Why I Am Scared To Write This

Sunday, September 11, 2022

 I am scared. I am really scared.

Last night, while laying in bed I promised myself that today I would start writing again. It's been a really long time. I'm scared because of the subject I'm writing about. I'm scared because I'll be exposing an unattractive side of myself. I'm scared because I know that, according to the demographics of my socials, most people who will be reading this are of a different generation, and when I was their age I would not have wanted to read about this. But, this is exactly why I am writing. Maybe if someone like me was the one writing it I would have read it. And maybe it would have given me hope and a better perspective. So I am writing this for me. And if this ends up helping others in not feeling isolated, washed up, or misunderstood then that's even better. 

I am writing about getting old.

I'm not sure if I'm unique in this, but when I was younger, it felt like there were two separate species of people. There were young people, and there were old people. And we were different. I'm aware that this outlook is pretty obnoxious, and I admit that I was an "agist" and had struggled with connecting to older people. I found it annoying when old people moved slowly in the grocery aisle, or took forever to count their change while paying for something when they should just be swiping their credit card and getting on with it. And don't even get me started when it came to getting stuck behind an old person driving. It was irritating when I'd have to wait for them to find their glasses to see something on their phone, or when they would say "what's that" a bunch of times because they could never hear what I was saying. 

The night before my 40th birthday I panicked because 40 was such a scary number to me. I literally felt like I was still a kid in some sense, but time was ticking along anyway. When I woke up and looked in the mirror, I breathed a sigh of relief, because I looked exactly the same as 39: Young, pretty, energetic, cool. I made a decision that I would live every day as best as I could because I suddenly became aware that there's really no going back, and I would fight like hell to create more meaning in life while maintaining my looks, body, energy. 

And I did. As a matter of fact, it was in my 40s that I started this very blog, becoming one of the first, original modest fashion bloggers. I also looked my best, ran my first 1/2 marathon, donated my kidney, and grew spiritually from some difficult, life changing events during this decade. It almost felt like I came into myself and my full adulthood only in my 40's. And I fought like hell to appear and act young. I had this! I was going to win this battle on aging.

It was all going pretty well up until the last few years. Enter peri-menopause, 20 pairs of reading glasses all over the house, a changing body that includes shrinking and a belly that persists no matter how many foods I eliminate or how much I work out or how many supplements I take, my youngest kid leaving the nest, sweat pouring down my face every time I drink, and then sweat pouring down my body at 3am even when I didn't drink, a diagnosis of osteopenia, a bout of skin cancer, insanely itchy skin, losing my drive to go out at night with friends, losing my sex drive, feeling down and lonely for no reason, feeling unmotivated and purposeless, not being able to get my shit together because I was so afraid of walking into that dark night of old age. 

I realize now that this judgmentalism and discomfort with older people was because of my acute awareness of how this would eventually happen to me, and I didn't want to face it. But no matter how much I fought it, it inevitably started creeping up in my own life. Giving in to reading glasses and then having them perpetually perched on the top of my head...sometimes 2 at a time, but then nowhere to be found when someone wanted to show me something to read or see. The not being able to hear as well and having to say "what" which profoundly lessened my chance of ever finding out what was said at all because people really despise having to repeat themselves. The shock when I caught my reflection in a window and would see what looked more like a little Bubby than the Hot-Mom vision I still had in my mind. These things creep up slowly in a way that are are hardly noticeable, until it hits you like a cold shower. Why did I never stop to think that the old people I saw were once the young, beautiful and vibrant people? 

These are some of the thoughts that swirl around my head as I lay in bed, staring at the ugly ceiling fan that I used to despise, that is now graciously generating the cool air I need for my overheating body. I am face to face with the terrifying knowledge that I am currently transitioning into an old person. I know a lot of you will say, "Come on, you're not old. Stop it." Well whether I'm old right now or not, the fact is that in less than 1/3 of the life I have already lived I most certainly will be. If I'm lucky. And like everything else in life, it's not a destination, it's a process. As I toss and turn trying to get comfortable in a bed I used to easily fall asleep in, I am no longer in denial that I am currently, and most certainly in that process. So I promise myself I will start writing about it. Even though I'm scared that it's a topic no one wants to read about. Because I can. And I'm good at it. And it's time to add meaning to all of this dread.

I know a lot of you will say, "Why is this so dreadful for you? It's such a blessing, you have experienced so much and you are lucky to be on this journey." And yes, that is 100 percent the truth. I am lucky and blessed. And I'm fully aware that I look great for my age. But as someone who has feared becoming that annoying old person, and as someone who has spent decades working on my fitness, my physical and mental health, and feeling purposeful, it really sucks that suddenly, when I'm no longer useful as a vessel for bringing life into the world, I have to experience this twisted version of a reverse adolescence. It feels like suddenly, the body and mind have conspired to send this message all at once: YOU ARE OFFICIALLY IN DECLINE. BE PREPARED TO WATCH YOUR SKIN AND MUSCLES SHRIVEL UP AND YOUR BODY EXPAND. YOU WILL ALSO OFTEN FORGET THINGS AND FEEL LIKE SHIT, AND NOT TOLERATE MOST FOODS, AND NO ONE REALLY CARES BECAUSE IT'S "NORMAL". SO SUCK IT UP. OH, AND IT'S REALLY HOT IN HERE TOO. WELCOME TO HELL. 

Okay, okay, it's not really always that bad. My mind can be quite the drama queen sometimes. But, I can no longer be in denial that old people are not a different species. The truth is, we are all the same. We are actually all souls that don't age at all, but appear differently depending where we are on the path of life.  And as I move further along on that path I accept that I am the same as even that old lady I just saw pushing her yelping mini-doggy in the baby carriage. I now know that she still feels like the same person inside as she was when she was younger, and only her shell has changed. And she is probably sad that people avoid her or get annoyed with her because they are under the illusion that she is somehow different, flawed, over. 

So now, if I'm stuck behind an older person blocking the aisle in Home Goods or Target, inspecting every throw pillow or smelling every candle, I try to be friendly and kind. Maybe she's taking her time because she does not have anyone to rush home for anymore. Maybe she hopes to experience some type of human connection when she ventures out. So I will say hi and spark a conversation. And it's pretty gratifying. Not only because it's always a good idea to be friendly and kind to all humans, but because old people are actually really smart and funny. Of course they are. They've been in this game of life for longer than most.

I've really been trying to reframe it all. I joined TikTok and started making videos showing that women like me in their 50's were still cool, good looking, energetic, funny and relevant. Surprisingly, I found a huge community of TikTok users in my demographic. At first I was a little shocked at how some of these people looked. Hey, I'm at that weird stage in my life where people my age all look older than me :) But damn! Some of them actually looked really good too. Like a 55 year old female body builder who is drop dead gorgeous and probably thriving more than she has ever thrived in her life. These people were making TikToks and having fun. They were talking about exercise, healthy eating, supplements, and natural "meds", instead of running to seventeen doctor appointments and getting steroid shots and physical therapy for their achy joints. THANK GOD! I realized that the aging people of today are not exactly following the same rules as those in the past. Maybe we should actually change the name of this stage from "Menopause" to "Adolescence Part II". We are definitely going to be a different kind of old, and I'm really vibing with that.

So here I am. As I write, I walk through the fear and realize that the future does not have to be that bleak reality of retirement communities, hideous capri pants, bleeding lipstick, and being a lonely dog mom.  Just like we survived acne and insecurity and sulky moodiness in our teens, we will survive hot flashes and low libidos and facing new frontiers at this stage of life. And it's because of my elderly wisdom and experience that I now know what I didn't when I was in Adolescence Part I:  That without a shadow of a doubt it's up to ME to do the work and create my own incredible future, bringing in the best damn years of my life. There is no denying anymore that it's coming. I WILL be an old lady. The free, fun, fit, healthy, compassionate, amazing version that you might actually look forward to becoming. Cheers!



*In my next post I will share with you my most annoying symptoms of this stage of life and the remedies that I have found useful to me. As someone who avoids going down the route of doctors, hormone replacement therapy, and Pharma meds (unless G-d forbid my life depends on it), some of my personal remedies may sound controversial to some of you. But that's what makes this so interesting. I am a seeker and adventurer and I am having fun tweaking my life to counteract some of the discomfort of aging. Stay tuned!

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