Lately I’ve been having trouble finding time for therapy, but that’s why I have you guys, right? (RIGHT? Hold me). Today’s internal (external) dialogue is about growing pains. Physical and emotional ones. Since all current emotional struggles can be traced back to those early physical pangs, let’s begin at the beginning. I remember when I started developing breasts, and my mother suggested that it was time to invest in my very first bra. I was excited, but also mortified. I distinctly recall attempting to dodge a hug from my father, terrified that if he felt its straps, he would be scorched by my (impending) sluttiness, and I would be forever banished to the dungeon where bad girls belong. A pubescent brain has little ability to understand much, let alone the fact that being both lovable and sexual is possible; they are not mutually exclusive (something my post-pubescent brain is still figuring out).

Now that I’m older, and my dad has guided me through phases of bra-wearing and burning and is now forced to read about my fancy lingerie habit on this blog, I’m finally convinced of his unconditional love for me. These days I find myself feeling a different pain: the foreign aches of adjusting from being young and all mixed-up to being adult-ish and coupled up, specifically with someone fourteen years my senior, someone who has significantly more relationship experience than I do under his belt. While I’ve never harped on “conventionally female” ambitions like motherhood and marriage, I’ve recently been humbled by the realization that at the age of 25, I’m not yet qualified to say things like, “I’ve always” or “I’ve never.”

I met my boyfriend during a transitional (destructive) period in both of our lives, when we were mostly unemployed and unburdened by things like deadlines and money and real life. At the time, the future was probably the last thing on either of our minds. But naturally, we moved in together after just a few weeks (maybe not so natural). In the early days we were late to bed and late to rise and late to everything (if we even had anywhere to be). It was fun and easy. I can’t exactly pin-point when or why, probably around the time that I got a 9-5, but soon enough it became something more than just a mutual love for alcohol consumption, it now involved two dogs and sharing the holidays with our families.

I can’t speak for him (but like any good girlfriend, I will), when I say that meeting one another was a totally unexpected reprieve from the chronic disenchantment that had begun to fester within both of us. But over time I became less the girl who wanted another drink and more the girl who wanted him not to have another drink…and to quit smoking cigarettes. Suddenly things I hadn’t worried about before started to have importance. But I’m not a total sell-out! I still don’t care to hear about your wedding dress or your princess-cut ring (didn’t you see Blood Diamond?) And when I picture my future, I don’t think about that stuff. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that on occasion I do imagine how cute I’d look with a baby bump (but I think a big part of that is vanity not biology).

You know that episode of Sex and the City where Big bails on he and Carrie’s wedding? Well, whenever I feel like I’m going down a domestic rabbit hole, I remember the scene where she admits that she let “the wedding get bigger than Big.” So, at the risk of sounding like Carrie Bradshaw, can you really have it all? A relationship column? A lasting love affair with an older man? A ridiculously expensive and economically infeasible shoe fetish? Only time will tell, but I don’t think it does anyone any good to focus more on the prize, than having fun getting there (and getting it). But, in case it doesn’t work out, I hope you have your three best friends ready to blow off work with zero notice to whisk you off to an exotic escape where one of them will get Montezuma’s Revenge and offer you comedic relief for the first time in days. Who knows what can happen, right now babies sound slimy and exhausting, but these growing pains could one day lead to labor pains and then God help us all.

Jane Helpern

About Jane Helpern

Writer & Over-sharer. @janeohelp jane@cultistzine.com