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Since about this time last year I’ve been keeping a diary of sorts. So high school. It has been a collection of thoughts about the evolution of my life in my 40s. It is not all good, but not all bad, either. It is mostly embarrassing.

My “Train of Thought,” as I call it, is mostly a collection of realizations about myself. It was also a way of processing through the stages of grief as my relationship deteriorated around me. It was a way for me to look at myself and examine what brought me to this point in my life and where to go from here.

I looked at my personal life, how I dealt with family and friends and strangers, and tried to get to the root cause of why I behaved the way I did. A lot of things came up, like bottling emotions (some clever references to Spock and The Incredible Hulk seemed appropriate), examining personality types (INTJ) and what it means to be a father to children on the autism spectrum. I thought about my marriage, my childhood, my career and a lot of other things. I spoke (to myself?) about my body image, my wants and desires and where I wish to go in life.

It is ongoing, and reassuring. I’m not sure, if anything, will ever be made of it, but it is enlightening.

I’ve come to realize that I get very lonely the first couple days without my kids. I get restless. I am never sure of what to do with myself. It is simply because I have been a big part of taking care of them, every day, for a very long time. I’m also a lot more involved than the “traditional” dad. That being said, it is also, I am loathe to admit, nice to have a little “break” now and again. Not from the kids themselves, but from the personal responsibility for all of their needs – it is simply nice to wake up a little later in the morning than usual.

I also used to think I was a curmudgeon that perhaps shouldn’t be in a relationship at all. I was perfectly comfortable by myself, and didn’t need constant socialization to thrive. I also hated traveling and would do anything I could to get back home as early as possible from a work trip. Since examining myself, I learned that those assumptions weren’t always true. Yes, I do just fine alone, but also really like to connect to people, especially when working. I actually have come to enjoy the travel, particularly when I get to socialize with friends, and realize the reason for the opposite feeling was from external pressure. Finally, giving myself permission to be lazy was something I was wanting to do while always active with work, kids and errands, and now that I have more “me” time, I find I want to instead fill it with other things, like taking care of the house or reading more.

One of the main things I have thought about is transition. Life is a constant transition, but typically very slowly. Growing up, you have these tentpoles of change – 16, 18, 21, etc. But then, in your adult life, it slows down. 30, 40, 50… life is slower, and unless you force or are forced to really make a change, you often just let life slip by you without thought. I guess that is why, in one’s forties, people are often said to be having mid-life crises. Losing weight (did that), exercising more (yep) and buying sports cars (avoided that one) are some of the hallmarks. I’ve learned that “itch” at this age is, for me, due to that realization, for the first time in my life, that life is not necessarily all ahead. At this stage, statistically, we are closer to the end than the beginning. A sobering thought, and where some may just shrug their shoulders and carry on, many of us look at it as a wake-up call to move. Get out, do something, anything, to enjoy life.

So, that’s where I am now. Trying to enjoy life. Trying to stop avoiding conflict or stress or emotions, and instead trying to learn about myself more and more. There are still chores to be done (laundry doesn’t do itself) and boys to take care of (put on your shoes) but taking care of this boy should be my job, not anyone else’s.

I guess I’m growing up. Took long enough.