When Life Starts to Flow Backwards

I am GenX by definition, I am acting as a Millennial, but feeling like GenZ.

I am living my life backwards, or at least in a distorted and unusual chronology that doesn’t make sense if I look at it from the outside with my rational brain. And I am not sure if I made a mistake in my early twenties or I am making a mistake now, but it feels I was out of place both then and now.

From a very early age, I always knew what I wanted to do. I was the kind of kid who was driven enough to do the homework first and only then think about playing and having fun. I was adamant about my choice of high-school, I chose the one I went to because I decided I wanted to learn Latin. I knew what career I wanted to pursue, I chose my university accordingly, I worked my way into my dream-job at 21. I was good at it, then became great at it. Picture perfect.

I knew I wanted to get married, I knew I wanted to have at least two kids. When I met my husband-to-be I knew he was the kind of man who you could have stability and family with. I didn’t have too many relationships before him, I didn’t know what I wanted to feel, how I wanted him to make me feel — and I settled, with real commitment, without real love.

I was living a settled, mature and adult life from the age of 24, not leaving too much way for getting inspired, for experimenting, for trying out new things.

It was bound to last. It was built on steady boredom and dutiful friendly respect — as much as the burden of a mortgage of a flat I hated, and two daughters I loved.

Things started to flow backwards when I left my husband at the age of 35, dragging two toddlers with me — crying and complaining about the unfairness of my wrecked life. Then I was gleefully skipping into an abusive relationship without letting myself process my lost marriage and lost years, without getting to know myself and my needs and wants.

In the years of abuse and afterwards, when I was struggling to process it along with the events of my whole adult life I learnt more about myself than in the 35 years before that. I gained more insight into my wishes, desires and expectations than I have ever thought would be possible.

And here I am, almost 41, with a toddler, two teenagers and a life on my own — and I have to rewrite my story, not erasing the previous pages, just finding a way how to create my own narrative from it.

It feels it is flowing backwards, as I am doing things only now that I should have been doing when I was way too focused to build the perfect life for myself.

I am GenX by definition, I am acting as a Millennial, but I’m feeling like a GenZ.

I left behind the safety of a steady job, to jump headstart into the uncertainty and freedom of freelancing. I am allowing myself to delve into writing, letting myself finally entertain the thought that I am capable of it.

I am experimenting with my sexuality, I am allowing myself to enjoy casual sex, I allow myself to contemplate polyamory or any other non-monogamous relationship types. I am changing my thoughts about being single versus being in a relationship. I am considering my own sexual fluidity, wondering whether it’s my upbringing and beliefs or the real preferences that stop me from trying out more people, more setups, more genders.

I consider moving to another country, because I can, because I want it, because I know I can make it work — I still am disciplined, but I allow my playful, fun-seeking, adventurous side to the surface too.

I am starting to understand only now about the ephemeral nature of things and instead of being scared of it, it liberates me and urges me to live my life to the fullest.

I always thought that my decisions were affecting my life permanently, that there is no going back from them. I am rewriting my narrative based on what I have learnt, that everything around me is temporary, the joy, the pain, the love, the heartbreak, the people, the friends, the jobs, the location, the feeling of home. And life.

Life is temporary. It needed to start to flow backwards for me to understand it.

It’s liberating. And it doesn’t scare me anymore.

Writer. Dreamer. Hopeless romantic. Newsletter: zita.substack.com Email me: zitafontaine (at) gmail

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