Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Ambivalence of Aging

My best friend and I just made a commitment to take some time over this three day weekend to talk about how we are dealing with aging. She's on the West Coast and I'm in New England so we're going to plan a call.

This came from an idea my therapist put forth that I need to get my feelings about the loss of my looks and my figure and my youth out on the table. He feels I bury them and do not give them credence. He asked if I have someone with whom I could discuss them and I said "Only my husband but he really gets tired of hearing about it." He asked about my girlfriends in New England. I replied they are all younger than I and at different stages in their lives. The best situation for me would be to have a get together with my oldest friends as we are all very close in age.

At first I was resistant to this idea. I said I felt I should be "able to handle it." He looked amused and asked if I felt I should be "above it all" and I said "Yes." I find it humiliating to be so hung up on my looks. It's so shallow. Never mind I was born and raised in Los Angeles, the capital of superficial. But he was very insistent that I am not alone and by talking about it with others I will find we all have similar feelings of loss and sadness and confusion, etc. I think he likens it to a grieving process.

So, this morning I emailed my best friend and mentioned the discussion with him just to see what she'd say. She has always been a pragmatic person and I expected some kind of sage response. Instead she replied,

"I think I need a chat about all this too. It is very hard...losing your looks, losing your body, your health. When shall we chat?"

Wow! Not only was I surprized but I feel expectant, that is, looking forward to it.

I'll keep you posted.


adlibby said...

Well, you've got the coasts covered -- do you want a perspective from Kansas? ;) Aging in this country is a truly strange thing. One minute I was a cute young thing, and then 15 years and two kids later -- not the hottest girl at the pool anymore. Certainly not turning any heads (unless I cut people off in traffic, but that's cheating!).

I think in some ways we are lucky, we have some awesome women in the media representing age as not such a bad thing. Look at Diane Sawyer or any of the ladies featured in MORE magazine. That's somthing that I don't think women a generation ago had. They just disappeared.

For me, it's an annoyance. I hate that my skin looks tired & I hate the wrinkles creeping around my neck (Have you read Nora Ephron's take in "I feel bad about my neck"?) But I'm learning to put emphasis on other things... like my blogging and my writing. Some days are better than others.

But you are definitely not alone in your ambivalence. So have a glass of wine, and know that I am solidly in your corner!

California Girl said...

Yes, we do have alot of mature women in media. The joke of that is there's a great new camera used in the tv business that minimizes lines & wrinkles so they all look pretty darn good. So even they don't want to be captured as they are. But that's kind of beside the point. For me it's all about coming to grips with the loss.

Funny you mentioned the Nora Ephron book. I think my husband bought it for my birthday and I did read it and laughed like crazy.

I think we need to get a dialogue going on this. I like the wine idea too!

Amanda said...

If anyone ever wondered how women feel about their age, they need only take a quick browse around Blogger! I'm 20, and my blog is all about the anxiety and pressures I feel about being a young woman growing up and having to be an adult, and your blog is about being a woman growing older grace and pride. I can't wait to follow your blog, I need proof that it CAN be done!!

California Girl said...

Thank you! What a great thing to say. I understand what you feel as I was there once. I do think, however, younger adults are under more pressure. My sons are 21 & 20 and they are so confused. Their ambivalence lies in what they think they should do vs. what they want to do. One is grudgingly finishing college. The other has tried two colleges & dropped out of both. I have finally stepped back and am trying to let them find their own way. You will too. The only thing I can say is you have a lot of time to walk down new paths. If the path doesn't take you where you want to go, you can take another one. Your life is not determined at this moment. It's a changing landscape.

Tanna of The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Oh, my gosh! I found my way here through Under the Stairs. Reading your post resonates! I started a blog recently just about this passage in life... man, it is tough. It IS a grieving process! You don't realize that you took for granted turning heads until you just don't. That SOUNDS so petty to say. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share with someone who understands!


by Cole Scott