, and who cares about the rest… It’s not even logic much of the time. It’s that old bleeding heart, with its utter lack of reason. Some days it points out to me that high school seems to go on far longer than I would have expected. It’s played out in all kinds of areas of adulthood as well. And I wasn’t that kid who took high school lightly. It punched the shit out of me. It was not easy. I do not ache to replay those Glory Days. Those moments that take me back to that time seem more like PTSD than a wistful longing. Drip, drip.
I appreciate that I’m much better equipped to get through those moments now and see them for what they are, more often than I don’t. As I get older I’m much better at talking myself out of a funk and applying pressure to the bleeding. You can’t play with everyone and not every party is for you. I know this. But I still lose track some days. In a week that found me hanging out with several new people, who I haven’t spent much time with before, this topic came up more than once. It was really interesting to go back and forth with sharp women, a couple of them my age and a couple of them several years older, and examine the mine fields of youth and aging, cliques, and social agendas, how those things are reflected back to us as we watch our own kids, parenting, empty nests and life as it changes. Some of these women are bleeders like me and a couple are not, and the different perspectives made the conversations and miles walked that much more compelling.
I’ve always admired those people who are so able to see what is theirs to take on and what is not. Grounded women, I admire you. I admire grounded men as well, just to be clear, but the rest of this seems to be female territory. Boundaries, a tough area for some of us and easy peasy for others. It’s another part about aging that I really do enjoy: peeling back layers and moving through things. Seeing them differently and learning to integrate pieces from various mind sets. I hate that it taken so long to get to some of this, I tell one of these women. “Ah, but that’s the journey, right?” She points out, wisely. Yes, but I wish I’d gotten more of it in say my 30s, and could have been that much further along by now. I say
half joking. Trickle, trickle. “It just doesn’t work that way my dear.” She laughed, and I noted for the umpteenth time recently that she’s right and I’m being hard on myself again. I’m always surprised to learn that what I experienced as angst, was normal all along. I smiled back and meant it.
I probably fell into my politics and many of the things I believe in because I knew early on that my heart bled and if one side was bleeding heart, that’s where I fit in. Admittedly, I’m not that person who understands all of the policies and agendas. I fall for the side that makes me bleed. I believe in good intentions and root for that side. In life that’s a little harder. There are other agendas, and subtexts to what goes on socially that I miss too often. I set myself up for the fall, and then wonder how it happened. Until that moment of clarity hits me again and I move forward, staunch the bleeding again. Talk myself through my own self doubts, or criticisms. My bleeding is all about my passion, and that runs good and it runs hard. I feel it big, and I then I figure out what to do with it. What works best? I write it down. I put it out there. It makes myself more vulnerable it might appear to others, but it’s where I find strength and the clarity, not vulnerability. I write it, and often let it go.
I don’t “pour my soul” into my writing, as one person reflected back to me recently. I get that it appears that way from the outside, but it isn’t how I experience it. Writing is cathartic. It is clarifying and soothing. It’s how I process things and work them through. My soul stays right where it should be, but the thoughts make their way to the page.
The last “heart” post I wrote, Nursing My Broken Heart, is one of those pour your soul moments. It was also a clarity and calming moment for me. Such big feelings needed a place to go, and that post was in the moment. I need to write. The days I don’t, I regret it; something feels missing. On that day, I had dropped my 22 year old daughter, Principessa, at the airport knowing that she would be gone to Israel for at least a year. It was not just the literal distance, or the saying goodbye again, or all of the obvious sending your kids off things that may pop into minds… It was the reminder of what has already passed, what is still to come, what the time away may lead to for either of us, and then of course… yes, just knowing your child will be very far away. As my two oldest kids have each left home, and as they move further and further down their own paths, their journey also shines a big klieg light onto all of the issues that I am grappling with, and sorting through. Process. Drip. Growth. Drip. It’s how I’m wired: I bleed. And then I grow.
This same heart fills to brimming as I watch my boy, Little Man, push himself toward the finish in his Cross Country race. It bleeds a little for the boy who was trying so hard and had to drop out. It fills back up as I head out to the Farmer’s Market and take in all the color and sound and beauty. It drips and leaks when my girl tells me she’s still living in a youth hostel, two weeks after arriving in Israel. Take my girl in, it whines. It is a heart that drips, and leaks, and aches, and surges, and sings, and heals. It’s a big heart with a lot of scars and a lot of laugh lines. But bleed it will. And that’s ok.
Are you a bleeder or a practical heart? Do you feel things big, or take the moderation route? Share your thoughts and tell me what resonated.
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