Is it really "never too late to be what you might have been"? So said George Eliot. But she was a writer of fiction, and from a long gone era. But I wonder if it's really true or just feel-good claptrap, because it affects me directly.
I am in my early 40s, and owing to rather complicated personal, psychological, and family considerations (depression and ADD to name just two), I basically have never grown up - emotionally, socially, financially or aspirationally.
I rely on well-to-do but elderly parents not just for material support, but for my primary reality check with the world. I have worked full-time exactly two years out of the past twenty, mostly drawing a salary from a "paper" company run by my family. I have never owned a home, car, or been materially in debt. I have perhaps four close friends, whom I might contact a few times a year. I have had exactly two close relationships with women, both of which ended badly, and my dating life ended approximately ten years ago. All in all, I approach the world most of you live in every day with a mixture of cynicism, longing and guilt.
One reason I've been putting it all off so long is that I have very bad memories and associations surrounding responsibility, and especially, failure to meet it. If I had a top-ten list of least favorite things in life, they would include ambition, trying, planning, fitting in, staying on schedule, following through, and delivering on expectations (even my own - especially my own). I somehow have to take everything I do very seriously - work, studies, life - so seriously, in fact, that I give almost nothing my full effort. It's just too damn depressing.
Case in point: Right now I'm doing my damnedest to flunk out of a master's program in English. Notice I didn't say the word not. I had to stop studying entirely about a month ago. It was a kind of cognitive panic attack. Since then I've negotiated incompletes with my professors, but I still will not start writing my final papers. I'm just not going to give in to panic until I absolutely must - and of course, then it will be total.
I don't wish any advice about grad school (I got some good counsel from people on another board). I guess I just wonder what it takes to pull together a halfway respectable lifestyle when you're not only past 40, but haven't even ever really been a fully functioning adult. And what are the odds? They can't be great. My issues in life stop most mental health professionals absolutely cold - I've been in and out of counseling since college, including 11 years in group therapy, and I've been able to use almost nothing I learned.
So what is is going to take? I've long suspected I am going to need to hit bottom - to risk some kind of complete breakdown just to feel some sense that I am a human being and not just a mess of weakness, waste and pain. Worse, I am saddled with my past. I have done so very little - what can I possibly deserve?