My name is Suzetta and I have a secret. I thought keeping it secret would make it go away. But it’s not working. ‘Okay, now what?’ I ask the neighbours’ cat as he sits beside me while I write. ‘Blog about it.’
I’M AGEING! Society has me well past my ‘use by’ date. And secretly I believe it to be true. I’m no longer attractive, interesting, or (god forbid) sexy. Not worthy of notice. Invisible.
There it is!! That’s it. It’s no longer a secret. And Henny Penny, the sky didn’t fall on my head.
We live in a youth-oriented society. That’s the reality and that’s okay. These days ageing is often portrayed as a ‘condition.’ Getting old is not something that can be cured or rehabilitated, like tuberculosis, or an addiction. It is what it is and no-one who lives long enough to ‘age’ is immune.
I don’t want to exhaust myself by relentlessly being on the run down that lonely road of quiet (secret) desperation, searching, and searching for the next, new, ‘age-defying’ cream, treatment, fillers, anti-aging diet, surgery or exercise to shape and sculpt gravity into submission. Oh that one didn’t work. I didn’t try hard enough. I’ll try harder! But wait, there is more, let’s try this new one, this is the one that will cure me of old age. Phew, exhausting indeed.
I’m not saying I am against exercising. Well maybe I am? For me. My friends tease me about my life membership in ‘The Fitness Protection Program’. I’m not against exercise though, really, and I will get around to it one day – maybe tomorrow? I can see the benefits in others and that’s a start – progress not perfection right? Just don’t ask me for advice about exercising.
I am not ready to grow grey gracefully, or allow the hairs on my chin and legs to flourish. Not yet. And if you are, then I salute you. Please save me a seat. I’m talking about somewhere in-between the extremes. Buddhist teachers speak of the ‘middle path.’ as a way to tread lightly. This is not to be confused with ‘middle of the road’. I have never wanted to be ‘middle of the road’ and am not about to start now.
I make choices about what I eat and drink. I regularly get the pedi and I get what’s left of the hairs on my brows and legs and pubes (yes, I know – TMI) waxed. I gladly spend a couple of hundy or so a month to keep my hair looking brown and shiny and in shape. And then there are the clothes…Well, the clothes are another story and I will write about that in another post. (The shopping, the spending, the mood alteration, the obsessions and complusions…)
And another thing… I don’t want to be comparing myself to other women, measuring myself against them and finding myself or them, wanting. Comparisons cause division and disconnection. I want to be at ease with me, and with you, having the courage to live my life and letting go of someone else’s (society’s?) story of what a life should look like at my age. And of course I want to look good!
Here I am. No longer willing to squeeze myself into a version of what someone else’s idea of who I should be at my age. Enough. I have decided to own it, to accept myself as I am today and every day, to stay open and appreciative of what is on offer, and, to quote Elizabeth Gilbert, ‘fashion a life for myself that is as sane and healthy and stable as can be’.
I can’t do this on my own though. I have been giving it a go, on a solo voyage without a map. Because I’m smart right? I’ve been around so I should know how to work it out. Suss out how to be okay with this ageing thing. Then I’m sorted. No-one else need know. There is a flaw in this story though, because no matter what, I cannot think my way into mental health. Believe me, I have tried. Many times. Very simply, it doesn’t work. When I go down the seductive tunnel of think, think, think, I am at risk of disappearing up my own arse and wondering who turned the lights out.
So here I am, out in the open where the light lives. Outing myself about living with the undercurrent of shame, anxiety and fear of ageing in todays’ society. We are each-others mirrors and lights. Telling stories is a ‘we’ thing, reflecting each other as we talk, listen, laugh, and cry. My friends tell me I’m not alone in aspiring to age consciously, and in a way that works well for each of us. We want to regard ourselves with clear and kind attention, with grace and humour, to be at ease, look good, and have fun along the way. Shine a light.