I’ll be 56 next week. Birthdays are not normally a big deal to me but I keep finding myself reflecting on what this decade in my life has all been about. Not having been 56 before, I can’t work out if the way I feel is the consequence of the last six years or whether its just being 56. For one I’m slower. I notice a bench as I walk down the road and think “Ooh, that looks inviting. I might have a little sit for a few minutes”. But I don’t. Mostly though, its about my mental state and noticing that my reaction to stuff is very different to pre 50s.
I remember my 50th. I was due to start some major dental work the following day, so went out for a slap up meal in case I couldn’t eat properly for weeks. The next day, and seven teeth lighter, Steven’s social worker phoned me and set in train her plan that 4 months later saw Steven and I have to move out of the family home. As Steven’s and my birthday are only five days apart, my 6th decade coincided with his transition into adult social care. That changed everything.
So, my 50s started with my marriage ending through State intervention and has continued with Hillingdon ” erring” in law twice. Later that year, they unlawfully took Steven away from his home for a year. Two years later, they lost Steven (and me) our home with their error with our housing benefit. Ironically, as I’m so involved in #LBBill but my 50s have been characterized by the sheer vulnerability of my home. My concept of “my home” has been perilously fragile for the past six years.
All this has left me with a great fear of officialdom getting it wrong. Worse – I freeze and become ludicrously incongruent. Yesterday, the OPG returned my annual deputy report as they thought I’d got some figures wrong. I went into panic. What will they do? How will they judge me? What will I lose? Luckily, a friend slapped me round the face and said, “They’re not Hillingdon. You don’t have to fear them”. And she was right. I need to work on that. I think I’ll always be wary of Hillingdon but I don’t need to project that onto everyone else.
I don’t remember such fear, distrust and anger pre 50s. I know its understandable but its going to stop. Its not useful and is incredibly energy sapping. I’m trying to focus on the favours Hillingdon did me. I’ve got a whole new career of writing and public speaking. I’m not always comfortable with it but its an adventure and I like adventures.
The other week I did have a little sit down on a bench. By the lock, along the towpath of my new flat. I watched how turning a handle had such a dramatic effect on the water levels. I know changing our emotional levels can be harder than turning a handle but it doesn’t have to be. That’s all I’m trying to do.