— from Rosie Kuhn —
If you are old enough to be reading this article you are old enough to understand that you have been participating in the aging process well before your little feet landed on the planet. You experienced the process of aging when you lost your first teeth around the age of six. Six years later, you began to develop muscle, breasts, pubic hair, and growth. Invisible hormones began to create sensations that were way beyond your ability to control. For many of us, we looked forward to these changes. For others, not so much.
In the mid-thirties and -forties, you began to notice a wrinkle or two, and grey hair began to pop up in the most peculiar places. Perhaps the biological clock was ticking, pressing upon you the need to get started with baby-making.
In the late forties and into your fifties, your skin began to loosen and get crepey. Boobs sagged – and so did everything else. Erections are more difficult, and so is peeing. Little by little you experienced physical changes that you heard were coming, but always believed it would never happen to you. Who me?
A few weeks back, I gave a talk at the Senior Center regarding Aging and Independence. In that hour and a half, those who attended began to share what it was like inside themselves – how they were participating – willingly or not, in the process of aging. No one minced words or used languaging that lightens the reality that life as we knew is has changed dramatically and that there is no way out!
What was shared was the degree of denial that many of us live in, the kind of denial that robs us of freedom of choice. What was also shared was the degree to which so many of us isolate ourselves, because we believe that we are the only one going through the emotional upheavals of the process of aging. When we look around at how others are being, it appears as if everyone else has a handle on this aging thing. One person offered to the group, “If I share what aging is like for me, people will discover or come to believe there is something definitely wrong with me. So I isolate.”
So consider every individual–especially women in their early adulthood, 30s and 40s–who utilize plastic surgery to avoid and distract themselves from the natural progression and evolution of their being, physical and otherwise. Each of us, in our own way, wants to hold at bay the inevitable annihilation of the me I want to hold onto.
With aging, regardless of which stage of life we are talking about, there is a metamorphosis process that is taking place. In truth, it scares the Bejeesus out of each and every one of us. Why? Because we don’t know how to do this thing called life. We would rather practice tried and true DENIAL (Don’t Even Know I Am Lying). Who wants to admit to themselves or anyone else, the degree to which they feel powerless and helpless? Um, like, no one!
Johnny Depp says “I don’t know how to be a grownup – I’ve never done it before.” Thanks Johnny, for being a poster child for Aging. None of us know how to do aging. Even those who consider themselves expert in the field – they too have to have their own personal experience of aging, for better or worse.
Each of us is here for the opportunity to figure out who we are as we transition through each developmental stage of aging. You are not alone! And though, it may look as if this stage of aging isn’t going to end well, the truth is that it is what you make it!
The other day, at a second gathering of individuals who are curious enough to continue the discussion on aging, one of the participants in the discussion on aging, said “It’s not an adventure if you couldn’t die doing it.” Who is up for an adventure?
Okay, most of us aren’t so thrilled with the idea that death is possible when facing an adventure. However in this particular adventure called your life, death is not only a possibility it is inevitable.
The intention of the gatherings at the Senior Center, and for these articles both called “Aging – Who Me,” is to provide a perspective and some support to examine and explore who each of us are in the midst of this human experience, regardless of where we are in the aging process. Sure, it may seem that we are attempting to make lemonade out of lemons, but why not. We’ve got the lemons – maybe we can make a pie while we are at it. I love the saying attributed to John Lennon, as well as Oscar Wilde: “Everything is great in the end. If it’s not great, it’s not the end!
If you’d like to join me in the AGING – Who Me? in-person discussions at the Senior Center, we are meeting the 2nd and the 4th Tuesdays of the months from 1pm to 2:30. For more information, or if you’d like to talk on a one to one basis, call me – Dr. Rosie Kuhn at 360-376-4323.