The other woman in my life is middle age. She's a cruel mistress.
I came up with that phrase myself, liked the ring of it. Then I thought, why is middle age female?
Shoot, male middle age is a mean bastard!
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.)
- Your first colonoscopy is not nearly as fun as your first time having sex. Even if that wasn't that great.
- 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?
- Night sweats–and not from the kind of activities I wish they were.
Ageing isn't for sissies, that's for sure.
The real problem is this: 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 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.
Leaning on God as you understand Him/Her/It.
Loving people loving you, loving others, lovingly.
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.
I'm making friends with my cruel mistress as best I can. Watch out, she'll visit you too, if you should be so lucky.