Middle age, she is a cruel mistress.
I came up with that phrase myself, liked the ring of it, and tried it out on Twitter. Then I thought, why is middle age female?
Shoot, male middle age is a mean bastard too.
Somehow I didn’t think it would happen to me, and I know The Hubby didn’t think it would happen to him—and the shocker is, if the TV ads and changing media themes are anything to go by, we’re part of a huge population bulge that is equally horrified and angry about the onset of these indignities.
Let me list some:
- Having recently had a close encounter (very close, mind you) with a Mammogram machine, I’m in a position to tell you it was designed by a man. No woman would leave corners on something like a giant, freezing waffle iron that squishes your tit and then say, “Don’t breathe for at least a minute while we get this image” while handling your boob like it’s a slab of Silly Putty.
- The phrase “just relax” as applied to a rectal exam is not really helpful.
- The hot flashes of menopause in women often coincide with the onset of Viagra in men (but only if you’ve managed to stay married that long.)
- Arthritis hurts and get this—there’s no cure. I know, shocking right? Once they tell you you have arthritis, just get used to being in pain and creaking around until it’s so bad you have to have a giant joint replacement operation that may or may not work. The alternative? Not having the operation and getting more and more crippled and in pain. But hey, you won’t die from it. That’s the good news.
- Skin is highly underappreciated until it all begins heading south and erupting in cancer as a result of all that frolicking you did in the ocean when you were young and thought you’d live forever.
- Wrinkles as the result of smiling most of your life, end up making you look grumpy. (I find this particularly ironic.)
- Hair—where do I begin? For women, the debate of dyeing vs. not dyeing. For men, the manscaping of areas that should NEVER have hair growing out of them while Rogaine-ing areas that SHOULD have hair.
- Tight waistbands- apparently as you age, you have to eat less and work out more to stay the same. How fair is that, I ask you?
The real problem is, we remember and relate more to the people we WERE than those we’ve become. I remember the miles I ran, barefoot, along the beach. The way my hair looked, a strawberry blonde like spun gold. I remember boobs that really were quite amazing. (Looks down) Ok they’re still not bad, but I sure as hell wouldn’t run on a beach in a bathingsuit, barefoot. In fact, I don’t go out in the sun anymore, period.
And yet a part of me still feels 21 years old, at my physical peak: strong, smart, beautiful, and able to run like the wind while discussing Keynesian economics and the theory of relativity.
It’s a little bit like saying goodbye to someone who’s been well known and loved as they die by slow degrees.
Alas, that’s exactly what it is.
We are really saying goodbye to our former selves. And if we don’t, or won’t… the consequences can be pretty bad.
Depression. Suicide. Anger. Drinking and/or drugs. Expensive and ridiculous plastic surgery. Affairs, and ruination of lives and families. Gambling. Filipino or Chinese mail-away brides following ruination of lives and families.
What’s the answer? I don’t really know but I know a few things that seem to help.
Grace and kindness to yourself.
Distracting from your own misery by helping the less fortunate (like even older people)
Crying on the shoulders of good friends and leaning on the shoulders of family.
Finding the joy still left to be had and drinking it deep.
Laughing at the mammo machine, the hair migration and little ironies like finally being able to afford a hot babe car and not looking like a hot babe anymore.
The Upside of Middle Age. I’m waiting for inspiration to strike. It could be awhile, I warn you.
Okay, with regard to the smiling causing wrinkles bit. If you continue smiling all the time, no one will notice the wrinkles. Or, on the flipside, you could gain weight like I did and it pushes all wrinkles out. 😀
Oh, and the whole thinking of ourselves like we’re still young…I do that all the time. As I said, I’ve gained weight, and my 21-year-old self is a distant memory. Well, actually, she’s in my head all the time, especially when I think I can squeeze through places. I mean, my ass can’t be *that* big, right? Er…wrong. (When I hold up my jeans, my jaw drops in shock). But I can’t seem to get it into my head. I’ve never been so clumsy and it’s all because my internal self doesn’t match my external. Go figure.
I walk by a mirror and some old chick looks back at me! I don’t like it!
Oh, how well I know. This is a timely post. My back went out this morning and it’s been an effort trying to get everything done (old scuba injury that decides to visit and say hello every few years). Couldn’t have picked a worse day. I considered cancelling my appointments, but decided the decision would be based on the outcome of a test to see if I could get in and out of my car. Ibuprofen is my drug of choice. And wine later.
Aloha, I’m Peter Liu’s wife and really enjoyed your post. We are all still young in our brains so our bodies have to send mega-messages to make us slow down! Replace our agile bodies with wisdom. Keep your spirit young and your body running the best that it can.
Well, I gotta respond for sure as I think about your comments from the perspective of the 25 years or so I have on you. The good news is that you will be writing and thinking about exactly the same things in 25 years; I can’t think of anything more to add, and it only gets worse by degree-no new surprises. Humor-that’s the key. On the other hand, don’t let people start emailing you old people jokes or Maxine cartoons-our humor has to be transgenerational. It’s the human condition that’s funny. You have to be able to crack jokes (or think you are cracking jokes) as your PT works you over, or the mammo machine cranks away, or that colonoscopy cocktail does its stuff. Have fun!!!
So is it silly then that I’m really looking forward to getting old? To discovering whether my hair will go salt and pepper at the sides like I’d like it to or just fall out like I dread it might?
To peeking into the cribs of grandchildren I will spoil relentlessly?
To waking up at 5AM naturally although I’m retired and have nowhere specifically to be rather than waking at 5AM to the sound of a klaxon filled with the sudden terror that I’m late?
To sitting down at the VFW, shooting the shit with old navy friends while my sons and daughters grind away at the struggle I’m neck deep in now?
Hana, well said and that’ll be the foundation of the Upside blog.
Oh yea, the crapping out body parts…. Yet one more thing Mother/Daughter have in common! And it doesn’t go away. There are random days, when everything is on hold, and you get to BE how it used to be…. only to get ripped off once again. I think aging is the greatest challenge of my life. And it doesn’t get any easier, just more wry. The invisibility, a mixed blessing. The outspoken comment that turns heads, always fun… with none of the old second guessing. But ‘they’ say that accepting aging is the beginning of a rich and fascinating Spiritual Life for the last third (or turd, as Shakespeare called it) of our time on earth, and we are just being optimistic as hell, calling it a third. I actually wanted a spiritual life in my 20’s…. began my Quest. LSD really helped. So did hearing about the great transition into the Age of Aquarius. I found as much spiritual life as I needed, for my lifetime, thank you. And now ‘they’ are telling me that is all that is left. With no LSD…. Although, guess what, the transition to the Age of Aquarius will be completed in the next 4 years!!!! It took my lifetime. Now, all I have to do is find a way to relax, drug free, and enjoy it….So you can see the challenge, all you youngsters…. I would rather laugh than weep, so that is my direction so far…. laugh myself into my grave, sort of like backing out of a party. As a Mom, I want to say, “aw, don’t worry”…. but that honesty that comes with aging, just won’t let me.. Still, we could laugh together, any day.
thanks for this read toby:-) Enjoy the memories…enjoy the moment…and find enjoyment in knowing that more good times are on their way! sending love!
I knew I’d reached middle age when I realised that the women I thought of as sexy older women were actually younger than me. Inside I still feel like a fifteen year old even now I’m 48. That can be a good thing, but I mustn’t forget myself and come on to a girl who is as young as I feel or I’ll be arrested. :oP
One thing that might make things easier is to make a list of all of those things the enjoyment of which doesn’t diminish with age like watching a good movie or reading a good book or even writing a blog.
True, dat! Thanks for popping by and commenting, I’ll take a look at your blog as I’m always looking for new ones to “spotlight.”