Truthful Thursday

(This is going to be submitted to another blog..hence the truthful Thursday title when it’s actually Sunday. It follows my last post which talks about some of the same issues. I haven’t sent it to my friend yet, just trying to feel it here now…)

Shame and Vulnerabiity

Two words so very relevant for me now, in this moment.

.

Let me begin by saying that I am 19 months sober, and blogs like Ellie’s and Sefanie Wilder Taylor’s and The Booze Free Brigade that I would read feverishly while drinking my bottle (or 3) of wine a night saved my ass.

I got sober in March 2011. That January I read another blog where the woman, instead of  a New Years resolutions, took a word for the year and tried to live it. My word for 2011 was YES. It was a good year on so many levels.

For 2012 I decided to keep YES, because,I want to live the rest of my life in that word, And I added ENOUGH. As in….I am good enough, smart enough, whatever enough. I also started a blog, a pretty quiet one, not advertised but a few people read it or stumble upon it, and I like writing it.

Well, frankly, it has been a tough year, because I do not feel that I am enough of anything; I never have. Choosing that word made me have to look at this concept and it has been hard, harder than I ever imagined. I make some progress, I fall back.  I start to feel good in one area, something happens and I’m a mess again.

The place it all came to a head  for me was just 2 weeks ago in the midst of a wonderful, spiritual, amazing restorative road trip that I took, alone, through Arizona and New Mexico. And the catalyst was Ellie’s call for pictures for the new Crying Out loud video.

While on my trip I was able to put it off because I had to wait until I got home to have someone take my picture with a sign. I would go online and see others  (friends of mine!) happily, hopefully posting their pictures, putting themselves out there for all to see, and I would think of what I wanted my sign to say and where I would stand in my house (I have HUGE red letters on my mantel spelling out the word YES). I was preparing in my head and fully ready to do it. BUT, but…there was something bothering me, a voice, deep, constant, questioning my decision to do this. And I didn’t understand it because I am out about my drinking, maybe not announcing it on FB,  but I’m not ashamed.

So I got home and took some pictures. And more pictures. And smiled differently. And held my head differently. And my son got frustrated and bitched about taking all the pictures and assured me there were great ones in there. But I couldn’t see it. They were all hideous and there was no way I was going to submit one. I didn’t look good enough, my sign wasn’t important enough…

And then I realized that the pictures were not that hideous, that, in fact, in each one I look exactly how I look and that sent me into a meltdown of major proportions because, you see…

I am old.

I am older than I want to be. Older than I feel, older than I act.  Older than anyone else in that video.  Older than anyone wants to date.  Older than my husband was when he died….

And I have great shame and vulnerability around that.

I have always worked hard to look younger, stay current, act younger, keep my body in decent shape…everything to stop the inexorable march of time. But there is a point where things change and there’s not a lot you can do about it. Where the waist thickens, and the back hurts more,  the arms get saggy no matter how much weight you lift. When you want to go a little slower and you can no longer look at a picture of yourself without noticing your neck. When you need to watch the foods you eat because they start bothering you. When you are looked at incredulously by younger people when you happen to know the name and music of a particular new band or when recounting the live shows you used to see when you were young. When you look at a handsome man and  then are shocked into the realization that you could have birthed him. When you see you are aging out of being relevant in the type of work you do. When you think about going back to school but know that there is no way you could ever survive a math class. When you start thinking about where you might live that offers a decent quality of life at a more affordable rate than you can possibly live in the city that you have lived in and loved your entire life, where your life is.

When you decide you might like to write, or blog and realize that even that, even that supposed anonymity won’t square with the new person you are evolving into and that person is at least 20 years older than everyone else.

The shame and vulnerability around the process of aging, for me, is absolutely crazy. The idea that I am enough as I am seems completely outlandish and impossible. And the idea of being alone with this….alone the rest of my life? Unspeakable.

The good news is that this has been, under the surface, a huge issue for me for a while and now I can look at it head on, eyes open. Try and square my age with who I am, try and find a way to move forward positively. One big resentment I have about this is that I always thought, and was told, that the best thing about aging was there comes a point where you just don’t give a shit anymore, where others opinions of you fall off your back like water and you can, finally, live the rest of your life authentically.

But then I was also told that about death, that once you  have been through the trauma  of someone close to you dropping dead life suddenly becomes easier and you can see what’s important and trivial things don’t matter anymore.

Apparently my brain did not get that memo. Or maybe it’s just not true.

Anyway, let me say this, here and now.

My name is Michele. I am 59 years old.

I do not feel enough…..but I want to, I do.

 

(and a disclaimer…Ellie never got this, which is a good thing. Some days are crazier than others…this is the truth that day and some days. That is all)

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9 Comments

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  1. Hi Michele, I’m Christy and I just fell in love with you. (in a good way!)

    I am 38, but in my mind I am 22. Someone asked me the other day if I have a daughter that goes to the local college. I said no, and thought well duh is that even possible?! I thought about it and realized yeah, yeah it’s very possible. I could have a daughter who is OUT of college even. That was an eye opener for me.

    I have a significant age-gap marriage. My husband is in his 60’s. I’ve always had an old soul. I’ve lost many family members, and I have some appeciation for the moment, but I do not know what losing my husband will do to me. I’m childless, and my small family is nearly entirely in the spirit world. I can understand much of your thought process.

    I know this took a lot of courage to post. I’m glad you said yes to the “publish now?” button. And I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog. And I’m glad I stumbled onto my friend Susan’s blog at Recovering Life (she is on my blog roll)- She chose to get sober at a late stage in her life and muses about age and the physical condition as well. I will mention this post to her as I’m sure she will relate to you and much of your story, and you possibly to hers.

  2. love your blog too Christy…
    the music and quotes keep me very content.
    and thanks for the link to Susan. THis is actually up because I am sending it to another bloggers page for what she calls Truthful Thursdays. I put it up so a friend of mine could read it and let me know if it was too much.
    I guess you were that friend, eh?

    • Not too much. In fact, it was just *enough.* 🙂

      Yes, it was quite timely for me, and gave me a good bit to think about. Thank-you!

    • I’m so glad you and Susan have connected! I saw your comments on her site and on her about page, and now it is my turn to be moved to tears.

      You know how Tom winked at you through me the other day? Well, my mom winked at me through you tonight. See… she passed away on March 21. In 2011. She was very young, too young for cancer to steal her at 57. I would not have known this if I did not read your post today then mention Susan to you so that you could share that on her page.

      I’m not sure what to make of that other than one light goes out and another light turns on- you found new life in sobriety, and my mom found new life in the spirit realm.

      Also, I think Susan is to play a role in your life, just a feeling. I found both of your blogs on the same evening a couple months ago and followed you both at that time. You are both big Cohen fans, and that’s one of the reasons I feel so strongly connected to you both.

      “Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering.
      There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

      Forget your perfect offering M. “YES”, you are plenty “ENOUGH” and you always have been. The universe is too strongly at play here for you to feel less than.

      (Did you know when someone clicks on your username it directs to a deleted blog? Maybe that’s intentional, but it might be keeping others from seeing your blog when they click on your name in a comment. Just an FYI in case you didn’t know.)

      I understand if you remove this comment or this whole post- I just felt like I needed to share this with you. I hope it brings you peace…

      • Wow.
        um, wow.
        I am so grateful to have been the conduit for a wink, and it feels like a mutual one….the universe is saying something.

        I didn’t know that about my name…I did have an old blog called mishedup at one time that was, unknowingly to me, connected to my twitter feed. I do internet dating, someone googled me found it and was, shall we say unkind. I had no idea anyone could find it. I’m only a little more savvy now. I haven’t perfected putting pictures on, creating a blog roll, etc. I don’t now if that can be remedied, but I’ll look into it.

        And meanwhile, yes, Susan’s blog! Happy you sent me there, I’m going to enjoy it.

  3. There is SO much I can relate to here, Michele. Just recently, my daughter (31) looked at me with incredulity and said, “You LIKE Gnarls Barkley???” (I tried to be matter-of-fact, but couldn’t quite pull it off.) I wince at photos of myself, am bothered by sags and lines, skin tags and chin hair. These weird brown spots keep appearing on my hands, and I secretly buy potions to lighten them which don’t work. Those handsome men I look at could easily be my grandsons.

    But all of that is nothing compared to assaults on mobility. If you can walk a good distance without pain, age does not yet have the upper hand. That wasn’t my view at 59, but it is now. I still have not reached the point where I don’t give a shit how I look, but I am struck with horror at the possibility I may never hike in the mountains again.

    That feeling of never being enough is also all too familiar. For me, it has less to do with age than with a life-long feeling of inadequacy, but age adds to it the list of all the things you thought you’d do or be and haven’t.

    It’s funny how the view changes from where you are on the road. When I got to the end of your post and read you were 59, I thought, “What’s she TALKING about! She’s so young!!” Sigh. Eye of the beholder and all that.

    Your writing is a pleasure to read, and the posts I’ve read are honest and deeply-felt. I hope to get to know you.

    Susan

  4. LOVE! I so hope you send this to Ellie. I think if you lean into that vulnerability, you will be embraced in an amazing way. This is going to resonate so deeply with so many people. It’s gorgeous!

    And it’s funny because when you said you added the word “enough,” I heard it as “ENOUGH!!!” Enough to self-criticism. Enough to negative self-talk! When that voice comes up, you have the option of yelling back, “ENOUGH!!!”

    You are a gift.

  5. Oh Michele. No words for how this touched me. This resonated so deeply with me. I am 62, 11 months sober today. I am so glad I found you!

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