Well, it’s true, I ain’t what I used to be…if in fact I ever was the girl I thought I was! It’s hard to remember. When did my neck begin to knit itself into a more comfortable and scarf-like form? Where in the world did my waist go, anyway?
Every woman I know seems to have a similar experience. You might be putting on makeup or see a picture of yourself and think, “What the…where did that come from!” It’s a universal experience, but it doesn’t make it any easier on us, the innocent bystanders in our changing bodies.
Not that my husband really cares. He’s more realistic by far than I am. Brits tend to be. “Yup, people get older, you Old Bag!” he might say. Or something similar. (You have to have a good sense of humor to be married to a Brit.) However, it’s apparent that any ‘it’ I ever had is fading fast. Soon, “Baby, you still got it!” will only be said by my toothless old husband, under threat of a nasty bruising from my aluminum walker.
So, great, keep a sense of humor, and it should be all good, right? Not so fast. Aging, or beginning to show signs of it, has taught me some things about myself — and they’re not necessarily things I wanted to know.
There’s a dirty little secret I’ve been keeping, even from myself: Somewhere inside of me, there’s a very bratty girl who thinks that without that appeal to the male half of the population, I am not all that worthwhile. Can you believe it? I couldn’t! Where does this crazy thinking come from?
Closely bound to this is my inner perception, also heretofore unnoticed by me, that I still think of myself as a princess. I don’t mean in the ’emotionally fragile, take care of me’ kind of way. I mean as the heroine in the romantic story that is somewhere running deep through this clunky subconscious of mine. That story, of course, is founded on the idea that our heroine is unique and attractive in a very special way, and therefore worthy of our hero’s notice and love.
Given all of this inner garbage, you can imagine what it feels like when I realize that a handsome man smiling at me is thinking of me as a motherly type. Ouch. Talk about fantasy meeting reality. Then comes a sudden sense of uncertainty. “Wait, if I’m not that girl, then who am I, anyway?” Certainly not the down-to-earth and simple person I thought I was!
All very humbling, hard — and, in the end, good. I guess that’s why I won’t be going the “50 is the new 40” route and cutting off or covering up the changing bits of me I don’t like. Yes, I’m gaining wrinkles and lines, but if I am becoming more real in the process, I say bring it on.
I’m determined to embrace aging, though it is a thorny beast. After all, who knows what else it has to teach me?