What I Wish I Said, Part II: Feeling Like a Teenager at 50 - Kimberly Thompson

I’m a late bloomer. I did a lot of odd jobs between college, marriage and raising kids, but I always felt the tug to go back to school. I hadn’t completed my undergraduate degree. When I had my third and last child, I decided it was time to go back.

As my interests narrowed, I found myself increasingly drawn to psychology and wanted to become a therapist. That would mean completing my undergrad degree and going back for at least two more years of graduate school.

My two children oldest children are 17 months apart, and my youngest came seven years later. I completed the first round of school during my youngest’s early years. When I got my undergraduate degree, we weren’t in a financial position for me to return to school for my Masters, so I waited for my two older kids to complete college and then I went back. I had three years to finish before my baby would go to college and we’d have another college payment.

It was hard being 50 and returning to school. I felt out of place, older than everyone else.  A couple of students were in similar positions, but even they were about 10 or 15 years younger than I was.

I LOVE learning! For me loving learning means being curious about whatever is being taught, and being curious means asking questions. So I asked a lot of questions. I figured that if I was paying for my education, I needed to be all in and get out of it everything I could.

Then it happened. One group of students seemed very much like the cliques in high school. They went out socially after class and always sat together at the back. They had inside jokes and were always referencing something the other class members weren’t a part of. Some of my friends were in this group, One day, I asked a question and turned around because I thought someone had said my name. As I turned around, the look on my “friends’” faces made me realize they were talking about me and making fun of my asking questions. It really stung.

I turned back to the front of the classroom and didn’t say a word. My feelings were hurt. I was confused. The two people I’d felt connected to and who I thought supported me looked taken aback that I’d seen them mocking me. It felt like I was in middle or high school all over again.

Each time I encountered them, I felt hurt but I never spoke about what happened. We were a part of a cohort, so I had to see them in class for another year and a half. I made a point to keep my emotional distance, but sometimes we had to work together or they needed something from me, and then I was confronted by their duplicity once again.

I had to face the fact that, although I wanted to, I wasn’t able to tell them that I was hurt, that I was angry that they’d betrayed me, that I thought they were my friends. I felt like I was 15 years old and I was navigating the teen world all over again. I felt stuck, frozen — as if I’d done something that warranted their behavior. The thoughts, “Maybe there’s something about me that people just don’t like,” swirled around in my head. I was 50 years old and I was feeling and acting like a confused hurt teenager.

This experience helped me see all that reading and studying about the psychology of humans brought up a lot of “stuff” for me.  It forced me to look at some of the struggles I’d pushed deep down and now I was seeing them in a new light.  I’d been in therapy over the years and I decided it was time to go back. Therapy helped me see that my childhood experiences, some of them traumatic, left me feeling that I was different inside — that I wasn’t like other people.

Through therapy I’ve worked to heal those past wounds and hurts and I’ve come to see to see that my classmates’ behaviors triggered a part of me that was wounded and hurt. I was able to comfort that younger part through acknowledgement, love and acceptance. I came to understand that the “friends” in my class were also working through their own stuff. They were human and struggling, just like me. Am I happy that they made fun of me behind my back? No, but I can now recognize that their behaviors were about them, not me.

ABOUT OUR GUEST BLOGGER

Elizabeth Cush, LCPC is a therapist and blogger in Annapolis, MD where she hosts the Woman Worriers podcast. In her private practice, Progression Counseling, she helps women who feel overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed out find more connection with themselves and others, allowing them to live their lives with more ease, intention, and purpose. Elizabeth was recently a featured guest on the Women In Depth podcast, The Practice Of Being Seen podcast and Selling The Couch podcast. She’s worked in the mental health field for over 10 years and is a certified clinical trauma professional. Elizabeth incorporates mindfulness and meditation into her psychotherapy work.

ABOUT ME

I’m Dr. Kimberly Thompson, a clinical psychologist with a maternal mental health practice in Lubbock, TX. From pre-conception to the empty nest, mothers can work with me in-person and online. Download my free e-book, The Busy Mom’s Self-Care Planner, and bring yourself into your circle of care. You can also find my book, Perfect Mothers Get Depressed, on Amazon and the Praeclarus Press website.

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