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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Middle-Aged Angst

A friend died the other week, a lovely, warm and kind man, he was younger than me, and it was out of the blue. Heart attack while doing something he loved, so as deaths go, I guess it counts as a good one. Not for his husband or family of course, it was just awful, but I'd rather go like that with no long decline of sickness and hospitals - when I go I hope it's fast.

At his funeral there was a lot of talk about enjoying life now, seizing the day, not putting things off. These are things we all say, but they became far more real and relevant in this setting.

So that, and the fact I will be 50 next month, have made me sit back a bit and take stock, consider my life and what I'm doing and where it's heading.

I am still surprised to be alive - I never thought I'd make it this long after getting my HIV diagnosis in 1988. I've been told twice by doctors to get ready to die, and I'm still here. You'd think I'd be pretty good at living in the moment, at seizing the day, at directing my life in ways to make me happy, but I'm not so sure I have been doing that lately. And I have been so lucky to keep on when so many others didn't, I feel a sort of obligation to them to live well, not to waste this amazing second chance I've been given.

I see 50 approaching, and I'm happy - I'm going to throw one big party I can tell you - but am I doing what I really want to be doing with this life?

Is this my mid-life crisis? If I was a straight man maybe I'd get a divorce and a Harley and 20 year-old girlfriend. But I don't know how to ride a motorbike and most 20 year-olds bore me after a bit.

It seems like so much of my life has been based around HIV - either dealing with it as it nearly killed me, slowly getting over it, and being involved in the politics of it. I wonder now if I want to follow that pattern over the next ten years. It has taken up a huge amount of space in my life, but I think I need to make room for other things before I die.

And realistically, I probably do only have ten years or so left - the meds are great at tackling HIV, but they are intensive daily chemo-therapy, they put a burden on the body - I know I'm far more likely to die of a heart-attack brought on by my the side effects of my HIV meds than to die of AIDS now - I find that quite grimly amusing.

In the meantime, I have to keep a roof over my head and put food on the table - but after meeting those basics, I'm left with this "Now what?" feeling.

Something will change, that's how it feels to me right now. I'm not sure just what, but I can see the signs in myself of something shifting, something moving.

I'm lucky - I have a great family, wonderful friends, I am loved and I know it. But something else is there niggling away...


okvalleyguy said...

Thank you for thoughts. I am in the same boat as you. Maybe a different ocean but it is the same boat. I have been near HIV death and survived as well. I have survived the "Finding Hope" mental stuff. I feel as well that my body will just fall apart one day. I have been taking my cocktail for 21 years now. I have been on disability for 18 years from a company i only worked 12 years for. I have been very lucky as the company has been good to me. I never expected to reach 4o yrs old, 50 was grand, 51 is scary. The scary part is looking at men who are 37 and thinking , they are too young..
That is what scares me now. Thank you Michael for your stories and insight. cheers granto

GayDinosaurTales said...

This was the first post I read on your blog, and it hooked me. I find your writing is so wonderfully honest. We all have so many stories to share. It is so very important. Thank you for spilling your guts as you do, and do so well. I have included you in my blog roll.

Best wishes to you,