This one reads more like a dear Ann Landers article… oops!

Dear Ann,

I had a friend who in my first or second year of university told me a story that has always stuck with me. She had completed her degree and was working a minimum wage job and generally frustrated with how things were playing out. One particularly cranky day at work, she saw these older women who were hardened and bitter by what life had handed them. My friend had a wake up call in that moment – she decided right there and then that she was going to make changes, because she didn’t want to wake up one day and find out that she too had become hard and bitter.

That story has always stuck with me. Until recently, I always thought that story made an impact on me because I admired her tenacity to take her life into her own control, make the harder decisions, and make the changes she wanted to see so she could be happy.

In the last few weeks though, I have had my own sort of wake up call. It didn’t come as fast and as a snapshot of what life could be, but none-the-less, it happened. I was given a benediction by one of my friends that all of the older women in our friend group would get married next year (a absolute MUST for women MY age, according to Malian traditions). In this instance, I am an older woman because I am past the age of 25 and am not married and definitely do not have any rugrats running around. So as I acted indignant to being lumped into the wider group of older unmarried women (mostly for the laughs as for anything), I said:

“But I am not old yet! Old is over 30 and I am not over 30!”

“So how old are you?” With my birthday coming up I was reluctant to answer because it would undermine my act.

We all started laughing at my hesitancy and then it hit me. I DON’T WANT TO WAKE UP ONE DAY AND REALIZE THAT I HAVE WASTED MY LIFE BEING BITTER.

It was a thought that hit me like a ton of bricks and to be honest hasn’t gone away. I have felt the pollution of bitterness setting in like the roll of a slow fog, but I haven’t been able to name it. And unlike my university friend, the solution isn’t quite so obvious as to what i should about it.

Changes are happening and are coming. I have moved apartments to a place that is nearby to my Malian family, and gives me a lot more space, privacy, and comforts. My friend group is changing, and with it the dynamics of my social group (mostly for the better).

But there are changes that haven’t arrived yet. Work is still stressful and will be for another month or so. Some of my personal relationships are evolving in great ways, but the results won’t be felt until another month or so. The new apartment is settled into, but not the home I want it to be yet (and financial constraints have me slowing that process down). So there are all these things that could be really great, but yet I am still in limbo.

So, I don’t know how to “kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight” (as Bruce Cockburn says). I am trying to have some semblance of self care during this the busiest season for my team at work. I am trying to invest in the people and activities that matter most, and yet I still feel coated in the mist of bitterness.

How have you dealt with these weird limbo periods?

– Shrouded in Fog



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