Last week I wrote about my changing body. A trip down a handful of body parts and internal workings that have taken on a life all their own (as in long, rogue eyebrows) and somehow seem foreign to me even as they are me.
It was light and humorous and I wrote it for one really important reason: so we can all talk about it. It is happening to me and it will happen to other women. Or has happened to many already. Not necessarily exactly the things that I am experiencing but changes nonetheless. And I wanted to share the journey. Because so many women do not.
I can go on and on about how we live in a time where perfection is the unattainable norm. Where images race across the screen, are pictured in the magazines, walk past us down the street all nipped and tucked and set just right. And that certainly is part of it. But I think there is an even bigger issue going on. I think women have disconnected from each other on this fundamental level of sisterhood. That karmic, cosmic connection that unites us in our journey from maiden to mother and into crone.
We don’t share these things readily with each other. In the past, think back to ancient times, to living together in communities, tribes, covens - to when we were more connected to the earth, we lived through these changes with each other. And we honored the aging process. We became wise women. Elders.
But now we live in separate houses and separate spaces and we clothe our transforming bodies and do not see each others life journeys become etched into our skin. And that is sad.
Because as we cover up our bodies, we close down our hearts to each other.
We lose the reverence for each other and for ourselves. And this disconnect settles into ourselves in a really unhealthy way because as we shut down from those around us - whether through fear or sadly, in shame for not living up to an ideal - we start to internalize those feelings until they become us.
I wanted my first writing in this blog that I have embarked on creating to be about women because I wanted to focus on being a women and talking to women from that place of being the same.
My light, airy musing is really a deep-seated need to connect to you, other women, on this authentic level of honoring myself and honoring you.
And opening up of a dialog so that we can feel that support and love and acceptance. Both in ourselves and with each other.
Women are extraordinary. And we get better and better as we get older. I know this because it is happening to me. I am wise now. I have less shit. Not no shit…but less shit. I am starting to move with a grace that I have not known before as I become more grounded into myself and into the earth.
I am really proud of this age that I now am. And I am proud of the journey that I have taken to get here. Proud of the woman that I was throughout this aging adventure and proud of who I am becoming now.
I am proud of the wisdom I feel seeping into me. Because now I, too, know many things. That settled and peaceful giving that I see in other women, older than I, as it expanded from within themselves - a knowledge that swims in this great pool, formed from their life experience - I am starting to have this now.
For I, no longer maiden nor mother – now that my children are grown – am becoming that wise crone. Yes, just at the beginning of this next and last stage of womanhood, but still embracing this new path. With bravery and grace.
And now, I begin to feel this love for my body in a whole new way. There is strength in these bones and flesh. There is power in my arms and legs that was not there before. My neck holds my head up high and my back carries me straight and fierce. I am beautiful in my skin.
I am proud of my age. I speak this truth with my clear eyes and strong heart.
I want to walk in this earth-connected place with other women by my side. I want this same connection that I am discovering that I have to myself and to this earth to ground with others outside of myself. This is what that writing was. The reaching out to you by opening myself up to you. The beginning of this connection that I seek.
Why I wear very good and extremely, obscenely expensive bras and other healthy ways of coping with a changing body
warning - spoiler: for those women not yet at this stage of your life, you may decide you would rather wait and experience this first hand rather than read what may be in your future….for those not female…..you may want to skip this altogether, perhaps too much information (though you may want to scroll down to the paragraph on periods and hormones… I mean you do live with us on a daily basis, it may be helpful to gain a bit more insight so when we rip out your heart and suck you dry and then weep on your shoulder only to forget what we were talking about seconds later, you will understand and can be supportive).
There are certain things going on with my body lately. I am sure they are all gradual things, though they seem to just appear overnight. Similar to when my babies were little and I would put them to bed in a one piece, feet included sleepy that was too big and they would wake up and could not bend their knees. Kind of like that. But not really.
Anyway, I digress. I am changing. Inside certainly. My heart, my mind, my soul. This collective we, are all getting stronger and wiser and more at peace. Unfortunately - or not, I am trying to make peace with this - my body is keeping up with this transformation. In some not so pleasing ways that I thought I would share with you here so as to warn you of what is coming and perhaps give you some ideas to prevent, starve off, or at least cope in a healthy way, this does not mean drinking wine.
Let us start with...
Graying Hair: Hair turns gray. EVERYWHERE ON YOUR BODY. Not just on your head. I did not know this. I did not even think about this to know this. And nobody ever thought to tell me this. But now, when I mention it to other women, they all say, oh yes, that is what happens. And we laugh because it is a private joke. On us. Someone should have warned me. I am warning you so you do not wake up one morning and look down and say what the fuck. Well, you may say that anyway but at least you won't be surprise. Now, I am a laser hair removal survivor, I say this in all truth, it hurt more that getting my tattoos, and so there is really not a lot of hair there. Except for those motherfucking gray ones that cannot be lasered off. The contrast between hair and skin, that dark against light thing that the laser needs…it does not exist when gray hair is on light skin. So be warned. If you are thinking of laser hair removal and you have not even one gray hair anywhere…DO IT NOW! Kill those fuckers before they morph into the demons that they are.
And speaking of gray hair, let us talk about...
Eyebrows: They turn gray too. One hair at a time. But there is more going on here. They get long. Like long as in I-swear-I-pluck-one-and-it-is-attached-over-the-other-eye long. Those older men we see, our grandfathers and great uncles, I have their eyebrows on my face. What is up with that. Gray, long eyebrows. But not all gray. Some half gray. Or still darker. Some still manageable. But keep an eye on them, this sentence amuses me. I think they could take over my face if I am not careful.
Let us move on to…
Knees: Or more specifically the skin above them. Well, the skin that used to be above them but now seem to want to rest right against the knee cap. Saggy knees. I have this. I know that a lot of this is sun damage. So first piece of advice: if you are young still or not so young, USE SUNBLOCK. And not just on your face and chest where you may worry most. Use it on your thighs and knees. The sun damage makes the loss of elasticity in skin that much more pronounced and someday your knees will look like my knees. Now don't get me wrong. I have great legs. I always have. Just loose knees. There is a joke in here somewhere…loose knees, loose lips sink ships, can't quite get it though. So take care of your skin around your knees. And second suggestion: keep your knees bent as often as possible. They look really great that way.
Ok, let us visit our…
Ass: I do believe I have a good one of these, too. But just as my knees look great bent, my ass looks best bent over. It used to look standing the way it looks bent over now. This is an age thing. That skin I was talking about above, that elasticity thing that is happening, it happens everywhere. Some places faster than others. Think sun damage/use sun screen/I am going to drill this home today. Hence the sagging knees. Well, ass skin gets loser, too. And those pert cheeks that used to fill up jeans just so - they are a bit flatter and perhaps a bit lower down than they were before. Still good but definitely looking a bit tired. Worn out. So work out. Drink lots of water. This is my advice to you.
Let us now talk about our…
Period: Or lack thereof. And how long that lack there of takes to reach. Because for me, this process started OVER TEN YEARS AGO. And is only just ending now. Truly. But yours may be less years. Or more. You may feel all sorts of symptoms or nothing at all. And let me tell you, what you read about the peri-menapausal stage - this is BULLSHIT. None of us are the same. That constant period that you have. That is normal. Not having one then having a huge one. Normal. Spotting. Normal. Being cranky, horny, emotional, psychic, scatterbrained and intense. Normal. Now this is not to say that if you question something ignore it, you should definitely have it checked out. Though keep in mind that what is happening here…. in a whisper, no one really knows. My doctor, who I love and knew all my babies…this is what he said: Honestly, he said to me, we really don't know what is going on in women's bodies. Well…thank you for that because I already knew that and this is why I love my doc. Now I am lucky compared to some women I know. I did not have hot flashes for most of these ten LONG ASS YEARS, except for about 1-2 years a number of years ago when I would wake up and HAVE TO GET OUT OF THESE GODDAMN COVERS RIGHT THIS SECOND OR I WILL DIE and now when the lack of a period has become a reality and I am truly done with "the change". And though I am emotional at times, I think this is more being mindful of my feelings than hormonal symptoms. And I am not bitchy. I never really was pre-period anyway. I am, however, really scatterbrained and forgetful. But that is ok because I think about it for like one second and then immediately move to another thought or forget about it. So good luck with this one. Keep the communication open with those you love and that significant person in your life. It's important to keep the connection there even during this changing time/changed time. I have gotten a bit serious here….let us move on.
Ok, I have one more to do, and then I am done.
Breasts: Specifically the size and shape of them. Now…I was always told and I read in books and magazines and other women talked about this, too, that my breasts would get little at this stage of my life. Perhaps less pert but little. And this I liked to hear. Except... IT WAS A LIE. They are bigger. Much bigger. Like two cup sizes bigger. Some may say that this is a good thing. I, personally, like little breasts on me. I like my clothes in little breasts. I like working out in them better. They are all around easier to handle, another amusing phrase. But mine are not this. They are HUGE. For me they are huge. And full. And they hurt. Because they are heavy. Now, while I was still going through that change that I just talked about above I got to thinking that perhaps after they get huge like this and then they will get small. But that is not how it works. And when I look around at a lot of women older than me, they have huge breasts too. And just the other day, while out bra shopping, for my very good and extremely, obscenely expensive bras, the woman in the bra store said that her's got huge too. And, whisper again, stayed that way. And, like my ass and my knees - and other places I have decided not to visit today - they are not nearly as pert as they were. So, what is a girl to do? I wear great bras. Beautiful ones. Yes, I have some basic ones, too. But I also have lovely ones. Lacy and sexy. And….and this is a big and…..they fit me. They support me. Both physically and mentally. So buy good bras. Feel beautiful. Take care of your breasts. Love them. Your significant other loves them. See them through their eyes if you can't see them through your own.
So, here you have it. A body's transformation into something a bit different but still the same. Still me, just slightly looser and grayer and bigger in places. All in all a good thing. But still hard to handle. I look in the mirror sometimes and I am surprised. Because my mind's eye sees me differently. But I still see me. Beautiful and strong.
I hope you enjoyed this trip into what could be your future, too. Advice: take good care of your body. Love your skin. Love your sags. Love yourself. I am learning to do this, too.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.