Can I just say, this aging thing is for the birds! Contrary to what More magazine portrays, it’s tough to age in a world where aging is frowned on, though I suppose we can’t really know who frowns on it thanks to Botox. I stopped reading magazines/articles that talk about aging as if it’s simply a mind over body equation. Interviews with famous women and their 5 simple steps to combat this dreadful disease. It’s the same old peer pressure that our daughters face when watching Friends reruns. Perfect women, artificially puffed, buffed and starved, along with their beauty secrets in print so we can strive to look, feel and be just like them.
Sure. Right. You betcha.
My mind and emotions have aged into a good place, but my body…ugh. Joints ache, muscles rebel, sleep eludes, weight clings, energy wanes and often all I want to do is nap. I may have nary a gray hair and my wrinkles are minimal but the glories of aging escape me.
Of course it doesnt help that we were violently tossed into vehicles 15 months ago. Seatbelts, while saving our lives, bring their own grief. Broken bones and bruises have taken more than a year to heal. Bruce spent his winter in extreme pain as his hardware telegraphed the cold up and down his arm. I spent a good portion of the last year at a Chiropractor’s office and earlier this year at a pain institute. Tailbone injuries don’t heal well as my hiney will tell you at any given moment. It’s hard to believe that we did as much as we did last summer because I don’t think we could do it this year. I miss the haze of narcotics.
Over the past year we’ve entertained a number of crazy ideas. With a pending insurance settlement our minds went exploring. We thought we’d move, certainly closer to Bruce’s job. Then it was buying some kind of fixer upper and doing a lot of the work. It was lavender farming for a brief time. Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. It was moving into the city to be closer to our church, also not gonna happen. The mental explorations were fun, even entertaining to friends and family. We’ve always been dreamers, every vacation we’ve taken we imagine ourselves living there. It’s a fun mental exercise, but far from reality.
Reality is this, now that the house is all ours, unless God supernaturally moves us, we’re staying put. Moving requires physical strength, money and…energy. We gain nothing financially by moving and we add wear and tear to already depleted bodies that for all rights and purposes are still healing. I don’t like facing reality. It’s not a bad reality, it’s just not the one I want. I want a different house, a master bath, fireplace, upstairs laundry and a bigger kitchen. This was suppose to be the sacrifice house; we downsized to get our girls through school. It was suppose to appreciate so remodeling would increase it’s value. Instead we’re almost breaking even and we still don’t have the perks I crave, we’d never recoup a remodel. The part of me that is frugal is at war with the part of me that wants it all.
All this to bring about a topic that plauges me often — perfectionism. It’s a bondage from which I strive to break free. Bruce’s mantra is “Perfection is the enemy of good enough” and though it’s true and often relieves me of varying levels of guilt, it doesn’t entirely free me from it’s grip. Here’s where the problem lies, my percieved idea of what life should look like vs reality. In my mind I should be trim, fit, cooking at home, eating a perfect diet of all the whole, organic and nutritious foods at my disposal. I would never crave a hot dog, ice cream cone or mac and cheese in my imagined reality. My house is tidy, laundry done, I’m up on literature, politics and can speak to any and all topics with knowledge and wit (maybe I’m okay there). I’m a perfect friend, wife, mother and mother in law and have an abundance of energy left over to do all the creative things I love doing.
With social media portraying all the best of what families are experiencing, it’s difficult to keep up. Empty nesters living abroad, travleling the globe, working in distant locations digital cameras capturing it all, (isn’t it amazing what kind of photos your phone takes?). Grandchildren perfoming at peak levels, growing up right before our eyes. Friends who invest their retirement time in hobbies they love, taking themed foreign trips around them. Children getting married in perfect weddings, photos displayed in glorious splendor (okay, so we nailed that one). The competition is tough…I’m not immune, even though I know mentally that what’s on social media isn’t EVER the entire story.
I wonder what would happen if we all posted the more distressing parts of our lives? What if we all took a day and just said how lousy things were? Maybe our husband is out of work again for the 10th time in 30 yrs, or he’s been out of work for 6 years. Or maybe our son/daughter isn’t really follwoing in the faith as we raised them to. What if we lost our house, or got divorced. Maybe we struggle with chronic pain that keeps us in bed some days, unable to do what we long to do. Or maybe we’re taking strong medications for illnesses that plauge us because of heredity, injury or living choices we’ve made. Maybe we’ve got financial woes as we’re approaching the season of living off 401K’s. It wouldn’t be healthy for secondary relationships if we tried this, but it would make for enlightened reading.
Percieved reality haunts me. I know I’m not alone, many are trapped in this cycle but it must END! We have to take back reality. Life is long, contrary to what everyone says, and God willing we’re going to be around for many years. In my experience, life is messy, imperfect and we all struggle through it. For some it will be marathons in their 60’s, world travel and exotic vacations, (all grandchildren will be stunning and accomplished), but for a majority of us it won’t be. Percieved reality has far too much power, robbing us of mental peace. Reality is far better than good enough, especially in light of the reality that we actually deserve…
In my world that means contentment with my life as it is now, pain and all. It means abolishing guilt for skipping out on cooking dinner, reading a book all day to avoid sitting in chairs or staying out of an automobile so I don’t hurt. It means acceptance of my body while I continue to plug away at improving it. And it means satisfaction with what I possess, knowing that it more than meets my needs and provides me with comfort and well being. It also means trusting that my future reality is in the hands of someone who knows me better than I know myself and his plan is far better than any I can envision.
“Life is not a fairy tale, if you loose your shoe at midnight, you’re drunk”.
I think I’ll try and keep my shoes on while remembering that if I happen to loose one the fairy tale isn’t destroyed, I just may have over indulged…