Tomorrow (Saturday Sept 28) is my fiftieth birthday.  Yep, the big Five-O.  I didn’t think it was going to bother me, but I’m shocked that I was wrong.  All week I’ve been irritable.

It didn’t bother me when I turned thirty.  It didn’t bother me when I turned 40.  Interestingly, it did bother me when I turned 25.  Why?  Because I was a quarter of a century old.  I’m having similar thoughts this week…I’m turning a half century old.  The other day it hit me that I have more days behind me than I have ahead.  I think that’s when I started getting a little sad.

On Facebook I stumbled upon an old friend from high school recently.  She said she was excited we made contact because she was anxious to see how my life was going.  She said she wanted to know because I was filled with so many hopes and dreams.  I can’t remember what those were specifically, but I’m certain it wasn’t where I am today.

I did not expect at fifty years old that I would be diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  I always had extreme highs and extreme lows, but I didn’t know that I would be branded with a name for it.  Until being diagnosed a few years ago, I just thought I was a very strange kid who felt like I never fit in.   Sure, many kids feel that way who do not have bipolar, but, I lived in that bubble 24/7.  I’m still in that bubble.

I did not expect, at fifty years old, that I would be living in a shabby community in an apartment the size if a postage stamp.  The cute home in Scottsdale, Arizona is long past and will possibly be the only home I’ve ever owned.

I did not expect, at 50 years old, that I would be a recovering alcoholic who had destroyed a career and wound up homeless for a period of time.

So those are most of the things that are bringing me down.  There is, however, a lot of joy in my life and many things I’m grateful for.

Refusing to admit I’m gay, or thinking I could overcome it, I met a wonderful woman and we were married for five years.  I’m saddened that I turned her entire life upside down, but there is something fabulous that came out of it and that would be my beautiful daughter.  Being an alcoholic I missed way too much of her life. I’m happy today that we have a great relationship.  She lives 1500 miles away so I don’t get to see her as much as I’d like, but through the miracle of Skype we are able to stay in touch.  While I’m not sure I believe in fate, I do believe my ex-wife and I were brought together to produce such an amazing kid.

Accepting that I’m gay was hard and coming out of the closet was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.  Every day, when I look at Maurice I realize coming out if the closet was the best decision I ever made.  Never did I imagine that I could possibly end up with such a wonderful man.

So I live in a tiny apartment in a neighborhood that’s not ideal.  It may not be where I expected at the age of 50, but it sure as hell is better than living in the streets like I was 10 years ago.  I have food in my belly and a roof over my head and that’s more than what millions of people have.

As far as destroying my career, it was for the best.  My ego was stroked, but I was not really happy.  Had things continued in the direction I was going I would probably still be there.  Making good money but working a job I hated.  I may be 50 years old, but I finally know what I want to do when I grow up – getting a Masters of Divinity degree and becoming an ordained minister.

If it seems I’m rambling a bit here, it’s because my head is rambling.  One minute I’m sad and the next minute I am grateful.  No matter how I feel, I’m turning 50 no matter what.  I just need to stay focused on the good things in my life…and there are many.

Were there any particular birthdays that were difficult for you?  I’m interested in hearing what they were.

24 comments on Fifty

  1. Most difficult b’day was last year when I hit the 80 year mark and had to accept that I can now be officially designated a crone. On the other hand, that’s can be a mark of distinction. On the better side, my very best years were those between after 50. The best for you is yet to come.

  2. Lordy, Lordy I Feel Forty!
    (Holy Crap I’m Fifty!)

    The strangest thing happened to me the other day: I had a birthday. Now you have to ask yourself is she that bizarre a person that she thinks having a birthday is strange? Well, technically no. What is strange about this whole situation is that I am ecstatic about it!

    I have reached a milestone in my life: I have witnessed a half of a century passing. I have been an integral component in the passing of that time that I have witnessed. Okay so I haven’t created anything incredible, or found a cure for anything tangible, or left an indelible mark anywhere. But bloody hell I had a great time doing it!

    I was born 50 years ago. I had a mother and a father and two older siblings: a brother and a sister. 50 years later I still have a mother and two older siblings, but I have also gained a brother-in-law, a nephew, a myriad of wonderful friends and non-blood related relatives. I am significantly taller, relatively heavier and only slightly more outspoken. Evidently when I was child I had a set of lungs in me that demanded to be heard. I have had some fun times, some sad times, and even some incredible times. And that makes me a pretty incredible person even if I am the only one that thinks so. Forgive me if I appear a little arrogant but I’m pretty sure there are other people out there who think I’m pretty incredible too. Now here’s a wonderful thing about reaching 50: I don’t have to pretend to be humble! I like presents and I like compliments and I’m not ashamed to admit it. So there! My goal in life (today anyway) is to work towards becoming a rich, cranky old bitch. Now the ‘cranky’ I pretty well have down pat. The ‘bitch’? Yeah I pretty much have that down too. Now of course the ‘old’ part is inevitable and I am well on my way. As for the ‘rich’ bit? I buy my lottery tickets and I lose. Life would be no fun if we got everything we wanted. But still we keep trying.

    Something else I discovered when I turned 50. All of a sudden other people’s opinions are less important. That was a surprise to me. All my life and I am sure I’m not the only one who was this way, what other people thought was of paramount importance. I guess I wanted to be liked; I wanted to be important to other people. Now it’s not that I don’t care at all, but it’s just that my opinion is more important to me. Isn’t that silly! It is incredible to think that the passage of 24 hours can turn my perspective upside down.

    I like people. I like me. I sometimes go down the street with a silly grin on my face for absolutely no reason at all. It is a beautiful day, I had a wonderful thought or maybe for absolutely no rationale at all. You see it doesn’t matter. I feel as though I have been liberated! I am 50, I am fabulous and I’m having an incredible life. You cannot reign on my parade because I have an umbrella! Okay so back to me.

    I have a few wrinkles on my face but only a few and I earned every single one of them. So I’m very proud of them. People say I don’t look my age and I would love to take credit for that. But I cannot. Like any lazy person I mistreated my skin by omission. I guess I just got lucky. I didn’t use expensive creams on my face because they were expensive and way too much work. So I credit my youthful skin to my parent’s DNA. My mother turned 87 this year and she still has beautiful skin. She also has beautiful nails which I have never had. So I am going to do something that befits my newfound stature: I’m going to get fake nails done professionally! For the first 50 years of my life I had lousy nails (I bit them), now I want nice nails.

    What Does 50 Look Like?
    Well, actually, 50 looks like me, and perhaps you. Fifty is a successful business woman who owns her own company and does business in the millions every year. Fifty is a grandmother out with her first grandchild. Fifty is the woman who is about to enter her third body building contest. Fifty is the proud mother preparing her child for university and thinking of joining him next year.

    Fifty is a number that has no power except that which we give it. I look forward to each and every day because every moment is a treasure to be thoroughly exploited. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. Cheers!

    1. Wow. What a wonderful comment, quiall. I don’t know what to say other than that you really helped to lift my spirits. Thank you

  3. Bradley,

    Leaving momentarily on a 4.5 hour drive to Toronto. Have a fantastic 50th and feel the love from up north. Maybe watch the Lion King and get into that circle-of-life Zen place.


    1. LOL Watching the Lion King may be a good idea. Grumpy Old Men is another option. I can’t wait until I’m old enough that it’s okay to be grumpy. I’ll have fun telling kids to get out of my yard.

  4. Bradley,
    Maybe you could be grumpy but with a twinkle in your eye that lets the kids know where your heart is…..
    Happy 50th!
    It was good to hear about your life. Quite a way you’ve come. I happy for you that you’ve put down the drink and found your heart-mate.
    I had my 50th 3 years ago. It wasn’t a difficult birthday though. I got together with some close friends and we went to an old church that was converted into a community space without the pews. We did some movement to music. The movement was a combination of meditative, playful, improvisation. One friend who is a musician played live for us as we danced.
    Something I love about getting older is in the heart and spirit…knowing who I am and being less concerned about fitting others’ realities.
    I can’t think of a birthday that was difficult….but there probably was one.
    What do you have planned for your 50th?

    1. Not much planned, Gel, just a walk along the beach in the morning and a nice dinner in the evening. Your celebration sounds like it was a lot of fun.

  5. Brad, luckily, my toughest birthday is way behind me – it was my 30th. I’ll be 63 next month, and I’m in the best season of my life. I became a believer nearly 7 years ago, was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 years ago (and in complete remission now after a radical mastectomy/lymphectomy), went on disability two years ago due to the after effects of chemotherapy after a lifetime of teaching elementary school, yet…God is so good.

    He has given me a whole new assignment. For the last 3 years, I’ve been writing k-6 devotional Bible curriculum for homeschool / Christian school kids. Oh…and did I mention I’m also bi-polar?

    Chin up, darling man. In our weakness is God’s good strength, and WOW, is He ever powerful. I’ve never had such peace. Oh, yes, there are days…even weeks, when I fight spiritual battles with the enemy, but as I abide in Him, Jesus and the Holy Spirit always lead me on level ground.

    Bless you. Happy Birthday. You will bring light and love to those you touch. Glad to meet you on Project O. Following you and will offer my support.

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Susan. and for sharing your story. Things could definitely be much worse than turning 50.

  6. Happy Birthday Bradley, I almost missed it. 50 is a good age. You’ve lived a life, some good and some bad but at least you are alive and kicking today. I’ve known so many that have died young who never got to see today, so I’m grateful to see tomorrow.

    I know what you mean about being closer to the grave though, sounds scary and as the years tick by, it is something that I think about more and more. As for my birthdays, I think I’ve just about done most things that I wanted to in life, so it’s not a big deal anymore.

    Bradley, did you do something nice?

    1. Thanks RPD. Didn’t do much, which made it nice. Just went to a movie and then had a very nice dinner.

  7. Happy Birthday! Thank you for sharing your perspective, as well as some experiences you’ve had in your life. “I have more days behind me than I have ahead” is really beautiful and poignant.

    35 has hit me quite hard as I am nowhere close to where I want, or thought I’d be. Cliche but true.

  8. A very happy belated birthday Bradley! So sorry I am so late. Hope you had a good one and have many many more to come.

    I just turned 40 and found that a bit hard to swallow. I don’t feel any different than I did when I was 30, perhaps more screwed up but you know. I try to look back and see how much I’ve accomplished as you yourself have done and see that I/we haven’t done a bad job of things no matter how we may feel on occasion

    Big hugs to you love.

    1. I had a very good birthday. Don’t worry about being late. I’m just happy to hear from you.

  9. I turned 50 this June – two weeks after my knee replacement, so I had other things to occupy me. The hard year was 48. I counted wrong and thought I was 49 all year, and was freaked out that I was about to turn 50. When I found out I’d spent a whole year worrying for nothing, I was rather embarrassed, but the cool thing was I got all the worrying out that I had in me. The real 49 and 50 were a breeze.

    My big understanding this year was that I was always meant to be 50. The teens, 20s, 30s, and 40s just didn’t fit me that well. I was waiting my whole life to get here. This is the person I want to be. That’s a pretty cool place to land. I wish you the same Brad.

    With Love,

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