On Friday, I turned 50. I know, I know, “whaa??? But you look so young!” I get that all the time.

The aging I can handle, it is what it is. But there have been a lot of pressures this year, from a pandemic, bills, my work and my feeling of being inconsequential to my family. I fully realize this is where most people find themselves, so I’m not special. 

The pandemic affects those of us who are introverts as well. We like to play like it’s just a normal day for us, but it isn’t. We are also afraid. I am afraid. I watched my mother die, gasping for air, with level 4 lung cancer. I don’t want to go that way, I live in fear of that being my fate. Imagine a few years later there is a pandemic which does this exact thing on a global scale and no one around me takes it seriously. My family says they do, but they allow others into our house when I’m not around, or they go and hang out with friends without masks, etc. I’m supposed to not notice this, sorry, it’s the lot of those of us who are hyper-observant and have studied the humans enough to know a lie of omission for what it is. Confronting them will change nothing, as it will only end in more lies to buffer the omission they have already engaged in. I am afraid, not paranoid, just reasonable fear.

The bills are mine to deal with. My wife, she does feel stressed by the bills but she can also get some distance from it and forget it for a time. I am the one that must make sure they get paid, have to talk to the collectors or dodge them if needed. I am the one watching our bank account so that it doesn’t go into negative. It burns a hole in my stomach to not pay a bill, but I have to make sure we have money in the bank should either of us lose our jobs. That means holding back on some bills, and a ramping up of the immediate letters and phone calls of who we didn’t pay on time. Funny how not so long ago in my life I was carefree on what I owed. I didn’t really care if anything got paid or how bad my credit was. I was more at ease before I cared, life is odd.

Every Sunday, I go into a panic attack. Every Sunday, I am thinking of the things I have to deal with at work, the people I have trouble with at work. Having a demanding position and an employee who is problematic and protected by upper management. It’s even more demanding since almost everyone in the office is working from home, so I am doing things for them as well. They make demands and don’t think twice that I may be getting demands from the other fourteen people who are working from home as well. All expecting immediate compliance and reporting for their particular request. My employee, he is an angry, childish, forty-something male who is getting by on privilege alone. I was written up for the first time in my 20+ year career last week. I had not informed my manager of a carrier that wasn’t coming in on time, though I’ve never been required to do this before. I’m seeing the writing on the wall here and so now I’m looking at trying to find another job amidst a pandemic, as a trans woman, at fifty. Not a great situation to contemplate.

I have always had problems with believing I am loved or could be loved. I’m sure there is a nice psychological label available to me for this. I don’t feel abandoned, I just feel never claimed. You can’t be abandoned if you never belonged to anyone. I feel like now I am learning to love myself, to not hate myself. But I have the distinct feeling that my wife and children only barely tolerate me for the things I do or provide. I don’t feel that they love me or that I can trust them to be there for me. I fear illness or getting old, because I feel like I would be left to my own devices, left completely alone. Ok, so I suppose that is feeling abandoned. This feeling became more evident when I came out, either my becoming more aware, seeing through the veil of privilege and ignorance. Or, I am deluding myself and I am waiting for the other shoe to drop for no reason at all. Part of my panic attacks are when I dwell on my being old or infirm and my wife or children not wanting to deal with me, not taking care of me if I need it. I don’t know how to make myself a better person for them to want to care for me or love me. I could be wrong, it could just be me being foolish. But my children don’t talk to me unless there is something they need. Didn’t even hear from them on my birthday. And my wife never says “I love you” to me, only responding “love you too” if I say it. She isn’t shy about telling family, friends, acquaintances or pets that she loves them. But when it comes to me, nothing at all. It’s hard to believe that this is all in my head. I love her, I love them, but I can’t make them love me in return. I’m also far from perfect, so my overthinking can be a burden upon others as much as myself. 

My wife, for valentines, got me a fun gift that was a large bottle filled with fake medicine capsules. Within each capsule, she had written little notes like “I love you” or “Your nails are spot on”, you know fun things, endearing things. So that I could take one out and read it to feel better. At first I was like, wow that is such a sweet gift, she put a lot of time and thought into this. But then I over-analyzed the gift and then felt that she gave me this to placate me and absolve her from having to actually say the words herself. Even if it’s true, I am a victim of my own overthinking. Ignorance is indeed at times a gift, though I fear that my ignorance is not realizing that I am loved and will push them away from me.

Still despite my feelings of inadequacy and of being unwanted, it’s not all terrible. I am me, I can take some solace in this. I am finally me, the one thing I’m no longer denied. So, turning 50 is a surprise as I didn’t think I would make it past my thirties. I was fairly sure I would have killed myself by then. So, I’m alive and trying my best to get better, to be better. That in itself is a gift.

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