Have you ever noticed that middle-aged women are rarely the center of any light-humored novels? There is no “Bridget Jones: Married and Magnificent”. There is no “Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair, Part 2: Recovered, Remarried and Denouncing Dander”. No. Middle-aged women seem to be relegated to the brooding, unhappy and looking-to-be-a-home-wrecker type of character. Or, they are the center of self-help books, such as “You (really) CAN be fabulous (again)”. Society seems to have determined that middle-aged women are particularly not interesting and, most definitely, not funny.
Especially sober ones.
I actually mourned the loss of my Bridget Jonesishness as I began the glide to middle-age. It isn’t that I wanted to return to those naive and often insecure times of twenties. Not at all. But I do have that certain light-hearted, misty eyed reminiscence of what it was like when the world was seemingly better after a cocktail and a bitch session. I relished meeting up after work with my similar life-styled girlfriends. I loved downing martini after martini after martini. I liked having the right to carry on about the current men in our lives and their ability to be “fuckwits”. I felt funny and desirable and young and successful and witty and career-oriented. I felt haute couture and artistically tragic and hip. I felt like I had earned the girl scout badge of “Super Single”. But, I also felt lonely.
I actually think we were all lonely. We were a bunch of Bridgets leading the Bridgets. We pretended to be happy when one of the leading men would propose to one of our Bridgets. In reality we were insanely jealous. We all kept waiting for our Daniel Cleavers to morph in to Mark Darcys. Some of them did. Some of them didn’t. We managed to pass the time lighting one more cigarette and downing one more glass of wine. We embraced culture and youth and carried on having fun while at the same time hoping our special someone would magically appear at the 7-11 in the “so you forgot to feed your dog? Dumb ass.” aisle the same exact day/moment you too forgot to buy kitty litter at the grocery store (must be fate!).
Eventually I did trade in my “Super Single” badge (and my Daniel Cleaver) for the “Two = Team” badge. My now ex-husband was/is a good man, and, hell, he is the father of my three amazing children. Our story, however, was definitely more documentary than epic love story. Our shared path wreaked of alcohol soaked failures. We didn’t love each other enough to change our wayward ways for each other and we didn’t love ourselves enough to recognize the land mines we had laid for each other. In spite of all of our demons we managed fourteen years together, most days littered with wine bottles and beer cans. How we managed to make it that long was nothing short of sheer will power; an unwillingness to surrender in the face of sure defeat.
Eventually, however, the white flag was raised.
Now this Bridget is 40. And sober. And while that sober bit has been a rather bitter pill to swallow, I am lucky enough to be fighting that demon with a new partner who does love me enough to know my wayward ways and love me anyway. He is my Mark Darcy and he is the leading character in a real romance that I previously believed was only a fictional fairy tale. I can’t imagine tackling sobriety without him by my side. I have no words that can adequately describe my appreciation and adoration for his surrounding of me with understanding, acceptance and support.
This new chapter has certainly not been easy on either of us. Life is undeniably real and somewhat gritty. There are no lenses to filter reality or scripts to follow. There are no “editing of moments” or “redoing a scene” according to focus group research. It is as it is as you live it. But, here is the kicker… I think I have found more humor in this new middle -aged reality show than I have in all of my previous life roles. There is a certain clarity that comes with blazing honesty and a humble acceptance of your personal inventory… both strengths and weaknesses. It may have been a long path to get to this place, but this Bridget may finally be on her way.