Thirty Hit Me Hard

Contributed by: Ashley Davidson. Twitter: @missashuhlee

When I turned 30 earlier this year, it hit me hard and fast. It was far from what I had expected it to be — that turning point where suddenly my life would be in order. I assumed everything would fall into place, both personally and professionally. I’d be older and wiser, with a better career, more financial stability, a house, and ready to start talking about kids. 

I was married two days shy of my 25th birthday, so 30 seemed like the right time for all those things to happen. At least according to the perception I’ve always had about how things should happen.

Four months after turning 30, my life flipped upside down. Actually, it was first punched in the gut, then flipped upside down and shaken a bit so that everything was scattered across the floor. Then it was dropped, then kicked in the gut once more — just to make sure I felt every bit of it. My husband admitted that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be married anymore... and that he needed some time to be alone. We had been together for over seven years, married for nearly 5.5 years. And this was the first time I heard he was even remotely unhappy.

I’m sure if someone had taken a picture of my face, it would’ve been a sight. Some contorted expression of incredible confusion, sadness and anger. I was speechless.

For the sake of abbreviating a much longer story — and because I’m not the type to throw my soon-to-be ex-husband under the bus so publicly — he was gone six weeks later. All the while, my Facebook feed continued to be overrun with photos of engagements and weddings, newborns, and toddlers going off to preschool, while I was Googling Virginia divorce laws and attorneys. This was not even remotely where I thought I would be at 30. But there I was.

A few days later during a spur-of-the-moment decision to get a minor makeover — basically, chopping off my hair and getting blonde highlights as part of some desperate attempt to get my husband to change his mind — my stylist broke the news that I had “three, really long grey hairs.”

This time, sitting in front of a mirror, I could see my face. I was red, mouth agape, sort of awkwardly laughing, but with tears in my eyes. I demanded she rip them out. She said, “You didn’t know?”

There I was, 30, getting divorced and, now, turning grey.

Fast forward a few weeks. As I pulled into the parking lot of my marriage counselor’s office, my GYN called. My lab work had come back showing a high level of god-knows-what and they wanted me to schedule an ultrasound. When I asked what they thought the problem was, they said it was potentially PCOS.

Having spent the last few years doing some freelance work for an infertility doctor, I was somewhat familiar with PCOS. When it came time for the ultrasound I couldn’t help but think, “Wow. So this is 30.” Six months ago people were mistaking me for a college student and suddenly I’m lying on a table while a stranger scans my empty uterus, pointing at my oversized ovaries on the screen and telling me that I ‘probably’ can’t get pregnant without medication. Well, it’s a good thing my marriage crashed and burned, lady, because I have zero reason to be pregnant right now anyway! That’s what I wanted to scream, except with way more profanity.

Like I said, 30 hit me hard and fast. But while my 30-year-old self wasn't surrounded by the things I always thought I would have — a husband, house and kids — I realized turning 30 had given me the wisdom to understand that this too shall pass. I realized life never turns out the way you plan, so you might as well take it as it comes and, most importantly, find the humor in things no matter how difficult it may be to laugh.

I now laugh at my broken ovaries (PCOS is entirely treatable, thank goodness), swear that if I ever find those grey hairs (they’re pretty hidden in the back of my head under my new blonde hair) I will tear them out and burn them, and I'm having a blast living the sort-of-single life with the village of people that has gotten me through the most difficult period of my life.

Thirty may have hit me hard, but I came out stronger on the other end.