Friday, July 10, 2009

Why I'm Celebrating Being in my Forties

In this day and age of worshiping and praying to the Youth God, I kinda like the fact that I've have turned my back on this deity. Oh I like a good face cream just like the next old lady, but I'm talking about not being obsessed with turning my clock back to when I was in my 20's or 30's. Those ages are so passe' now. My forties are about celebrating and acceptance.

Frankly, getting older has actually been a peaceful godsend rather than a cave of depression and darkness that was once thought to be the norm. At one time, I really liked when I heard the phrase "40's are the new 30"s". I think that was the day after I turned 40 and thought life was downhill from there. Then I thought "screw that", my life right now is far better than it was in my 30's or 20's, or for that matter, my stinking teen's!

I liked turning 40 and instead of looking at is as some alien metamorphosis that would start taking over me, turning me into nothing short of a complete mutation of what I once was before, I realized that I was embarking on one of the best times of my life.

It was also the realization that I could be a bitch

and not have to apologize every five seconds for it.

Do you know what's great about being forty-something? You get to the part of your life where you don't have to act a certain way, or dress a certain way, or mind your pronouns and gerunds in the correct grammatical form, or just generally pretend to be some other fucking person than yourself in order to be accepted among your peers, or society in general.

If you want to wear purple and green polka dots to a funeral,

then being older than 40 gives you the God-given and hormonal-ridden right do to so!

So THERE all you fashion police-ista's!

For once in my life, I do not care if someone does or does not like what I do, what I say, or who I am, or what I wear. After all these stinking years of pleasing all the morons I tried to please - I - DON'T - HAVE - TO - ANYMORE!! I only have to please myself and answer to only God for everything I do from here on in.

And if I want to wear my Uggs with shorts in the summer, I don't care if you look at my funny, I'm gonna do it anyway - cause damn it, I like my Uggs!

I went through my teens and twenties frozen in fear by what "others" thought about me. I literally loathed high school because of the fitting-in factor, and if you didn't, then those who were "popular" judged whether you were acceptable to speak with or not. I think I was kinda of hard to figure out since they went back and forth on the issue with me.

One day they did talk to me, the next they didn't. It was like being in a nuthouse full of bi-polar personalities at times.

Luckily I lived through hit and then I hit my twenties. I will be the first to admit that I made more mistakes during that period of my life than I care to admit. Some will follow me for life (cause SOME people just choose NOT to forget), and some I can honestly sit back and laugh at.

My thirties were my time to look around and snap out of my narcissistic behavior. It is the time when I first became a mom. "Having children makes you focus on something bigger than yourself!", my wise mother-n-law constantly told me when she was alive.

Boy was she not kidding!

There were times that brushing my teeth and taking a shower came back seat to changing boxes of diapers daily on a set of twins, and cleverly figuring out how to breast feed two infants at the same time without dropping one in the process. My whole decade of thirties was wrapped up in birthing and taking care of four kids. I just conveniently stuffed "me" in a dusty corner of my closet during that time.

Then - WHA-LA! - my forties hit. I pulled "me" out of the closet and dusted it off. Boy did I go through several Endust wipes doing that. It was time to reflect, rediscover, and send me through "reinvent me" machine.

It's an age you hit that sandwiches you in the middle of two sets of generations. Suddenly you understand the youth behind you, and the geriatrics in front of you. You become blessed with a portal into both of these worlds and you derive clarity into who you are now and what you will do with the rest of your life.

You understand the youth because you have already lived it and been where they are going. You understand the older generation because you now understand that because they have lived a lifetime of joys, disappointments, war, and victory, and that gives them the right to smash their grocery carts into yours when out shopping. They've earned it, and now I get it!

Then there is the body-image issue of getting older. I once looked at myself (on a daily basis), and scrutinized every aspect of my body and why it didn't contort itself into that size three model on the cover of fashion magazines. Being forty gave me the "Ahh-HA" moment I needed. Instead of chastizing my figure for not conforming to the ideal look, I began to thank it for carrying me this far in life.

I looked in the mirror one morning and thanked it for carrying four children into this world; I thanked it for snapping back and healing if and when I abused it; I thanked it for forcing me to slow down when I consciously couldn't do so; I thanked it for loving me even though I didn't love it sometimes.

I chose to honor the body that God gave me - as it was - as oppose to beating it up when it didn't respond to expectations I had established from the brainwashing by Madison Avenue fashion execs. Thus ending once and for all, that body-image phobia I was carrying around all these years.

I make comments to the fact that I try to firebomb various fat cells and that I "roll" my excess skin leftover from carrying twins into my jeans, but I being forty gave me the wisdom to accept those parts of myself as being part of the life I have lived. They are not aliens that have suddenly attached themselves to me, but parts of me that have changed in the course of my life just as I, myself, have changed coming into this age. I finally liked and accepted what I looked like instead of allowing some other person or entity telling me if it was okay to like me.

Acceptance is humbling and a hell of a lot less stressful.

I learned in my forties that it is far healthier to forgive and let go than it is to hold decades old grudges. I had a former best friend who really burnt me bad some 17 years ago. It is a reason I don't have a formal best friend these days; I have trust issues in that department. But instead of continuing the grudge, I found out where she lived, which JUST happens to be in the same town I've moved into. Not sure if this is fate or not?????

I wrote her a note telling her that I forgave her and that I hope she is living a wonderful life for herself. I mailed it, and I let the grudge go as I did. It's a powerful moment, but sometimes takes reaching a certain age in order to understand the wisdom in it.

I never heard back from her, but I'm here to publicly say that "Elizabeth Parman, I DO forgive you."

So if you fear getting old..... don't. It is a part of your life that suddenly opens up all those answers to the questions you had when you were younger. It is the "age of wisdom" as Carl Jung once wrote. It is the point of your life where you are no longer afraid to be yourself. It is the age of the acceptance of who you really are. No longer are you held captive by thinking you have to be what others "think" you should be.

Hell, your hormones are about to run amuck at this age so you best prepare everyone early, eh? They better accept you now, because they'll be able to understand you later when the menopause thing is in full swing.

THAT'S when you'll find out who your REAL friends are!

So go on, CELEBRATE being 40-something, or 50-something, or 60-something, etc. Each one of us has earned it in our own right. If we all do, then the youth that surrounds us might not fear so much getting older themselves. They just might celebrate with us as well.

And with that being said - I think I'll celebrate with a pint of Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk tonight.

And then I'll celebrate half of it with my kids.


Christianne said...

I really enjoyed this Carolyn. Well done. :)

Karen MEG said...

Oh I'd love to celebrate being 40-something with you and Ben and Jerry, if it weren't for the fact that it would probably send me to the ER with a gall bladder attack ;).

But seriously, what an awesome post. I just had dinner last night with a couple of other 40-something girlfriends and this post would have fit just perfectly into the conversation.

Jillian Livingston said...

Glad to know that you are also enjoying your forties. We are not just convincing ourselves are we?? No, of course not.

Thanks for sharing!

Sheila said...

You touch alot on the stages we all go through. I don't want to go back to being a teenager as those were hard times and I also did not have the self confidence to not care what others thought. What I would like is the lack of responsibility that we enjoyed as teenagers. Our biggest concern what what we were going to do on Friday night. What kind of fun were we going to enjoy. Now it's how are we going to pay the mortgage and put food on the table and for many, where am I going to find a job?

I got married young and had kids right away and I wouldn't trade that for the world. I just wish I had the knowledge of my 40's when I was raising kids in my 20's. I would have relaxed more. I can remember going to the store with my young kids and they would act up and I would be so embarassed like I was a bad mother. Now I realize how silly that is. Kids will be kids. Now when I'm at a store and a kid is acting up or crying I feel sorry for the mom because it makes the shopping trip harder when the kids are having a bad day.

Great post Carolyn. I really enjoyed reading it. From your post I can say that there are some days when I would love to have the very fit bodies of the models and stars on TV but I also realize that it really doesn't matter in the full scheme of things whether I ever get a body like that. It's what's on the inside and how you treat people and how you look at life that is what really matters.

Have a wonderful day!

Tara R. said...

This was perfect! As I inch toward 50 I am also reaching that place where I don't care what people think about what I say. I'm not mean, but I'm not nearly as politically correct as I used to be.

Awesome post, sista friend!