(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)