I turned 45 years old this week.
And somehow, through all the libations and all the well wishes, I feel incredibly scared for the future.
I’m an older Black American, working mother with a young child. I’m also sick with Sarcoidosis. I have two impending surgeries and it has caused me to be obsessed with my own mortality. Black Americans who are descendants of American Chattel Slaves have a shorter life span than most other Americans. Racism, childhood trauma, stress, lack of fiscal foundation, colorism, divorce, poor diet, lack of exercise… you name it and it is probably wearing my internal organs down to a fine dust.
Right now, all I want to do is f’ing LIVE. My mother died when she was 46 years old. My Dad died when he was 51 years old. That’s a short ass lifespan, man! Losing my parents when I was young has had a profound effect on me, on my drive and on my view of the world. I’m a realist. I cry a lot. To be completely honest, I haven’t stopped crying since my Dad died when I was 16. Then my mother passed after my 21st birthday. I’ve been crying and asking them “why’d you leave me here?”, “this adulting sh** without a family based support system is hard”, “how can I raise this child and build her a good village so she doesn’t end up like me at 45”. Like those are the things I find myself wailing out loud when I’m alone. I’ve been crying since I was 16. For the last 29 years I’ve been crying internally with no permanent emotional resolution.
I think my last prayer to God was – PLEASE DON’T LET ME DIE RIGHT NOW. LET ME GET THIS CHILD OF MINE WELL INTO ADULTHOOD BEFORE YOU TAKE ME. They say you need to be specific. I guess I should refine it to say Lord, please don’t let me die right now because my child needs me and I’m the primary provider. Please Lord let me pull through these two surgeries, keep my job and heal. Lord, I boldly ask that you put my Sarcoidosis into remission and keep me wrapped in Your Favor so that I can survive and possibly thrive to support my child through undergraduate and possibly post-undergraduate studies. If you can elongate my journey and if it is in Your Will I’d like to be able to play spades with my future grandkids.
Every morning is a kinda clusterf***. I’m happy to wake up and then I’m like Lord, don’t kill me today. Then I’m praying for the Lord to cover my child. Then I’m angry because I’m sick with Sarcoidosis again. Then I’m sad because I’m alone. Then I’m uber angry I had two nervous breakdowns during my divorce. Then I’m happy because I’ve achieved a lot in my lifetime – for a Black American that grew up in poverty. Then I’m really sad because my career has plateau; I never felt mature enough to write the book I talked about in my 20’s and as a woman I feel desired sexually but not adored in a fashion that would make me a daily muse (yeah, I know that’s extra…) and definitely pass my f’ing sell by date for being vibrantly sexy. <<< That is a clusterf***, my friends. >>> And I cycle through this very stressful thought process EVERY DAMN DAY.
Soooooooooooooooo, as you are reading this “gut spill” — you are saying to yourself…. damnit Erica, pull it together woman. Whatever will you do? My answer: shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh if I know.
At 45 years old, I know there are things I should action:
- Stop living in the past. Yes, I accomplished so much in my past – but those years are gone. For the love of God, what am I doing to make the world a “more fabulous” place now? How can I start my life over -yet again? (Like I had a reboot at 39, 40 and 42… I swear!!!!) Why do I feel like my flame of inspiration has just been blown out by the never ending stress f*** of life?
- Boldly and honestly accept that I have anxiety, stress and depression. I need to be able to honestly say “I’m not okay right now. I need help” or” I’m not okay right now, I cannot seem to process what’s going on”.
- Be quiet more and keep my thoughts to myself. I’m not quite sure some of the people in my life deserve to engage the “vulnerable and broken” me. Have they earned that place in my life? Do I have a real friendship with that person? And really no one cares, we all have our crosses to bare.
- STOP WISHING LIFE COULD HAVE TURNED OUT THE WAY I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO GO IN MY HEAD AND ACCEPT / ADAPT / EMBRACE THE CLUSTERF*** OF A LIFE I HAVE IN FRONT OF ME. <<< This has been the hardest thing to do.
- Humbly and graciously accept that people come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime. People are either a lesson or a Blessing, but for the love of God when things fail – move the f*** on, already. Let it go, quickly.
- Put my health first above all things if I want to stay alive.
- Write more. Blog more. My bad poetry is okay because I enjoy writing it.
- Love on my kid as much as I can because I don’t know when my time is up, pour all the love I have into my child and make tactile, lasting, fabulous memories.
- Take more naps. Naps are good.
- Inform everyone in my circle that I will now invoke the “Kanye Shoulder Shrug” as an acceptable response to question about bullshhhhhh that transpires in my life. Sometimes I don’t have an answer to why someone mistreated me, why someone hurt me, why things didn’t work out, why I’m depressed… sometimes I just don’t know – so you get the shoulder shrug. I don’t know. I’m out here trying to love myself like Kanye loves Kanye – less the out of control narcissism. LMAO!!!!!
The long and short of it is that I don’t know what I’m going to do now with my life. I know that I’m really good at paying kindness forward. I’m really good at loving people who establish a foundation of trust and respect with me. I’m exceptionally good at cheering people on, leaning in and being a teamplayer. I’m a wonderful helper and builder to everyone that I encounter.
So… perhaps, I’ll just keep doing that —being a moderately decent, well-meaning, somewhat caring, try to be fair at most times, pessimistic, ginger loving, wine drinking — good person.
Here is to 45 years on the planet and God if you hear my prayers, Dude — I need 45 more years, tops.