Cracked

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Watching  a band play I thought something broke inside of me. The music begged for full attention so I gave all of it to the sounds on stage. Someone else said there was nothing else to do but lean in to the music. Another person said it was the best show he’d seen this year. Hands down. I took breaks to go outside because it was so good. I couldn’t take it all in. Increments. 
You get it? 
It was a damn good show. 

Broken.
While sitting and listening and finding some sort of meditation through the songs, I realized that I didn’t break then. I was already broken. 
And becoming aware of the cracks started to heal them. Progress. A damn good show. 

Two Things About My Thirties:
So far they were the best times of my life. The very best probably the day I turned 35. I was on the road with my band, hungover from the birthday celebrations the night before, and in love for the first time in years. 
I thought I had this aging thing down. 

Until I knew that I didn’t. But isn’t that how it goes? You know so much at certain ages only for the next year to take all that confidence and knowledge away. Who cares what my 40-year-old self would say to my 30-year-old self or 20-year-old self. It’s always kinda truthful but also kinda bullshit. For everybody. 
I don’t have the aging thing down. 
I’m single, turning 40 and I’ve been scared to death about it while wondering how I ended up here. 

A Theory:
Maybe spending four years with a guy close to 13 years younger than me might be a factor. 
But I was 35 and so in love. The only problem is that it worked until it didn’t. We were meant to be together until we weren’t. 

My 36-year-old self whispered to her mother while this younger guy was in the bathroom. Her mother had been searching for the perfect spot on their land for a wedding. And I was sleepy enough and giddy enough to confide that I’d been thinking about too. 
We agreed it was not going to be a big ceremony. 

“Nothing fancy. Just wine and beer,” I said. 
She responded with a sour face.
“You don’t need booze.”
“It’s a wedding mom. My friends need booze.”
“No. You don’t. Why must everything revolve around drinking. We don’t need it.”
“Mom, you’re not the one getting married.”
“You don’t need it, and I don’t want it.”
“Well you don’t have to drink it. You can sit on the porch with a frown and just watch us have fun.” 
“Why does everyone need booze to do anything? And why does everyone have to drink coffee?”
At this point I hissed at my mom to be quiet.  I did not need my boyfriend walking into an argument about a pretend wedding in which he was the groom. 

At one point after the breakup I told him to just go and be with girls his age and just be 25. Not that I’m an elder prude. He just couldn’t give me what I needed, and there was no justification for him to try. 
Go. Be 25. 
In returned, he secretly started dating my ex-coworker who is a year or two younger than me.  
I had to learn about it from other parties with the forewarned, “I was told not to tell you, but…”
Which I found the act to all be very childish or even young adult like. So good for her and him. I kicked him off my Netflix. 

Only to add him back after he apologized for not telling me. 

I haven’t seen him in more than a year and he’s still there. On my Netflix. 

It has been a year, and I have either, dated, hooked up, hooked up relentlessly with someone I hoped wanted more than what he could give me and I’ve rushed into a relationship only to rushed back out as fast I could. The only thing I really gained from this year is that you cannot expect too much from anybody. You cannot romanticized a person or a situation. Knowing that is freeing. Learning that hurts like hell. 
My friend keeps asking me what I wanted to do for my big birthday coming up. I said I haven’t thought about it while my chest tightens and the darkness looms out there reminding me I’m turning 40 and I’m single. And I was broken. I lied. I think about this birthday all the time. 
But becoming aware of being cracked from the inside begins the healing. And who cares anyway. Maybe forties are better than thirties. Maybe it is a big birthday and the arrival of it has not left me as broken as I once thought. Maybe my 45-year-old self is already laughing at this dire 39-year-old broken version. Maybe she’s waiting to pat my head like the child I am and tell me to stop worrying.

Written By Brooke Mccarley

Bio: Brooke McCarley is a musician and writer. She lives with too many dogs in Birmingham, Al.

Website: southernandsidetracked.com - Facebook: @brooke.mccarley - Instagram: @general_hoot (mostly just dog picks)