It's painful even to write this. Not because my hands hurt, but because of the angst that goes along with bringing my aging body to mind as I play out the back nine of life.
It's just not the same. I know you know. Same as what, you might ask? The young, ideal version of ourselves! Talk about clinging to the past! We don't know how to be with this body as it is. It's written off as gross, old, icky because we only live with it in comparison to the past.
It's never coming back. The old one. Yes, if you have a lot of money and time you can take magic elixirs, pay big doctors to reverse the process and nip and tuck what you don't like. The rest of us have to live with deterioration or keep it at bay the regular Joe's way with diet and exercise. (Perfect in theory, only, because gravity and genetics are still a factor.)
Probably, like you, I find it hard to let go of the past version of my body. I'm not a French woman, I'm not anorexic anymore (I was clinically so in my twenties) and I've traded my hours at the gym as a single woman for the butt-spreading exercise of sitting at a desk or in a car as a working mother. The most horrific admission is the grotesque morphing into having a mom butt. (Guys, you have it too, but I choose to call it a "mom butt.") It's square, due to gravity and simultaneous hip growth as the waistline disappears. I'd put money on it having been the original inspiration for Sponge Bob Square Pants.
If you haven't before, you'll see them now that you know. Observe them on the Starbucks line, at the airport, at the supermarket and at the mall (or in the mirror). A square butt is on the back nine waiting for you if you don't have one already.
It's hard not to compare to the past when you long for it every time you walk by a reflecting surface. But what's maybe even more frustrating is our body projecting an identity to the world for us that isn't how we experience ourselves. People make assumptions about us based on our physical appearance. Thank goodness it's illegal to ask someone's age in a job interview, but plenty of assumptions are made anyway. The back nine is full of assumptions about what you can and cannot do because of your age or appearance. You even have them about yourself! The front nine had them too, but these seem more damning.
Let's end this torture. The strategy for the back nine is gratitude. In the present moment you can say:
"Thank you that I have a body that works!"
"Thank you that I have all my faculties!"
"Thank you that I can still run, dance, carry bags, shop the mall on my own two feet and give massive hugs to those I love!"
It's the only way through. The alternative sucks. (Is that a spiritual term?)
I find I now have something in common with the fruit left too long in the fridge. I'm pruning, I'm shrinking, I'm wrinkling and I'm getting mushy. Like fruit, I held promise and sweetness. But unlike fruit, you and I can reclaim ourselves if we stop mourning the past -- we can take better care of this body, be kinder to it, be kinder to ourselves and keep our mindset higher than all our sagging parts.
A good dose of denial with a large,heaping portion of self-care and you've got a heck of a back nine to burn through. Pick up your chins and let's go!
Follow Laura Berman Fortgang on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LauraBFortgang