The Slow Unraveling Of The Boomer Generation

Red Yarn | 331/365 (EXPLORED)

Red Yarn | 331/365 (EXPLORED) (Photo credit: mfhiatt)

Yes, it’s true. I know, I know, a lot of you are licking your chops. The baby boomers are getting old, who dared shout “you are already old?” Shut up.  What’s worse is that many people I know feel depressed  about it, and are whining, kvetching and complaining about it to everyone. Why me? Why us? Where did those last forty years go? Were we not just putting our kids on the kindergarten bus? Now our little ones are sophomores or juniors in undergraduate school or working at jobs they love or hate. How did it happen, more importantly, how did it happen to us?

Are we all having a later mid- life crisis together again? Didn’t Melanie sing that?  Hey, don’t ask me I have no memory left. I blame it on Fibromyalgia Fog but my memory is fading fast. Fibromyalgia just makes it a hundred times worse.  When talking to my female friends it seems we are all going through something. What the Boomer generation didn’t expect is that we would become the Sandwich Generation.  Caught right in the middle of taking care of parent(s) and still taking care of or paying for our not yet independent children.

We also have the worst economic disaster and many of us have lost jobs, have been laid off and if we are lucky to have a job it probably pays two-thirds less than the last job but hey, it’s a job. You don’t love your job anymore, you just suffer through it. Why? because it’s a paycheck which is better than unemployment. I tried to get a part-time job, right, good luck to me, if it wasn’t so sad it would be laughable. A lot of us, unless we are independently wealthy, are scared.

As my husband and I approach our 25th wedding anniversary we look at each other, depressed, feeling alone, not particularly in love like when we got married but we DO love one another. We love each other and are grateful to have each other in our lives. We are also friends,companions, the parents of our children. Sometimes when he snores we sleep in different beds. Romance? Apparently I have watched too many movies. My husband never knew the meaning of the word and I sure as hell don’t expect him to learn it now. Let’s face it, it’s a fantasy.

My husband and his friends are stuck at jobs that they don’t like but have to stay in to earn money, retirement is not around the corner. They have settled like we all have settled and it’s not a good feeling at all. Women, trying to get back in the workplace are finding the same thing the men are finding: there are no jobs, especially at our age. Did you say age discrimination? You bet and nobody cares. You can easily hire a 24-year-old kid than us “alte kackes” (Woody Allen can you help me describe it to them?) who don’t know social media from the NBC Peacock.

We can’t retire yet, well at least not us, we didn’t sell out ( sorry for holding that grudge, I would have probably done the same thing) like our beloved Ben and Jerry.  It’s scary but we really are all alone in this world. Truthfully, we have no idea what we are doing. Some people look at that as exciting and starting another chapter in their lives, whoever you are, I salute you.

It’s a new step, another change, another phase, one we honestly don’t like but we have no choice. We’re getting old, older and while we try to be gracious sometimes it can just take our breath away. It gives us a quick pain in the ass and stomach or whatever ailments we have by now. In addition to that, and I’m just telling  you this, there is a slight case of fear, ice-cold fear running up and down our veins every once in a while. We seek our friends to talk to, to share our feelings, they are the only ones who understand. We unravel, slowly, together.

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*Woody Allen’s Other Sister

English: Woody Allen in concert in New York City.

English: Woody Allen in concert in New York City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was practically BORN thinking about my mortality. It is amazing to talk to people older than I am (and I’m pretty old) that go into a sudden depression realizing they are getting old for the first time. Did they not know this was coming? I was born to be old, born worrying, born afraid. I could definitely be Woody Allen’s little sister. *Relax lawyers, I KNOW I’m NOT but I am so like him, it’s scary. I’ve always been a pessimist despite years of therapy. I thought for sure I failed every test when I aced them and any irregular (or regular) symptom had to be cancer. Describing myself as a “worry-wart” is too kind.

I have tried prescription drugs to alleviate my stress and anxiety but nothing works all the time. Even with medication I still see gloom and doom. I was fortunate to hide it from my children when they were younger, I tried so hard and it worked. Why can’t I do it again?  As they got older, they knew me better and have seen the real me. Plus, it’s a more dangerous world now than it was twenty years ago. I can’t hide anything from them, especially my son, who picks up vibes about me with just a “hello” and vice- versa. (He got that from me). My mother used to call me “over-sensitive” a word which I have always hated. I may not have known WHAT was going on but instinctively I knew something wasn’t right. I can sense things before they happen.

There are some days where I wake up and automatically go through the Rolodex (Google it) in my mind. It can go from a doctor’s appointment, a friend who is dying to security issues (the world is coming to an end, pork has salmonella, don’t eat at any restaurant (did YOU see 20/20?) a plane crash….) I categorize them all under the umbrella of: Health and Safety.

I’m my own damn movie and I can’t ever seem to have a happy ending OR  when I do, I’m afraid I will jinx it. I always play out different scenarios in my mind. What if “my fill in the blank”_______ husband, daughter, son, mother, sister….dies? What if I die first? Will my children be alright, how can I do this to them, I’d feel so bad, and guilty too. I’m feeling pangs of anxiety in my stomach even writing this….just so you know.

The clinical term is  “anticipatory anxiety” it’s no fun but it doesn’t happen all the time. I can’t help it when it does but I do try; sometimes deep breathing works or focusing on something else or playing with my dog, even walking. If you don’t have it, consider yourself blessed. Try to be an optimist or as my dad used to say “Worry when there IS something to worry about, not before.” Try and look at the glass half full, as the expression goes, not half empty, cracked and overflowing with mold and deadly chemicals, like I do. You’ll be happier and have an easier life. Trust me, I know.

The Papoose Of Pain

papoose, Otavalo, Ecuador

papoose, Otavalo, Ecuador (Photo credit: lumierefl)

We carry our illnesses like a papoose; they clutch us firmly yet we can’t put them down for a minute to rest. There is no relief from chronic pain. I used to think that sleeping was my cure; it used to be but not for a long time. Sleep was my escape for any emotional or physical pain, now it just adds to my frustration. I can fall asleep easily enough (with medication) but then I go through long periods of time when I wake up at 3:30am and am up to at least 6:30am if not longer. Sometimes I fall back asleep for a few hours but it is restless and fitful, with anxiety dreams, tossing and turning.

Who are we, these invisible people of pain? We are mothers and daughters, sons and fathers, sisters and cousins. We were not born this way but one day our “normal” lives changed, forever. For me, my life changed with menopause at age fifty. My body fell apart and it hasn’t been the same ever since. I developed thyroid problems and body aches and pains that left me limp, in bed, groaning in pain. No doctor could help me, my internist looked disgusted as she left the examining room, leaving me inside, alone, weeping with pain. “There’s nothing more I can do for you” she said and slammed the door. I felt bad that I had bothered her, actually she made me feel bad; it was NOT my fault.

I’m not saying I ever ran marathons but I didn’t have to wait to plan the day’s activities until the very last moment. I could plan going to Central Park to meet a friend a week in advance, or to see a new Woody Allen movie with a friend, or go drink a mimosa with brunch. Now, I always have to add: “but I will call you in the morning to see how I’m feeling.” My true friends understand; I’m the one with the problem. I feel ninety years old and handicapped, actually my eighty-five year old mother is in much better shape than I am, for that I am grateful.

I’ve given up hope on a cure for the future, I’m happy that the Rheumatologist I have not only believes in Fibromyalgia but takes it seriously and wants to help me. He also appreciates me because I understand the parameters, there is no cure and when he asks me how I feel I tell him “that under the circumstances I have been doing fine.” I am not bitter, I am sad once in a great while, and enormously uncomfortable. I thought losing weight would help but I lost twenty-five pounds and the pain is still the same.

For the last two weeks I’ve been lying down in the back of our car for four to six hours per day; tomorrow after a grueling tour visiting my daughter’s second college choice, I will sit for another four hours going home. Once home, I will take a hot bath and put on the jacuzzi jets and there I will stay until I can stop screaming silently with pain.

Independence (PFAM Blog Carnival)I

Fireworks #1

Image by Camera Slayer via Flickr

I don’t remember what complete “independence” is anymore. I used to know how it felt, before my illness. I remember quickly dashing through crowded city streets, staying out late, going to the Village after a movie before I headed home via taxi to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. I was young, admittedly, but there was little fear and so much to do.

FIbromyalglia and Chronic Pain took away my spontaneity and instant fun and robbed me of joy. While I can still do many things, I need to wait until the same day to see how I feel. That hurts, not only physically, but emotionally. I can drive my car, if I have enough energy. I can go shopping for food, when I feel I am up to it. Last week my husband and I went to the first movie we have seen outside our home in years. I felt free, we had a bite to eat, and we went to see the new Woody Allen movie and I was happy. It was one day, one joyful day out of many.

I plan on going to my son’s college orientation this summer; I do not want him to be the only student without a parent there but still I worry. How much will I be able to do? Can I get a taxi from the hotel to the campus? Will I be able to walk a few blocks? I know there’s a tour but I will have to sit it out. I am the sick mom.  I will smile sweetly and tell my son to report back every single detail while I sit on some bench, shaking my head back and forth, holding back the tears.

I am not that old but I feel old. Even the new medication I was on to give me energy has failed me. I was happy for a few weeks and I told my chronic pain friends that “Yes, There Was Hope for Fibromyalgia” and now I don’t know anymore. I feel bad for the people who thought I had found relief; I feel more sorry for myself wondering what happened and why this medication failed me, like so many others.

I rely on my husband, I am dependent on him; he knows the look in my eyes when I feel tired and depleted and when I hurt. He supports me, takes my arm. Part of me wants to pull away and say “I’m not a grandmother” yet part of me holds on and appreciates his love and help. My teenagers’ friends have seen me more in my pajamas than not. They have seen me lying in bed, with a book or the computer and even though I shout out a happy and cheerful “hello” I am embarrassed and I feel like I have let my children down.

Thankfully, my mind is still independent, I can think and emote and write and my imagination is not limited by my body. At the same time, I weigh myself down because the joy of spontaneity is lost forever. If I make a plan, even at the last-minute, I always have to think steps ahead, the amount of walking, sitting, standing, driving. If I decide I will push myself to go to the city and do something fun, I worry about if I will find a taxi because my ability to walk is limited. It usually keeps me home.

Independence Day is tomorrow, I would love to see fireworks, they make me so happy. I love the excitement and the blasts of color  and the screaming and the thrill. But, I won’t be going, because there are too many variables that stand in my way. So, on Independence Day, I will not be celebrating with throngs of other people. I  know that I can’t walk miles to see the show, I know that if I had to go to the bathroom there are none in suitable walking distance,  I cannot sit on the hard grass for the hours it takes  for the show and I will miss that dearly. On Independence Day, and many other days, I am dependent.

Worrying, Lamb Souvlaki And Pollyanna

Pollyanna (1960 film)

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve had way too many changes in my life in a short period of time and I feel unsettled. Anxiety attacks have crept up on me like the sting of bees approaching quickly, out of nowhere.  I feel anxious, on and off, and I am not too proud to admit it. A lot of people have feelings of anxiety, that’s why there’s medication and breathing, writing and music, and today, cleaning and keeping busy. Usually there are friends to talk to but my dear friend is in England having a great vacation and others don’t really make the effort or are just too busy with their own lives. My worry and I are together, we’re holding hands.

My mom has been sick and I am worried about her; her anxiety is fueling mine. My mother who was always seemed so strong and energetic seems  more vulnerable now, she’s had a horrible year and she’s scared, we both are. I’m “meeting worry half -way” as my old friend, ex-nun, lesbian and former boss used to say. That’s not doing anyone any good. I am scared for my mom and for me,  I think she is too.  My sister is usually the Pollyanna type in the family so I just wrote her and asked how she felt, maybe she can comfort me. I know she is not a worrier, and even though she is extremely positive about these sorts of medical situations I’m not sure it will rub off on me though I hope it does.

I have a wonderful husband, two great kids, a lovable, sweet dog; I have a home to live in and food on the table. So, why am I so unhappy? Better yet, why am I feeling so anxious lately?  I know I am worried about my mom but things have also been changing quickly.  My son graduated High School and is at his second home in Connecticut being a Counselor at his old sleep away camp. I’m told he’s very happy, we haven’t heard from him. I wonder if it will be the same way when he starts college in September but I am not ready to go there mentally yet.

When did fun flee from my life, like people racing out of the water at the mere hint of a shark sighting? What is happening? Last night was different and I was thrilled.  My husband and I went to an old, small, family -owned Greek restaurant, I ate Avgolemono soup (Greek chicken, rice and lemon soup) and pita bread, he ate lamb souvlaki, big, fat, french fries and a salad. Afterwards, we saw the new Woody Allen movie and ran into friends. Throughout the movie I did not worry, I was entertained and charmed by Midnight In Paris. Welcome back, Woody Allen.

Xanax is a prescription medicine that just takes the edge off of being worried, it doesn’t fix things, it smooths the sharp edges like green and blue sea glass. My feet ache, I think I have a broken bone in my left foot, it is hard to walk up stairs, it is hard to walk, it is hard to breathe. There is no way I can hobble around in the city, as planned, I will postpone it until after the X-ray next week and the results of my mother’s tests. More importantly,  I will  “talk” to my deceased father, sending messages and prayers into the dark sky like shiny, silver helium balloons. I hope you are right Pollyanna, I really, truly do.

The Last Engaging Conversation You Had (Plinky Prompt)

A little gray mouse in crochet with a bell ins...

Image via Wikipedia

  • An Engaging Conversation
  • Laundrymat My brother-in-law, Ron. He’s the younger brother I never had and thus, he’s the only one who can tease me about my advanced age (because he is a year younger.) We don’t talk often but when we do and have the time (like today) we can speak for over an hour easily. We talked about family, friends, trends (I need to fill him in on this stuff) our brilliant ideas that we have come up with together (hint: washing clothes). I ask him questions, he asks me; we delight at comparing stories, movies (the new Woody Allen movie) meals. Before I married my husband, Ron and I were good friends, we ate out, we talked, he always kept an eye on me when my soon-to-be-husband was still living in Maryland. I truly appreciated that back then and I have never forgotten it. More importantly, he helped keep a creepy, pesky gray mouse (and his relatives) out of the apartment that I was living in. I am terrified of mice (“Eek Eek A Mouse”) I still have the image in my mind of Ron, intense and hard-working filling in mouse exits and entrances with steel wool like he was working on a deeply important project. He was, I was hysterical. He has my back, I have his. P.S. I did have an image of a REAL mouse on here but it freaked me out so much I had to change it to the only mouse I will ever like, a fake one and Mickey.
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