It's the Do It All Decade
Looking back, helps me now. I was starting out as a journalist, and loving it. I still love it, but for different reasons. I was married; happily; had quite a bit of cash and didn't need people to support ME. Oh, and I was bulimic (but that's a minor thing). I was busy, fulfilled and always looking to get on the next run of the career ladder.
The 80's Dream
There's nothing wrong with that, of course (apart from the eating disorder bit) I am sure many 20 somethings now are doing the same thing. But back THEN there was a rampant individualism; a 'life is what you make it' vibe, and if you fall behind, that's YOUR fault.
One Shade of Grey
The Miners' strike was the first story I covered for local radio. This 92 year old man had walked from Scotland to Mansfield to get work. His hands were grey from all the coal he'd mined. 'That Arthur Scargill's Jesus to me,' he said, when I met him. 'My son's a SCAB and we'll never speak again.' The strike had ripped the community apart, and those who refused to work supported each other as best they could.
Big City, Bright Lights
But this was a different country from the one I lived in. When I moved to London, it was as if Mansfield was almost a made up place that had fallen on its luck. It was every woman for herself, and tough if you couldn't keep up.
Eating for Love
Eating disorders are complex. Bulimia, I think is about desperately trying to get nurtured, to make up for what was missing as a kid. Anorexia, a rejection of any nurturing at all as the idea of that kind of intimacy is overwhelming. Of course there's more to it than that. But I remember the 80's as a decade that didn't 'do' nurturing very well. If you admitted to having therapy or counselling then, you were 'weak' or you 'couldn't cope.' Why 'not coping' is a crime, I really don't know.
Fast forward to now, and with my midlife head, and heart, I can see how empty it all was. For me anyway. It took my some years to face and overcome the eating problem, and surprise surprise, there was a whole lot more 'stuff' to face. I dropped out of a church I had been part of. I got divorced. And then, in a sense I joined the human race. Except it wasn' a race anymore. It was more a slow trudging hike through mud and mess.
The 80's didn't give me many tools to take with me to future decades. Some people I meet now, still seem to be stuck back there; pretending everything is fine and dandy. Good luck to them; and I wouldn't wish them otherwise. (Well sometimes I would if I'm honest) No-one taught me then how to face pain, emotional or otherwise. There was no talk of how to find an authentic spirituality that didn't involve spouting doctrines and laws I didn't believe in.
Things were SO great back then
I've never bought the 'things were so great back then' narrative. With each decade, some things get better, others get worse, and some stay the same. I've been facing alot of shite (that is one my favourite words); no different, no better or worse than you, I am sure. And I now have some idea of how to ask for help without feeling a failure.
Golden Egg with Ashes
The 'survival of the fittest' 80's philosopy is hollow. Like a golden egg with ashes inside. Most of us ARE in this recession together. Many of us midlifers have tried and failed at marriage. Many women I know, don't have kids. Not because they can't but because they don't want to. Many of us live alone and yes, are sometimes lonely, but if we've clocked the importance of good mates, then not as lonely as the Daily Mail would have us believe. (That bloody paper hates women, yet I read it for the beauty page on a Monday)
You Think Too Much
It's probably, though not necessarily, women who are not so prepared to compromise. And not only 'career' women, whoever they are. A man once said to me 'you know your problem? You think too much.' Clearly, he was a secure person.(!) Obviously I think SO much that I don't have room for other things. It's Eastenders now; so am off. And my one regret? 80's Angie isn't there anymore.
Clare - you are a courageous, honest, clever lady.
Thank you! Reply only 7 years late!