But disengagement works in that kind of context. I remember that the credit-card company never seemed to display any understanding of human feeling. I finally got rid of the card not (only) because I came to hate those long, long seconds between seeing the bill in the post and having it ripped open and the worst known - but also because of the way the company jumped straight from blandishments and promises, to threats and penalties. It was never gradual.
Sometimes, in my more imaginative moments, I run what I think I have to call a "thought experiment". I go back and visit the younger me, at key moments, and tell him it's all going to turn out fine. Not as he expected, but fine anyway. Funny at more times than it's hard. Whatever. I do this, of course, in the full knowledge that young tends not to listen to old. They have possibility on their side, and change, and fail to realise that we do too.
I have a faint voice in my ear, and if I turn round, perhaps I will faintly see an older version of myself, perhaps in old-guy slippers, perhaps with wings and a harp, whispering, "You're not old." But what does he know?