We are the perfect marks for aging. Resident in our own bodies full-time, we barely notice the almost imperceptible daily changes she brings. Well, until we hear ourselves exhaling a low throttled grunt as we stand up from a seated position on the floor.
Now in my mid-50s, aging’s made herself known to me; mocking the fact that just because I know what her game is doesn’t mean I can do anything about it. The con is elaborate and relentless. It unfolds in front of my eyes, year after year, and all I can do is accept.
At 53, I had to stop powerlifting because my arthritis rendered my hands useless. This is the year I PR’d (personal record) on my weight as well. And, this is the year that in order to keep my beautiful, artificial red-headedness, I had to color every two weeks.
Aging is in no hurry. Unfortunately, the ‘new norms’ don’t all get delivered on your birthday each year. She silently and steadily ups her ante. Sometimes she sneaks away with my ability to turn my head to the left, or right, for that matter – depending on the morning. Luckily, thus far, she eventually returns it. She is tireless; absconding with a bit of eyesight here, stealing some muscle mass there, leaving a roll or two on my back as she stealthily sets up residence in my body.
The Mean Girl:
As if the physical deterioration is not insulting enough, aging can be a real mean girl as well. Sometimes she talks nasty to me, uttering mean girl comments like: “you’ve lost the glow to your skin” or “where did all that sagging skin come from?”. I don’t always see her coming either. She’s particularly evil if I’ve lost a night of sleep, or two, or three… Yea, that happens.
What recourse do I have? Do I have to accept? Acceptance has never been a forte of mine. I’ve always been the kind to fight back, shop for another answer, or change the rules of the game to better suit me. I’m at a real loss now. None of my tried and trues will work on this con. What am I left with?
According to Marsha Linehan, the psychologist who created Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), there are two kinds of people: those who are beaten down by suffering and those who are not. Radical acceptance is about accepting of life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life, just as it is.
Radical acceptance is the only way to handle this aging mockery. And, I’m here to tell her she doesn’t scare me. Yes, I have to cohabitate with her daily. Yes, she sometimes makes it so I don’t recognize my own reflection in the mirror. But, she can’t have all my control. I may not have any say over the racket she’s got going on but, I get a say in the ‘how’ I show up and the ‘what’ I do about it.
I think many women, every day, make those choices. Everyday is an opportunity to celebrate the gifts that come with aging and to let the nuisances wash away. And maybe that is what is meant by radical acceptance.
So, maybe I do have the capacity to accept. My answer to radical acceptance; my ‘YES” to life is to surround myself and collaborate with wise, fierce, cool, women. If I can’t imprison the con artist robbing me of my youth, then I’m going to celebrate her. I’m going to out her and give her the fan fare she deserves. I’m going to laugh at her antics and learn to embrace my life as her mark.
About the Author:
Jacqueline (Jack) Perez champions change, redefining modern midlife for women through curated content and women-driven brands. Checkout Kuel Life where you can Share, learn, shop, and play with our Second Act Sisters! Subscribe to the weekly Kuel Life Newsletter for hot topics delivered directly to your inbox.