Life Begins at the Big 4 and 0.

I turn 40 in a few days' time, on December 5th, to be precise, and, I have to say, somewhat surprisingly, that I am looking forward to becoming officially middle aged. You could say that even reaching this age for me is an achievement and, indeed, getting here has often proved to be a long and difficult road. My experience of mental illness has meant that I've had to forgo many of the things that many would consider constitute a "normal" existence. Opportunities of work, marriage and children, I think, have all been reduced due to my painful, somewhat arrested, development. And, in a post entitled "Birthday Blues", which I wrote three years ago, I complained of the consequences of my illness, and made the following assessment:  
"...as I sit in my comfy chair, is it really so comfortable? What, as I approach the dreaded 40, do I have to look forward to? More free time? More getting bored? More impecuniousness, penury and poverty with no holidays because supposedly my whole life has become one of leisure? Watching more crap DVD's, even crapper television?
"Well, all I can say is that now my feelings about my birthday are a far cry from how I felt when I was younger. As I slowly encroach towards my 37th, my own mortality finally bearing down on me, my own sense of lack of achievement growing, my feelings of the pointlessness of existence exacerbated, I really can't get all that excited."
However, with only three years between now and then, I am very glad to report that things have changed. I seem to have reached a time in my life where I can finally say that I am, despite it all, contented. Although I lack many of the material things which are supposed to make us all so happy, I think, without sounding almost too corny for words, that I have grown both spiritually and emotionally during this time. Whereas once I felt a great emotional absence in my life, I feel that this has now been filled with many new friends and experiences. The Pathways Group and my voluntary work have been invaluable in helping me achieve this new sense of fulfilment, and I am, now, more than ever before, appreciative of the people I have come to know. Because I once seemed to have it all and then lost it, I now have the knowledge and understanding that the people in my life are the most important thing. They will always come first. And I would just say to the people who have been instrumental in my recovery, a great, big, appreciative thank you. I would give particular mention to my closest mates, Mark, Helen and Gary. Admittedly, they are all very different people, but each is wonderful in their own way, and without them, my life would be not only decidedly duller, but also a lot more difficult. I should also mention my parents, who, at the grand old ages of 76 and 80 respectively, never cease to give their loving support. Even during the darkest times, they never gave up on me. And, even though I sometimes have a bit of a go at mental health services, I do appreciate the many professionals who do a great job in looking after people unfortunate enough to find themselves unwell. Perhaps the most important thing that I've learnt is that the old saying that you reap what you sow is decidedly true, and as I have given, or been able to give, more to others, the rewards have been immeasurable.
But, also, I now have the sense that I am a stronger, wiser and more capable person than I was before my illness. Whereas once it seemed I almost defined myself by what others might think or say about me, I now know that, whatever is said or done, that I am OK. Yes, I have finally decided that I am a decent, nice sort, and I don't think that I would ever allow myself to be dragged down in the way that I was previously.
So, for me, life may well begin, or at least, be beginning again, at the big 4 and 0. You could say that, really, I'm a bloody lucky man. You could say, after all this time, that I'm happy.  

Comments

bazza said…
Ah David, you're just an infant. The good news I have for you is that these days (they say) life begins at sixty. I am pleased to read that you have the ability to count your blessings. I wish you a very Happy Birthday for the 5th and many more to come.
Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’
David said…
Dear bazza,
Thank you very much. Of course, I forgot to mention all the people who regularly comment on my blog. I greatly appreciate all of your input too, and you have all contributed to my new sense of well-being.
Might I take this opportunity, then, to wish you many happy birthdays to come, too!
With Very Best Wishes,
David.
Lost in Space said…
I hope you have a good birthday, from a long time reader and first time commenter.
- Lost in Space
David said…
Dear "Lost in Space",
Thank you so much for your comment.
It is very nice to hear from you, as I think I know your identity (but will of course keep it private).
Anyway, I hope that things are going OK for you. I'm sure that everyone else you met along with me would only be too pleased to know how you are.
With Very Best Wishes,
David.
The Manic Chef said…
David, my new pale in blogging life, I shall give my wishes to you on your day of birth. It's always nice to have B'day greetings upon the day your poor mother pushed for the last time....and out came you! Special little you, (not little now, but then, had to clarify that) I must say 40 is nothing, just wait.....oy! Walk in my shoes....on second thought no...yours is tough enough! Wouldn't want to overly burden you with my life...wait a minute what life? I digress. It's wonderful to know that you have come to that place of contentment, and I only wish you more contentment in the years to come. With heartfelt sentiments from me to you....later!
David said…
Dear Manic Chef,
Thanks for your lovely birthday wishes. As I said to bazza above, I hope you too have many happy birthdays to come.
Very Best Wishes,
David.
dcrelief said…
David,
I like this charming post. I could feel the power and contentment in your words, and through the cadence of your style.

In celebration of your coming birthday, I pulled an 'angel card' for you that states: "Today I am open to the love of the Universe, my Higher Power, and other people."

So happy for you!
Dixie
klahanie said…
Dear David,
And from a buddy of yours, considerably older, but hardly wiser, I'm wishing you the most peaceful of birthday wishes.
My friend, you have come a long way in your ongoing determination to live a healthier, happier life. You have a lot of valuable positive resources that have been an integral part of your determination to realise that at 40, it's only the beginning of even better times to come.
And you will be turning 40? Heck David, I thought you were half that age, you awesome looking dude!
With very kind birthday wishes, your way, Gary
David said…
Dear Dixie,
Thank you. And thanks for thinking of me with your "angel card". It's nice to know that, even though so far away, though the "power" of the internet, you can send me such lovely thoghts.
With Very Best Wishes,
David.
David said…
Dear Gary,
Thank you, also, for your birthday wishes.
One day, I hope to be as old as you! And, perhaps, similarly hairy.
I can only hope to be as handsome and hirsute as your good self in future times.
Thanks, my pal.
With Very Best Wishes,
David.

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