I have mentioned before that when I was young, I imagined that there would be a moment when I felt like I had it figured out, a place and time when I felt like a full on grown up, and I hadn't gotten there yet. I was starting to think that maybe there wasn't a there. Maybe you just puzzled through every day trying to figure out the secret of everyone else who seemed to have a much firmer grip on what it meant to be a grown up.
But yesterday I realized: there IS that moment. Maybe not for everyone, but definitely for me.
I realized it because I experienced it.
It's not a secret that I have significant chronic health issues, the kind that can cause your life to end suddenly and sometimes without very much warning. What might be a little bit of a secret is this: I like to act like I don't have an illness. As a result? I am haphazard with my medications. I am careless with refills. I am not as respectful of medical advice as I should be.
I didn't think of it as being impactful to anyone but me, you see. I was tired of thinking about it so I decided not to. I wasn't hurting anyone.
Except maybe me.
But who cared?
I had a coughing fit in the kitchen yesterday. After, I couldn't catch my breath. This is a tough time of year, breathing wise, due to allergies. I kept coughing and then trying to draw in air.
The Fella asked if I was okay.
"Yeah," I said.
"No," he said, looking stern. "That sound-- you need your inhaler."
I dug out my inhaler and used it.
"I know that's almost empty," he said.
"It's okay," I said.
But the look on his face said it's not. And that? Was when I became an adult. Because I realized: it's not just about me.
It's about the people who love me. It's about taking care of myself so they don't have to worry. It's about not putting them through unnecessary bullshit because I want to have some other kind of life. The one where my body is magically healthy.
My body will never magically be healthy.
But I can still care for it and make it as healthy as it can be, and the people who love me in spite of the fact that I'm such an idiot deserve that.
I don't have all of the answers. I'm not great at being a grown up. I'm not entirely sure what that entails, to be honest. I am one though. I get some of it now.
It only took me forty years.