Thursday, August 27, 2009

On the Cusp

Even Britney will get old!

Back in undergraduate and graduate school, I was well versed in Erikson's Psychosocial Stages of Development. I was a late bloomer..always did things backwards, (I still bowl off the wrong foot).

I had children first, at a very young age, and later began college (full-time) at the ripe old age of 33. In Psychology 101, I first learned the stages of development. This would have come in handy before I had children...and my guilt at having kids so young was reinforced once again as I read through the stages:

Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development

Infancy (birth to 18 months) Trust vs. Mistrust * Children develop a sense of trust when caregivers provide reliability, care, and affection. A lack of this will lead to mistrust.

Early Childhood (2 to 3 years) Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt * Children need to develop a sense of personal control over physical skills and a sense of independence. Success leads to feelings of autonomy, failure results in feelings of shame and doubt.

Preschool (3 to 5 years) Initiative vs. Guilt * Children need to begin asserting control and power over the environment. Success in this stage leads to a sense of purpose. Children who try to exert too much power experience disapproval, resulting in a sense of guilt.

School Age (6 to 11 years) Industry vs. Inferiority * Children need to cope with new social and academic demands. Success leads to a sense of competence, while failure results in feelings of inferiority.

Adolescence (12 to 18 years) Identity vs. Role Confusion *Social Relationships: Teens needs to develop a sense of self and personal identity. Success leads to an ability to stay true to yourself, while failure leads to role confusion and a weak sense of self.

Young Adulthood (19 to 40 years) Intimacy vs. Isolation *Young adults need to form intimate, loving relationships with other people. Success leads to strong relationships, while failure results in loneliness and isolation.

Middle Adulthood (40 to 65 years) Generativity vs. Stagnation * Work and Parenthood; Adults need to create or nurture things that will outlast them, often by having children or creating a positive change that benefits other people. Success leads to feelings of usefulness and accomplishment, while failure results in shallow involvement in the world.

Maturity(65 to death) Integrity vs. Despair, Reflection on Life; * Older adults need to look back on life and feel a sense of fulfillment. Success at this stage leads to feelings of wisdom, while failure results in regret, bitterness, and despair.

Truth be known..I've been in despair, too much. I kept wondering why I lay in bed at night and think about all of the things I wish I'd done differently. I didn't used to do that! Oh, once in a while if something stirred a memory, but not often. I had long ago forgiven myself and others, I had moved on..right? Why in the hell was I back there..again? What I had forgotten about, was that psychosocial development continues up until death. I am somewhere between Middle Adulthood and Maturity. Since I no longer work out in the big world, I figure I am closer to the Integrity vs. Despair stage of Maturity..or simply put, I getting frickin' old and I am not creating positive change that will benefit people! I can get back to Middle Adulthood by doing just that!

Okay, I need to nurture and care for things that will outlast me. Well, that includes my kids, my grandkids, and many other people! I can't do that from despair though..from despair, I create more despair. Not a good thing. I want to feel a sense of success again..I want to feel useful and accomplished once more. (I need to nurture and care for me..too. I am just past the 55 mark..and years to go before I die).

I want to look back on my life and know that I've made a difference somehow, that I am fulfilled. I don't want to feel regret, bitterness, and despair...and that is honestly where I've been for about the last 6 months.

I covered it up by lying to myself, planning vacations with unrealistic expectations, spending too much money..mostly on others, drinking too much on occasion, and then blaming others if things didn't turn out the way I had it my head. Pretty pathetic.

I feel a bit wiser already and am determined to nurture this epiphany. I am really thankful that one night, while I was ruminating, I remembered Erikson's stages of development. I jumped out of bed and headed for a google search. I'll let ya know how it goes.

The one thing I know for that I get so much pleasure from cooking, from creating, and from growing my own food. This much I know is true. This blogging thing is good for me..fer sure, like totally..OMG.


Hahn at Home said...

I think that sometimes, you are too hard on yourself.

You have a big and open heart and it sometimes makes it easy for those less thoughtful or loving to trounce around on it with cleats.

Your kindness, caring and generosity are a gift that I've been very glad to have these past three years. Serendipity in fact - because where I was three years ago was in a place when I needed someone like you most.

So thank you.

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

Thanks Lori. I've gotten all kinds of private emails telling me how wonderful I am.

This post is about my process..about how when ya get to be my age, and you aren't getting kudos in the one can sometimes feel useless...and begin to question everything!

I never meant it to be a call for encouragement or anything like that...even though it is so nice to hear. :) Thank you.

Eileen said...

Maybe it's called mid-life crisis..we are at that age when our kids are grown and don't need us in the same way they used to. We are "stuck" with aging parents. We are on the down hill slide, getting ready to retire and wondering what we will do with our selves..looking back and wondering if all we did made any difference.. I know the feeling. At the same time it's a time to travel, spoil the grandkids, do whatever the heck interests you and enjoy life. Heck your lucky, your not stuck working, you can garden all day if you want to, go to lunch, take a drive down the Delta.. I'll trade ya

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...


I get what you are saying. I say that to myself all the time. You are right.

Again..I don't think about those things when I am ruminating about how I wish I'd done things differently..and cannot sleep!

Realizing that I am in a developmental stage has helped me the most..and has centered me. I have direction.

No mid-life crisis...too old for that! :) I thank you for your kind words...I really do!