Growing old is a BITCH!

Posted by on 6:44 pm in Personally | 17 comments

When I was young, I was quite good looking. I never traded on my looks and I certainly never thought that I identified with being attractive. But now that I am growing older and my looks are fading, I am having a really tough time of it.

It seems to me that suddenly (within a year) everything changed. My hair fell out and I realized that I can’t read the small print anymore. The quantity of food I have always consumed now makes me fat. And I can’t stop eating! I need to replace my one molar with an implant and I need an op that will fix a side effect that accompanied natural childbirth. :( I have to go to gym 3 times a week just to keep gravity at bay. I just spent 2 months coughing, unable to shake a cold and every night I have to soak in a hot bath in order to warm up for bed! I look TERRIBLE without make-up and I am not used to wearing it because I could always trade on my naturally good looks. Suddenly I notice people relate to me differently, because I am just another old hag.

I still imagine myself being 18, but when I look in the mirror I see my mom! Oh horror!!!!

I feel OLD!!!

I am Mad! Furious! Pissed off!! How could this happen to me!!!!!!

I know it is childish and immature, but this is how I feel.

My previous infantile fantasy

I honestly did not expect it to happen to me. I was going to be the one that grew old slowly and gracefully. My beautiful hair would get a few gray hairs every year and my wrinkles would be mild and hardly noticeable. My body would stay thin and lithe and I wouldn’t need to ever exercise! Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

I just can’t accept it. I won’t accept it.

And I don’t understand why more people are not kicking and screaming about it. Is growing old so acceptable?

Reality bites

I feel like revolting against the Gods. Leading an army of mortals to Zeus’ lair to kill them all! How did this happen. Why is this part of the greater plan? I am so cross about it. I heard that there are benefits to growing old, e.g. being more spiritual, wiser, etc. Well from my perspective, the scale is completely imbalanced. I need to load the “BEING OLD” side with more positive stuff, but I can’t find any!

Everything is harder. Everything takes more effort. The slide towards entropy occurs daily, unless I oppose it. I am exhausted. I can see the benefit in letting it all go. Just slouching around the house with my pajamas and gown and slippers and only getting dressed for special occasions. Eating all the things I want and getting fat(ter). Having full cream cuppachino’s with custard slices.

What do I do now?

How do I relate to myself?

I look completely different to my inner image of myself. This is a huge discrepancy and I don’t know how to move forward. I certainly don’t want to see myself as young when I am not. How do I adjust my image of myself that I have carried with me for 40 odd years? I certainly think that it is not appropriate anymore and that trying to hold onto it is self sabotage.

I need to redefine the “I”.

Some thoughts from Steiner and Jung on redefinng the ‘I’

Rudolf Steiner has an interesting take of the process of growing old. His theory is that as the physical body starts to degenerate, the spiritual body is grown and developed. For example, I know that I am far more sensitive, intuitive and aware than I was when I was younger. I also feel stronger in a way, as if I am more stable and sure of who I am. I like this approach because it does seem to me that there is still growth and possibility, running parallel with the physical aging of my body.

A quote from “Man as being of sense and perception”:

“We are not here merely in order, through living, to sense this contradiction, but our inner life is a continual process of destruction of what develops as causality in outer nature. We men really dissolve natural causality within ourselves. What outside is physical process, chemical process, is developed within us in a reverse direction, towards the other side. …then we do not have merely a logical, theoretical contradiction in ourselves, but we have the real process – we have the process of human development, of human becoming, as the thing in us that itself counteracts natural causality, and human life as consisting in a battle against it.”

Jung wrote extensively on working with the second half of life. He believed that the first half is spent establishing the ego in the world, and once the ego was firmly established, the second half of life would challenge the ego’s position and force the individual to re-engage their nucleus, their Self and re-invent their relationship to the Self.

Some quotes from him express this quite clearly.

“The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go of it.” ― C.G. Jung

“Everything young grows old, all beauty fades, all heat cools, all brightness dims, and every truth becomes stale and trite.  For all these things have taken on shape, and all shapes are worn thin by the working of time; they age, sicken, crumble to dust – unless they change.  But change they can, for the invisible spark that generated them is potent enough for infinite generation.  No one should deny the danger of the descent, but it can be risked.  No one need risk it, but it is certain that someone will.  And let those who go down the sunset way do so with open eyes, for it is a sacrifice which daunts even the gods.  Yet every descent is followed by an ascent; the vanishing shapes are shaped anew, and a truth is valid in the end only if it suffers change and bears new witness in new images, in new tongues, like a new wine that is put into new bottles.”- C.G. Jung (Symbols of transformation)

Adapt or die

Well, Stephen and I were talking about it and we have come up with a few ideas.

First, you need to oppose the entropy. So I made a list of everything I need to do to keep it together. An action list for health, necessities and appropriate actions to take. My list looks more or less like this:

  • Have a medical
  • Sort out teeth
  • Change image i.e. dress, hair
  • Do my makeup daily
  • Stick to gym
  • Change my eating habits

You get the idea!

Secondly, I have decided to create a symbol for myself. An image I can carry in my minds’ eye with which I refer to myself. Something that is different to my younger version, but at the same time not an old person who looks like my mom. An image that can capture the unexplored potential that I still have. Something that will become the “I” with which I will engage and embrace the world. I have been working with symbols for a while and I will use and adapt an image that has been with me for years that I keep going back to. I am busy working on that now. Wish me luck.

And yes, of course, I think I need to grow up.

Until next time

Anja

17 Comments

  1. all I can say is – doing my make-up every morning takes a lot longer!!

  2. I am now 52, and in not bad condition, if I may say so myself. However, I have a huge issue with this growing old thing! Your perceptions, and the quotation from Jung really hit home. Whilst I am not impressed with growing old, maybe I can adapt a little easier now. Thank you.

  3. Also, examine what beliefs you have about aging? From the article you’re saying you’re 40 years of age. Is that old? How about you have another 50 years or more to go.

    God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. –C.S. Lewis.

    I would say that it’s also worthwhile exploring what the pain is shouting to us.

    Perhaps I am biased as a yoga teacher but I believe the traditional gym workout for women can be too harsh as I notice more often than not that the bodies are great but the faces are old. A combination of gentle stretch, cardio and weights is far safer for a woman’s body which is going through many changes as age progresses.

    • @integrity8 – I SO agree with you about gym and women’s bodies. With the self-masculination of women reaching epic proportions, I hope the pendulum has begun to swing back now that women have realised that they are quite as capable as men. Women have different physiology (!), and that requires a different approach to exercise. I would suggest a sensuous form of dance such as belly dancing be included in women’s fitness programme. It makes one feel delicious and it makes one smile, not grimace = prettier [c]wrinkles :)

      • Thank you, JRW ~ all forms of movement are essential as we age and belly dance is good fun. I have added what I term “movement therapy” to my classes as it is apparent that bodies likes to move in different ways. Pounding pavements, pulling and pushing at weights and straining on the step and the rowing machine can cause even further injury in the long term which may also reflect in other parts of the body. I find too that the yoga done at gyms is not actually yoga as it is meant to be practised and can do a great deal of injury. The pushing is unnecessary. That striving is the fear to become what we are – growing older by the minute. Put into perspective, the moment you draw breath, you grow older. It is held that premature greying of hair is about a /belief in aging/ and I would say this is as a result of our buy-in to our genetic programming. Once you’re aware that you’re buying into growing old as being growing awful, then you can do something about it. And there is nothing to resist. You’re not in charge of the outer but you are certainly in charge of the inner. When you create a force against a force (entropy) you’re resisting … and you’re doing battle. Acceptance and surrender, Being happy in your own skin and seeing the process for what it is allows the process of /growing/ old gracefully. Why would I not like to look like my most sage and beautifully 88 year old Mother. I am truly concerned at the large number of younger women and men in their thirties and forties saying they’re old.

  4. i totally enjoyed your article and i agree….i hate the fact that i have to work twice as hard at everything…health, mind body and soul, growing old is a bitch! Oprah says embrace it……but we al dont have DR OZ and everything else that goes with it!

  5. Wow so true! what a great blog and I am sure we all feel the same. One defeinitely has to do a lot more and take care of oneself better the older we get, but at the same time its good to have the me time and focus on your needs. Age is a high price to pay for maturity… I am older and wiser but want to look younger and sexier please! It does not help that all my friends are a decade younger than me, makes it harder but also helps keep me young at heart!

  6. Hi Anja,

    Thank you for the thoughtful honesty. Symbol?! How does that work? An actual image/concept that embodies an amalgamation of what you think your ‘essence’ is and how you would like to be perceived? Can it be literal? I _love_ that notion!

    I’ve _never_ been physically comfortable so I don’t really miss my 18-year old self much. I’m 32 now. But part of why I’ve ever been physically ‘happy’ is “poor self-image” – sad way to maintain status quo. :) This is why the symbol has me interested. Can I really see myself as a whole and not a mish-mash of dimply thighs and assymetrical eyebrows?

    • @Chantelle. Symbols are magical. A symbol is a representation of an idea, vs. a sign. So if you think of the perfect career, a sign would be an image of you sitting behind a desk surrounded by staff, but a symbol would be an image/song/poem that comes to you when you think of your perfect career. The symbol is given to you by your unconscious (it pops into your head) and contains the conscious and unconscious projections you have onto the career. This allows potential/change to affect your intention.
      A sign can never be more than it is. A symbol is loaded with energy and potential. So if you were to create a symbol for yourself, it would be in an image/painting/poem/book etc that really resonates with you. Something that captures your essence. It is moving away from the external and creating an internal image for yourself.
      I hope this clarifies it for you. Please email me directly if you would like to ask anything else.

  7. I’m there. I look in the mirror and don’t recognise myself all within the space of a year.

    I’m thirty two! I don’t feel it and I CERTAINLY don’t look it.

    And I don’t want to be mature, I want to play more!

    Benjamin Button had it the right way around!

  8. Nothing more sobering than the experience fantasizing about the game ranger infront of you and he calls you “tannie”! True story. My whole weekend perplexed and pissed off. I realized that this same older body still enjoys the rays of the sun be it only 45 minutes per day now… It surely is a mind set and a deepening of your relationship with your TRUE self.
    I remind myself everyday that I was hot in my hay-day and don’t HAVE to be that fickle anymore. Oh, and all these hot, smooth skinny asses will also have to go through this and I have beat them to it! Heeeehaaa!

  9. Thanks for the article. Growing older is a reality check. As a
    single child I was probably older than my years early on. So
    while my body is becoming a noisy partner – my ability to cope is so much better.
    I think it’s a call to become more authentic, eccentric even.
    We may just find that place of existential truth holds the precious reality of love of tge self and acceptance of all that is. And if that is the price – so be it. I would rather become wise than bitter in order to maintain unrealistic expectations imposed by some external entity. And remember you will probably outlive most of the males in your age group. You do the math :-)

  10. I just turned 70. It doesn’t get easier.
    But at some point it becomes less important…your focus shifts from how you look, to feeling that you have a little privacy to be who you want to be and dress how you like. I am not experiencing the so-called “male gaze” so everything is for me. How I walk and what I wear. It is a time to re-invent yourself once more. I wrote a book about ageing senuously. So, start your book.
    The world really does need to be enlightened. Women my age are still into “eating disorders” fawning over someone who lost so much weight she looks like a wizened up apple doll. There are so many issues around ageing that really need to be addressed by conscious women, to make a place for us to be who we were intended to be as Aged Women. And there is more…much more for you to discover.
    You are really on a journey and preparing for “Initiation.” My dreams have led me through the whole way. The soul wants an ageing experience. This is the part that is so rewarding.
    Eventually, my whole life revolved around the dreams that pointed me in a distinct direction. When the outer world fails to see me, (which is one of the worst things to experience) I am revealed to myself and I can create from that revelation. Your path is that unique!

    all the best….. much love
    Paulette Turcotte

    • Thank you for your wonderful contribution to this article. I think you capture in essence what the aging experience is all about. I hope to embrace it with patience, wisdom and courage. What a pity that we haven’t got our elders guiding us anymore.

  11. I very much enjoyed reading rearding this very interesting topic !

    Thanks !!!!

  12. AND…… what of getting older & wiser.. Well, I have been listening to master mytholgist & modern Shaman Michael Meade a lot over the last month or so.. And, he has a lot to say about all this of course.. ie. remaining young at heart as we grow older etc.. his most recent book is titled ‘Fate & Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul’…….. Yes, we have all seemingly lost touch…….. ‘Yes. Midlife indeed… I am still in it all… AND…….. trying to break out of all the “rationalisations” & sensible Consensus “reasons” that I can’t just do what my Soul really wants me to go out into the world & do in my life……… Even though I left the Consensus years ago & quit the fmaily business & left my home town on July 4th, 2000.. selling up all my stuff & getting on the train to Sydney to stay ‘somewhere’… leading to eventually to Brisbane where I began studying astrology & the Mythi Tarot with my sister who was living & working there at the time……. Now here I am all these years later back where I started having been living in the Consensus world.. while continuing my studies of astrology, oracles & dreams etc.. along with my blog.. while working as a pizza delivery driver…. While also in between travelling around the world, visting ancient sites & cities etc.. Getting out there into the wider world etc.. apart from just studying history, philosophy & divination etc et al…. my blog http://www.whatsitallmeanthen.blogspot.com.. Yes, the Hero’s Journey indeed…. Now it seems with the help of the words of deep wisdom of Michael Meade I have reached another major turning point in my journey…………. With a Solar Eclipse occuring the day after my recent 47th birthday.. or my Solar Return speaking astrologically that is… in the sign of Gemini, the Twins… And, for more on Michael Meade, go to http://www.mosaicvoice.org

    Gemini, The Twins
    Element: Air
    Mode: Mutable
    Archetypes: The Witness, The Teacher, The Storyteller, The Journalist.

    Behead yourself! Disolve your whole
    body into Vision; become seeing,
    seeing, seeing!

    Jalalu’l Din Rumi

  13. I agree with Paulette. Getting old is not for sissies. One has to be BRAVE to face the daily challenges. Especially in winter when fingers and other joints just do not work as they used to. The health gurus have convinced us that we must exercise to keep them well-oiled. Experience has taught us that the pain shows on our faces. We must all learn to be kinder to ourselves and to each other. The world certainly isn’t kind to us. Just when you think that you have reached a milestone, they move the goalposts! I think we must all practice being kinder to one another. Young and old alike.

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