Patterns

I am 37 years old. 37…not 24. 37…old enough to have kids who, in turn, are old enough to no longer require a babysitter. Old enough to think, I mean really think, about the health and viability of my retirement portfolio. Old enough to be married, divorced, and remarried. Old enough to be in charge, to sit at the head of the table, to set the agenda. Old enough to be thoroughly stuck in certain reactive and behavioral patterns, to have very strong opinions about how things ought to be and be handled, to have significant prior experience to base those opinions on.

I posit that these patterns are hard to break at this age. At 24, I could go anywhere and do anything and pretty much be okay with whatever obstacle arose in my path, with wherever I laid my head at night and however spent my days at work. As long as I was making music regularly, of course…

This experience thus far has been an exercise in constant, nauseating gut churn. My stuff is still missing in action and I feel disturbingly unmoored floating around without furniture to tether me to the floor. I’ve just started a new job and feel compelled to be good-natured and charming at all times and it’s exhausting. I’m writing everyday, but I’ve not played music since I got here, afraid the cavernous echo of the empty apartment will arouse my neighbors wrath prematurely. People keep recommending that I get out and participate in loads of social nonsense that makes me tired just thinking about. Did I make a mistake? Was this all one big miscalculation?

I’m used to listening to my gut. INFJ all the way, after all. But my gut is, itself, stuck in a pattern. I’m used to making decisions in a certain kind of way, driven by ambition and external perceptions of success. My gut most recently led me to a place where I was crying over email, where I crashed headlong every night into a pile of bad TV and alcohol, where I felt alienated in almost all of my relationships and mostly wanted to do nothing more than be left alone with my Netflix and a bottle of decent bourbon. I suddenly found myself no longer 24 but 37, and truly, deeply unhappy.

Coming here felt like a sharp right turn, off the road I’d been on for so damn long and toward something different. Different good? Different bad? I don’t know yet. My gut feels some kind of way, but I think it’s in need of readjustment, following a history of bad habits and worse choices.

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