The Skin I Am In

What Being Twenty Looks Like At Sixty

When I was a twenty-something young thing, I thought that forty was ancient. It seemed like that prospect was miles away and I did not need to think about it. I t was almost as if reaching forty was something that would never happen to me. Not me!

Well, guess what.. as I arrive at the doorstep of another big 0, I feel both pity and amusement at that twenty-something me. She had no idea what’s coming up for her. She was engrossed in her own world; examining every little perceived defect in her body, ruminating over the meaning of every word directed at her, agonizing over the future, dreaming of the great things she will achieve. No one could tell her anything, because she thought she had it all figured out; certainly not older women who droned on about experience and wisdom!

Fast forward quite a few years, and the view looks somewhat different. From my present vantage point, I see all that I had no way of understanding at age twenty. I know all the difficulties that I would have to go through. A wave of relief washes over me today as I realize so much heartache and doubt are behind me, and I look forward to the calmer waters of the coming years.

It was not always so. As I stumbled into my thirties, I started to notice a white hair here, a wrinkle there and my anxieties rose. The idea of losing youth and the prospect of sagging skin and other indignities of an older existence frightened me. I bought expensive lotions and potions in the hope of keeping old age at bay. I started to color my hair to cover the creeping greys; its color, originally black, was slowly changed to a lighter shade of brown as it seemed a kinder contrast to my now less than perfect skin. My lipsticks shied away from my favorite reds to tamer shades and my eyeliner became less demanding of attention.

When I reached my forties, my battle with the bulge was in full force. I would gain weight, then lose it, in an endless cycle. Each skirmish added a few more indelible cellulite scars, but I was determined to fight until the end. I remember my sister making a comment once when I was complaining about some bit of anatomy or another, that I should enjoy how I look now because this is the best that I will ever look from this point on. Never a truer word was ever uttered.

I did not know it then, but by the end of my forties, menopause would become an unwelcome visitor that would take residence in my life for the next few years, bringing with it a myriad of inconveniences and much-unexpected baggage. No one had told me about what would happen to my body or my mind during this time. Although it was a shock to the system, I only discussed it with my doctor. There seemed to be a secret shame about admitting to menopause somehow. Not only was I losing my youth and looks, but also my ability to bear life. That really messed with my mind.

There is a happy ending to my story! After all the troubles and tribulations, coming out on the other side of menopause, accepting the less than taut skin, the laughter lines and wobbly bits, brought with it a kind of peace. I am more able to laugh at myself and to find humor in the problems associated with getting older. For all its beauty and energy, youth can be foolish and reckless. I have now arrived at a place in my life where I feel wiser, calmer, and happier in the skin I am in.


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